Bisguier's Greatest Hits

Bisguier's Greatest Hits

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Though I played the late, great grandmaster Arthur Bisguier in Canada a long time ago (he beat me), I didn’t really know the man.

Photo courtesy US Chess.

However, knowing a man is one thing, but knowing his chess is quite another! Though I didn’t learn how to play chess until I was 12 years old, by the time I was 14 I knew Bisguier’s name very well. I knew that he was a famous grandmaster. I knew that he was a great tactician and attacker. I knew that he had won the U.S. championship three times.

And I knew that he played 15 games with Bobby Fischer (Bisguier beat the 13-year-old Fischer in their first game, drew the second, and then got rocked by Bobby 13 times in a row).

Bisguier was born in 1929 and he died in April 2017.

Quite a few obituaries have appeared, so I’m not going to do a study on Bisguier’s life. And, for personal details, I feel that his close friends are better suited for that task. What I will do is immerse you in some of his most interesting games. After all, his fame is all about his very creative chess, so let’s enjoy Bisguier the chess player.


Photo: Beth Cassidy.

Bisguier, like all grandmasters, could play brilliant positional games and extremely impressive endgames. You don’t get that title by being a one-trick pony! However, his true love was violent, attacking chess. In fact, he would often want to attack so badly that he pushed the envelope by sacrificing pieces here and there even though the whole concept was flawed. He reminds me of Mikhail Tal, who created so much tactical chaos that, even if there was a refutation, the opponent wouldn’t find it.

Nevertheless, does art have to be squeaky clean and perfect, or does a bit of “grime” add to the overall effect? Here’s a great example:

Errors and all, I feel this game is a true work of art.

Here’s another example of Bisguier tossing everything but the kitchen sink at his opponent, daring him to navigate through the constant complications:

Now it’s puzzle time. Can you play like Bisguier?

First, a public service: Whenever I give puzzles, quite a few people don’t realize that they can press the question mark at the bottom left of the board and see various notes. Another bit of puzzle confusion is alternative moves. Yes, there are many situations where there is more than one really good move (or even multiple ways to mate!). When this occurs they think that I missed it. No, I didn’t. The problem is that the software will only allow one “best” move. Fortunately, I will usually have mentioned the moves you were screaming about in the notes!




Though Black has a knight and rook vs. White’s lone pawn, this position looks like it might be drawn. However, Bisguier had seen that there is only one way to win. Can you find it?


As I mentioned earlier, Bisguier also plays a mean endgame!



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