Sunday, November 18, 2007

Paul Hoffman's Attack on Lies in Chess

On the chessboard, lies and hypocrisy do not survive long. --Emanuel Lasker

When people have asked me what I like most about chess, I have said that chess is one of the few areas of human knowledge where you can actually arrive at the truth. You may never get to the truth, but at least you know you could. Paul Hoffman, whose book King's Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World's Most Dangerous Game has been drawing well-deserved rave reviews, seems to have a similar interest in the game. But he approaches it from the opposite side of the coin: rather than seeking truth in chess, he seems obsessed with chasing out lies. That is the central theme of his book, which traces his own interest in the game and his obsession with the overly competitive liars who have played it (including his father) with a win-at-all-costs attitude. Hoffman's opinion piece in this weekend's Washington Post, "Winning by Rook or by Crook," gives you some sense of his concerns.

I recommend King's Gambit highly -- one of the best books I've read this year -- and if I had more time I would write a long and glowing review, complete with annotated games (for there are many referenced and described in the book), a lengthy discussion of Claude Bloodgood's 1.g4, and reflections on Hoffman's adventures in Tripoli. Not having the time, though, I thought I'd just post a little webliography devoted to Hoffman, which should give you some idea of his chess qualifications and access to fascinating figures. I also recommend that you check out his excellent website and chess blog, The PH Test ( where you can read an excerpt from the book.

A Selected Paul Hoffman Webliography

Profiles, Reviews and Interviews


Anonymous said...

Strongest American born woman chess player is IM Alisa Maric

Michael Goeller said...

Goran -- Thanks you for that correction, which I find confirmed by a ChessBase article (which was published as a correction to the article I cite).

Michael Goeller said...

Alisa Maric also has a much better website than Jennifer Shahade.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget this one:

Anonymous said...

Michael, easy to slip unnoticed as Alisa didn't really play much in the US.

Your reference posts and book reviews are real treasure, I'm looking forward to reading more of them.

Michael Goeller said...

I reposted with a correction and link to Howard Goldowsky's excellent interview in Chess Life online, which I had forgotten (though it was one reason I had liked that issue so much).