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I just finished reading Garry Kasparov's new book for the second time. The first time it was as a reader, the second time as a reviewer with a pile of other books next to me for reference. (The full review will appear at ChessBase.com in the next day or two.)

My overall impression is the same as my first impression: "My Great Predecessors, Vol. 1" is an amazing book and you should buy it immediately. It's an enjoyable read with tremendous breadth and depth of content. There is a huge amount of analysis from Kasparov and historical sources. The overview of Kasparov tracing the development of chess from Philidor through Alekhine is very interesting and I expect it will only get better in the next books as he begins to write about more modern players whom he knew and faced.

The first time through I found some of the writing stilted and there are definitely too many grammatical errors and style violations (ellipses, exclams) for a work of this magnitude. This could be improved but is hardly a fatal flaw and I barely noticed it the second time.

The lack of a bibliography and the degree of insufficient attribution of analysis are more serious issues (although this doesn't affect the enjoyment of the book for the reader, just the integrity/thoroughness of the authors and editors). In at least a few games there are swaths of analysis taken from other books that go unmentioned. This means the Russian "Chess Stars" series in most cases, which is somewhat ironic because they do the same thing in most of their books. (Those books are just dense variations without text for the most part.)

Obviously two, or ten, analysts can come up with the same lines, and they often do. But when the same lines begin and end on the same move over and over for entire blocks, that's rarely a coincidence. This occurred in several Capablanca games I looked at carefully. (I don't have the Chess Stars Alekhine books.) But as dubious a practice that may be, it doesn't mean it's not a fantastic book. A beginner won't get much from the annotations, although it would still be a fun and informative read.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on August 5, 2003 3:35 AM.

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