Book Review: The Life and Games of Carlos Torre

The Life and Games of Carlos Torre

by Gabriel Velasco; Russell Enterprises; published 2000; 301 pp; limp cover; excellent printing and diagrams.

More than 103 games in figurine algebraic notation but too many are poorly played and/or horrible exhibition games.

Born November 23, 1904 in Merida, Yucatan province, Mexico, his family moved to New Orleans when he was eleven years old and that’s where he read The Principles of Chess by James Mason (a great book that should be re-printed) and The Art of Chess by Mason (a book of combinations).

There is a lot of worthless “analysis” and Velasco is a very poor writer who insults the reader with his “explanations” and advice. Even worse he is an “apologist” who makes inane comments: “Skeptical readers might say ‘True, but Karpov had played many games as good or better.’” So I use, for the first time: COMPARISONS ARE ODIOUS. To make it worse, Velasco is WRONG! Karpov never played a game such as Torre – Banks, Chicago 1926, because White had Queen, Rook and Knight while Black had Queen, Rook and Bishop. Velasco is a self-appointed critic who is so dense he can’t see that Karpov almost never combined with Knights.

Velasco makes it interesting by adding historical comments: “Boris Verlinsky (1888 – 1950) Victories in the 1928 Moscow and 1929 Soviet Championship made him the first to receive the title: Grandmaster of Chess of the USSR. He was later stripped of it so that Botvinnik would officially be the ‘first’. Soltis only says: ‘The title was temporarily abolished 1931 – 1935.’ Nearly deaf, Verlinsky understood speech by lip-reading, but attended the symphony and played the violin.

Yakov Rokhlin (1905 – 1996) In illogical but true Marxist style wrote: ‘Chess is a true weapon and living piece of propaganda against religious delusions.’” That is WRONG. Religion teaches people to act without thinking, but chess teaches them to think before acting. You can quote me!

Torre had great aptitude and quickly improved by playing at the Manhattan and Marshall Chess Clubs in New York City. His style is universal and he tried everything and anything but is famous for his “Torre Attack” — 1 PQ4 NKB3; 2 NKB3 PK3; 3 BN5, and he continued with PK3, PQB3, etc.

Concerning the game Torre – Lasker, Moscow 1925, Velasco makes the mistake of repeating the idiotic excuse of Hannak: “Lasker received a telegram with good news.” Another game that Lasker lost Hannak said: “Lasker received a telegram with bad news.” When Lasker received a telegram with no good or bad news he offered a draw! That’sa joke!

Torre’s weakness was that he was a coward who feared losing, so he offered draws when he had an advantage. Some persons offer the excuse that he was an “artist” who played for beauty instead of points, but that doesn’t make any sense. Bronstein, Santasiere and others who were artists did NOT offer draws but continued playing, for art’s sake, and didn’t fear losing.

Torre offered the feeble excuse that he offered draws when he was winning because he was “inexperienced”. However, he did suffer from chronic illness and probably felt very tired after a few hours of play.

Torre played in four international tournaments: W25 L11 D31, winning from Grunfeld, Yates, Reti, Opocensky, Lasker, Marshall and Maroczy, among others, but it is ridiculous to speak of him as a “future world champion”. “He who does not take risks does not drink champagne.”

book review by James Schroeder

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14 years ago


14 years ago

Please give me read the book “The Life and game of Carlos Torre”!