Monday, November 12, 2007

CHESS NEWS:Ronan Bennett & Daniel King (The Guardian)

Ronan Bennett & Daniel King
Monday November 12, 2007
The Guardian

Chess 12.11.07
White to play and win, Topalov-Adams, San Luis 2005.

DK: Last week Ronan nominated Karlsbad 1907 for our book of the year and, not to be outdone, my second nomination is also a tournament book: San Luis 2005 by Alik Nor and Igor Gershon (Quality Chess, £19.99).

Tournament books have gone out of fashion with publishers, as detailed news and commentary of the latest events are instantly available on the internet. So why produce - and why buy - a book such as San Luis 2005? First, because of its historical significance: this eight-player tournament was the first step towards reuniting the two separate world titles. Second, because of the diligence of the authors in annotating and explaining the games - all 56 of them.

San Luis 2005 provides a snapshot of professional chess in 2005. The contrast with 1907 is startling. The world champion at that time, Emanuel Lasker, was an esteemed academic and chess was for him a glorified hobby. Nowadays, to have an amateur as world champion would be unimaginable. The amount of time needed to study the game, in particular the openings, cannot be underestimated. Without the constant search for new ideas away from the board a professional will not survive at the highest levels. Therefore it is appropriate that the authors put such effort into explaining the opening theory in each game. Read this and you will be bang up to date with the hottest lines of the Marshall Attack and the Najdorf Sicilian. The deep variations continue throughout the games, and at times one wishes that a little less computer analysis had been included. However, this too is a reflection of the modern game where computer programmes are routinely used to divine the mysteries of a position.

The Bulgarian, Veselin Topalov, was the deserved, if somewhat surprising, winner of the tournament. Since San Luis he has been dogged by allegations that he received computer assistance during the games - which the authors rightly debunk. Topalov won because of his excellent opening preparation and, above all, his willingness to take risks.

Here, he finished decisively with 36 Bf5 Rxf5 37 Rxc8+ Kh7 38 Rh1, and Adams resigned. Once queens are traded White wins easily. Don't forget to send in your nominations for book of the year to