Secret of Chess Informant

Secret of Chess Informant

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Secret of Chess Informant

Is there anyone in the chess world

 who has never heard about Chess Informant?

Why is Chess Informant so popular? 


The issue number 108 of Chess Informant should appear on sale soon (according to Informant’s official site it should be in November 30th, - then, I will write about it). While waiting for the new issue I would like to make readers familiar with Chess informant publishing house. Since everything that I would like to write is too extensively I will do it in a few articles.

In this article, I will write about the history of Chess Informant and the structure of it and will also share a few interesting games with the readers. So, the readers who are familiar with Chess Informant history and structure can only look at a few nice games played by great players that contributed with Chess Informant. In the next article, I will write something about the other publications of this publishing house…

Before all, I would like to say that this is not advertising for Chess Informant publishing house. As a chess player who has over 2.000 chess books I’m always on reader’s side. With this article, I only want to make chess funs a little more familiar with Chess Informant.

History of Chess Informant

 Why Chess Informant?

Great master Vidmar wrote the book “Golden age of chess” thinking on the period of time when he played together with other great masters. I would say that the whole twentieth century presents a golden age of chess. Many tournaments, great popularity of chess, many chess books… At the beginning of the sixties of the twentieth century, in former Yugoslavia, a group of enthusiasts from Belgrade wanted to make chess information – games with quality comments – understandable to everyone – on all continents and to all languages.

First thing they did was: they designed a system of symbols, simple and understandable to everyone. The essence is that instead of a sign of chess piece should be a picture of it – and then a move is understandable to everyone. Nowadays, this is quite usual – all serious publishing houses practically use this method but the first one who started with this was Chess Informant.

The second thing they did was connected with annotating games. We, “professional readers” of chess comments know that some phrases are repeated: “threatens”, “with the idea”,” White stands better”,” the bishop pair”, “initiative”…. Informant’s editorial converted all this into symbols thus making a language understandable to everyone in the world.

The third problem that Chess Informant solved was classification of chess openings. It is well-known that some openings and some variations are called differently in different countries. Say, The Spain Game or The Ruy Lopez, The Petrof Defence or The Russian Defence, The Benko Gambit or The Volga Gambit… And it’s much worse with the variations.  Informant solved this problem simply: determining the codes A B C D E – and when nowadays someone says, say B33 many players know it’s The Sveshnikov Sicilian (or The Lasker Sicilian ). Nowadays, all these novelties are used in practically all respectable publications but it should be underlined that this was Informant’s invention. For all this, credit goes to GM Matanovic and Molerovic (and some other names as well).

In 1966 started Chess Informant written on chess “Esperanto” language understandable to everyone. It became one of the most popular chess publications ever.

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Two things are very important for good information: good games and, of course, quality comments. The games that are annotated in Chess Informant usually are annotated by one of the players who played a game. I can claim that Chess Informant is a publication with the largest number of quality contributors in chess history. Here, it would be difficult (and it’s unnecessary) to mention all the players who participated in the writing of some issues. So, I will only mention a few names though I’m aware that my choice will be certainly wrong: I will miss a large number of important names – because so many great players contributed with the publication.

Fascinating fact is that all WCCs from Euwe to Kramnik and Anand contributed with Informant - mainly by annotating games.

At the time when Informant appeared, Max Euwe practically stopped playing tournament chess (When the first issue of the magazine appeared he was 65). That’s why he only annotated one game for Informant. He also actively participated in writing Chess opening Encyclopedia – Euwe is well-known for large number of his books and his help with writing was great. Euwe also wrote a book “From Steinitz to Fischer” published by Chess Informant (Belgrade, 1976) which unfortunately has been sold long ago.

At the time when the first issue of Chess Informant appeared, Mikhail Botvinnik, patriarch of Russian chess was at the end of his playing chess career and so he only annotated a few of his games for Informant. However, even after stopping playing actively he continued annotating games played by other players – by his students: Karpov and Kasparov. Total number of annotated games is 29. He also wrote some important parts of Encyclopedia of chess openings and Encyclopedia of chess endgames. 

Vasily Smyslov annotated 128 games. Great master of chess Mikhail Tal annotated 367 games! Tigran Petrosian didn’t write much but he annotated 509 (!) games for Informant.  Boris Spassky annotated 17 games.

 If you think that mysterious Bobby Fischer didn’t contribute with Informant you are wrong. Legendary Bobby annotated his own games rarely but he annotated 10 of his games for Informant. Those who read his book “My 60 memorable games” know how quality and responsible Fischer analyzed.

Since bunch dates can be boring I think it’s time to take a rest of the numbers – so, let’s look at one Fisher’s game with his comments (from Chess Informant 6/68):


Fischer’s heir to the throne, Anatoly Karpov, annonated 579 games so far (most of them he annotated himself and some of them he annotated with contributors). He also wrote a few parts of Encyclopedia of Chess Openings and contributed with Encyclopedia of Chess Endgames. He is the author of well-known book B17 about The Caro-Kann.

Garry Kasparov liked and respected this publication (I believe he still reads Chess informant). From his books, we can see that he studied Informant seriously and when he stopped playing tournament chess he used analysis from Informant for all his books (famous Predecessors, for instance).  He also wrote a few parts of Encyclopedia of Openings and Encyclopedia of Endings. He annotated over 600 games for Informant!! Players who know Kasparov know how seriously he analyses games – both his own games and those played by other players (maybe this is one of the secrets of his great success).

Again, many statistic dates, so I suggest a little breather - let’s look at one Kasparov’s game. The choice is difficult – so large number of excellent games. Let it be a game from the time when Kasparov only becoming what he is now – legend (Chess Informant 32/590).

Vladimir Kramnik, player who won “unbeatable” Kasparov, annotated over 400 games – it’s really impressive.

Champions of modern times contributed with Informant as well: Khalifman annotated 209 games, Ponomariov 136, Kasimdzhanov 117, and Veselin  Topalov 55 games.

Current champion, Viswanathan Anand annotated about 500 games and he also wrote the following books: about The Marshall attack in Ruy Lopez (C89), and about The Sicilian – Rauzer-Richter variation B66. The proof that these books are popular is the fact that they have been sold out quickly.

And now follows the most difficult choice: what players to mention? Here is a short list:  Shirov (502), Gelfand around 500, Sokolov Ivan (578), Larsen (415), Bareev (414), Bologan (397), Ivanchuk (350), Polugaevsky (334), Adams over 400, Kamsky over 300, Jussupow (324), Kortschnoy (274), Leko (274), Huebner (258), Dreev (226), Svidler (219), Predojevic (213), Short (197), Seirawan (196), Dolmatov (156) – these are only some of the great names who annotated over 150 games (let this be a criteria).

But young players had no time to play so large number of games, so here is Karjakin over 120, Grischuk (102), Morozevich (138), Motylev (120) Ivanisevic (36)…

And who should be mentioned now? I take a risk to miss someone; I will mention only the following legends: David Bronstein about 100, Gligoric (659), Keres (139), Geller (304), Portisch (280), Taimanov (162), Ljubojevic (98) … I know I didn’t mention all them, I’m sorry but this is practically impossible.

And, yes: do you maybe think that the biggest name among chess trainers, great Mark Dvoretsky didn’t contribute with Informant? If you think so, you are wrong. He annotated over 50 games for this publication.

And at the end of this part of the article, a few more statistic dates: On the last Tal`s Memorial (Moscow, November 2010) participated 10 players and all them (!) contributed with Chess Informant. Among twenty participants of WCC Blitz Moscow 2010, November, 13 players contributed with Chess Informant. From the Fide elo list, November 2010, only 3 players among the first 20 players … didn’t contribute (for now, of course!) with Chess Informant!!

And now, let’s look at a nice game played by current WCC Anand (Chess Informant 99/247):

Structure of Chess Informant

The name Chess Informant says itself about the essence of this publication: its primary goal is informing about the most important events in the chess world. The publication is published 3 times a year (many years ago, when there were less information it was published two times a year) and informs about the period of 4 months.

For a chess player, of course, the most important are games, so, most of the material in Informant are high quality ANNOTATED GAMES. The games that will be published are selected according to several criteria: The first and most important criteria is the quality of games so, in each issue of Informant published is a large number of games played by the greatest players from around the world.

Another important criteria is a theoretical value of games – all significant theoretical novelties are published in Informant. In this publication, also published are important games from the strongest tournaments. And what happens if a game with important theoretical novelty played in opening was played badly in due course? In that case, the game is published until the move as it was interesting. So, the number of published games in each issue of Informant depends on how many quality games were played in the period of 4 months.

I would say that the secret of Chess Informant’s success is that in each issue there is SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE. In the last issue, number 107, for instance, there are 295 games annotated in detail.  Chess games are arranged by openings – according to the system designed by Chess Informant. After the last annotated game follows a register - players in alphabetical order and after this follows a register - annotators in alphabetical order. So, we can find out a game that we are interested in fast and easily.

Important parts of the structure of the publication are selected combinations and endings as well as studies with index/themes. These parts are very interesting for training – I know many players who solve all the puzzles as a sort of training.

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Chess Informant publishes cross tables from all the most important tournaments as well as the results after the last round from the less important tournaments played during the period of 4 months. Knowing theory of openings is an important success factor in modern chess, so, Informant has a chapter “Modern Chess theory” in which it deals with certain important variations – the variations are marked according to the system designed in Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. Say, the last issue (number 107) deals with the variations B01, B76 and D85.

Many players want to know more about their favorite players. That’s why Informant write about great chess players, say in the last issue there is a whole chapter about Magnus Carlsen (many chess experts consider him to be a WCC in the future) – published were 27 of his games (of course, annotated!), then 19 games in which he played important theoretic novelties in opening, then, 27 of his nice combinations and 9 of his well-played endings. Great material for studying Carlsen’s play!

At the end of the publication, published is important information from the period of 4 months. In the last issue, published was the article over the death of former WCC Smyslov – written by GM Matanovic.

At the beginning of Informant there is an explanation for easy orientation of the publication (maybe it looks strange that only at the end of this article I write about what you can find at the beginning of Informant but the reason is that I will write more about this in my next article). Besides this, there are two more very important things there: THE BEST GAME and the most important THEORETIC NOVELTY chosen by a jury of respectable players among the game/novelties published in previous issue of Informant – in that the publication is unique in the world.

Informant is published as a book and CD (special software made for Informant: Chess Informant Reader and Chess Informant Expert).

At the end of this article, let’s look at a nice combination from the last issue of Informant

To be continued

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