This is a book in Descriptive Chess Notation of great importance not only because of the question it addresses, but because of who asks and then answers that question. Dr. Max Euwe, who was world chess champion from 1935 to 1937, compares and contrasts Bobby Fischer with the three greatest players before him, world champions Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine. Max Euwe is unique in that he had played all of these players in tournaments and had studied all of their games in great detail. He knew more about them and their games than anybody else. He has a chapter devoted to comparing each of these players to Bobby Fischer. The chapters are entitled “Capablanca and Fischer”, “Alekhine and Fischer”, “Lasker and Fischer” and finally “Fischer and the Living World Champions”, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Tal, Petrosian and Spassky. No other book makes these comparisons and addresses these questions, certainly none by any player of the stature of Euwe. Was Bobby Fischer the greatest chess player who ever lived? In this book, Max Euwe, himself a past world champion who also acted as referee at the famous Iceland matches in 1972, here compares Fischer with previous holders of the world chess championship titles. Here are analysis of games that Fischer actually played against Botvinnik, Petrosian, Smyslov, Spassky, Tal, and Euwe. More importantly, Grandmaster Euwe compares certain aspects of Fischer's play with the best games of Capablanca, Alekhine, and Lasker, the most highly regarded world champions of recent times, who were deceased by the time Fischer was playing in tournaments.
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Max Euwe was born on May 20, 1901 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. He has long been regarded as almost an accidental world champion due to the probably not true rumor that Alekhine was drunk when he lost the world title to Euwe in 1935. This has resulted in a controversy that is still being debated today: Was Euwe really the strongest player in the world when he won the world championship in 1935? Regardless of that issue, Euwe was certainly the most active and prolific writer about the game. He was never a professional player. He had a real job. He was a math professor. After retirement he became a chess official. He was president of FIDE, the World Chess Federation, from 1970 to 1978. This was during the Cold War and Euwe had to make many difficult decisions for the good of chess. It was absolutely, definitely because of Euwe that Bobby Fischer got to sit down at the board to play a match for the World Chess Championship. Fischer had been disqualified many times along the way, the first time being when he refused to play in the US Championship that was a necessary preliminary to the World Chess Championship competition. Thus, Euwe had to walk the thin tightrope between getting Fischer to play while not causing the Spassky and the Soviets to refuse to compete because of favoritism shown to Fischer. Euwe died on November 26, 1981 in his native Amsterdam at age 80.
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