Masterpieces and Dramas of the Soviet Championships ECF Book of the Year!

After deciding to go without a computer for a time which turned out to be a year the following email was received from the publisher of Elk and Ruby:

Hi Michael,

Are you OK?
The greatest book on chess ever published:


Well, you know, Ilan is the publisher so he oughta feel that way about a book, but this was the first time he had written that lavishly about any book, so it was only natural I took it to be hyperbole. This was received at the end of January and I did not purchase a new laptop until April. Then there was the tooth problem…Although I had no deadline, all of the earlier books reviewed for Ilan had at least been timely. I may not have dropped the ball with this review, but I must admit it was fumbled…Then there was the trouble deciding on how to write the review, which was not the case with the Romanovsky book (, a book I obviously loved. With a little help from my friends

the review finally came together.

Nevertheless, I was disappointed with myself, feeling I had let Ilan down, as the book awards had all been handed out, or at least that is what I thought. Fortunately, I was WRONG!

ECF Book of the Year 2021

Posted By: WebAdmin 8th October 2021

From the excellent books on the shortlist, two stood out – Nigel Short’s WINNING and Voronkov’s Masterpieces and Dramas. The latter is winner of the Book of the Year 2021. However, Short’s book is so good that it merits a mention in the award.

Masterpieces and Dramas
Sergey Voronkov
Elk and Ruby pp 534 hardback £35.95
The full title, Soviet Championships Volume 1 (1920 – 1937), is the story of the first ten Soviet Championships. Potential readers might be discouraged by the apparently obscure subject, but they should not be! The book reads like a novel describing  how the championships were organised and played in the appalling conditions of postrevolutionary Russia is an extraordinary story of keeping chess alive against very considerable odds.
Voronkov states that ‘he is interested in the people’ and his approach is ‘closer to a documentary movie than a dry chronicler of events’. Thus the focus is on individual stories and twists of fate of the many characterful players such as Alekhine’s and Bogolubov’s exclusion from Russia, which vividly contrasts with Botvinnik’s early years. Many contemporary cartoons, photographs, press reports and gossip make you feel that you are there when reading the book.
The chess is very good too. Gary Kasparov in his foreword praises ‘the great game selection … showing chess in the context of time’.  Voronkov also has a great eye for the dramatic moments in the tournaments, positions of chess interest and historically valuable games.
A most remarkable, absorbing and entertaining chess history which fully lives up to its title, Masterpieces and Dramas, on and off the board. A worthy winner of Book of the Year 2021 over strong competition. (

If you have not done so, please read the AW review which can be found here: (

I will admit to unfortunately having had trouble getting it together for this book. Part of the reason was a bad tooth, and the delay caused by the pandemic in having the work done, but it was more than that, and I felt like I had let Ilan down with the long delay, something that had not happened with any other book I have had the pleasure and privilege to review. What follows is an excerpt from an email just fired to Ilan Rubin, publisher at Elk and Ruby Publishing:


“I was uncertain about including all of Kasparov’s Forward because that is usually not done…but every time I wrote something I kept returning to his excellent forward and realized that no matter what I said, Garry had said it better…I wanted to have that “Standing in a Bookstore feeling as you are holding the book for the first time and the first thing you’re gonna read is the Forward”, right? A friend said, “Look Mike, the best thing about your writing is that there are NO RULES! You write what you feel.” I took it to heart because he was right, and it felt right to print all of Garry’s wonderful Forward.

I was afraid that if I only concentrated on the first chapter it would be like one of the book reviews I wrote in school when Mrs. Jackson excoriated me in front of the class, saying, “It is more than a little obvious, Mr. Bacon, that you only read the first chapter of the book!” She sent me to the principal’s office after I returned fire with the salvo, “That is NOT TRUE, you old hateful woman, because I read every word of the CLIFF NOTES!!!” Boy was she IRATE!!! There was fire emanating from her eyes as she banished me from the room…

But then I knew I was very late with the review, and I REALLY felt badly about it, but what could I do? There was no other choice but to go ahead with it looking like I only read the first chapter, which is not true, because I read every word and replayed every game and let me tell you it was a labor of LOVE! It is a tremendous book, one of the best I have have the pleasure to read, so it was worth putting IMJD’s book of Bobby

on hold ( Lasker 2

was put on hold for IMJDs book) to read M&D and the Romanovsky book.”

They Listened to Music and They Had a Good Time at Woodstock

The three-day concert known as Woodstock began on this day in 1969 in a field near a dairy farm at Bethel, New York.

Organizers promised leery town officials that no more than 50,000 people would attend; the final number was eight or nine times that many, creating a massive traffic jam. A late change in the location meant that preparations went down to the wire: there was time only to build a stage or install the fencing and ticket booths. The stage won – and most attendees simply walked in without tickets. There wasn’t enough food, proper sanitation, first aid, or protection against the bad weather.

On the morning of Sunday, August 17, New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller called the festival organizer and told him that he was thinking of ordering 10,000 National Guard troops to the site, but the organizer talked him out of it. Sullivan County declared a state of emergency. With all its unexpected problems, though, Woodstock is remembered for its relative calm amid the national strife of Vietnam and civil rights protests. People got along. They listened to music, and they had a good time.

Beautiful Story: The couple in the iconic Woodstock photo are still together

Jun 12, 2018 E.L. Hamilton

Dedicated to Jennifer C.

With A Little Feedback From My Friends

Upon opening my email this morning I noticed a comment had been left regarding an earlier post, Chess Segregation, published October 13, 2019. ( After reading the comment by David Quinn I approved what he had to say, then continued surfing…but I continued thinking about David’s comment. I had forgotten exactly when the aforementioned post was published so I went back and found it, learning it had been published some months ago. I then decided to publish his entire comment on the blog:

David Quinn says:
January 14, 2020 at 2:08 am

I tried to tell USCF that a male member (no pun intended) is just as worthy as a female member, and we should be trying to recruit chessplayers without regard for the gender stuff. That view was ignored of course. And FIDE is even worse than USCF in its pretense that restricted women’s chess is as good as just plain chess.

I remember chatting with the late John Peters, several time US champion who never quite got the GM title. I guess the title was harder to get then. We were playing in a “futurity” event at Lina Grumette’s house, where I was invited as an up and comer who had recently made expert, and the US women’s champion Diane Savereide who was a low master was also playing, as was John. I had just beaten her by exploiting what I had noticed, that her play has no patience. So I got a small durable positional edge and just sat and basically let her self-destruct. John knew her well because he was the guy the USCF paid to coach her. (I never got a chess coach, let alone one provided by USCF!). I was chatting with John out on the front lawn. I think he had just beaten me, although I had an advantage into the early middle game before learning why he was a strong IM and I wasn’t. I asked him if Diane, the perennial US women’s champion, was really talented, because it didn’t seem like it to me. He said no. This confirmed my suspicions about chess politics, and how even a US champion had to bow to it to earn a living, and so I just decided to make master and quit, which I did a year or two later. Fortunately I had a real source of income.

It must, however, be noted that women’s chess can attract larger crowds to watch their 24 and 2500 players, than men’s chess does for its 27 and 2800 players. Personally I like chess, and I like women, but I don’t really care if they coincide in the same person.

The day the Chess Segregation was published I received a succinct email from GM Kevin Spraggett:

From: Kevin Spraggett
To: Michael Bacon

Oct 13, 2019 at 7:06 PM

Great article, Michael! Deeply researched. I will study it more carefully.

No doubt you will be criticized for telling some unpleasant truths and asking some uncomfortable questions.

Have a good evening!

Grandmaster Spraggett’s wonderful blog, one of the best, if not the best, Chess blogs being published, can be found here:






The National Popular Vote

Freeman Ng, a “Writer, poet, software engineer,” left a comment on the post of Feburary 10, RepublicaNazi’s which was immediately approved. It is so important I decided to write this post tonight before heading to dreamland.

“The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Explanation It has been enacted into law in 11 states with 165 electoral votes (CA, DC, HI, IL, MA, MD, NJ, NY, RI, VT, WA). This interstate compact will take effect when enacted by states with 105 more electoral votes. It has passed at least one house in 12 additional states with 96 electoral votes (AR, AZ, CO, CT, DE, ME, MI, NC, NM, NV, OK, OR) and been approved unanimously by committee votes in two additional states with 27 electoral votes (GA, MO). The bill has recently been passed by a 40–16 vote in the Republican-controlled Arizona House, 28–18 in Republican-controlled Oklahoma Senate, 57–4 in Republican-controlled New York Senate, 34-23 in Democratic-controlled Oregon House, and 26-16 in the New Mexico Senate.”(

I will admit to being completely unaware of the movement, or the website. I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank You” to Mr. Ng! Please check out his extremely interesting blog which contains his new haiku collection.

Southeastern FIDE Championship on Livestream

Chacha Nugroho sends this report on the Southeastern FIDE Championship, which will be held at the Charlotte Chess Center & Scholastic Academy ( The first round is Friday, October 31, 2014; 7:30PM. The website (!southeast-fide-championship/cxan) shows 31 players on the Pre-Registered List, heading by GM Ben Finegold. IM’s Ronald Burnett and Kassa Korley have entered, along with FM’s William Fisher, the number two seed, and Peter Bereolos. Georgia players include Benjamin Moon; Reece Thompson; Grant Oen; Kapish Potula; Arthur Guo; & Carter Peatman.

Hi Michael,

Just want to give you information that Peter Giannatos will broadcast games from Southeastern FIDE Championship.!southeast-fide-championship/cxan

And in as well. He as at least 1 DGT board, but we trying to provide 3 DGT boards for 3 live games. I probably will ask Peter to have scan of scoresheets during the tournament, so crowd may help to convert to PGN as well, like in US Masters.



Joe Cocker – Watching The River Flow (LIVE in Berlin) HD