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Review: Legendary Chess Careers: Eugenio Torre, by Tibor Károlyi

By Davide Nastasio

This agile volume details the life and games of one of the most extraordinary grandmasters: Eugenio Torre. Globalization has many advantages. I discovered such a book existed thanks to a group of Filipino chess lovers that I encountered on social media. Immediately, I felt the need to have it, because GM Torre is famous for being the first Asian grandmaster.  He was also a good friend of the best chess player of all time: Bobby Fischer. I was clearly curious to discover such an awesome player through the pages of this book.

 

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GM Eugenio Torre, 1992

 

The book is comprised of two interviews between GM Torre and Tibor Károlyi, in which there are interesting anecdotes, games, fragments, and memories. Reading the book one comes to know GM Torre under many different aspects.  The book is part of a series entitled Legendary Chess Careers, and the first two books, published before this one, were about GM Jan Timman and GM Lajos Portisch.

 

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I felt thrilled to own this book, because one of the aspects of chess I was lacking was the history of Asian players like GM Torre. To have the chance to gain such knowledge gave me more enthusiasm in studying chess. It is like having a new piece of the puzzle to add to my chess culture.

Often we dedicate too much time to learn openings, but books like this one can help us to grow inside. For example, one of the things I noticed of modern chess players is that they don’t reveal anything in their interviews. They are constantly preparing.  But how? We amateurs don’t know it.  In this book we can learn some interesting details about Torre’s preparation.

Another interesting point of the book was a selection of positions from Torre’s games in which the reader had to find the correct move.
For those who don’t know GM Torre, I’d like to give some data: he has played in 22 chess Olympiads for the Philippines; he became GM, thanks to his performance in the Nice, France, chess Olympiad of 1974; in 1976 (at the beginning of Anatoly Karpov’s reign), in Manila, he won against Karpov in a tournament, and ended up winning the tournament!

 

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In the early 1980s, GM Torre was ranked 17th in the world. He has won many tournaments, too many to mention here.
I’d like to give our readers a selection of the games played by Torre which I found to be formidable! But before the games, I’d like to show some positions coming from those games.  The side to move depends on color at the bottom. They are critical moments in the game.  I hope you see the tactical genius of GM Torre at work.  In case you don’t, just scroll down and see the entire game.

 

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This selection of tactical gems is far from complete, since GM Torre played more than 1200 games in his career. Notice also that many of these games are deeply analyzed inside the book.  Some have great value merely for the way the endgame was played.

 

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Former World Champion Anatoly Karpov, 1976

 

 

 

 

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GM and Former World Champion Mikhail Tal

 

 

 

 

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Former World Champion Maia Chiburdanidze, 1984

 

 

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GM Lajos Portisch

 

 

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The Great Miguel Najdorf

 

 

 

In conclusion, this small volume is a treasure everyone should keep in their chess library. The quality of the paper (a factor a reviewer often forgets to mention) is quite high, and the diagrams, as well as the pictures inside the book, are clear and large enough to follow.  A good feature for people like me who wear glasses and hate small diagrams. The honest answers in the interviews make the book quite unique both at a historical and human level. I’m particularly thankful to Chess Evolution for acknowledging world-class players who were not world champions, but from whom we can all learn a lot. I read the book on my vacation in Florida, using a wonderful wood chessboard and nice Staunton set.  It was like reliving those magical games, and years.

Last, but not least, there was an anecdote about Torre and Fischer in a taxi which was not described well by many sources (Wikipedia also gets it totally wrong! But everyone believes Wikipedia… sadly).  Torre explains what really happened.  This is also a reason why one should own such great book.

For those interested in buying Chess Evolution books, Thad Rogers (the famous chess tournament organizer and seller of chess materials, recently inducted into the US Chess Hall of Fame) mentioned about a month ago that he was buying them from the publisher in Europe, so it is possible that he will be selling them in his next tournaments, likely in August.

 

 

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