I am a fan of amateur chess game collections. Among my favorites have been Dr. Carl Hartlaub's Glanzpartien, Sidney Bernstein's Combat, and Billy Colias, Midwest Master. As I suggested in "Chess Amateurism," the games of amateur players are often more fun to play over than the games of the very top players for amateurs, not only because they feature the types of openings (especially gambits) that the untitled masses enjoy, but also because they focus on attractive and comprehensible tactics rather than sometimes incomprehensibly deep strategy. So I was naturally interested in Calypso Chess by Dr. Philip Corbin (FM) -- known as "the Caribbean Tal" -- and I was not disappointed by this wonderful book, which is an exemplary illustration of the chess amateur ideal. The title is meant to communicate an attitude toward chess that seeks "the eternal quest for ethereal beauty" and the book itself offers a reflection of how "chess should be played - not negatively, but for positive pleasure, so that works of art may be created which bring joy to others, calypso style!" (xi). The games feature many of the openings that amateurs like myself enjoy, including the Stonewall Attack, Smith-Morra Gambit, Elephant Gambit (a Corbin specialty), Wing Gambit against the French, Budapest Gambit, Giuoco Piano, Max Lange Attack, and even the Urusov Gambit (though in this case I could find no examples of Corbin's opponents accepting it!) But most importantly, the games -- including wins, losses, and draws -- are annotated by someone who clearly loves chess.
If time permits, I may annotate some of Corbin's more snappy wins in a future post, and his games have definitely gotten me interested in the Elephant Gambit or Queen's Pawn Counter-Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 d5!?) about which I am tempted to write some day. For now, you can find several of Corbin's games annotated online:
- Short - Corbin, Barbados Simultaneous 2006 (Elephant Counter-gambit)
- Corbin - Asabri, Bled 2002 (Max Lange Attack)
- Corbin - Chubinsky, World Open 1985 (Alapin Sicilian)
- Corbin - Gebregziabher, Dresden 2008 (French Defense, Wing Gambit)
On his Facebook page, you can find a wide range of photos: Philip Corbin photos
Pick up Calypso Chess: The Entertaining Chess Games (1970-2010) of Dr. Philip Corbin, FIDE Master, Barbados -- you will not be disappointed.