Best chess masters biographies?


Apart from books about Bobby Fischer and Garry Kasparov, and a few collected short papers on the Russians, it seems to me that a great field is still to be exploited in the art of chess writing: that of in-depth individual chess players' biographies, historical and psychological, with or without games analyses.

Can anyone of you book and chess lovers recommend any that I could have missed ?

In advance, thank you!


From my library. Rare, some very expensive, and in several languages.
Only for those who love
Chess and chess literature  Books ranging from very good to outstanding and some  references in the biographies of chess. My Library is almost dedicated to great ches players bios,  game and Tournaments collection. It's my passion, my personal taste.

epoqueepique, like your nick my chess èpoque epique ends in 72. And Books like Alekhine's Chess Games - 1902-1946 ( 807 p) and  Amos Burn
A Chess Biograph by Richard Forster ( Mc Farland are so amazing, so seious, so hardwork and profound, that are miles away from the trash, the mediocrity, the lie of many today chess books  as  Polugayevsky said: "90% should never have been written".


You might like "Chess Bitch" by Jennifer Shahade, epo. I did. It is a biography of every single woman chessplayer past and present. My favorite was a Judit minature when she was a preteen.


Xadrez, thank you for the pictures, I see you are a book collector... (if one day, you want to sell your collection, contact me, see my profile) :)

Can you tell me how many volumes for the Grunfeld book ?

I am not looking for chess games compilations but for biographies, do you have more ?

@cheryll. Thank you. I got the feeling they were short surveys of their chess lives. Is that correct ?

@paul, yes Sosonko is great and I have read them all. He gave me the taste for more detailed and complete biographies covering the whole life of a player, not just his/her chess life...


David Bronstein's autobographical Secret Notes is informative and fun. It covers both chessic and personal aspects of his life.


Thank you very much, this is interesting, thanks for the link too :)


The best book that I can recommend is Mikhail Tal's (Talh) autobiographic, (I am lost for the title) by R.H.M. press. He was a journalist (!) by education and approaches it as a journalist. If anyone knows the title let me know. (it is missing from my bookshelf.Hate when I can't find it)


Also from a chess stand point Alekhine's games 1902-1937 by himself and the 3rd volume after his death 1938-46, is a must. I see it above. Thanks 5x! the pictures are great. I would add another older book Laskers Greatest Games 1889-1914 by Fred Reinfeld and Ruben Fine (also titled Dr. Lasker's Chess Career.)I have the 1963 copy the orginal was 1935 by Dover Press


Dover Press did a lot of books and the authors I.A. Horowitz, Fred Reinfeild and Ruben Fine. For the U.S. they where the only books easy to buy until the Fischer era. Rubinstein, Reti, and Capablanca each had books covering their games with short biographical data. Pride and Sorrow is a biography of Paul Morphy, I am sorry not to to know the author or publisher. It is a very moving portrait of a sad hero.


Another semi-biography is the book Chess Secrets by Edward Lasker.  It is an interesting account of the games of both Edward and his "namesake" Emanuel Lasker and contains quite a bit of biographic information.


Does my question render you speechless, dixe ? Knowing you, it's my assumption that did ;)

Lawson I am reading now, the biography of Philidor as a musician and chessplayer I didn't know of, and Tartakower, my first teacher, I will look into also, many many thanks for taking time once again to enlighten me ! Grazie mille !


You are so efficient, dixe.

Speechless : I think you mean you are not going to give a speech about each book (I know you use the Google translator from Italian to didn't get any better).

I sometimes sell Philidor's musical scores at auctions, and his chess book too of course. I am overjoyed to hear there has been a biographical study about this great man of real talent.

Steinitz, Lasker, THANK YOU.

Don't bother with technical treatises! that's not what I am looking for.


Thank you for that last link : A terrific book review of 

Aron Nimzowitsch: On the Road to Chess Mastery, 1886-1924


I am going to buy the Alekhine book, thanks dix3. Alekhine was a complex man. Sad that he died lonely in Portugal. He is the only Champion to die as champion. His grave site in Paris, I believe, is a richly deserved. A Champion of France, Russia, and the world.


I will buy the Nimzowitsch book, thank you for all your work dixe.

(and please answer my question in our game's chatbox)


Here is a link you might find interesting on Paul Morphy:

I will assume you have heard of "The Life and Games of Michael Tal"


Orangeishblue: I remember the title caused quite a stir in the chess world, and the author has had to explain the reason she chose it in several interviews.


Bobby Fischer Goes to War by David Edmonds and John Eidnow

Bobby Fischer vs The Rest of the World by Brad Darrach

Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady

I don't think any of these are "must own" books but they're all very entertaining and interesting. I read all 3 by requesting them via "inter-library loans" which cost me a whopping $1 per book.  This book looks good but hasn't been released yet - Barnes & has a pretty good description of it - I may break down and buy it even though the last thing I need is another unread chess book!


Now I am going to have to go out and buy Chess Bitch.