Zurich 1953

15 Contenders for the World Chess Championship

Miguel Najdorf

Reviewer: John Donaldson
Russell Enterprises
392 pages

The recent death of Svetozar Gligoric leaves only two living participants from the famous Zurich 1953 tournament. It seems only fitting that one of them, Yury Averbakh (Mark Taimanov is the other), should be the person to write the introduction to a long-awaited masterpiece – an English language translation of Miguel Najdorf’s two-volume book on the event.

Everyone knows the importance of Zurich 1953, how it served as a qualifying event for the World Championship and that 15 of the best players of the time played a mammoth double round robin marathon that lasted almost two months! Important as this event was it was not markedly stronger than similar tournaments that were held in the early 1950s. What has always set Zurich 1953 apart was the fact that David Bronstein wrote a classic book on the event that had two different English language translations. One need only read the interviews with top players in New in Chess and their answer to the question what is your favorite book, to realize that almost 60 years later Bronstein’s book is considered something special, even if his friend Boris Weinstein had a much larger role in its production than previously suspected.

Now consider this – Bronstein’s book may not be the best on Zurich. That honor may well belong to Miguel Najdorf’s Zurich 1953: 15 Contenders for the World Chess Championship. Previously only available in Spanish in a very hard to find and expensive two-volume set, the Polish/Argentine GM’s masterpiece is now available in English, published by Russell Enterprises, Inc.

This 391 page one volume paperback, priced at $25.95, features not only an introduction by Averbakh but also a foreword by Andy Soltis. The translation by Taylor Kingston reads well and is faithful to the original work, capturing Najdorf’s wit and lively writing style. All the contents of the Spanish language production are here with round by round reports, all games with annotations, an opening survey and various indices. The only small reservation this reviewer has is the full page black and white photos of all the players featured in the original have been shrunk although they have reproduced well.

Zurich 1953: 15 Contenders for the World Chess Championship is a great book that deserves to be in every chessplayers’ library.