domingo, 4 de octubre de 2015

Review: For Friends and Colleagues volume 1 by Dvoretsky

Title: For Friends and Colleagues Volume 1. Profession: Chess Coach.
Author: Mark Dvoretsky.
Publisher: Russell Enterprises.
Year: 2014.
Pages: 384.
Price: 30$.

This is the first volume of Dvoretsky's autobiography. I put that last word in italics because it is not your run of the mill biography, the author has restricted himself to tell his life only when related to chess. I think that is a great idea. What I'm interested in is Dvoretsky the chess player and trainer, not the son, husband or father.

One thing that I want to get out of the way fast is that this is not a book to train chess. Even if there are commented games and diagrams, those are auxiliary parts. The focus on the book is to tell a story, Dvoretsky's story. If you want to improve your chess, go search elsewhere.

To me this was a very interesting book. You get to know more about the soviet times and about some great figures of the game. However the book seems like a collection of little works put together. There are some parts of it that are a direct rip of already published material, but I couldn't shake the feeling even in those parts where no mention of a previous print was made, that was actually what happened.

Maybe because of this, the best word to describe the book is uneven. There are some really great parts, when I couldn't stop readying. On the other hand, some parts where plain boring. I felt it specially at the end, but through the book there are always passages like that. 

Other than that, there is a small detail that I did not like: According to the book, Dvoretsky was never wrong. Whenever someone else in the book is portrayed as having a different opinion than that of the author, the inevitable conclusion will be that he was wrong and the author was right all along. There are passages where this someone came back to the author apologizing and Mark graciously accepted the apologies and resumed the work together.

As I see it, everyone makes mistakes. It is not possible for the author to never be wrong. So there are only two options left: Or he has discretely hide his own shortcomings, which maybe is a legitimate thing to do being this his book, or in at least some of his stories the truth is not entirely told.

I would line with the first option, because Dvoretsky (as portrayed by himself) seems to be a person with ideals and integrity, incapable of changing the facts to fit the vision of oneself. I would even go as far as to think that it was not intentional. But nevertheless it is there, and it annoyed me!

All in all, I think it is a good book, and if you have 12€ lying around, I would advice you to buy the kindle version of the book. It is half the price, and the book itself is not that great to justify having it physically.

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