Grigory Levenfish was twice Soviet Champion and drew a match with the great Botvinnik, yet despite his skills, he was never a favoured son of the Soviet Union. Rejected for selection to key events and the only Soviet grandmaster to be denied a stipend in later life, Levenfish was a Soviet Outcast.
Levenfish describes in vivid detail the atmosphere of pre- and post-revolutionary Russia, giving first-hand impressions of some of the most famous names in early-twentieth-century chess, such as Lasker, Rubinstein, Alekhine and Capablanca – all of whom were personally known to him. Some of the stories stay long in the memory: descriptions of the hardships endured by players in the first USSR Championship that took place in the difficult years of the Civil War; of idyllic trips to the Caucasus and Crimea; of grim struggles for survival in the winter of 1941.
Soviet Outcast comprises Levenfish’s annotations to 79 of his finest games, translated from his Russian autobiography, plus extensive bonus material including several games compiled from other sources, mostly with annotations by Levenfish himself, as well as a 30-page Afterword by GM Jacob Aagaard. This is the first time Levenfish’s memoir has been published in English.
304 pages - Published (hardcover) 30 October 2019
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-78483-086-1
"Levenfish's life story and games are well worth reading about! As always with players of that generation, their early exposure to chess seems so haphazard and lacking in guidance, I find it hard to understand how they became such good players.
I enjoyed this book greatly. Levenfish's play makes a very strong impression: dynamic, concrete and not afraid of complications. I'll definitely write a number of his ideas in my thematic notebook!"
GM Matthew Sadler, New in Chess
"Besides many well-annotated games, Soviet Outcast: The Life and Games of Grigory Levenfish contains his reminiscences including his recollections of playing Alekhine dozens of training games when the future World Champion was on his way up just before World War One. There are many interesting tidbits sprinkled throughout this book including Levenfish’s insights on Rubinstein, Capablanca and Lasker... [This] is a great edition of a book that deserves to be called a classic."
IM John Donaldson
"Soviet Outcast – the Life and Games of Grigory Levenfish is a modern rendering of Levenfish’s autobiography, bolstered with the inclusion of dozens of other games annotated by his own hand... My bias towards historical works may be showing, but for me, this is another winner from Quality Chess."
John Hartmann, USCF (full review)
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