Monday, April 7, 2014

Kasparov on Kasparov Part 2

Book Review : Gary Kasparov on Gary Kasparov Part 2 1985-1993
Author : Gary Kasparov
My Rating : 5 out of 5 stars

Kasparov’s massive book writing project is going strong. The second book in the series on Kasparov himself, has been available for a while now and is as good as all the other books. I have a talked a lot about his entire project and this series when I wrote the review of his first book.  If you are not familiar with his 10+ books so far, please click on that link for more information.

This book, as is to be expected, follows the same format and the presentation style. So I am going to skip reviewing that particular aspect.

As the title says, the games being focused here are from the period 1985 t o 1993. It starts with the second match for the World Championship title against his arch rival Karpov, and covers the period till Kasparov’s decision to break away from FIDE.

I noted a slight difference from the first book. Here, there are less autobiographical notes than the first book. This was a politically tough period due to the break up of former Soviet Union. Kasparov’s mother is Armenian and his family lived in Baku, which is in Azerbaijan. As a result of different ethnicity, his family was in danger during the turbulence. Kasparov talks about how they all made to safety, and how it affected his chess. But these life stories are a definite sideshow.

The focus is on games, which are played by an even more improved Kasparov from the first book. These are explained with passion and clarity. The last game from his second match with Karpov, when Kasparov became the Champion for the first time, is explained in nearly 10 pages! Not just dry variations after variations, but explanation that is accessible to someone like me who is just a woodpusher but still an enthusiast. Some of the annotations give such a nice insight into how he has approached and understood chess. In one game he explains that his opponent Karpov missed a better move due to his playing style, and Tal would have found it naturally. But then, Kasparov explains, he wouldn’t have created such position on the board, if he was playing against Tal! That’s match strategy 101 right there. Of course much easier said than done.

Kasparov is also known for his legendary opening research. He talks about it freely, how and when he studied the particular opening system, how he anticipated his opponents moves, and had the novelties in mind. Many of his games gave new direction for many variations, and he points that out while discussing the novelties and their impact.

Kasparov also explains what went through his mind, before and during the game. It’s not a secret that Kasparov had this intense desire to win and dominate. When he drew a series of games against the topmost players, he considered it as a slump! He wanted to take revenge, and make a point. He always wanted to assert via his games, that he was indeed the Champion. There is no gloating. He has chosen games, where he failed to win, especially against his new arch rival Anand. At the end of the book, he openly admits that breaking away from FIDE was the biggest blunder of his life. There is no sugar coating. Just plain truth as he sees it. It all makes for such a wonderful reading.

I absolutely recommend this book. Note that there is some overlap with his previous books about the World Championship matches with Karpov. I have them, and I do not mind the repetition. I am now waiting for his next installment and then hopefully a new series about the latest players.

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