Alexander Motylev on books
What are your favorite chess books? Did your preferences change over the years?
In the childhood I was greatly impressed by Alexander Kazantsev's book 'A Gift from Caissa'. I re-read it several times. I have never seen such an original fusion of chess studies and literature ever since. In the youth I enjoyed Kotov's book 'How to become a grandmaster', 'Two Matches' and 'Child of Change' by Kasparov. There was also a very good series (usually called 'black series', because the books were printed with black dust-cover), I've read a lot of them – we have a good chess library at home. Later I've read all books by Dvoretsky – all of them are interesting, and his recent endgame manual is the best ever in that genre, in my opinion. Presently I read Kasparov's 'My Great Predecessors'.
Do you make a distinction between 'interesting' and 'useful' books?
Yes, I do, and I have to admit that I mostly read the interesting ones. However, the Chess Informant is a very interesting publication for chess players, but most people who see this book for the first time just flick through it much to their surprise, trying to find something they could understand...
Why the tournament collections are not so popular nowadays?
Good annotations require a serious commitment, and a professional can not let himself out of practice for long time. Also, such books are less demanded, although I would personally enjoy reading a collection of games from any major tournament – of course, in case its author's approach is serious enough.
Everyone says that chess is changing. Does the chess literature change as well?
Everything is changing. The most popular books today are those that explain how to win with or against certain openings, because such publications will surely have its share of the market. A work of an annotator becomes more responsible because of computers. You can't just give your evaluation without supporting it with some analysis, because a reader can turn a computer on and ask: 'My Fritz tells the opposite – how come?!' And then you have to start arguing with the machine, trying to defend your evaluation (and failing sometimes), spending a lot of effort... While what you get in the end in return is usually too little, aside from creative satisfaction.
Which chess books could be interesting for people that do not play chess, in your opinion?
I think that all biographies of interesting people could be a good reading. And there are many interesting people in the world of chess.
Photo from ChessBase collection
Questions were asked by Misha Savinov.
This article is published with permission of Association of Chess Professionals