Sunday, 30 April 2017

Wizards of the Chessboard

Fred Reinfeld from the back cover of Chess: How to win when you're Ahead

In the 1940's Fred Reinfeld compiled a number of master's games collections including: The Immortal Games of Capablanca in 1942, Keres' Best Games of Chess, 1941, followed by an extended edition in 1949, Tarrasch's Best Games of Chess, 1947 and The Unknown Alekhine in 1949. Reinfeld also issued two books in the series Wizards of the Chessboard

Book I: Botvinnik the Invincible, published in 1946. 

In his Foreword, Reinfeld states; "There is fairly general agreement that Botvinnik is the greatest living master." (Alekhine had died earlier in 1946), and that one of the objects of the book was to educate American chess players as to the style of Russian players generally and Botvinnik in particular. This followed the crushing defeat of the U.S.A by the U.S.S.R in the radio match held in 1945.

The ten page introduction gives biographical details of Botvinnik's chess career, this is followed by Botvinnik's Tournament and Match Record up to 1945.

The book includes 62 games from 1926 to 1945, each with a brief prefatory note and annotations by Reinfeld. 

Here is the introduction to game 30 against A. Lilienthal at Moscow 1936: 

and here is Botvinnik's exciting 18 move draw against Alekhine at Nottingham 1936:

Book II: Nimzovich the Hypermodern, published in 1948. 

Reinfeld explains in his short Introduction, which is dated August 1947, that  he did not propose to repeat his description of Nimzovich's career, as this had recently been included in his revised edition of Nimzovich's My System  published earlier that year. 

The 58 games in this collection were each given a catchy title and were generally "short, sharp, witty encounters". Every game has a brief introduction and Reinfeld's lucid annotations.

Here are the introductions to a few of the games:

You could hardly expect Reinfeld to out-annotate two of the greatest annotators in these two books, but the notes and comments are in his usual clear, simple and understandable style.

From the rear of the dust jacket for Nimzovich the Hypermodern:

An advert at the back of this book gives details of a third book in this series, on Paul Morphy, but alas, this did not appear.

Published by David McKay, these two books are much more common in America than on this side of the Atlantic but I was fortunate to buy both of these on a visit to Bob Jones of Keverel Chess Books in Exmouth, Devon this week.

                                        © Michael Clapham 2017

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