12.05.2005 Sergey Shipov on books

Your 'Hedgehog' seems to be totally unmarketable at the first glance. Did you check the sales? Maybe one should reconsider definitions of a marketable chess book?

The audience of my book is small by definition. I did not expect or even think about a commercial success. The 'Hedgehog' ripened inside me like Alien inside Rippley. When the animal matured and I could not endure it any longer, I sat to a computer and released the thorny animal...

What are your favorite chess books? Did your preferences change over the years?

'The story about Morphy' by Zagoryansky, 'The birth of a Variation' by Polugaevsky, 'The contours of an endgame' by Shereshevsky. Plus approximately 50 more wonderful books. Strangely, I still like the same stuff I liked in the childhood. So my tastes did not change. I just started to understand more, so I read more as well.

Do you make a distinction between 'interesting' and 'useful' books?

Of course, there are different books. The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings is hardly an exciting book. However, it is useful to study its volumes when preparing for a game – as well as other references. In other cases I prefer to read books that are not only useful, but also interesting.

Why the tournament collections are not so popular nowadays? What genre of books is more popular now?

I think that a public interest to a certain genre is not determined by grandmasters' tastes, but by a general demand in the market. I personally like tournament collections. Especially with good annotations and reports of eye-witnesses and spectators. I guess it makes sense to publish only books dedicated to the strongest competitions of elite level and historical value.

Everyone says that chess is changing. Does the chess literature change as well?

Naturally. In old books one could often see plain games without annotations. Now it is completely pointless, as almost all the readers have databases. An introduction of analytical modules led to a miraculous growth of chess writer population. Even an amateur now can write a large volume filled with plausible variations and evaluations. However, it is not enough for a high-quality work...

Which chess books could be interesting for people that do not play chess, in your opinion? Could recruit new players?

Such as 'The story about Morphy' by Zagoryansky. First of all there must be bright character, attractive plot, empathy! And only then – a little bit of chess, just a couple of brilliant fragments.

Questions were asked by Misha Savinov.

This article is published with permission of Association of Chess Professionals

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