November 11, 2009 20:03

The Sorcerer's Apprentice wins Guardian's Chess Book of the Year Award

The Sorcerer's Apprentics wins Guardian's Chess Book of the Year awardThe revised and expanded version of the classic The Sorcerer's Apprentice by David Bronstein and Tom Fürstenberg has won the fourth Guardian Chess Book of the Year Award. According to the British daily it's an "unusual, personal, inspirational and endearing work that deserves a place on every chess player's bookshelf".

The Sorcerer's Apprentice was originally published in 1995 by Everyman. The new, revised and expanded edition, published by New in Chess, won Guardian's Chess Book of the Year Award.

The book "contains a lot of new material and two moving In Memoriams, one by Bronstein’s widow Tatiana Boleslavskaya and one by his co-author and friend Tom Fürstenberg. Furthermore, 32 pages of unique photographs have been included, as well as extensive new articles by Bronstein himself," according to the publisher. You can read our review of the book here.

The Guardian is a British daily newspaper owned by the Guardian Media Group. Founded in 1821, it is unique among major British newspapers in being owned by a foundation (the Scott Trust, via the Guardian Media Group). It had a certified average daily circulation of 358,844 copies in January 2009.

Ronan Bennett and Daniel King of The Guardian wrote:

Books from Botvinnik, Bronstein and Lipnitsky, along with Kasparov's latest addition to his series on world championship chess, gave our shortlist for the fourth Guardian chess book of the year award a distinct Soviet-era flavour. (...)

Our winner is the revised and expanded version of The Sorcerer's Apprentice by David Bronstein and Tom Fürstenberg (New in Chess, £29.95). This is an unusual, personal, inspirational and endearing book, a mix of anecdote, musing and insight. Bronstein, who drew his 1951 world championship match with Botvinnik 12-12 (Botvinnik, as holder, retained the title), was one of the most original players of all time.

(Read the full article here)



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Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers


Arne Moll's picture

Congratulations to New in Chess for winning this prestigious award. I have only now had the opportunity to read all the articles in the Guardian concerning this competition, so allow me to make a few remarks about the election.

First of all, I should note that all 6 candidates (Nunn, Grooten, Sokolov, Botvinnik, Lipnitsky, Bronstein) were reviewed on ChessVibes before, and that I liked all of them. Apart from the somewhat obligatory inclusion of John Nunn (his endgame manual is good, but hardly original and contains much material that has been covered by other authors as well), all books definitely deserve to be shortlisted for any award.

Still, I think I was not the only one who was surprised that an almost 15 year old book has won the award. For one, I wonder what kind of message this sends to new aspiring authors such as Herman Grooten and Ivan Sokolov, who have written excellent books and have not written them years ago, but very recently? Also, If 50% of your shortlist consists of material which was mainly written decades ago, especially when there are so many new authors around, I guess you run the risk of being accused of being a tiny little bit conservative.

Actually, the inclusion of The Sorcerer's Apprentice is an even bigger mystery than Botvinnik's hitherto unpublished match diaries and Lipnitsky's 1956 chess manual (which had never been translated into English before.) Sure, there are some great additions to the original edition (though also a couple of less interesting ones!), but in the jury report we find nothing of how this has changed the original book.

A more general problem is that the jury doesn't explain its preference of Bronstein over the other titles at all: they just state who the winner is, and then say: "This is an unusual, personal, inspirational and endearing book, a mix of anecdote, musing and insight."
Well yes, but aren't Botvinnik's, Kasparov's, Grooten's and Sokolov's books 'unusual, personal, inspirational and endearing' as well? Aren't they, too, 'a mix of anecdote, musing and insight?'
If they are (as I'm sure the jury will agree), then why did Bronstein's book get preference over these books?

The least we should expect from a jury of such an influential newspaper is a couple of arguments. So far, I have seen none.

Poek's picture

Agree with Arne. Also Marin is missing on the list, while in my opinion he is a candidate for book of the year. Anyway, we should not take this contest too seriously, I guess.

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