David Navara – My Chess World

“In this chunky 600+ page book he offers us a collection of 64 (for Navara it could be no other number) games, chosen for their interest rather than the result, so you’ll find draws and losses as well as wins here. His opponents include many of today’s top grandmasters and a wide range of openings is represented. Navara likes to categorise chess games as either porridge (good for you but boring) or ice cream (tasty but not so healthy) and tells us both types are featured in the book. I think he’s, very typically, being too modest. Most of the games, like the one above, seem to me to be both tasty and good for you. A delicious main course of salmon, perhaps (Navara likes fish, especially Stockfish), or a refreshing fruit salad.If you’re looking for a collection of top level games with excellent annotations, you won’t be disappointed with this book. You get a lot more for your money, though. Most games are preceded by essays originally published on Navara’s chess blog (‘a blog past its sell-by date’) covering a wide variety of subjects: part travelogue, part tournament report, part meditation on chess and life. The book is also full of humour, particularly verbal humour, which the translator has done well to render into English successfully. Humour is something very personal, and, I guess, you might find this aspect of the book either endearing or annoying. As for me, I love it. It’s great to meet someone who uses exactly the same jokes as I do.What you do get is an excellently annotated games collection as well as an insight into the life and mind of a charming and unusual personality, who perceives the world with a mixture of child-like wonder and self-deprecating amusement. For me, it also provides the opportunity to meet someone who seems, in some respects, a kindred spirit. I really enjoyed reading this book and finding out more about David Navara, both as a chess player and as a person. Very highly recommended.” ~ Richard James, British Chess News, 13th July 2020

“This is a very impressive book which genuinely offers something new, fresh and interesting to the world of chess literature…The games feature players from Korchnoi to Carlsen and they provide plenty of instruction and entertainment. Navara has a reputation of being a perfect gentleman, even going so far as stand up to shake hands with his opponents (a dying art). He is also quirky and eccentric; an original character with something to say. In the words of the author, “I tried hard to stick to the facts and provide some food for thought”. He certainly succeeded in his task. This is a very big, interesting enjoyable book.” ~ Sean Marsh, Chess Magazine, August 2020.

“David Navara is considered one of the few true gentlemen in top chess, always highlighting the play of others and humbly understating his own efforts and accomplishments. Therefor I was pleased to pick up this book and learn more about him – and indeed he has a lot to say. The book is massive – a single volume clocking in at just over 600 pages, apparently the publisher has no fear of heavy books.Throughout its pages, Navara relates some of his most significant experiences both inside and outside the tournament hall. He tells us about his thoughts, preparation, teammates, opponents, tournament organizers, misunderstandings, successes, happy moments, travels, and of course his games. In total, 64 games have made it into this volume. That doesn’t sound like a lot in a book of such a huge size, but these are all annotated in detail, not just with variations but also with considerable amount of prose, whereby he explains his thoughts and emotions and even why he sometimes not up to the mark in terms of preparation, circumstances surrounding a game, match situation etc. This makes the book very personal and extremely relevant. The games themselves are fascinating, and we don’t get to see his finest wins: there are draws, losses – wipe-outs as well as painfully close defeats – and some great wins including a number against the best players in the world, for instance, against Caruana. This is one of the best chess autobiographies I have ever read and it will surely find itself on a shortlist for any chess book of the year award, despite very strong competition from other worthy contenders. 5 Stars” ~ FM Carsten Hansen ACM 03/2020.

“Navara’s My Chess World is a highly-revised combination of previous writings, including his popular blog-posts. Due to the diary-like nature of latter, we experience his life as a kind of travelogue, in which he discusses some of the attractions and features of the cities he plays in. Navara reflects honestly upon the positive and negative sides of the chess lifestyle. Navara writes with a sympathetic style, even if the humor is sometimes lost in translation. Navara plays complex and challenging chess, and his annotations are insightful, with plenty of verbal explanation. He is only 35 and has time to make even greater impact on top-level chess. Navara’s annotations assume a more knowledge and understanding, but that should motivate the student who wants to learn what high-level modern chess is all about.” ~ IM John Watson – Chess Life – September 2020.

This book is not a pure (auto)biography, rather a games collection. It consists mainly of interesting high-class games played by me, including many losses. Most of the games are preceded by accompanying texts, which vary from essays to tournament reports. The title of the book might seem presumptuous, but I wanted to show how I see or experience the competitions without denying the chess worlds of others. While the texts are mostly light and subjective, at the same time I tried hard to stick to the facts and provide some food for thought. ~ GM David Navara May 2020.