The aim of this book is to present a selection of the best and most entertaining chess games from the 20th Century, together with year-by-year accounts of the main chess news stories. It is intended as a book dip into both for entertaining and instruction.
Chess does not exist in a vacuum, but rather reflects and is affected by events outside our 64 squares. With this in mind, the book also contains brief accounts of the events and achievements that made world news in each year.
In selecting the chess games to include, I have sought to strike a balance between presenting the best and most important chess games, and choosing less familiar material. All the games have been carefully analysed using both carbon-based and silicon-based brains, and in many cases the new notes differ substancially in their conclusions from the 'traditional' accounts of these games. I have for the most part avoided a discussion of the opening play, and join the games in the early middlegame. This, I feel, makes the fairest comparison between different eras. How opening play has developed during the 20th Century is certainly an interesting topic, but to do it justice would require a whole book.
The chess news from each year falls into a number of broad categories. First comes the world Championship, and qualifying events for it, such as Interzonals and Candidate events. Next is news of the most important tournaments of the year, followed by team chess. In general, I have only mentioned national championships when there is something exceptional to report, such as a player becoming Champion at an unusual early age. I have made an exception for the USSR Championships, as these were such strong events as always to merit attention.
Then I discuss notable achievements in junior, women's and correspondance chess, before listening notable chess-player births and deaths. Please note that I use square brackets when referring to future events, to distinguish them from the discussion of events of the year in question, for which the present tense is used.
In the non-chess world news I have focussed on the stories that made the greatest impact on the world. Thus you will find most space devoted to sientific discoveries, inventions, conflicts, wars, disasters, social upheavals and technological breakthroughs. Naturally, I have devoted to particular attention to events that had particular influence on the chess world, such as the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. I have aimed to provide enough concise information about each key issue to assist the reader to delve deeper into particular subject.
I hope this book helps you become a better chess-player and proves to be a usefull source of chess information. Perhaps setting chess history in its wider context will even spark an interest in other areas.
Chess Highlights of the 20th Century by Graham Burgess is constructed along the following lines: two pages are devoted to each year of the 20th century, each section consisting of three or four games (or combinations) as well as a summary of the chess news and the world news of that year.
It is possible to quibble with the selection of the chess material - for example the 24th match game of Kasparov-Karpov, Sevilla 1987 does not qualify for inclusion - but I can't say that I found this too distressing (we've seen it so many times!)
I particularly enjoyed the 'Chamber of Horrors' (photos of the leading players!) As always those of Kasparov are the most revealing (I love the expression on Garry's face as Vishy plays the Centre Counter against him!).
The chronological format also reveals some bizarre things you'd never think of - for example, I was born in the same year that Tony Miles won the World Junior Championship and My System was publishhed in the same year as Mein Kampf. All in all, thoroughly enjoyable.
Matthew Sadler, New in Chess Magazine 2/2000