Saturday, April 26, 2008

Rude Book Reviews

The above is Edward Winter's (wordless) book review of Lev Alburt and Al Lawrence's Chess Rules of Thumb. Other famous short dismissals include Stephan Bueker's review of Svetozar Gligoric Shall We Play Fisherandom Chess? ("No.") and Tony Miles' comment on Eric Schiller's Unorthodox Chess Openings ("Utter Crap.")

Israeli chess had its own version of rude--yet justified--reviews. Mordechai Bronstein (no relation of David Bronstein, the world championship challenger, to the best of my knowledge...) dismissed Mordechai Rosenfeld's Amanut Ha'Shachmat ("The Art of Chess") in the June/July 1967 Shachmat (p. 165). The dismissal was part of Bronstein's article about chess analysis:

"Due to the many problems with chess analysis, I like Rosenfeld's note in his book (?) 'The Art of Chess' that he 'deliberately (of course! -- 'Shachmat''s Editor) refrained from giving any analysis', but it is really difficult to demand any analysis from that book, whose absurd claims can be the basis for an entire humor column, and whose most original part is... the introduction."

Rosenfeld wrote to Shachmat to complain about Bronstein's unkind words. In reply, Bronstein added a few examples of the book's, er, interesting claims (Shachmat, Nov. 1966, p. 237):

"1. [Rosenfeld's] biographical notes about the great Russian endgame composers are so good, the editors of the [Russian-language] Chess Dictionary and The Soviet School of Endgame Composition both decided to translate and reprint them word for word.

"2. Some parts of the book are written with a rare sense of humor, not to be found in other chess books. For example: 'In the same year, Alekhine played Mr. 'Consultants' and defeated him [my emphasis--A.P.] after a short and beautiful game.' "

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