Monday 30 May 2016

Bobby Fischer's Games & Openings

In 1971/72 Ken Smith edited, and his Chess Digest Magazine published, the following series of six books recording most of Bobby Fischer's available games.



These were not published in chronological order, in fact the book covering the years 1955 through 1957 was the last to be published, in January 1972. 1958-1959 and 1966-1968 came out in August 1971, 1962-1965 came out in November 1971 while both 1960-1961 and 1969-1971 were published in December 1971.

However, the book for 1955-1957 has a two page Publisher's Note by Ken Smith which sets out the plan for the whole series of books. This Note also explains why there are no notes to the games as the editor strongly believed that playing through unannotated  games was a much better method of learning from the games presented:

Smith describes his preferred method of playing over unannotated games in a two and a half page article at the end of this first volume (which was published last).  

Billy Patteson is credited as author-compiler of the first five books in the series but is not mentioned in the book for 1969-1971. The USCF Master John Hall is credited as assistant editor and proof-reader in all six volumes.

Each book commences with an overview of Fischer's openings, and this evolves through the series as Fischer broadened his repertoire. Books one to five then include the games without notes and some very brief details of the matches and tournaments from which the games are taken. 

However, the most interesting book of the series (and longest with 92 pages) is  the final one covering 1969 through 1971. This includes games from the USSR v Rest of the World Match, the Siegen Olympiad, the Interzonal Tournament in Palma de Mallorca and the three Candidates Matches against Taimanov, Larsen and Petrosian. 

This book also includes several photographs, a considerable amount of commentary on the various tournaments and matches and, for the first time in this series, fifty of the games are annotated. The British Chess Magazine for March 1972, page 101, states that the annotations are mostly from Russian sources although this is not clear from the book itself. 

The book ends with Fischer's 22 games from the unofficial World Speed Championship held in Herceg Novi in 1970 following the USSR v Rest of the World match.

These booklets are not particularly valuable, at around £10 to £20 each, but they have become quite scarce and there are currently very few copies for sale on the internet. 
                                     © Michael Clapham 2016

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