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An interesting article announces that world #3 Vishy Anand will be working on an autobiography to be completed in 2006. The piece has charming tidbits about how his parents miss him and cook his favorite foods when he is home. (He and his wife have long lived in Spain.)

Anand is 34 and has many good years ahead of him if you look at Kasparov, to say nothing of Korchnoi and Lasker. I remember reading something about the youngest players to write a game collection (I think it was Pomar but I don't recall). Few players have the fame to write an autobiography and Anand is definitely one of them. It might end up a bestseller in India, although it's not likely to sell nearly as well to non-Indian chess fans as a chess book penned by Anand would.

His straightforward collection of games ("My Best Games of Chess") is a routine collection of notes without much in the way of insight. To be fair, few active top players can devote the time and energy to the introspection and research a top-notch game collection requires. And not everyone is a naturally gifted and entertaining writer like Tal was. Maybe it's something about Latvians. Shirov's "Fire on Board" remains the best modern "auto-" game collection in the past decade, perhaps two. (Amazon.com inexplicably lists Mark Taimanov as a co-author of "Fire on Board.")

Kasparov's fine "Test of Time" is outdated and out of print and we won't see him look in the mirror for a few years, when the fifth volume of his "Predecessors" series comes out. Kramnik's "My Life and Games" was hastily produced and is too often given over to an obsequious third person (Damsky).

Staying with contemporary players, I strongly recommend Yermolinsky's "The Road to Chess Improvement" and both John Nunn game collections. His original "Secrets of Grandmaster Play" was my first "serious" chess book and it took me years to really dig into it. Great book.

Getting back to autobiographies, Kasparov has various iterations of his bombastic but revealing book. Botvinnik's "Achieving the Aim" is a guarded chronology. Smyslov's "In Search of Harmony" hasn't been translated into English. Korchnoi and then Karpov both liked "Chess is My Life" for a title.

Russian is probably the only language that can support such books consistently these days. Maybe an Indian reader could inform us as to how many languages popular books there are usually translated into.

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    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on December 16, 2003 2:40 AM.

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