Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 2

From GM to Top Ten

Judit Polgar

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Quality Chess
392 pages (hardback)

These days when books on the opening predominate it is refreshing to see a publisher that is willing to take a chance and break the trend. Quality Chess is just such a publisher with over half of its titles devoted to the middlegame and endgame. Included in the former category is a three-volume trilogy by Judit Polgar that is part best games collection, part autobiography, and part teaching manual.

The first volume in the series, How I beat Bobby Fischer’s Record, was published to critical praise in 2012, but her second book, Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 2 – From GM to Top Ten is arguably even better. Whereas the first volume traced the beginning of her career to 1989 (when she was 17), this book focuses on Judit’s emergence into one of the best players in the world, a position no other women has occupied before or since.

If this series were just a best games trilogy it would be exceptional, but as mentioned previously it is has much more to offer. Unlike most “best games collections” games presented in this series are not arranged chronologically but by theme. In this volume this includes dynamic pawn play, positional sacrifices, endgames, fluid attacks and most interestingly her interpretation of the King’s Indian. This approach enhances the teaching aim of this book as does the detailed prose commentary that accompanies each game.

Concrete variations are given wherever needed but not to the extent that they overwhelm the reader. Stronger players may find that the numerous diagrams (three or four per page) allow them to follow the games without use of a board. Less ambitious students may not be able to follow the action sans voir but they will be able to appreciate the annotations as Polgar, assisted by the Romanian GM Mihai Marin, have gone out of their way to make this book accessible to a wide audience. There are numerous exercises to solve throughout.

From GM to Top Ten is not only strong on the chess content side of the ledger. It features extensive biographical material, including Judit’s recounting of her famous loss to Kasparov at Linares where the World Champion got away with violating the touch move rule. There are also several pages about Bobby Fischer’s relationship with the Polgar family.

Many high quality photographs and player and name indexes round out a first rate production. This hardback book is printed on good paper and neatly laid out.

Highly Recommended

Click to read Jeremy Silman’s review of Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1