24 May 2011

Eight Years of the Master Game

After writing the post The Master Game According to Burgess, I went looking for more information about the BBC series. When did it start and when did it end? By piecing together clues from different web sources I found answers to these questions and even managed to locate PGN game scores for the games that were played.

Two books were published about the events : 'The Master Game' by James & Barden (BBC, 1979), and 'The Master Game Book Two' by James & Hartston (BBC, 1981). The 1979 book covered the events from 1975, 1976, and 1977, while the 1981 book covered 1979, 1980, and 1981. There appears to have no event in 1978. A post on Chessforums.org, BBC Master Game, quoted from the first book,

The producer, Robert Toner, in his foreword writes: "I had seen many forms of television chess coverage, but none of them was satisfactory. Pieces would disappear from one square and appear in another, and only experts seemed to be able to follow a game. Also, it was so remote, I felt no involvement with the game or the players. What we needed was direct access into their thoughts, not the high-speed technical thoughts of a chess-playing mind, but thoughts put in such a way that anyone who knew the rules would be able to follow the most complicated game" (p.7) • He certainly succeeded. He also states the programmes were video taped. According to the book a million and a half people watched this programme in Britain.

In 1982, the event moved to Hamburg, and in 1983, its last year, to Bath. GM Keene, writing for the now defunct Chessville.com --

Another tragedy was the 1983 edition of the BBC Master Game. This was won by Tony Miles who dramatically defeated the then World Champion, Anatoly Karpov, in the final. Unfortunately a technicians' strike meant that this fascinating victory for the British grandmaster was never aired.

The winners for the eight events were:-
1975: William Hartston
1976: William Hartston
1977: Anatoly Karpov
1979: Bent Larsen
1980: Lothar Schmid
1981: Nigel Short
1982: Eric Lobron (the same year Karpov won the first FIDE World Cup, which used the Master Game format)
1983: Tony Miles

I've already posted about the fifth season, with links to the YouTube clips, in BBC: The Master Game 1980. Here's a big thanks to the mastermind behind Sirb0b1's Channel, for making these clips available. It's a tremendous service to the chess community.


Later: Thanks to Omega Amigo, who informed me via a comment that I had erred for 1982; see my subsequent post A 'Master Game' Lookalike for a full correction.

1 comment:

Omega Amigo said...

Eric Lobron won the 1982 event, Karpov didn't take part. Most of the games from that series, and the 1980 and 1981 series, have been uploaded to Youtube by http://www.youtube.com/user/Sirb0b1

It's great seeing all these again after all these years.