His book, My 60 Memorable Games, was one
of the first adult books on chess I bought, and while it was far
too hard for me at the time (and still is, I fear) there is much to
be mined in its pages. Each time I come back to it I learn
something new, and I have selected some positions below which have
taught me something in each phase of the game.
Morphy is probably the best player for the beginning
player to study. Alas there are precious few games to go on, for he
lived before the growth in international tournaments and was denied
a match by Staunton.
Morphy more or less perfected the art of winning in open
games: smooth, fast development, opening up lines for the attack,
dynamic piece play throughout the game, ruthless cashing in of
advantages, wonderfully imaginative combination play. Even against
inferior opposition he plays with great energy and balance.
Chess is played not with 32 pieces, but 33: the handling of the
extra piece, the clock, sometimes being the deciding factor.
Time trouble is the most obvious manifestation of clock
difficulties but there are other symptoms: I remember Brian Hewson
being irritated just on principle that I had played an automatic
move in a tense position - after the game it became clear that I
had missed a mate in three at that point.
The aim of this session is to suggest some simple rules for how to
get from 100 grade to the dizzy heights of 150. If applied firmly,
I am convinced they will lead to better results without any extra
This first game is more or less the opposite of how you
ought to model your play: an unattainable standard of mayhem...
So many words have been written about Tal that my own observations
are perhaps rather superfluous. The brilliance of his play and the
dramatic way his wins are often achieved are apparent to all.
For tonight's session, and with their instructional
content in mind, I would just like to add that it was interesting
to me how some of his most striking wins are introduced by
apprently simple means - not striving for complications but
building up with classically good moves. This may be partly a
reflection of how familiar the GM play of the 1950s is to a club
Dr. Emanuel Lasker was not only World Champion for 27 years from
1894 to 1921, but was also one of the great thinkers of the game.
He introduced and regularly used many strategical concepts decades
before Nimzowitsch's formulations in `My System' and `Chess
Praxis'. He is known as one of the great fighters, and, in his
games, we see no attachment to dogma or `correctness'; the point of
a game is to win. I imagine Simon Webb of `Chess for Tigers' learnt
a lot from Lasker.
After a season of mixed results, it is time to go back over some of
the more painful losses, and ask: `Why did I lose?', and `how can I
avoid this in future?' Here I divide up losses into three basic
types, and to avoid too much self-pity, my examples begin with
those where my opponent was the loser!
Although he obviously knows a lot of
theory International Master Gary Lane wasn't out
to play right down the line - he deviated in the sharper bits of
theory against Mark and Steve. Rather, he played mostly
solidly - certainly in only a few games did he set
out for mate straight away. His opening repertoire leaned heavily
on his published books (Ruy Lopez, Bishop's Opening, Closed