Review of From Ukraine With Love for Chess

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From Ukraine With Love for Chess by New in Chess 2022 208pp

This compilation, recently published by New in Chess, is both a triumph and a tragedy. A triumph because it encapsulates the strong tradition of chess in Ukraine, starting with their earliest players from the Soviet days, and continuing on through their World Champions, Ponomariov and Ushenina. Also included are their victories in the Olympiad during the first decade of the new millennium. A tragedy because of the circumstances that caused it to be published.

The idea behind this book is to generate revenue for Ukraine charities which are helping the victims of the unprovoked and unacceptable Russian invasion of Ukraine. All proceeds are going to charities according to the book.

The layout of the book is divided into eight chapters.

Chapter I – The pioneers

Chapter II – Oleg Romanishin’s matches with Mikhail Tal

Chapter III – We are Ukrainian

Chapter IV – Heroic Ivanchuk leads Ukraine to victory at the Calvia Olympiad in 2004

Chapter V – Unstoppable Ukraine – The Women’s Team wins the Turin Olympiad in 2006

Chapter VI – A fully deserved win by Ukraine at the Olympiad in 2010.

Chapter VII – What’s your superpower? I’m Ukrainian!

Chapter VIII – Ukrainian nuggets

The games contained within each chapter are annotated by Ukrainian players, often the player of the game itself. In cases where the annotations are not by the players of the games, the notes are from Ukrainian legends, such as Ivanchuk and Moiseenko.

Although the book itself was somewhat “rushed” in order to get it out the world, in many cases the annotations themselves were not, as they have been published previously.

Prior to the games, there is a short biographical blurb on the Ukrainian player featured. Contained within these are all sorts of interesting tidbits. For instance, while I knew that one of my favorite players, Eljanov, was a second for Gelfand in 2012, I did not realize that he was the son of an IM.

There are also some nicely written sections of prose, including one by Romanishin in which he not only discusses his friendship with Tal and his secret training matches with him, but also his upbringing. He tells a nice story about going to a 1962 friendly match between teams from Yugoslavia and the USSR and collecting autographs while being far too shy to actually talk to the players.

Also included is a republished interview with Tukmakov by Dirk Jan, about the Ukrainian Olympic victory in 2004. Tukmakov was the captain of that team. This is then followed by some of the best games played by the Ukrainian team during that event. Those games are quite deeply annotated and instructive. Of historical interest is the fact that Sergey Karjakin was on that Ukraine team in 2004. For those who may not be aware, Karjakin was born in Ukraine and represented them until 2009 when he switched federations. Somewhere along the way he also lost his damn mind.

The book concludes with a chapter on Ukrainian study composers presented by Jan Timman. While largely unknown to the chess world, their work is worth presenting.

All in all I highly recommend this book. I would like to point out that with this book there seems to be a switch in the paper used by NiC. The paper is not as bright or heavy as most books of recent memory. I assumed that this was a supply issue, but it would appear per a response on a Facebook post that this is going to be the new normal.

As a collector, I do not like this since the book is not as aesthetically pleasing. As a reader though, it is much softer on the eyes. Perhaps I am resisting change solely for the sake of resisting change.

In any case, go buy this book and support Ukraine.

Til Next Time,

Chris Wainscott