Book Review: American Chess Masters from Morphy to Fischer

American Chess Masters from Morphy to Fischer by Arthur Bisguier and Andrew Soltis; Macmillan Publishing Company; 1974

Many years later Soltis said that he alone wrote all of the book. Despite agreeing to help write the book, Bisguier did nothing at all, for which he should be thanked, as this is absolutely worthless trash.

There is so much left out of this book that it is like writing a history of baseball and not mentioning the National League.

The grammatical style is designed to appeal to the lowest level of intelligence. (No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American public.) “Lowenthal loved to occupy his free hours pitching Pawns.” I suppose that was written to appeal to the horse-shoe crowd. It is incredible to find a writer even worse than Fred Reinfeld, but here it is. There are many historical errors, such as: giving an incorrect number of the games of the Capablanca-Lasker 1921 match; calling Margate 1935 Reshevsky’s first international event when it was NOT; stating that “more victories followed” by Capablanca after London 1922 and before New York 1924 (he NEVER played even one game in between); overlooking Winter-Botvinnik in the last round of Nottingham 1936 while mentioning all the other last-round blunders played there; writing “The English author Assiac”, as if that were his real name, which it isn’t (he should have written “Assiac” in quotes because it is a pen name); stating that “A careless loss to A. Kupchik” caused Fine to miss his chance to win the 1940 USA Championship, which is WRONG (Fine was winning against Reshevsky in the last round when he blundered into a draw, and THAT is why Fine finished second instead of first); stating that Rubinstein won his first major tournament at Carlsbad 1927 when it was really Carlsbad 1907.

This junk is not worth reading, at any price.

Copyright © 2006 James Schroeder, Vancouver, WA

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