Shelby Lyman on Chess: Simple, Powerful and Elegant
Sunday, June 15, 2014
(Published in print: Sunday, June 15, 2014)
It has often been said that Bobby Fischer’s play was similar to that of the great Cuban chess genius Jose Capablanca.
Their styles were alike enough: Gain a material or positional advantage, simplify and press for the win.
The process was sometimes described as technical, as if it were no more than a mechanical exercise in pure technique.
Early in their careers, both — unlike most young players — had spurned suspect moves and dubious tactical play even if they might provoke a sudden collapse by a distracted opponent.
Both relentlessly searched for clarity and truth on the chessboard.
But we shouldn’t be misled. The apparent simplicity of their styles belied the creativity and elegance of their games.
The young American consciously modelled himself after the Cuban, who was born and flourished half a century earlier.
As Fischer reached the apex of his powers, his Soviet adversaries focused discussion on the apparent transparency of his moves, as if that were a weakness waiting to be exploited.
But they did so without effect, as his powerful play crushed them, game after game.