San Francisco 1995 by James Eade
Piatagorsky 1966, AVRO 1938, Zurich 1953. These top rated tournaments are known by all and reported by many. There are few books, however, geared to telling the story of lesser category tournaments, even though there are many such tournaments held each year. One work that does accomplish this task is James Eade’s San Francisco 1995. This book is part of the Competitive Chess Series published by Hypermodern Press.
This 1995 tournament, a category 13, had a tremendous variety of talent: young and old; male and female; and representative of more than half a dozen countries. Korchnoi, Nunn, Polgar, and Gulko are just a few of the talented players that participated. Almost all the games in this twelve player round robin were fiercely contested and 21 of the 66 games were decisive. This high number of wins and losses is not surprising given that Korchnoi’s victory was not certain until the last round.
As one of the tournament organizers, Eade is as familiar with the tournament as anyone and this familiarity improves on already solid writing. He covers the introductions to the tournament, the players, and the rounds. Of these introductions, it is his ability to demonstrate the nature of the individuals participating that is the highlight of his writing. Most of the annotated games, of which there are 22, are annotated by Nick de Firmian, but several other participants also annotated a game or two. The annotations are mostly textual and not particullarly numerous in variations, but quite helpful nonetheless.
This reviewer does have a few minor complaints. First, there is no index of openings or players which would have been easy to include and is often helpful. Second, the cross table lists the players in a random manner rather than by result. Third, this relatively short book includes 15 pages of pictures, mostly head shots and none of them “action” photos of the event.
Thus, for those who enjoy the people and the spirit of a chess tournament, I highly recommend this book. For those interested in just variations, moves on the board, or deep theoretical discussions of openings, there is not much here. In either case, the reader will know to bring a bottle of white wine when sitting down to a game with de Firmian.