Greengard's ChessNinja.com

My Great Annotators

| Permalink | 15 comments

I was just thumbing through my battered copy of Alekhine's My Best Games of Chess 1908-1923. Alekhine's notes include some droll gems.

Page 206, vs Muffang after move 22: "This move is not really an actual mistake. But in this laborious position all other moves would equally give the impression of being mistakes." Page 156, vs Rubinstein after move 20: "This move is not a whit better than those which precede it."

Leaving aside the best-known, do you have a favorite clever annotation? Post it in the comments below if you do, and please give the source.


In “Iniciação ao xadrez”, a book in Portuguese, the author comments on the Immortal Anderssen-Kiezeritzky as if he was the player with black, and makes the remark at the end of the game: “And when we look at the final position and see that we have only three pawns missing..... frankly, we feel shamed by our skill as chessplayers”.

In Karpov's "The Open Game in Action", annotation to Karpov-Spassky, Bugojno 1986 (p. 47):

"The piece has been sacrificed for two pawns, but Black wasn't concerned with arithmetic, because his position is falling apart."

Robert Huebner's article "The Immortal Game", in "American Chess Journal 3", in which he both mega-analyzes Anderssen-Kieseritzky and critically reviews published analyses, is a treasure trove of funny comments. A sample:

"17 Nd5 (?) 'The weakest player today would be clever enough not to overlook the win of a tempo with 17 d4. If it were followed up with 18 Nd5, White wins in a few moves. Anderssen moved 17 Nd5 because he couldn't escape his time, but even where he plays badly, his imagination moves us to wonder.' [Quote from Reti's "Die neuen Ideen im Schachspiel"] It is interesting that this remark of Reti's (the only sound one he made about the game) has been copied universally by later commentators, although they pass it on by rote."

Some favorite annotations:

1) In the book of the San Antonio 1972 tournament, Bent Larsen annotates the game Ken Smith- Mario Campos-Lopez. Smith, of course, almost invariably met 1.e4 c5 with the gambit 2.d4 cxd4 3.c3, though not always with success at the highest levels. (He went 0-3 with it in this event, for example). So when Campos-Lopez met 1.e4 with 1...e6, Larsen jokingly awarded Black's first move a question mark, and wrote, "Stronger is 1...c5, which wins a pawn."

2.) At the Zurich 1953 Candidates tournament, Miguel Najdorf found himself with two Rooks (and nothing else) vs. Alexander Kotov's two Knights and two connected passed pawns- a most unusual endgame. In his book on this event, The Chess Struggle in Practice, David Bronstein wrote the following note: "Najdorf's main problem is that he doesn't know whether to play for a win or think about how to save the game." (In the end, he sacrificed one Rook for each pawn and drew, by the way.)

3) In the book of the Nottingham 1936 tournament, Alekhine criticizes Salo Flohr's attempts to grind out a win in a long endgame vs. T.H. Tylor, an effort that ultimately saw Flohr overpress and lose the game. Alekhine writes at move 30:

"From now a pretty dull affair begins. In order to make a long story short it is better, I think, to divide the following play into sections."

He then gives a brief description of coming events every ten moves or so, e.g. "I. Black prepares and finally plays ...f6," or "II. Black prepares and actually plays ...b5." The description in Section IV is priceless: "IV. Black prepares and at last makes the decisive mistake."

"The Contemporary Anti-Dutch"
Andrew Martin, published 1990 by Tournament Chess, page 103.

1. d4 f5 2. g4!?! Contact the homicide department! Black must engage in self-defence. Annotation by IM Andrew Martin, point split, Sznapik-Gasik, 1987 Warsaw Cup.

You should check out the book "Tony Miles: It's Only Me" for many excellent examples! I've already typed too much, but there should be funny quotes in various online reviews, eg at www.chesscafe.com and www.gmsquare.com.

I (gently) ridiculed Ray Keene on www.chessgames.com recently after he annotated one move in the Kasparov-Topalov masterpiece as:

"A stab from the rear makes everything clear"

Keene insists it was an "unintentional rhyming couplet"

"Right!"--Sergei Shipov, almost every week, who is the best annotator/commentator in my opinion. Too bad I can't find some examples of his gems because most of his stuff was written for Kasparov-owned internet sites that have the web life of a gypsy moth.

Black is now in desperate need of a good idea. Or, to put it standard chess notation, +- – Mark Dvoretsky

Ever since I decided to major in Russian in college, I think, I've subscribed to one, or two, sometimes even three Russian-language chess magazines. Tal, of course, stands out as my all-time favorite magazine annotator; but there have been many, many other good ones. I agree that Sergei Shipov is definitely today's "best-of-breed" - although I have a weakness for Max Notkin's acerbic wit as well. It's a DAMN SHAME these guys aren't appearing regularly in a decent English-language format - and I DON'T mean in a hasty translation that makes them sound like 3rd-graders. Misses the point, don't you think?

Anyway - back to our subject. My all-time favorite note was WAY back, when Tseshkovsky was a USSR Championship contender. Back in those days, he had all the chops to make it to the top - but he had this one weakness: his clock. I don't remember the event, or the annotator - although I believe it may have been Romanishin (!), who wrote something like this, regarding a game Tseshkovsky was winning, but lost on flag-fall:

"Tseshkovsky's train presses boldly on, through shot and shell, and finally reaches its destination; unfortunately, the engine has, by that time, been so badly shot up, that it quite falls to pieces."

"The player conducting the white pieces, William Watson, has now become a respectable lawyer but a little while ago Boris Spassky compared his style of play to that of a drunk with a machine gun; not too difficult to understand why on the evidence of this game."
-from "The Complete Najdorf: Modern Lines" by John Nunn and Joe Gallagher

"The rooms were tiny and extremely cold; and the food far from cordon bleu. Indeed, the dining room in the Yelton is the only eatery where I've ever seen a fly in soup; sadly, Jonathan Mestel was either too dumbfounded or too nonplussed to summon up the appropiate response."
-from "Jon Speelman's Best Games" by Jon Speelman

The fight emerged in familiar enough territory — a bar — but took an unexpected turn onto the Brooklyn streets over an unusual issue. An abandoned girl was found in the hallway of a city-run apartment complex in Coney Island, Brooklyn,Thanks for sharing.

It's beginning to look like Peter Svidler prepared for Khanty-Mansiysk by reading the works of Stokely Carmichael because he's all about Black Power, baby! I like to visit this blog once again thanks for sharing.

A tournament book worthy of this great event which was one of Alekhine's finest performances. Easily one of the best tournament books ever published in English with a cornucopia of great games Thanks for sharing the informative post.

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Twitter Updates

    Follow me on Twitter



    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Mig published on June 14, 2004 1:14 AM.

    Kalmyk Kalamity was the previous entry in this blog.

    Ratings, Damned Ratings... is the next entry in this blog.

    Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.