My Chess

Hans Ree

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Russell Enterprises
240 pages

Most chess books offer the reader hope that they will improve after absorbing the contents. My Chess by the Dutch Grandmaster Hans Ree, offers no such promises for the simple reason that it has no chess analysis in it.

Like his fellow countrymen Genna Sosonko, the author of My Chess is the equivalent of a 2700 plus player when it comes to writing compelling portraits of chess players. In Ree’s case the focus is not only on World Champions (Sosonko’s specialty), but also lesser figures who have devoted their life to the royal game.

One featured figure in My Chess is the late Ratmir Kholmov, a strong Soviet GM who was prevented from playing in the West during his peak years despite being one of the top twenty players in the world. Best known for defeating Bobby Fischer on the black side of the Ruy (…Nd4!), Kholmov was, as Russians refer to it, “no enemy of the bottle.”

Sometimes his devotion to Dionysus was such that he could get a little confused. One famous anecdote has him giving a simul where he graciously takes the black pieces but quickly becomes befuddled after 1.e4 e5 2.f4 Nc6 3.Nf3 g6 4.fxe5. The staggering Kholomov is alleged to have uttered, “I never lost a pawn in the Gruenfeld like this before.”

My Chess is a book that deserves a wide audience. Players of all ages and abilities will enjoy it.

If you would like to read more about this fine book, please check out Donald K. McKim’s review.