Chess is a game which has more books on it than any other books in the world combined. The field of chess literature is so vast that one can go on and on and still not find a way out. The history of books on chess go down to many centuries ago. Even in the seventeenth century when it was played in Europe, the players relied on different books on the sport for strategies. The first world champion, Wilhem Stenietz also created his own collection of books. The book My System by Aron Nimzowitzch has sold millions of copies. It is now considered a treasure to have an original copy of his book.
So, why are chess books so popular? What are some of the recent books on the game which have become popular? The answers to these two questions are in fact quite simple. The chess books are immense in the content that they offer. They are full of details which can be easily understood by the player. In fact, there are different levels of books on the game.
Chess greats and their books
One of the greatest series is authored by none other than the world champion Garry Kasparov called “My Great Predecessors.” It is a five volume book and talks about Kasparov’s greatest predecessors and has their games annotated by the champion himself. This series has been read by most of the world’s top grandmasters and even novices looking to make it big in the sport. Reading chess books makes the player sharper and makes him develop his game. It also helps him analyse various games of the past. Another classic example of a chess book is the book by Bobby Fischer, “My Sixty Memorable Games.” It shows sixty of his best games and helps the reader understand the logic behind his moves. The reader can enjoy each of Fischer’s games with relative ease as it is written in a pure and natural text.
These two books are just small examples from the large world of chess books. There are other books on chess which talk about psychology and the mindset of the players during games. One such book is “How Life Imitates Chess” by Kasparov. It talks about how Kasparov thinks life and chess are co-related. He talks about his life as a chess player and what it meant to be a world champion. He gives insights into his grueling schedule before world championship matches and also his thoughts on what chess meant to him. It is a must read for every book worm whether playing or not.
Chess Books are a great way to improve your game. The biggest advantage with these are that they are self explanatory. One can easily read and understand them. They are the best ways to practice, and books are able to tell the player something that even the world’s best engines cannot say. In fact, a book gives insight knowledge by another human who has been on the same stage earlier and has done his research. Simply relying on computers has never been an effective way to grow and even the world’s best players still rely on these books for enhancing themselves. Thus, chess literature has a whole new future ahead.
Recent phenomenon of chess films
Chess in films has risen in the past two decades. One of the earliest films that I can recall seeing was Searching for Bobby Fischer, based on the true life story of International Master Josh Waitzkin. This film is based on the book of the same name by Fred Waitzkin, Josh’s father. It showcases the world of a chess player and how the role of a parent is crucial for a child’s development in the early part of his or her career. The movie tells Josh’s story in such a powerful manner that even a grandmaster can learn a lot by watching it.
A recent film on the game was directed by the acclaimed director Mira Nair called “Queen of Katwe.” The film has inspired millions of people across the globe, including the world champion, Magnus Carlsen. What makes this film unique is the fact that a young girl from an extremely poor background rises up the ladder and becomes the first player from her country -Uganda- to participate in the Olympiad. All of sixteen, this girl wins the heart of millions by her never say die attitude. She was none other than Phiona Mutesi, who along with her coach, Robert Katende, made the game popular in an area where the people were so stricken with poverty that they had no place to stay in even in the worst conditions. The film showcases how to overcome extreme hardships in life with a positive mind frame.
Another amazing film on chess was “Magnus.” A film by a Norwegian debutant director Benjamin Ree, this film has the live footage of several important moments in the world no.1’s career. It shows how he became a grandmaster at thirteen and how his quest for becoming a world champion came true in 2013. The documentary draws on the experiences of the entire Carlsen family and how they, as a unit, helped the reigning world champion become a phenomenon that he is today.
The above examples are just a few from the world of chess literature and films. It is rightly said that chess is an ocean full of treasures. It not only ignites the mind, but it also helps to develop oneself holistically. The game of chess is not only a sport, it is an art, a science, and a philosophical sea. One can only reap the benefits from this beautiful game.
Image courtesy: The Seventh Seal (Movie)