Friday 21 June 2019

Six more classic games collections

Here is a further selection of games collections showing how they were produced 50 to 100 years ago.

Morphy's Games of Chess, by Philip W. Sergeant, published by G. Bell and Sons, London 1916.   

An elegant green cloth hardback with rounded corners, dust jacket, portrait of Morphy and 352 pages. The Biography runs to 36 pages, almost a book in itself, and brings together "a great quantity of material from all quarters, and attempts to weld it into a whole".

There follows the 300! games; every one annotated to a greater or lesser extent, partly by the author, with the assistance of fellow members of the City of London Chess Club, and partly borrowing from previous Morphy games collections by Löwenthal, Lange and Maroczy, and other authorities such as Zukertort, Steinitz and Lasker.

In addition, Sergeant provides an introduction to each of the chapters and gives brief vignettes of many of Morphy's opponents. The book is completed by indexes of players and openings.


Petrosian's Best Games of Chess 1946-1963, Selected and Annotated by P. H. Clarke, London 1964. A classic G. Bell & Sons publication with maroon cloth, gilt titles and dust jacket.

You certainly get your money's worth here; this book, published a year after Petrosian won the world championship from Botvinnik, includes the following:

1. P. H. Clarke's Preface.
2. List of Games.
3. Petrosian's Tournament and Match Record.
4. A ten page essay: Petrosian the Pragmatist, outlining his, often maligned, style of play.
5. A biography extending over 17 pages incorporated into the introductions to the eight chapters of Petrosian's career, from Apprentice Master to The World Championship.
6. 60 extensively annotated games.
7. Indexes of openings and opponents.


Pillsbury's Chess Career by P. W. Sergeant and W. H. Watts, London 1923. 

This book, by another leading chess book publisher from the first half of the twentieth century; Printing Craft,  was the first collection of Pillsbury's games printed in English, (earlier works had been published in German and Swedish). 

An eight page Biography is followed by 233 games, including 44 played blindfold; almost all are annotated with numbered notes placed at the end.


Réti's Best Games of Chess, Chosen and Annotated by H. Golombek, London 1954. Maroon cloth hardback with the usual G. Bell & Sons dust jacket of the period.

From the dust jacket: "Richard Réti was the author of two of finest books on chess, Modern Ideas in Chess, and Masters of the Chessboard."  Also: "Golombek is particularly fitted to write this book, since he is one of the world's leading exponents of Rétis opening.....and has followed Réti's trail throughout the world."

Golombek's Foreword  highlights the substantial research carried out across Europe in compiling this work, and he presents a five page Memoir of Réti, lists of his tournament and match results, and 70 annotated games divided into eight phases of Rétis career. 15 endgame studies are interspersed throughout the work.


A Memorial to William Steinitz; Containing a Selection of his Games Chronologically Arranged with an Analysis of Play, edited by Charles Devidé, New York and London 1901.

This dark blue cloth hardback is the earliest publication in this article, and includes a fine portrait of Steinitz. In his Preface Devidé informs us that, due to the limitation of just 100 pages the content is severely curtailed from that originally envisaged, and in particular the full account of Steinitz's life and deeds, that the author had prepared, could not be included. Devidé does however, include "a mere sketch of his life" running to eight pages.

The former world champion's match and tournament records are listed followed by 73 (Betts says 72)  annotated games including "his most famous and brilliant games and those of theoretical importance". The vii, 99 pages are printed on unusually thick paper.   


Mikhail Tal's Best Games of Chess, Selected and Annotated by P. H. Clarke, London 1961.

This fine production by G. Bell and Sons follows Tal's meteoric rise from schoolboy in 1951 to world champion in 1960. Clarke was just 27 when he wrote this work which includes a frontispiece portrait, Preface, two preliminary articles; The Road to the Championship, charting Tal's chess career, and, The Genius of Tal, which discusses his lively style of play. Extracts from an interview between Tal and Clarke are included in A Word from Mikhail Tal, followed by Tal's Tournament and Match Record.

The fifty games are each given a brief introduction and extensive commentary and annotations by Clarke. There are naturally indexes of games, openings and opponents.


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