Tal, Petrosian, Spassky and Korchnoi

A Chess Multibiography with 207 Games

Paperback Edition


In stock

SKU: 9781476683645 Categories: , Tags: ,

About the Book

This book describes the intense rivalry—and collaboration—of the four players who created the golden era when USSR chess players dominated the world. More than 200 annotated games are included, along with personal details—many for the first time in English.
Mikhail Tal, the roguish, doomed Latvian who changed the way chess players think about attack and sacrifice; Tigran Petrosian, the brilliant, henpecked Armenian whose wife drove him to become the world’s best player; Boris Spassky, the prodigy who survived near-starvation and later bouts of melancholia to succeed Petrosian—but is best remembered for losing to Bobby Fischer; and “Evil” Viktor Korchnoi, whose mixture of genius and jealousy helped him eventually surpass his three rivals (but fate denied him the title they achieved: world champion).

About the Author(s)

Grandmaster Andy Soltis, nine times champion of the Marshall Chess Club, New York Post editor and Chess Life columnist, is the author of dozens of chess books. He lives in New York City.

Bibliographic Details

Andrew Soltis
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 394
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, 207 games, appendices, notes, bibliography, indexes
Copyright Date: 2020 [2019]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8364-5
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3478-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Preface 1
Introduction: The Soviet Team of Rivals 5
1. Four Boys 15
2. Growing Pains 43
3. Overkill 62
4. Culture War 79
5. Spassky, Spassky, Spassky! 93
6. Volshebnik 109
7. Three Directions 133
8. A Takeoff, an Apogee and a Crash 151
9. Why Not Me? 180
10. Private Lives, Public Games 197
11. Candidacy 222
12. Humors 247
13. Whose Risk Is Riskier? 276
14. The Fischer Factor 301
15. Countdown to Calamity 318
Epilogue: Four Aging Men 335
Appendix A: Chronology, 1929–2016 339
Appendix B: Ratings Comparison 353
Chapter Notes 355
Bibliography 373
Index of Opponents 377
Index of Openings—Traditional Names 379
Index of Openings—ECO Codes 381
General Index 382

Book Reviews & Awards

  • Book of the Year Award—Chess Journalists of America
  • “Grandmaster Soltis is one of the best chess players and chess game writers. [A] great book…Soltis superbly compares [the four players]…207 wonderfully annotated games…most fascinating…the full humanity of each player is revealed… A splendid, interesting, even fascinating book!…highly recommended.”—<Choice
  • “Soltis doesn’t just pick the most familiar games…but rather games that bring something extra to the overall narrative…[McFarland books are of excellent quality, the binding is great and they will last an eternity, no matter how many read-throughs”—American Chess Magazine
  • “I have read many fine biographies of these players, but Soltis’ approach brings out something extremely interesting that had not earlier become clear to me. …by comparing the players so explicitly to each other and highlighting their interactions with each other, Soltis helps you understand much better the strain and struggles that even these great players faced in chess. …Great stuff! …another wonderful book, once again beautifully produced by McFarland! 5 stars.”—New in Chess
  • “Anyone interested in any of these players or chess in the Soviet era would do well to pick up Soltis’ book”—Chess Life
  • “Arguably the best book Grandmaster Andy Soltis has ever written and considering he is one of the most prolific authors in the history of the game, with close to fifty titles to his name, that is saying something. … Soltis does a thorough job throughout, sifting through many sources as evidenced by the numerous footnotes and extensive biography. …a wonderful read that will continually fascinate…highly recommended”—IM John Donaldson
  • “An excellent narrative history of the trials and tirbulations for these four players…his collection of games is interesting and well annotated…heartily recommended.”—Mind’s Eye Press
  • “The stories are humorous, enlightening, and entertaining, and brings forth the humanity of the players. This is the soert of biography I know many readers have been waiting for.”—ChessCafe.com