24 April 2024

Book completed - American Grandmaster: Four Decades of Chess Adventures


I recently completed American Grandmaster: Four Decades of Chess Adventures by GM Joel Benjamin. I had picked it up as a bargain used book from a dealer at chess tournament a while back, and finally decided to read it during lunchtime at work, my interest primarily being for daily annotated games review. It was not particularly well suited for this, however, as the majority of the actual chess content consisted of individual positions, game fragments, or complete scores but with only a couple comments included. There were enough games at a sufficient level of annotation to be worth going through, but this was a minority of it. If you are looking for something more comprehensive and challenging for annotated games but still with a personal perspective, My Best Games by Victor Korchnoi is world class, while GM Walter Browne's The Stress of Chess...and its Infinite Finesse is a much more detailed and improvement-oriented version of a chess career book with well-annotated games.

From my perspective, it seems the book tried to be multiple things, but was mostly a breezy and candid, but not quite a tell-all, recounting of GM Benjamin's chess career. This mostly consisted of complaints (and occasional praise) about tournament conditions, memories of poor treatment (or occasionally special experiences), and chess politics. The Deep Blue vs. Kasparov project got an interesting treatment and GM Benjamin's perspective was certainly unique, although the narrative was not exactly comprehensive. The book was published in 2007 but the focus was on Benjamin's junior and earlier career, really through the 1990s. As such, a lot of the references - especially to the politics and various failed professional associations - feel quite dated. If you weren't around the 1990s, therefore, it's probably not going to be particularly relevant.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments and ideas on chess training and this site are welcomed.

Please note that moderation is turned on as an anti-spam measure; your comment will be published as soon as possible, if it is not spam.