Chess: Pass the hyperbole

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The Independent Culture
THE first of a threatened flood of books on the Kasparov-Short match have already appeared, in the hope that the surge of interest created by the event will last another week or two. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they have already appeared in the fear that the surge of interest will not last more than another week or two.

In either case, Kasparov v Short 1993 by Daniel King and Donald Trelford (Cadogan Chess, pounds 7.99) and Kasparov v Short 1993 by Raymond Keene (Batsford, pounds 7.99) have even more in common than the title and price.

The Cadogan book makes good use of comments made by Short and Kasparov in their post-game interviews for Channel 4; the Batsford book leans heavily on analysis given by Short and Kasparov in their post- game interviews for the Times. This is, after all, the official book of the match, which must make it - if one is to be completely pedantic about it - the official book of the unofficial world championship.

As collections of the 20 games, competently annotated, in a single volume, these are useful books to have, but they should be seen as interim reports on the games. For a considered verdict on who made what mistakes when, and was Nigel really winning when he lost on time in game one, we shall have to wait until the players themselves have the time and inclination to search for the ultimate truths and publish the results.

Take game two for example. On move 30, in the Batsford book, Short says: 'My position is quite close to winning but it is not yet 100 per cent. Here, though, I missed a clear improvement.' In the Cadogan version, however, 'We begin to feel truly optimistic about Short's chances' only after his 32nd move, two moves after the man had erred in the gospel according to Batsford.

There is little to choose between the books in terms of analysis, but in additional content and general style, the Cadogan book emerges a clear winner. Donald Trelford, now freed from his role as official hagiographer to the Kasparov camp, has written perceptive and entertaining introductions to each game, while Daniel King's style of annotation is healthily objective, instructive and self-deprecating where appropriate.

If, however, you like your chess with hyperbole, go for the Batsford book.