Chess Informant - A Kalashnikov to the Chess World

Chess Informant - A Kalashnikov to the Chess World

GM Illingworth
Sep 11, 2017, 6:21 PM |

If you haven't heard of Chess Informant, I can say with near-total certainty that you were born after 1966. 

For it was in this year that the Yugoslav GM Aleksandar Matanović (with Milivoje Molerović) published the first issue of Chess Informant. An image of the first Chess Informant was nearly as elusive as the book itself (which recently sold out in a rollback special by the Chess Informant team - of which I bought Informants 2 and 4-8 to donate at a suitable time). After much scouring I found a pile with the first CI's front cover visible:


Having recently written my first book, I have a good idea how hard it is to enter these uncharted waters! For those of you unfamiliar with Chess Informant, it started out as a collection of high-level games, lightly annotated over a six-month period. That may seem like nothing nowadays with databases, but at the time this was the main resource of every professional player. Indeed, when travelling to tournaments, many professionals would carry more Informants than clothes in their luggage! 

One only needs to remember Kasparov's quote 'We are children of the Informant" to appreciate the influence these books had (and continue to have!) on generations of players. In my case, I was introduced to the Informants in 2004. My coach at the time, FM Brett Tindall (who still runs a very successful chess coaching business in Sydney), had a friend who had stopped playing chess recently and wanted to sell his semi-recent Chess Informants at a bulk discount. I would read through the Informants in my head over breakfast, trying to follow the games in my head as far as I could! The game that probably made the biggest impression on me was a striking Kalashnikov win by Nataf against John Nunn (before he started winning World Chess Solving Championships):

Don't worry if you couldn't guess the moves - I couldn't either as an aspiring 1800 player! This game was voted the 'Best Game of CI 75' in 'Chess Informant 76'.

I'm not the only Australian to be influenced by CI either - when IM Gary Lane tried to use this idea as Black against Zong-Yuan Zhao, the youngest Australian to become a Grandmaster (until IM Anton Smirnov achieves his final norm ), came armed with an improvement!

Incidentally, this game was also analysed in Chess Informant 90, by GM Ian Rogers. That may well have been a reply to Lane's article on his 2004 Australian Championship title, where he annotated the following key game:

So we started with the Informant, and ended with the Kalashnikov. I would advise not to fire away your engines, or you may be dishearted, but those with aggressive intent against the Open Sicilian might entertain 'The Killer Sicilian' by Tony Rotella, as reviewed by IM John Bartholomew here: 

I should warn you though - when my book is published, it will be White firing the shots.