Masterpieces and Dramas of the Soviet Championships: Volume I, II & III (all 3 Books)
by Sergey Voronkov
Volume I (1920-1937)
In his three-volume treatise, leading Russian chess historian Sergey Voronkov vividly brings to life the long-forgotten history of the Soviet championships held in 1920-1953. Volume I covers the first 10 championships from 1920-1937, as well as the title match between Botvinnik and Levenfish. The key contestants also include world champion Alekhine and challenger Bogoljubov, lesser-known Soviet champions Romanovsky, Bogatyrchuk, Verlinsky, and Rabinovich, and names that today will be unfamiliar yet were big stars at the time: Riumin, Alatortsev, Makogonov, Rauzer, Ragozin, Chekhover, and many others.
This book can be read on many levels: a carefully selected collection of 107 of the best games, commented on mostly by the players themselves, supported by computer analysis. A detailed and subtly argued social history of the Soviet Chess School and of how chess came to occupy such an important role in Soviet society. A discussion of how the chess community lost its independence and came to be managed by Party loyalists. A portrayal of how the governing body and its leader, Nikolai Krylenko, strived to replace an entire generation of free-thinking chess masters with those loyal to the state. A study of how the authorities’ goals changed from wanting to use chess as a means of raising the culture of the masses to wanting to use chess to prove the superiority of the Soviet way of life. Or a sometimes humorous, often tragic history of talented, yet flawed human beings caught up in seismic events beyond their control who just wanted to play chess.
This book is illustrated with around 170 rarely seen photos and cartoons from the period, mostly taken from 1920s-1930s Russian chess magazines.Volume II (1938-1947)
The second part of Sergey Voronkov’s three-volume treatise continues from where Volume I left off. It covers the eleventh to fifteenth Soviet championships, the 1941 match tournament for the title of Soviet Absolute Champion, and the main events in the country’s chess history between these tournaments. Themes include the downfall of Nikolai Krylenko, the persecution and disappearance of Soviet chess players during the purges, and the experience of chess players in World War Two. The atmosphere of the time is captured in contemporary accounts and memoirs of key players and cultural figures.
We see Botvinnik and Keres established as leading challengers for Alekhine’s throne, with plans being made to arrange a title match. We encounter for the first time and witness the rise of great Soviet players such as Smyslov, Bronstein and Boleslavsky, and enjoy the games of many other stars including Flohr, Lilienthal, Bondarevsky, Kotov and Tolush.
This volume contains 84 games and fragments mostly annotated by the players themselves and their peers, and subjected to recent computer analysis. It is illustrated with around 250 photos and cartoons from the period, the main sources being Russian chess magazines and tournament bulletins.
Volume III (1948-1953)
The third volume of Sergey Voronkov's epic tale takes the reader on a historical journey through the late Stalinist period in the USSR. It covers in depth the five Soviet championships from 1948 to 1952 and the playoff match between Botvinnik and Taimanov in 1953, which concludes one month before Stalin's death. Against a background of rampant anti-Semitism, a new wave of repressions and descent into the First Cold War, in which chess was an important front, the USSR captures the world chess crown and Botvinnik and the generation that followed him, including Smyslov, Keres, Bronstein, and Boleslavsky, assert their places at the top-tables of Soviet and indeed global chess.
Yet a new group of legends begins to emerge, including Petrosian, Geller, Korchnoi, Taimanov, Averbakh, Simagin, Kholmov, and Furman making their championship debuts, as well as a semi-final appearance by Nikitin and Spassky's first quarter-final. At the same time, the reader learns about lesser-known masters Yuri Sakharov and Johannes Weltmander, victims of Stalinism who found solace in chess from their otherwise tragic lives.
The present volume contains 77 games and fragments, once again mostly annotated by the participants and other contemporary masters, augmented with modern computer analysis. It is illustrated with over 220 photos and cartoons from the period. Many of these photos come from unique archives, including that of David Bronstein, and are published for the first time.
3 books, Paperbacks or Hardbacks, over 1500 pages combined, Elk & Ruby
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