25 July 2013

Fischer Talked Chess

Another discovery, or re-discovery, from last week's post Fifty Years Ago in Chess Life, was a Bobby Fischer column titled 'Fischer Talks Chess', starting June 1963. Fischer was never known for prolific analytical output and his annotations are always worthy of study.

He introduced the first column with an attack on published analysis by Russian / Soviet players (the political difference between the two categories was not important to Fischer),

Many of my Russian critics have accused me of "lacking objectivity" and the ability to criticize my own play. [...] There are good reasons for accusing some of the top Soviet masters of the very thing they accuse *me* of: a lack of self criticism.

This was followed by examples of their faulty analysis. The second column, in July-August, featured more of the same, including Fischer's famous statement

I have never made a mistake in analysis.

For the September column, he moved to a more instructive topic : analysis of his own games, this time from the 1963 Western Open (where he scored +7-0=1). Never one for modesty, the U.S. champion wrote,

The players at the Open were surprisingly strong. I was expecting twenty move crushers but it didn't happen. In fact, the opposition was keen enough that I consider five or six out of eight of my games played there to be superior to any games played in the Piatigorsky Tournament.

The first game Fischer annotated was against Hans Berliner, at that time a U.S. Senior Master (>2400), rated at 2426 just outside the U.S. top-10. The Piatigorsky Tournament (1963 Los Angeles) was won by Keres and Petrosian ahead of six other world class players.

The next three columns featured games from the 1963 New York State Open (+7-0=0). One of these games, Fischer - Bisguier, was eventually included in My 60 Memorable Games. Besides the two opens, the only other tournament Fischer played in 1963 was the U.S. Championship, where he scored +11-0=0.

The last five columns covered all games from the 1862 Steinitz - Dubois match. Why this match? Chess Life (editor J.F. Reinhardt) explained,

This match, played toward the beginning of Steinitz's long career, well illustrates the open, combinational style of play which earned the young Steinitz the nickname of 'The Austrian Morphy'. In addition to its historical significance, this series will provide the CHESS LIFE reader with background material for such sensational recent games as Fischer - Bisguier [see above] and Fischer - Evans [a critical game from the 1963-64 U.S. Championship +11-0=0 sweep].

Fischer didn't explain why he considered the match worth careful study. He introduced the first game with

The players of 1862 knew something very valuable that the players of today would do well to make note of: 1.d4 leads to nothing!

The games of the match are also on Chessgames.com: 1862 Steinitz - Dubois Match. For more about the Fischer column, see 4423. Fischer the columnist, on Chesshistory.com.

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