Review of Gyula Breyer: The Chess Revolutionary

A review of the recent book on the Hungarian legend.

I should start this review by pointing out three things. The first is that I consider myself to be a student of chess history. The second is that I do believe that accuracy matters, and the third is that I am a considerable fan of chess historian Edward Winter mostly as a result of the second reason.

The reason that I am setting the stage for this review thusly is that it should be pointed out that Edward Winter and the author of this book, Jimmy Adams, got into a bit of a flame war. Mr. Winter didn't like the way in which sources were (or weren't) attributed, and Mr. Adams didn't like the fact that he felt taken to task for the source material when as he pointed out he simply edited and compiled (rather than creating from scratch) much of the material.

My own take is this...accuracy matters. It matters quite a lot. I think that it would have been nice had FM Adams been much more thorough in his editing and compiling efforts. However, having said that, it's important to understand that in spite of some relatively minor issues this book is quite enjoyable.

Gyula Breyer (1893-1921) was one of the strongest players in the world during his time. Yet other than the fact that he was Hungarian and that the Breyer variation of the Spanish is named after him I really didn't know much about him.

Enter English FM Jimmy Adams, who twice before ventured to produce vast reference sources for some of the relatively unknown greats of the early years of modern chess. While I have not read his book on Zukertort I have read the one on Chigorin, and I can say that I found it to be both entertaining and informative.

Most of the material has been published before, but with this compilation it is now possible for new generations of readers to discover Breyer and learn about his accomplishments and contributions to chess history and the pantheon of chess knowledge.

Included are 287 games (although it should be pointed out that a handful of them were played by players other than Breyer) and 29 compositions from the Hungarian. While most of the analysis falls under the "compiled and edited" heading and was publish decades ago, in many cases by Breyer himself, FM Adams did correct some of the analysis and indicates in the annotations what he has added.

Beyond just the games and fragments there are many essays and pen portraits about Breyer from colleagues such as Tartakower, along with biographical info gathered from many previously published works.

My take on this book is that while I would have preferred the perfection which Mr. Winter so often proscribes, I can certainly live with Mr. Adams' efforts.

This book is quite informative, and for pedants such as myself we can always go on Mr. Winter's website and look up the smaller details.

This is the definitive work on Gyula Breyer and a must own for any student of chess history.

Best Chess to You,

Patriarch Fan