Tim's Tournament Book Blog I: Hastings, 1895

Apr 2, 2016, 1:12 PM |

Hastings, 1895
Grand International Chess Congress
The Centennial Edition
Edited by Sid Pickard
Pickard and Son Publishers, 1995
259 pages

The Hastings 1895 chess tournament is one of the legendary events of all time.  A mammoth battle of 21 rounds it featured some of the biggest players in the world (Steinitz, Lasker, Chigorin) as well as young lions in Pillsbury, Teichmann, and Schelechter.  It is also notable for perhaps the biggest surprise winner in history in that Pillsbury was basically unknown in Europe and his victory ushered him into a period where he became one of the foremost contenders for the world championship. 

Story of the tournament.
There is a brief description each round of the major games, noting in particular the most interesting games and current scores of the top players.  These overviews are mainly paragraph in length.   There is also a detailed section on rules and regulations for tournament as well.  At the end of the rounds there is a nice cross table along with a brief description of the prizes won by each participant. 

Annotations in general are done by the players but the players do not comment on their own games. As a result, it is often apparent which players do not like each other based on their comments which can range from the snippy to downright harsh!  :)  Approaching the annotations this way leaves a wide range of analysis from the wordy to the very laconic but overall each game has a nice balance of variations and word analysis.  There are few very long commentary of either type but fans of both styles will find good things here.

Biographical Information
At the start of the book there are brief bios of each player listing some key facts and their chief success.  There is also a few lines regarding the players style. There are no pictures of the players nor any games to show their style.  The latter is unfortunate as it would have been interesting to see what past games the author would have chosen to illustrate each mans style.

Coverage of Games
This book includes every game from the tournament and every one is annotated but again the quality ranges depending on who is doing the analysis.  Each page is double columned and almost every game has at least one key diagram.  The print size is excellent as is the diagram quality.

Production Value
Overall the book is well done. It includes a cross table as well as an index of openings (but opening are done by name only with no ECO designation) and pages where the players games appear.  There is also a section of round by round results and the pages the games appear on making it easy to find a particular pairing. 

Final Evaluation:

 The Hastings 1895 tournament is a really good book.  There is lots to study and the book is vital especially for students of history of the game.  Having all the games annotated is big plus especially for those looking to see how players think during a game.  Careful play over the games, combined with the annotations will reward the player in particular in the areas of time and tactics as these late 19th Century Games involved a lot of king hunts and blistering attacks.  Bottom line: if you are serious about learning chess, you need this book!