The Master Game: Series 6
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The Master Game broke new ground in the 1970s and 1980s when it established itself as the only international chess tournament played for television. Following its launch by BBC Television in 1975, it became a firm favourite amongst chess fans and grandmasters alike. The list of competitors featured is a who s who of famous Grandmasters from the 1970s including Anatoly Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi, Tony Miles, Bent Larsen, Nigel Short, John Nunn, Walter Browne and many more. Whereas computers have taken over the analysis of games in the modern age, the unique aspect that made of The Master Game so popular was the players voicing their inner thoughts and letting viewers understand their thinking on the game. Series 6 is a 2DVD set and includes all 13 episodes originally broadcast in the series. The contestants for this hard fought series included: World Championship contenders Bent Larsen, Nigel Short, Svetozar Gligoric, Vlastimil Hort and Robert Byrne, plus Tony Miles, Lothar Schmid and the inimitable Jan Hein Donner.
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Although it's very old now (early 80s) it was well ahead of its time and the production is slick and smooth. I found it very enjoyable and interesting. I think it's done in quite an accessible way, though if the viewer is not familiar with chess notation some of the explanations offered by the players might be quite hard to follow. It's interesting to see which players rely heavily on analysing variation after variation and which prefer to rely on their instincts and general judgements about the kind of position on the board. The contrasting playing styles and personalities are also fascinating.
Possibly some of the players were more used to descriptive rather than algebraic notation so there is the odd moment when they name a square incorrectly, but this hardly matters - the meaning is always clear. Also, (spoiler alert?) I found the final a little anticlimactic, as the game was possibly the least interesting of the whole series. Still, overall I thought it was an excellent series.
Fascinating, enjoyable, and potentially instructive. Highly recommended.
DVD restoration is good quality making this a very enjoyable release at a great price, considering it is a 4 disc set with 13 hours of footage.
Expertly hosted by show anchors Jeremy James and Bill Hartston, this 4-disc set of Series 6 and 7 is a worthy addition to any chess enthusiast's DVD library.