Chess Secrets

Giants Of Innovation

Craig Pritchett

Reviewer: Jeremy Silman
Everyman Chess
288 pages (hardback)

Everyone has a favorite player. Some might enjoy an attacker, others follow a player who uses their favorite openings, and others might be attracted to a positional genius. However, some players are remembered for more than a flashy combination; a chosen few are remembered for bringing new and critically important ideas to the game we love. Giants Of Innovation has shined the spotlight on five of these innovators: Steinitz, Lasker, Botvinnik, Korchnoi, and Ivanchuk.

While the inclusion of the first four won’t surprise anyone, the final two might. The author explained his picking Korchnoi in this way: “Twice a world championship challenger, Viktor Korchnoi, gave a welcome boost to the role of inspired tactics in post-Botvinnik chess. Like Lasker, who drew greatly from Steinitz’s pioneering positional/systemic way of thinking, Korchnoi absorbed all the best ideas of the Botvinnik years. Based on a Botvinnik-like commitment to hard work and disciplined research, allied to a highly belligerent playing style, Korchnoi developed a capacity to innovate freely in virtually all of the newest and most complex modern openings.”

And how did Ivanchuk make the list? A bit more from the author: “Vassily Ivanchuk, one of the modern greats, is a one-man byword for contemporary ingenuity, surprise and subtle innovation, with the deftest touch for sound and sudden attacks, replete with lively combinations.”

Is that all? No, not by a long shot! Craig Pritchett explains his stance on each player with tons of illuminating and entertaining prose. And, lest I forget, thickly annotated/commented games. I say annotated/commented because each and every game is a mix of analysis and enormous amounts of prose that explain the position’s ideas, and the innovations going on before your eyes.

Chess Secrets: Giants Of Innovation is a must buy for fans of the listed players, for fans of chess history, or simply for those that love chess and want to understand it on levels they might not have been acquainted with in the past.