Fisher's Top Ten


Many people consider Bobby Fischer the greatest player ever. Not only did he slay a Soviet chess empire, he did it alone over the board without political chicanery -- unlike Anatoly Karpov and Gary Kasparov who dominated the game since he left.

Fischer, 52, lives in Hungary. In 1964, eight years before he won the crown, a magazine asked him to name history's top ten players. Here is a summary of his list, which curiously left out both Emanuel Lasker and Mikhail Botvinnik:

     1. PAUL MORPHY. Perhaps the most accurate player who ever
     lived, he would beat anybody today in a set-match. He had
     complete sight of the board and seldom blundered even
     though he moved quite rapidly. I've played over hundreds of
     his games and am continually surprised and entertained by
     his ingenuity.

     2. HOWARD STAUNTON. His games are completely modern, but
     very few of them show brilliancies. He understood all the
     positional concepts we now hold so dear.

     3. WILHELM STEINITZ. He always sought completely original
     lines and didn't mind getting into cramped quarters if he
     thought that his position was essentially sound.

     4. SIEGBERT TARRASCH. Razor-sharp, he always followed his
     own rules. In spite of devotion to his own supposedly
     scientific method, his play was often witty and bright.

     5. MIKHAIL TCHIGORIN. The first great Russian player and one
     of the last of the Romantic School. At times he would continue
     playing a bad line even after it was refuted.

     6. ALEXANDER ALEKHINE. Never a hero of mine. His style
     worked for him, but it could scarcely work for anybody else.
     His conceptions were gigantic, full of outrageous and
     unprecedented ideas. It's hard to find mistakes in his
     games, but in a sense his whole method was a mistake.

     7. JOSE CAPABLANCA. He had the totally undeserved reputation
     of being the greatest living endgame player. His trick was
     to keep his openings simple and then play with such brilliance
     that it was decided in the middle game before reaching the
     ending -- even though his opponent didn't always know it.
     His almost complete lack of book knowledge forced him to
     push harder to squeeze the utmost out of every position.

     8. BORIS SPASSKY. He can blunder away a piece, and you are
     never sure whether it's a blunder or a fantastically deep
     sacrifice. He sits at the board with the same dead expression
     whether he's mating or being mated.

     9. MIKHAIL TAL. Even after losing four games in a row to him
     I still consider his play unsound. He is always on the
     lookout for some spectacular sacrifice, that one shot, that
     dramatic breakthrough to give him the win.

     10. SAMUEL RESHEVSKY. From 1946 to 1956 probably the best in
     the world, though his opening knowledge was less than any
     other leading player. Like a machine calculating every
     variation, he found moves over the board by a process of
     elimination and often got into fantastic time pressure.

Source: Evans on Chess - Dec 1st 1995 from Chess Connection



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