Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Art of Bisguier Vol 1 & Vol 2 by Arthur Bisguier

Vol 1, 1945-1960
     Large size: 8.5 x 11; easy to read, large type for game moves and italic type for notes, many photographs, 380 diagrams. Unfortunately the many photos appear washed out and are badly distorted.
     Bisguier was an amateur who worked for a living and played in only a few international events.  I met Bisguier a couple of times and found him to be one of the most gregarious of all the GMs.  He is an unassuming person, always courteous and pleasant to every person he meets. He is America’s most respected player.  Lombardy, Soltis and Mednis also stand out in the friendliness category, too. This book is full of puns, jokes, anecdotes, trivia and chess history.
      Depending on who you believe, either his notes are superb…even patzers can understand them or the analysis is poor and done in a slipshod manner.  In any case, it was a pleasure to play over the games. I played over the games using the Houdini engine and found some flaws, but that’s to be expected.  Bisguier obviously checked the games with Fritz 5 because in a couple of instances he says he disagrees with Fritz’ evaluation.  Unfortunately, he did not explain why.  In any case when running into this situation, I always believe the GM.
     The book consists of 82 of Bisguier’s games and each and every one is fun and instructive. Bisguier’s notes are interspersed with useful verbal explanations. While most of the games are of an attacking nature, the truth is Bisguier is more of a classical positional player but he is equally at home in wild, crazy positions.
      Bisguier plays against a lot of players whose names are unfamiliar to those not familiar with the U.S. chess scene of that era.  Opponents like: Weaver Adams, Karl Burger, Arthur Feuerstein, Eliot Hearst, Charles Kalme, Alex Kevitz, Lee Magee, Albert Simonson, Ken Smith, Tony Santasiere. Therefore, each game against an American is preceded with a short description of his opponent.

Vol. 2, 1961-2003
      This volume is much better produced and contains instructive, well-annotated games and black and white photos.  As in the first edition, there are anecdotes that preface each game.  He includes the story of an incident at the 1975 Cleveland International where IM Bernard Zuckerman threw a captured Bishop across the room at a noisy spectator. I witnessed that incident.  The guy was sitting in the front row right next to Zuckerman (I don’t remember his opponent) and just wouldn’t shut up despite Zukerman shushing him several times. Finally, in exasperation, Zuckerman picked up B and I prefer the word ‘tossed’ it at the guy who then refused to give it back until the TD intervened.

Both volumes are highly recommended; you will enjoy the games and anecdotes.

1 comment:

  1. You are right. The first book was a really crappy production that was likely an embarrassment to Bisguier but the games are fantastic. Most people today don’t realize how good Bisguier was back in the 1950s.