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A Place to Start your Chess Improvement
on 27 July 2010
I remember picking up this book when I first became interested in chess in the late 80s. Chess books were dull and dusty and there was a lot of focus on classical players from the romantic era. This read like a breath of fresh air with verve and Fischer's emotion evident in the narrative. Of course there were probably anthologies of the Soviet greats but these were hard to come by, and in Russian of course. I thought for a while in the 90s that I should have stole that book from the library because it became out of print...
These games show Fischer at his best from weak opponents to the strongest in the world at the time all at various stages of his "professional" career. Fisher managed to create "classics" and textbook examples used in chess instruction books since and it is valuable to hear his own insights as well as the peers who were commentating on the game at the time. This is the thrust of the selling point, and it is well justified.
Here are my other thoughts.
1) Up until Fisher, opening theory and strategy was not as well developed so pre-Fischer you are much more liable to get games with opening errors and strategic misjudgement. Tal secured many a victory with unsound sacrifices, Petrosian secured equality from bad positions with depth of thought and prophylaxis. Spassky was an accomplished attacker but tended to be self optimistic to the point of disregarding certain aspects of position. Fischer at his peak was the cold hard calculator that the best foundered upon. I also will mention his analysis without computers for me was easier to grasp and something to aspire to. Compare this to the reams of sidelines of latter day books.
2) Fischer 2-3 years pre Championship had the reputation of finding the most practical "correct moves" from opening to endgame. He was the ultimate complete player of his time: able to sacrifice for the attack or prosecute positional nuances to their conclusion. The modern grandmaster has his forerunner in Fischer.
3) While the theory of the Spanish, Sicilian and KID have moved on, it is worthwhile revisiting the basic plans that Fischer used to fashion these openings into weapons of choice.
I would recommend that this is a logical starting point for any student of the game, or someone who wants to build their anthology of games. Pritchett's Heroes of Classical Chess and of course Kasparov's My Great Predecessors vol 4 are present to flesh out Fischer's body of work. The theory may be a bit stale and many books have provided a more entertaining method of conveying their ideas but "My 60 Memomarable Games" was what started it all for me.