John Watson Book Review (83 reply)
Quality Books Reply
IM John Watson - Tuesday 23rd October 2007
My System; Aron Nimzowitsch; 316 pages; Quality Chess 2007. Buy from the London Chess Centre
Dear Mark Crowther,
So far Quality Chess has never commented on a review, but because of the great respect we have for your website and John Watson, we need to express our unhappiness with two points to his review no. 83.
John Watson states with an air of certainty that Ian Adams is not the translator of the new edition of My System. This implies strongly that Quality Chess gives false information in our books. Besides being disrespectful to Quality Chess and Ian Adams, this is also simply not the case and not something we would expect suggested in a serious publication like TWIC.
Secondly, John Watson concludes that other reviewers disagrees with his conclusions because they have not read the book. This is not fair on our book and certainly not on Jonathan Rowson singled out by name by Watson. Also not something we would expect from a serious publication.
We hope that you will make our objection known to your readers. We will be happy to provide Watson with review copies of the books he mentions and other books in the future, as we highly respect his opinion in general, even if we on this one occasion feels that he is acting incorrectly.
Yours Sincerely, Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw
John Watson's Reply
First, I appreciate Jacob Aagaard and John Shaw's response, and I hope that any publisher or author will feel free to express disagreement with my reviews. In fact, that is standard practice in magazines and review journals. It is customarily at the reviewer's discretion whether or not to respond.
It's perfectly legitimate for a reviewer to give his guess (the word I used) or indeed conviction as to how this otherwise inexplicable translation occurred. Readers can judge for themselves whether my supposition is justified. Given the alternatives, I decided not to use the word 'Adams' repeatedly (as I did 'Hereford'), which would be unfair and a bit sadistic should it prove that the translation involved more that one person. And rather than the melodramatic phrase 'false information' that Aagaard and Shaw use, a division of duties would simply imply that Quality Chess had, for example, used the word 'Translator' instead of 'Chief Translator', hardly a serious transgression, or that they considered extremely intrusive editing/rewriting as outside of the realm of translation. I don't, but that's another matter.
As for their second objection, I leave it to the reader to consider their statement: 'John Watson concludes that other reviewers disagrees with his conclusions because they have not read the book. This is not fair on our book and certainly not on Jonathan Rowson singled out by name by Watson'; and mine: 'In fact, I simply can't avoid the feeling that most reviewers didn't bother to read the book at all.' [emphases added]. That's still my feeling. What can I say? It may also be an important one to express to the community of book reviewers. I mention Jonathan Rowson precisely because he is one of our very best writers and reviewers.
For those new to this column, I'd like to emphasize that Quality Chess has published some of the finest books of the past few years.