Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Even More Complete Chess Addict

This 1993 book is a revised and expanded version of The Complete Chess Addict, which appeared in 1987. It's a collection of chess anecdotes written in a breezy style, and includes eight pages of black-and-white photos, a bibliography, and an index.

The largest section in the book is taken up with a survey of famous chess players, grouped under these headings: The Royals, The Holy, The Sinners, The Musicians, The Artists, The Writers, The Entertainers, The Sportsmen, The Thinkers, The Politicians, The Soldiers, The Aristocrats, The Businessmen, The Rest.

Subsequent sections are:

The Greatest: the 64 strongest players, the 64 greatest games, etc.

The Frightful: worst games and performances at tournaments, including a game in which a player lost three pieces in 1-1/2 moves.

The Unorthodox: fantasy chess variations. Reverso is one example, in which the opening positions of knights and bishops are reversed. "All opening theory goes out the window. Try it against your club theoretician and watch him flounder!"

The Unacceptable: bad behaviour at the board, including games that turned violent.

The Awesome mentions a number of records, including:
- longest announced mate - 45 moves
- longest series of mutual captures - 13
- longest sequence of successive checks - 43
- longest sequence of moves without a capture - 100

The Bizarre: chess-playing animals, strange openings, and other oddities (eg Bobby Fischer and Barbra Streisand were classmates in Brooklyn).

Desert Island Chess: puzzles and problems.

The final two sections are the most dated, but still fun to read: The Future describes up-and-coming possible greats, and The End? talks about the influence of computer chess programs.

In all, 369 pages of trivia that range from the magnificent to the loony. A very entertaining read.