A review of Chess Informant 97

Reviewed by Paul Kane

Zdenko Krnic (editor-in-chief)
Chess Informant 97
Sahovski informator, 2006
ISSN 0351-1375

Chess Informant 97 covers all the major chess tournaments and matches that occurred between the months of May-August 2006 and, as with previous volumes in the series, it includes several sections.

The most substantial section is devoted to the best games played during this period. There 431 annotated games in total, arranged by opening, and taking up a little more than 250 pages. So the games are certainly the meat and potatoes of the volume. The vast majority of them have comments by one or both of the players, so we get the lowdown right from the horse’s mouth. There are annotations by the world chess champion, Vladimir Kramnik, by Vishy Anand, currently rated number one in the world, and by England s best player, Michael Adams. In addition, there are notes by some of the game’s most creative competitors, players like Morozevich, Shirov, Ivanchuk, Gelfand, Beliavsky, Sutovsky and Karajakin. These are high-calibre contributors indeed.

Playing over top-quality games such as these, and studying the accompanying notes, provides the best possible grounding for finding out what modern chess is about, whether in the area of attack, defense or positional play. One can see what the best contemporary players are doing, acquire a good appreciation of their various styles and keep up to date with current opening theory as well. Many of the games are quite beautiful and instructive, and virtually all of them have points of interest. They give one a diverse, open-ended education.

Another section of the volume includes detailed results of the major chess events that took place during the late spring and summer of 2006. While there were strong tournaments held in Sofia, Foros, Tomsk, Dortmund and Montreal, the most important event was clearly the Chess Olympics that took place in Turin in the months of May and June. Armenia won gold in the men’s event, as did the Ukraine in the women’s, and it is significant that both of these nations were formerly part of the Soviet Union. Also significant perhaps – as a possible precursor of things to come – was China’s performance: her men’s team won silver medals and her women’s team bronze. In chess, as well as economically, China is becoming a force on the world stage. And her influence will surely grow over the coming decade, in both spheres.

Other sections include a selection of combinations and endgames, 9 of each: rather fewer than when I used to get Chess Informant regularly about a decade ago. There is also a selection of endgame studies, and a section devoted to a great contemporary player, here Svetozar Gligoric. These two features were new to me, but welcome. The latter, in particular, makes excellent use of the Chess Informant archives.

Svetozar Gligoric is now 80 years of age and he is probably most famous in the West for writing a book on the Spassky-Fischer match, but the games and play presented here show him as a formidable player, perhaps Serbia’s (and once Yugoslavia’s) greatest. The tribute included here is therefore well deserved. We get a good sampling of Gligoric’s middle-game combinations and endgame virtuosity, and some of his contributions to opening theory are given too, especially in his beloved King’s Indian Defense. There are many memorable instances of Gligoric’s elegant positional play, but here is something smaller in scale, an attractive, effective finish to an attack on a king stranded in the centre.

Gligoric has already sacrificed a piece, and now he adds an exchange to the pyre. 1.Rxd5! Qxd5 2.Qxb4+ Qc5 Other moves allow trivial wins. If 2 … Ke8 3.Qe7 is checkmate, while 2 … Rc5 allows 3.Qb8+ and mates in two more moves, if Black wants to draw matters out (3 … Rc8 4.Qxc8+ Qd8 5.Qxd8 checkmate). 3.Rc1! This quiet move is deadly and decisive, and shows a nice melding of pin and skewer. The Black queen is pinned along the c5-f8 diagonal and White exploits this to skewer the … Rc8. If 3 … Qxb4 4.Rxc8 checkmate follows; otherwise, White simply plays 4.Rxc5 winning the queen. In the game, Ljubojevic resigned here (1-0); he didn’t want to see any more.

Overall, Chess Informant 97 is up to the usual high standard of previous volumes in the series. For serious chess players, it will provide plenty of instruction and entertainment.

Svetozar Gligoric’s entry at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svetozar_Gligoric

Chess Informant 97: http://www.sahovski.com/products/ci/latest.php?id=33

About the reviewer: Paul Kane lives and works in Manchester, England. He welcomes responses to his reviews and can be contacted at pkane853@yahoo.co.uk