An unexamined life is not worth living.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The King’s Gambit by Paul Hoffman - Book Review

When King’s Gambit by Paul Hoffman came out in 2007, I was anxious to get a copy as soon as possible. It had good reviews, and in addition I actually had met Paul Hoffman at a dinner in Toronto in 2004, at the closing ceremony for the Canadian Chess Championship. The book is meant to appeal to both readers who know little about chess, and to experienced chess players. I enjoyed the read quite a bit. It provided insider details on the top chess players – Kasparov, Susan Polgar, Joel Lautier, Nigel Short, and others, but also gave more details about the lives of players whom I had actually met at the board – Pascal Charbonneau and Jack Yoos.

Paul’s love for the game shines throughout the book. An chess amateur’s description of the sense of happiness of winning a good game that only chess players are familiar with – make the book stand out.

You will enjoy this book if you have ever

  • dreamt to be a grandmaster
  • admired a fellow chess player’s personal achievement
  • wanted to learn about Garry Kasparov’s restaurant manners
  • prepared for your tournament opponents by spying their ICC game history

Reading “King’s Gambit” I remembered watching Pascal Charbonneau’s dramatic win last round at the Canadian Closed Championship in 2002:

Charbonneau – Cummings, 2002
image White to move. Black had just moved the bishop away from guarding g7, how can this be exploited?

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