END GAME by Dominic Lawson


Kasparov vs. Short
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 An inside look at the 1993 chess match between Englishman Nigel Short and Gary Kasparov, from a longtime chess correspondent and confidant of Short's. Lawson delivers an intimate record of the first westerner's challenge for the world championship since the legendary Bobby Fischer. The match was played before London television cameras and treated by the English press as if it were Wimbledon. End Game penetrates to the inner game, a battle of individual wills. Short, a slight, bespectacled Lancashire man, rose out of England's amateur chess league as a child prodigy; Kasparov, rigorously trained in the Soviet system from childhood, was the reigning world champion. Lawson presents their contest as one between two antithetical philosophies, styles, and temperaments (as well as countries). With privileged information, he describes a suspenseful preliminary struggle, including the machinations of FidÇ, the world chess organization, against which Short and the famously fickle Kasparov joined in an uneasy alliance, forming their own players' association to sanction their championship match in London. In tellingly contrasted methods of preparation, Kasparov sequestered himself on a Croatian island with a retinue of three Russian grandmaster coaches, while Short crammed with a Czech grandmaster (whom he patricidally fired during the match itself) and shuttled between his coach in suburban Virginia and his family in Athens. Lawson, an unapologetic Short partisan, is unwaveringly loyal; his remarks about Short's enemies, whether in Kasparov's camp or in the British press, are sometimes abrasive and gratuitous. He is, however, objective enough as a chess correspondent to analyze Short's blunders (there is an appendix of each game in standard algebraic notation) and let him make his own excuses, which he rarely did. Although the games Short played will not make any anthologies, the playing of them as recounted here has wrenching immediacy, conveying the tension of every ploy, bluff, miscalculation, and inspired gambit.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-517-59810-8
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Harmony
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 1994