Inspiration from the Greats

If you’re looking for inspiration, you could do a lot worse than looking at some grandmaster games from the greatest chess players in history. There are many games collections to choose from or if you prefer, millions of games are available on databases.

One of the most inspirational games collections I have ever read is Bobby Fischer – Complete Games of the American World Chess Champion by Lou Hayes. I bought it and read it 20 years ago, after the Fischer-Spassky rematch in 1992. It contains every game the editor could find, an opening survey, endgame index, even exhibition and blitz games. The book contains light annotations of games (with some useful positional pointers) and 1-2 thumbnail diagrams for each game.

Needless to say it was no chore to play through every single game in this collection. As it was one of the first chess books I ever ‘studied’ it was very influential. I can’t say I understood everything, indeed some games I comprehended more than others, but I think I just benefited from the whole process of playing through games and taking from them what I could. I have never spent so much time with one book, before or since.

Here’s a game from Fischer at about the peak of his powers in 1970 that inspired me to adopt the Sozin Sicilian myself. I liked the Bd5! sacrifice so much that I always hoped that my opponents would be kind enough to allow me to play it. Of course that only happened a few times to me, but what games they were!

And here is one of my amateur efforts inspired by the master:

Angus James