My thanks to the good folks at Chess Life for allowing me to do so. —–. Maizelis, Ilya. The Soviet Chess Primer. trans. John Sugden. Glasgow. Chess player profile of Danielius Maizelis [Даниелюс Маизелис]: Chess Games, Play Style, Ranking, Tournament History and Community comments. The Soviet Chess Primer, by Ilya Maizelis, Quality Chess , Paperback, Figurine Algebraic Notation, pp. $ (ChessCafe Price.

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This review has been printed in the June issue of Chess Maize,is. A penultimate and unedited version of the review is reproduced here. My thanks to the good folks at Chess Life for allowing me to do so.

The Soviet Chess Primer. Until very recently it was hard to imagine Anatoly Karpov and Garry Kasparov agreeing on much of anything.

Ilya Maizelis | Chess Book Reviews

Both Karpov and Kasparov are quoted on the cover, and they both love this book. Tigran Petrosian as Andy Soltis tells it preferred the book to breakfast, saving his meal money up and buying a copy instead.


Such high regard may be surprising for an American audience, for whom Ilya Maizelis is something of a mystery. If his name is recognized at all, it is as a co-author of the classic Pawn Endings with Yuri Averbakh, although in truth Maizelis was its primary author. The few references to Maizelis that exist in English describe him as a translator and endgame analyst, with special expertise in pawn endings and technical rook endings.

The translation by John Sugden reads well, and — as one expects from Quality Chess — the production values are high.

– Maizelis, Ilya

A quick glance at the table of contents would suggest that the English title is apt. More advanced topics, including further elucidations of combination and positional play, follow.

So far, so good. Closer scrutiny of The Soviet Chess Primerhowever, leads me to question the title chosen by Quality Chess for this new translation.

The breakneck pace of the book and the complex examples preclude me from thinking it appropriate for the beginner. White mates in three moves.

Yes, Black is in zugzwang, but surely there are much clearer and Elo-appropriate ways to illustrate the point than this? Despite my reservations about the title, The Soviet Chess Primer is a fine book and its acclaim is deserved.


I suspect, however, that the particular affection felt for it by former Soviets may have another source.

Chess books were hard to come by in the Soviet Maiaelis as demand was high and paper was often scarce. It should not surprise us that youthful attachment to cherished books would persist, and in this case the attachment is justified.

There are certainly better primers in print today, but few books are more interesting than is The Soviet Chess Primer.

Danielius Maizelis

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