Home > Publishing Schedule > ECF Book of the year – How I Beat Fischer’s Record

ECF Book of the year – How I Beat Fischer’s Record

It is very rare that the same book wins more than one Book of the Year prize in chess. John Nunn did it with his Move by Move book (by idea of Lars Larsen, Denmark, which I passed on to Graham Burgess back in the day), the Attacking Manuals picked up three awards, Watson picked up a few with his Secrets of Modern Chess Strategy and maybe 1-2 others I have forgotten about has done the same.

This year Calculation won the ACP award only one vote ahead of what is arguably a better book, Judit Polgar’s How I Beat Fischer’s Record. As content editor on the book it is not impossible that I spent at least as much time on that book as I did on Calculation! The ACP award has the potential to be the most prestitiguous award long term, but at the moment this goes to the English Chess Federation’s award. Not the least because they chose the right winner 8-).

Here is what the judges said:

“The winning book this year combines three subjects (autobiography, lessons and best games) into one volume which together tell the story of the early years of the strongest woman player in chess history.
JuditPolgarBOTY
Judit Polgar ‘How I beat Fischer’s record’ is the main title, but the cover also features ‘Judit Polgar Teaches Chess 1′ and this reflects how the book is constructed. The period covered is from Judit’s first chess lessons to the age of 15 years,4 months and 28 days when she broke Fischer’s record of the youngest ever grandmaster. Using her training notes from the early days to the grandmaster, the first 12 chapters cover her learning curve (chapter 1, Tricks; chapter 12, Attacking without Queens). She then moves onto Decisive Games; Memorable Games; and finally Amsterdam 1989 OHRA Tournament Diary, where she more than holds her own in a strong grandmaster tournament.

The examples are well chosen and written from Polgar’s experiences over the board. Her tactical and attacking abilities were apparent at an early age as well as her confidence and determination. But what stands out is the enthusiasm, enjoyment and youthful exuberance of the young teenage girl, which makes the book a joy to read.

Polgar’s upbringing was of course unusual with exceptional focus on chess with 2 elder sisters who both became grandmasters. The amount of chess work that she and her sisters went through at an early age was immense; but it seems to have been a happy childhood, with none of the difficulties one often sees with prodigies.

Lastly, a tribute should be paid to the publishers, Quality Chess. The hardback book is well laid out and beautifully produced. Numerous photographs of the Polgar family, places visited, chess players and people met on the way flesh out the story. At £19.95 for 383 pages the book is also good value.

All in all, this is an exceptional insight into the early years of one of the most remarkable personalities in the chess world today. The next two volumes of the trilogy are eagerly awaited.

– Ray Edwards | Julian Farrand | David Friedgood | 4th October 2013″

Quality Chess has previously won this award with San Luis 2005 and Attacking Manual 1+2This year we also nominated the Yusupov-series, which has previously won the Boleslavsky medal, awarded by FIDE, but the judges did not think it made sense for their award. Different opinions!

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  1. October 8th, 2013 at 18:37 | #1

    Indeed JPTC1 it is a terrific book. My only critique is that I wish more games started from the initial position. Setting up from a diagram is more trouble than just playing thru the opening moves. I recall one instance where a diagram introduces the game at move 8 or so. In that case it would be better simply to start the game at move 1 in my personal opinion. Thanks.

  2. October 10th, 2013 at 06:30 | #2

    The book is on my wish list! Here’s a minor correction for your blog post: only one of Judit’s sisters (Susan) is a GM; the other (Sofia) is an IM.

  3. Jacob Aagaard
    October 10th, 2013 at 10:30 | #3

    @Chris Falter
    WGM = Women’s Grandmaster. Besides, it is a quote and you should not mess those up…

  4. Trefor
    October 10th, 2013 at 10:38 | #4

    Of course Sofia may well have been talented enough to have become a double World Champion – chess and ping pong 🙂

  5. hennie286
    October 12th, 2013 at 16:30 | #5

    I was already thinking of buying this book, so yesterday I finally did that.

  6. SovietSchool
    October 13th, 2013 at 12:26 | #6

    katar :
    Indeed JPTC1 it is a terrific book. My only critique is that I wish more games started from the initial position. Setting up from a diagram is more trouble than just playing thru the opening moves. I recall one instance where a diagram introduces the game at move 8 or so. In that case it would be better simply to start the game at move 1 in my personal opinion. Thanks.

    Yes I agree with this point too generally in books, though I think this book was maybe trying to take some of the emphasis away from opening towards tactics and endings.

  7. guest222
    October 14th, 2013 at 10:30 | #7

    A very fine book indeed, but would it be possible to include a symbol next to every diagram so we know who is to move ? (It is often Judith, but not always 🙁

  8. Jacob Aagaard
    October 15th, 2013 at 08:34 | #8

    @guest222
    Too much work for a book that is not an exercise book.

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