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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting angle taken & a great account !
I sincerely hope that there will be more books written in future like this one ... This is a book about the people involved in chess and their personalities rather than about the chess games that can be found in textbooks.

I believe that the author never really intended to show the positions in chess games to any high level of accuracy. I think the diagrams in...
Published on 20 Jan 2009 by gjb

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Their lives have already been made much better"
It is not often that I come across a book that has some great characteristics that make it excellent and others that seriously affect my enjoyment of the experience. This is one of those odd cases, because the portrayal of the kids and the gusto with which the author tells their personal stories is commendable. I can even risk going as far as saying that he comes close to...
Published on 8 Aug 2007 by Sebastian Fernandez


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Their lives have already been made much better", 8 Aug 2007
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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It is not often that I come across a book that has some great characteristics that make it excellent and others that seriously affect my enjoyment of the experience. This is one of those odd cases, because the portrayal of the kids and the gusto with which the author tells their personal stories is commendable. I can even risk going as far as saying that he comes close to the level of the best chess journalist I know, Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam. But then when Weinreb starts talking about the games and chess concepts, everything comes tumbling down in a never ending spiral of mistakes and confusion. This gave me an odd feeling, because I started reading and thinking that it was a pretty good read and that it probably deserved between 4 and 5 stars. Then the chess parts started and I downgraded it to 2 to 3. Next I came across another good part, involving the description of coaches and masters, and I thought that it was on the right track again, only to be beaten down once more. Finally, I had to settle for 3.5 stars.

Lets start with the good part. The story focuses on the chess team of Edward R. Murrow High School, which is an institution in Brooklyn that implemented an experimental program giving the students considerably freedom to choose how to approach their education. In this setting, Eliot Weiss decided to start a chess team. This team attracted kids with different personalities, all of which have characteristics that give the author enough material to display his narrative skills. We are presented with the personal stories of the kids, which includes two master level players and a bunch of good club players, as well as some rookies. It is enlightening to see how chess affects their lives, and how their personalities differ from the stereotype most people have about how a chess player behaves and lives. We also get a tour through some of the most important factors that affected chess in the US and its introduction in schools. Finally, the book delivers great information on some of the most relevant coaches and masters in the game, such as Bruce Pandolfini and Bobby Fischer.

If the author, who clearly is not a chess player, had decided to stop there the result would have been excellent. He could have even asked a master for help in presenting the games and some of the chess concepts used in the book. Sadly, this was not the case, and starting with a convoluted explanation of what a pin is, the missteps accumulate and detract from the overall quality of the book. The problem is that the explanations do not help those that are already familiar with the concepts and are not clear enough for a newcomer to understand them. On top of that, we have the mistakes: positions that are wrong, illegal opening moves (on several occasions) and butchering the name of an opening, to name a few. And finally, to make it even worse, there is the narration of some of the games, which is so poor that it is impossible to follow. There are so many references to queen sacrifices that it is hard to believe these are accurate.

Those that are interested in the story of these oddballs and do not care about the chess portions will have a most pleasant experience with this book. However, if you are looking forward to following the development of the games through the narration, you will find yourself extremely disappointed.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting angle taken & a great account !, 20 Jan 2009
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This review is from: The Kings Of New York (Paperback)
I sincerely hope that there will be more books written in future like this one ... This is a book about the people involved in chess and their personalities rather than about the chess games that can be found in textbooks.

I believe that the author never really intended to show the positions in chess games to any high level of accuracy. I think the diagrams in the book are meant to break it up a bit - I mean, if I wanted to examine an Alex Lenderman game, I could probably find one on the net somewhere. I think that the author captures the personalities of the characters throughout the opening pages rather nicely.

I have to admit though, I had a little difficulty in trying to work out who was who - I would leave the book for a day, then pick it up and ask myself: Who are these people again? I thought that no personality stood out to become the focus of the book .....? Maybe that is what the author intended... Being a chess player myself I am fascinated to know how these kids became so good at chess ....:) It would have been nice to hear a little more interraction between the players maybe (or even some of the players / teachers / parents views)? This could expose comradery / rivalry - as is always the case in chess.

Overall I really enjoyed the angle taken by the author and feel that an enormous amount of investgation has gone in to writing this book.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Chess players, 6 Jan 2014
By 
J. Livsey (Shropshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Kings Of New York (Paperback)
This is the story of a school and of a group of young chess players. Murrow school in New York has a history of attracting young people who show real potential in the game of chess. Driven by a teacher with a passion for the game, the team scrape together enough money to send the annual group of talented players to the national championships - and most years they win.

The book gave a fair background story for each player, explaining where they came from (often former Eastern Block countries) and what motivates them. I got the impression the author was not given much direct access to each player as there are very short quotes thrown in, as though the player is talking to the author, but then they go off to play cards or to order pizza.

While I enjoyed the story, I felt the book dragged on a bit and was not something I would be in a rush to buy (I read a library copy). There are a handful of games depicted, but the chess itself is minimal, the book is more about the players and how they tick.
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The Kings Of New York
The Kings Of New York by Michael Weinreb (Paperback - 22 Mar 2007)
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