Arthur Bisguier, who died earlier this month, produced some sparkling games over the course of his career. World Chess’s columnist looks back at some of the best.

Arthur Bisguier, an American grandmaster, died April 5, 2017, at the age of 87. In his heyday in the 1950s and early 1960s he was one of the world’s best players, a grandmaster at a time when fewer than 40 people in the world had the title. In the American chess scene he was overshadowed first by Samuel Reshevsky, and then in the late 1950s by Bobby Fischer. Nevertheless, he was one of the country’s top players and a beloved figure among American chess fans even into the 21st century.

While he kept playing in American tournaments into his 80s, his career as a serious professional player had finished decades earlier. Even those fans who saw him playing or providing commentary in national tournaments – as he often did — may not fully realize what a strong player he was. Bisguier wrote a two-part chess autobiography replete with great games, but the following are some that really stand out.

Bisguier really struggled against Fischer, losing 13 consecutive games to him. But the first time that they faced each other, when Fischer was only 13, he beat him.

Bisguier, Arthur Bernard vs. Fischer, Robert James
New York Rosenwald | New York | Round | 1956.??.?? | 1-0
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. f4 Very aggressive.
5... O-O 6. Nf3 c5
6... Na6 followed by ...e5 is the main alternative.  )
7. Be2
7. d5 is nearly automatic here, when play typically transposes into a Modern Benoni after
7... e6 8. Be2 exd5 9. cxd5 , and now Black generally chooses between
9... Bg4 ,
...   )
7... cxd4 8. Nxd4 Nc6 The usual move, but the computer also likes the startling
8... e5! , which has almost never been played. It seems the position is about equal after
9. Ndb5 Ne8 10. fxe5 Bxe5 11. Be3 Nc6  )
9. Nc2 There's nothing wrong with the natural
9. Be3 . Black has several provocative tries here (e.g. ...Ng4, . ..Bg4, and ...even ...Qb6), but White maintains chances for an edge in each case.  )
9... Bd7
9... Nd7! followed by ...Nc5 helps Black fight for the initiative.  )
10. O-O Rc8 11. Be3 Now White has a small but safe and enduring plus.
11... Na5?! 12. b3 a6? Fischer is hoping for counterplay based on ...b5, but his imprecise play is strongly punished by Bisguier.
12... Ng4 was the only safe way to (try to) constructively use Black's last move, but White's advantage is increasing after
13. Bd2 , when Black has nothing better than to retreat the knight from g4, and soon the other knight to c6 as well.  )
13. e5! dxe5 14. fxe5 Ne8 The e-pawn is in trouble, but so is Black's knight on a5.
15. Nd5! Threatening Bb6.
15... Rc6 16. Nd4? White is still clearly better after this move, but
16. Qd2! was winning. For example,
16... Bxe5 17. Rad1 Nd6 18. Nb6! Nxb3 19. Qd5! Even stronger than 19.axb3. Too many Black pieces are loose; White will come out with a material advantage to match his positional advantage.  )
16... Rc8?!
16... Bxe5! 17. Nxc6 Nxc6 18. Rc1  )
17. Nc2?!
17. Qe1!  )
17... Rc6?! White gets a second shot at playing Qd2, but he misses it again.
17... Nc6 18. Bb6 Nc7 19. e6! puts Black against the ropes.  )
18. Ncb4? Re6?! Both sides seem to underestimate the resilience of this sacrifice. Nowadays all experienced players are very familiar with exchange sacrifices; maybe back then they were less standard than they are today, and they tended to be underestimated.
18... Bxe5! 19. Nxc6 Nxc6 20. Rc1  )
19. Bg4 Forcing a long tactical sequence.
19. Nd3! Bxe5 20. Nxe5 Rxe5 21. Bd4  )
19... Rxe5 20. Bb6 Qc8 21. Bxd7 Qxd7 22. Bxa5 e6 Otherwise White remains a piece ahead, winning easily.
23. Nd3! Rh5 24. N3f4 Rf5 25. Bb4 exd5 26. Bxf8 Bxa1? It's natural that Fischer would want to reestablish material equality, but it was better to play
26... Kxf8 /+- and battle on down the exchange for a pawn.  )
27. Qxa1 Kxf8 28. Qh8+ Ke7 29. Re1+ Kd8 30. Nxd5 Black's position is in dire straits; never mind the material equality.
30... Qc6 31. Qf8 Qd7 Now for a nice finish.
32. Rd1! Rf6 A little joke, perhaps. Of course White won't play Nxf6, which would be a blunder (Black takes the rook with check, then plays ...Qd4+, and then grabs the knight on f6), but gets to finish in style:
33. Qxe8+! No matter which way Black captures the queen, White plays Nxf6 with check and then takes Black's queen, coming out of the deal at least a rook ahead. Black resigned. Their next game was drawn, and after that Fischer won their next, last 13 games. (Not merely 13 straight decisive games, excluding draws, but 13 straight wins, full stop.)

In the 1960s, Bent Larsen of Denmark became the best western player other than Fischer, regularly winning tournaments ahead of the top Soviet players and reaching the semifinals of the Candidates matches in the year that this game was played. In this case, Bisguier mates him in just 19 moves!

Bisguier, Arthur Bernard vs. Larsen, Bent
Zagreb | Zagreb | Round 9 | 1965.??.?? | 1-0
1. d4 g6 2. e4 Bg7 3. f4 As in the previous game, against Fischer, we see Bisguier choosing a very aggressive system. He is not worried about overextending, but wants to go for the throat. Even against a top player like Larsen, he is fearless.
3... d6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bd3 O-O 6. O-O Nbd7 Begging for e4-e5 to be played. Bisguier obliges.
6... e5! is playable and less provocative. Despite appearances, White cannot win a pawn here, but should prefer instead to consolidate his center with 7.c3.
7. c3  )
7. e5 Ne8 A bit much.
7... Nd5!? 8. c3  )
8. Qe1 A good idea in general, but maybe a little slow here.
8. Ng5!  )
8... c5! And now the race is on: will White's center be destroyed before Black's king is decapitated?
9. f5!? It's not clear if this is better than 9.e6, but it is more confusing.
9. e6 fxe6 10. Qxe6+ Kh8 11. Qe1 cxd4 12. Ng5  )
9... dxe5?!
9... cxd4 10. fxg6 fxg6 11. Bc4+ e6! 12. Bxe6+ Kh8 13. Bg5 Qc7 14. Nbd2 With a mess.  )
10. fxg6 hxg6 11. Qh4! exd4?
11... cxd4 12. Ng5 Ndf6 13. Nd2 Qc7 14. Nde4 Bf5 This is the key difference, the reason Black must use the d-knight on move 12. White is better here, but completely winning in the other line.
15. Nxf6+ Nxf6 16. g4! e6 17. gxf5 exf5 18. b3!  )
12. Bh6?
12. Ng5! Ndf6 13. Nd2 /+- White's plan to give mate, starting with Nde4 on the next move, is a strong one.  )
12... Nef6? The "wrong rook" is a well-known kind of error; in this game, it's the wrong knight. The issue isn't the knight, but the bishop on c8. Black needs it to participate in the defense, e.g. of the e6 square.
12... Ndf6 13. Ng5 b5 is messy, and for now Black is holding his own.  )
13. Ng5 Ne5
13... b5 14. Bxg6! fxg6 15. Bxg7 is devastating.  )
14. Rxf6! Bh8
14... Bxf6 15. Bg7! A well-known trick from some Sicilian Dragon variations, but the motif was fresher at the time of this game. Black gets mated on h7 next move. (Unless he wastes a move with 15...Nf3+, in which case it's mate in two.)  )
14... Nxd3 White has many good moves, but his best move is the highly improbable
15. Nd2!! The point is to bring reinforcements, covering the f6 square. Once that's done, White can play Bxg7 and Qh7#.  )
15. Rf1 Re8 16. Bf8! Not the only winning move, but the nicest and prettiest.
16... Bf6
16... Rxf8? 17. Qh7#  )
16... Kxf8? 17. Qxh8#  )
17. Rxf6! exf6 White is behind slightly in material, two of his pieces are hanging and those pieces that aren't under attack are playing no role in the game. One would expect that Black would be fine, but of course White is ready with his one last resource.
18. Qh6! Would Black prefer to be mated on g7 or h7?
18... Rxf8 19. Qh7#

The next game is from the 1970s against the talented young grandmaster Ljubomir Ljubojevic, then representing Yugoslavia. “Ljubo” was and is renowned as a brilliant tactician, one of the most creative players of his time, but in this game he was tactically outclassed by Bisguier. Ljubojevic’s attempt to surprise his older opponent in the opening backfired, as Bisguier figured everything out over the board and crushed him.

Bisguier, Arthur Bernard vs. Ljubojevic, Ljubomir
Malaga | Malaga | Round 14 | 1971.??.?? | 1-0
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 The Budapest Gambit is a rare guest in high-level play, but it has its drop of poison.
3. dxe5 Ne4?! This is a tricky line, but if White knows what he's doing his advantage is even larger than in the 3...Ng4 mainline.
4. Nf3 Nc6 5. a3! Stopping any nasty checks on b4.
5... d6 6. Qc2! Another strong move, then only played once or twice before. Ironically, this move's first victim was none other than Bisguier himself. In 1969 it was tried a second time in a game between Schroder and Bozzo, won by Black. And this is its third outing!
6... d5
6... Bf5 was Bisguier's attempt to handle 6.Qc2 in the stem game. He did not succeed
7. Nc3 Nxf2 8. Qxf5 Nxh1 9. e6 /+-
...  fxe6 10. Qxe6+ Qe7 11. Qd5 h6 12. g3 g5 13. Bg2 Nxg3 14. hxg3 Bg7 15. Bh3 Ne5 16. Bd2 g4 17. Bxg4 h5 18. Bf5 c6 19. Qe4 Kd8 20. Ng5 Bf6 21. Ne6+ Kc8 22. O-O-O Kb8 23. Bf4 b6 24. Kb1 1-0 (24) Reshevsky,S-Bisguier,A New York 1955  )
7. e3 Bg4
7... Bf5 is more stable. White should call the bluff with
8. Nc3! , when Black should retreat:
8... Nd6! 9. e4! Bxe4 10. Nxe4 dxe4 11. exd6 exf3 12. Qe4+! Kd7 13. Be3 Black's king is likely to perish.  )
8. cxd5 Qxd5 9. Bc4 Qa5+ 10. b4! Very strong, and very principled. For us it's easy to work things out with the engine, but Bisguier had to work it all out for himself in this, then-new, position.
10... Bxb4+
10... Nxb4? 11. Qxe4  )
11. axb4! Qxa1 12. Qxe4 No one has played
12. Bb2! , but it's even stronger.
12... Nxb4 13. Bxf7+! Forced!
13... Kf8 14. Qxe4 Qxb2 15. O-O Bxf3 16. Qxf3 Ke7 17. Bh5 Rhf8 18. Qxb7 While White has some improving to do with his rook and knight, he's still winning the game.  )
12... Bh5
12... Bxf3 13. gxf3! Qxe5 14. Nd2!  )
13. e6
13. b5 Na5 14. e6 is also very strong.  )
13... Bg6?
13... O-O-O 14. Qc2 Bg6 15. e4 Nxb4 16. Qb3  )
14. exf7+ Kf8 15. Qf4 Qxb1 16. O-O White's king is completely safe, unlike its counterpart, and so Black's very slight material advantage is of no consequence.
16... Qe4 17. b5? It seems a bit harsh to give this move a question mark, especially since Bisguier is still winning. Nevertheless, it does shrink his advantage considerably, so it merits the interrogative mark. From here on Bisguier makes no further errors, and the remainder needs no further comment.
17. Qxe4 Bxe4 18. b5  )
17... Qxf4 18. exf4 Bxf7 19. Bxf7 Kxf7 20. bxc6 bxc6 21. Ng5+ Kg6 22. g4 h5 23. h3 a5 24. Ba3 a4 25. Rc1 Ra6 26. Re1 c5 27. Re7 Rb8 28. Rxc7 Rb3 29. Bxc5 Rc3 30. f5+ Kh6 31. Nf7+ Kh7 32. Rc8 Rc1+ 33. Kg2 g6 34. Ng5+ Kh6 35. Ne6


Dennis Monokroussos is a FIDE master who has written about chess on his blog “The Chess Mind,” since 2005. He has been teaching chess for almost 20 years and for the last 10 years has been making instructional chess videos, which can be found at Between 1995 and 2006, he taught philosophy, including a four-year stint at the University of Notre Dame.