Book of the Year 2017 – shortlist

The Short List this year contains four differing and wide ranging books reflecting the different personalities of the writers.  Two long standing world class players reveal their opinions; Portisch on the Ruy Lopez and Timman on world champions Euwe to Kasparov, while Smirin has produced a joyous book on the complexities of the Kings Indian.  Aagaard meanwhile considers how decisions can/should be made at the board.  A rich collection with something for every reader whatever their interests.

King’s Indian Warfare! by Ilya Smirin   
Quality Chess pp352 hard back £24.99, paperback £20.99

The cover of this book shows Smirin’s intentions: King’s Indian Defence, but the word “Defence” is crossed out with big red slashes and replaced by “Warfare!”. Not a conventional opening book then, but an exhilarating collection of games, illustrating the tactical and attacking aspects of the defence.  But what lifts the book above the ordinary is Smirin’s lifelong love for and the enthusiasm with which he plays and writes about, the King’s Indian.

My Secrets in the Ruy Lopez by Lajos Portisch
Gambit pp159 paperback £16.99

When a player as renowned as Portisch, (8 times a world candidates qualifier) who was famed for his meticulous opening preparation, writes his first book in English (as far as the judges are aware) on the Ruy Lopez, it is eagerly anticipated and does not disappoint.  Portisch defended the Ruy throughout his playing days and examines, on an evolutionary basis, the Ruy’s major variations and systems. Essential reading for a Ruy practioner; but Portisch also includes perceptive comments on the chess world and players he encountered during his long career, which greatly adds to the books value.

Thinking Inside the Box by Jacob Aagaard
Quality Chess pp407 hard back £23.99

Aagaard has for many years been writing books about chess theory and technical improvement. Indeed, he won Book of the Year 2010 for his two volumes on “Attacking Chess”. This latest and final volume in the series “Grand Master Preparation” unifies the concepts in the previous volumes. Aagaard concentrates, in a very personal way, on what went on during the course of his games. This approach enables him to explore such issues as psychology, calculation, analysis and many others. The book concludes with two Appendices. The first is about Aagaard’s views on nutrition; the second by Nikolaos Ntirlis is entitled “Advanced Engine Management”.

Timman’s Titans by Jan Timman
New in Chess pp332 paperback £23.95

Timman has for many years combined outstanding playing and writing skills. In this very personal book he looks at the personalities of world champions from Euwe to Kasparov. He met them all except Alekhine and played against most of them many times. He knew/knows them personally. This gives him a unique insight into their characters and chess styles.  Timman includes games and positions he played against the world champions.  In doing so, he gained a remarkable insight into a group of widely differing men who only had in common a wonderful chess talent.

— Ray Edwards, Julian Farrand, Sean Marsh – 26th August 2017