Hardback, 382 pages, 2021 Elk and Ruby
Peter Romanovsky (1892-1964) was Soviet chess champion in 1923
(outright) and 1927 (jointly with Bogatyrchuk). According to
Chessmetrics he was ranked 12th in the world in 1925. Romanovsky was
also one of Soviet chess’s greatest teachers, standing at the very
foundation of the Soviet Chess School. His pupils included Averbakh,
Zak, Alatortsev, Lisitsin and many others, and he provided much
guidance to Botvinnik in his early career. Author of 16 books,
Romanovsky stood for active, fighting and objective chess where the
requirements of the position took precedence over positional rules of
The first half of this book comprises a detailed biography written by
chess historian and world chess composition champion Sergei Tkachenko.
Tkachenko tells the incredible story of a man who spent nearly a year
as a captive in Germany at the start of WWI after participating in the
Mannheim chess events of 1914, endured the hardships of Civil War and
NEP Russia, won two Soviet championships and lived through the horrors
of the Siege of Leningrad in 1941-42, suffering unspeakable family
tragedy as he did so. Romanovsky narrowly escaped an early death on
three separate occasions.
The second half of this book comprises Romanovsky’s own chess
autobiography first published in 1954 in Russian, including 72 of his
best games. His instructive annotations have been updated with
computer analysis by IM Grigory Bogdanovich, an accomplished historian
who published a biography of Bogoljubov in 2020.
Because Romanovsky wrote this book after his career was over, its
annotations are considerably more honest than those found in books
that collate the annotations of great players made while their career
was in full swing. Indeed, in several games Romanovsky comments how
his views of certain positions changed over the years as he
accumulated greater knowledge and experience.
This book is also a textbook on attacking and positional play. Most
games are classified by themes, including Attack on the Castled and
Non-Castled King, Counterattack, Attack on the Center, and Queenside
Attack. Moreover, it contains discussions on central control, the
bishop pair advantage, pawn storms, simplification strategy, exchange
sacrifices, king safety, and other key topics.
His opponents include Alekhine, Botvinnik, Bogoljubov, Averbakh,
Flohr, Levenfish, Kotov, and many other stars.