One of the books that I have been reading lately is Python Strategy by the ninth world champion “Iron” Tigran Petrosian.
Quality Chess published an English language edition a year or two ago and in my opinion this book is solid gold.
There are a couple of reasons for that opinion. The first is that generally I think that anything written by a world champion is worthy of attention. The second is the fact that this book is simply amazing.
One thing that comes through loud and clear is that Petrosian wrote this book with the very clear purpose of it being instructional. This book was meant to inspire the future generations of Soviet Bloc players who would inevitably replace him at the top of the mountain.
Contrast this with something like Kasparov’s My Great Predecessors which is useful to strong players, but not to average players looking to understand the game better in order to improve.
Thus, annotations in Python Strategy are variational where needed to whatever depth it takes to properly detail the position, and verbose where prosaic explanations serve to better illustrate a general point about the topic at hand.
Petrosian has long been one of my favorite players. He has been unfairly saddled with the monikor of being “boring” or “drawish” but the reality is that he was such as solid defender that he saved a ton of poor positions and therefore just didn’t lose often. He also, much like Karpov, refused to enter needless complications in order to create winning chances.
If he gained an advantage he would nurse it until he converted it. If he was in a level position he would simply make sure that first and foremost he was playing in as risk free a manner as possible.
In my opinion those who say that Petrosian’s was simply a draw master and pretty much the same as those who say the same about Anish Giri today.
If Petrosian were simply a draw master he never would have become world champion, the same as Giri would never have made it over 2800.
Another reason that Petrosian inspires me is that on many levels I try to model my play on his own. I enjoy positional, maneuvering games when they arise, but I also work on my tactics and attacking abilities so that when presented with a chance I can take it.
Here is a game of Petrosian’s in which the young Armenian demolishes the legendary Paul Keres with a piece sacrifice.
Til Next Time,