Graham Burgess


The story of chess in the 20th century offers a microcosm in which developments in the wider world are reflected. This instructive and engaging book places the chess material in its historical context with a review of the main stories of each year away from the chessboard. In the early part of the century, the Hypermoderns revolutionized opening play, with their new understanding of the centre. The inter-war years were dominated by the great champions Capablanca and Alekhine. After 1945, the Soviets used dynamic ideas and a professional approach to gain world supremacy. They also turned chess from a game of gentlemen into a game for the masses. The Soviet hegemony was broken by Bobby Fischer, whose successes sparked a chess renaissance in the West, and motivated a whole generation of chess-players. At the close of the century, the rise of computers provided grandmasters with a new tool, but also posed serious questions about the whole future of the game.

FIDE Master Graham Burgess is a highly versatile chess writer, whose more than 30 books range from general guides and kids’ books to high-level theoretical manuals. His Mammoth Book of Chess won the British Chess Federation Book of the Year Award. He is a former champion of the Danish region of Funen and now lives in Minnesota.

From reviews of the first edition of this title:

“The book is fun to browse through and the historical aspects are well handled. The production values are high with an impressive 16-page photo section accompanying a main text of 208 pages. The book looks good” – GM Jonathan Levitt, CLUB KASPAROV

“A sense of glorious nostalgia descends when you crack open the latest offering from Gambit Publications... this is a trip down memory lane like no other” – Cecil Rosner, WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

“Each year from the past century is allotted two pages, with two or three of the most interesting chess encounters set alongside the world news of the time. Putting them in context showed a lot of these games in a new light.” – Luke McShane, SUNDAY EXPRESS

“Burgess has done a good job of briefly presenting the main events and games of each year, and there is certainly much in here to enjoy and to bring back memories, such as of the Fischer-Spassky match” – Richard Palliser, HULL CHESS CLUB MAGAZINE

“A wonderful book to dip into... the icing on the cake was the marvelous collection of photographs” – Alan Sutton, EN PASSANT

“A pleasant read...ideal for reading next to a warm fire on cold winter evenings” – John Pugh, CHESS POST

“Even in writing an eminently accessible, popular book, Burgess has still bothered to put a great deal of effort into details which correct the historical record. Burgess’ selection of games and key positions is just superb, and can hardly fail to delight even jaded fans. The goal of the book is to delight the reader with a journey through our chess past and with a host of fun and intriguing games... Chess Highlights of the 20th Century succeeds in that regard” – John Watson, TWIC

Download a pdf file with a sample from the book.

Gambit books by Graham Burgess: Chess Highlights of the 20th Century, Gambit Guide to the Torre Attack, The Slav, The Taimanov Sicilian, Chess Openings for Kids, The Gambit Book of Instructive Chess Puzzles, A Cunning Chess Opening Repertoire for White.