Pachman's Decisive Games

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Author: Pachman, Ludek (1924-2003)

Year: 1975

Publisher: Pitman Publishing

Place: New York


viii+258pp with figures, tables and index. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 6 1/4") issued in reddish orange with gilt lettering to spine. Translated by A S Russell. First published in German in 1971. First American Edition.

The Czech grandmaster, prolific writer, coach, teacher, composer, passed away on March 6, 2003 in Passau, Germany. Born on May 11, 1924 in a small Czech town Bela pod Bezdezem. Pachman had to walk for his first title to a nearby village Cista (population 900) that had a chess club with 110 members. Pachman became their champion in 1940. Pachman's first break came in 1943, when he was invited to an international tournament in Prague at the last moment. Alekhine dominated the event, Keres was second. Pachman finished in the middle (9th place among 19 participants). Alekhine paid him a compliment in an article in the "Frankfurter Zeitung" and from the fifth round on invited him every evening to analyze games and opening variations. "I don't have to tell you how a beginner from a village chess club felt at that time," Pachman wrote. It might have triggered Pachman's interest in the openings and in 1950s he became world's leading opening expert, publishing his four-volume "Theory of Modern Chess." In December 1954, shortly after I learned how the chess pieces move, I called Pachman, the leading Czechoslovak grandmaster at that time, and challenged him to a game of chess, explaining him my plan to defeat him. Of course, Pachman laughed at the proposition of a 11-year old boy, but did not forget about me. Four years later, after I became one of Prague's strongest players, he invited me to analytical sessions with members of the Czechoslovakian Student Olympiad team. This was unusual since they were at least five years older, but I was very happy to get the first glance how a professional player works. Only later I learned that Pachman had a similar experience in his youth with Alekhine. Pachman won the Czechoslovakian championship seven times (the first time in 1946, the last in 1966). He became German champion in 1978. He played in six Interzonal tournaments (first time in Saltsjobaden 1948, last time in Manila 1986). and represented Czechoslovakia on Chess Olympiad (1952-1966). In 1962 he coached in Cuba and in 1967 in Puerto Rico. By his own count he won 15 international tournaments, but considers sharing second place in Havanna 1963 with M. Tal and E. Geller, behind V. Korchnoi, his best tournament success. His most productive year seems to be 1959. After winning the Czechoslovakian championship he went on South American tour, winning tournaments in Mar del Plata (togheter with M. Najdorf), Santiago de Chile (with Ivkov) and Lima (again with Ivkov). On this tour he defeated 16-year-old Bobby Fischer twice. In the same year he finished "Modern Chess Strategy," a fine book he thought to be his best. Pachman published some 80 books in five languages. Politics always played a major role in Pachman's life and interrupted his chess career several times. He was a passionate speaker and writer whatever cause he defended, pro-communist early in his life or against communism after 1968. It was hard to predict whether Pachman considered you to be his friend or his enemy. He loved to argue and often changed his mind about people. At the 1964 Chess Olympiad in Tel-Aviv I played the Steinitz variation of the King's gambit against the Soviet champion Leonid Stein in the last round. Pachman became furious watching my king's march on the board full of pieces and told me: "You have insulted the Soviet school of chess and you will see the consequences after we return to Prague." I didn't know at that time that Pachman pre-arranged draws on the first three boards with the Soviets, guaranteeing them the gold medals. My gambit play threatened to blow the deal. In 1967 Pachman began to change his beliefs, fully confronting the communist regime after the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968. In October we went together to the Olympiad in Lugano, where the Soviets threatened to expel South Africa from FIDE. We argued that the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries that invaded Czechoslovakia should be expelled. The Soviets took their proposal back. In December 1968 Pachman won a tournament in Athens, but after his return to Prague his life took another turn. He was soon imprisoned and even tried to commit suicide. I had a long correspondence with prof. Max Euwe, who tried to help Pachman at that time. In the night of November 28, 1972, Pachman was allowed to leave Czechoslovakia and arrived in Munich with his wife and their cat. Grasping the idea of freedom the cat soon disappeared into hotel hallways and it took us some time to find him. I never understood why Pachman would try to steer conflict with people who tried to help him, whether it was prof. Euwe or Egon Evertz, who arranged Pachman's move from Prague to Solingen and helped him to acquire German citizenship. After his arrival in Germany Pachman was often boycotted by East-bloc countries, but he prevailed and they ended their harassment after Pachman qualified for the 1986 Interzonal in Manila. After the Velvet revolution in November 1989 Pachman acquired back the Czechoslovakian citizenship, but in 1998, after being disillusioned with the Czech government, he gave it back and settled in Passau. (Chessbasse News)


Page ends soiled, corners bumped. Dust jacket spine sunned, price clipped, light edge wear with rubbing to points. A very good copy in a like jacket.