Tuesday, April 27, 2010

About Kramnik And His Book

While the World Chess Championship (WCC) continues on in Bulgaria, I would like to talk about the previous 14th World Chess Champion, Vladimir Kramnik.

I was watching a bit of Kramnik's Chessbase DVD,"My Path To The Top". Kramnik talks in depth on his first entry into the elite, then match preparations for his WCC title matches in this Chessbase DVD.

I hope for one day to see Kramnik putting out a new autobiography book. And I would like to have read his annotations since his last book in 2000. His one and only book, "My Life And Games" was one of the drearest book ever published (no offense) and the annotations stopped before his WCC match with Kasparov.

I came across his book by chance over the weekend. Looking at the book and comparing with the Chessbase DVD and other resources like Informant and New In Chess, I just don't understand it.

I have enormous respect for Kramnik. His annotations are simply superb and he shows a profound understanding of deep theory and calculation but the book was one of the few books that can put an insomniac to sleep.

When chess readers read an autobiography, they would rather it be filled with interesting materials, the thoughts, the ideas, the plans, essentially what it is like to be in the super-elite GM chess world - not endless reams of variation after variation.

Botvinnik started with his 100 Selected Games, a bit dry but nonetheless informative. But it was Mikhail Tal who paved the way of how autobiography books should be treated. Karpov and Kasparov went annotation crazy in theirs and while Kasparov's treatment in "Modern Chess" was interesting, it was not in the same league as Tal. Anand came close with his book,"My Best Games Of Chess" which won the BCF Book of the Year award.

Since then, no other World Champion has managed to eclipse Tal. The fact that Tal's book still stands today (in spite of computer chess engines' evaluation) is a testament of how important it is to communicate with the reader.

Kramnik is a very deep thinker and from the Chessbase DVD, this trait comes across very evidently. And I think it is an enormous pity that he has not put out another chess book in the last 10 years.


  1. no mention of fischer? my 60 is pretty awesome, if you haven't read it

  2. hello,

    yes i have read my 60 memorable games but unfortunately, it's not up to the same level as Tal's book.

    Tal was first and foremost a fantastic storyteller. he doesn't give you the annotations ala Fischer, he explains it - the hows and whys. Fischer's notes are very brief.

    thanks for your feedback.