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Donald Byrne vs Robert James Fischer
"The Game of the Century" (game of the day Mar-09-13)
Third Rosenwald Trophy (1956)  ·  Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knights Variation. Hungarian Attack (D92)  ·  0-1
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Last move:

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Given 171 times; par: 75 [what's this?]

Annotations by Robert Wade.      [1 more game annotated by Wade]

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Donald Byrne vs Robert James Fischer (1956)
Cover of Chess Review, December 1956.

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: I have been challenged - more than once - by friends / fans / readers ...

to take a new look at some of the classic chess games.

Most of the time, I don't feel such a measure is necessary, my old(er) web pages usually do the job.

However, in the case of this game, many of my analysis were started some 20-30 years ago. So I eventually got interested in doing a brand-new, fresh re-examination of this game. (Below is the link to my new page.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: I got an e-mail yesterday ...

A few days ago, a woman said something similar. Her eight-year-old plays chess and they would prefer I looked at the latest games ...

The actual e-mail yesterday wasn't really a fan, (he referred to everything I do as garbage); but he did ask a question I have heard repeated many times: "Why do you waste so much time on this game?"

He also suggested I spend more time on the latest GM games...

#1.) Many of the latest GM games - like World Chess Championship Candidates (2014) - have GM analysis in the reports from Chessbase. (See

#2.) Many of these modern games are not that good, some are just comedies of errors ... although I must admit that the effort: Anand vs Topalov, 2014; could very well be a modern masterpiece.

#3.) A lot of the older games are not appreciated enough, IMO.

#4.) A lot of the analysis I did many years ago was just repeating what the books said. Nowadays, the engines have gotten so strong, they deserve their own say ... in a new look. (Which I did.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Here are some of the commonly repeated misconceptions that I have heard - over the years - about this game.

#1.) Donald Byrne wasn't that strong of a player. (In fact, he was easily in the top 5 in the USA, and around # 65 in the world!)

#2.) Fischer's play wasn't good, his opening was rather poor. (Several masters opined this - in various books and magazines, criticizing moves like ...Nbd7. Fischer's play was extremely good, <and also VERY CREATIVE!!!!> as my analysis clearly shows.)

#3.) The combination wasn't sound. (I don't know where this myth got started, but I have heard masters repeat this at big tournaments like the U.S. Open and the World Open. Again, the computers find NO REFUTATION of Fischer's concept, whatsoever!!!!!)

#4.) "With better play, Byrne might have defended his position." (Again - I have heard this many times. It's one thing when a lower-rated player says it, but when a Master says it, you want to find out why. Again - I blame the books and media, they unfairly criticized some of Byrne's moves, like Qc5 and Qa3., etc. In actuality, Byrne only made one real mistake, <Bg5> and it certainly seemed plausible, and it was only refuted by a THUNDERCLAP ... followed by several strokes of pure genius.)

#5.) Other games - by prodigies like Jose Raul Capablanca - were/are better and hold up better under analysis. (I think that my web pages on this game speak for themselves ... and show this game to be ... nothing less than an absolute masterpiece and a work of chess art on the chessboard.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <AJ> I agree with your assessments. This game was the first masterpiece that I memorized.

Because of it, I played the Grunfeld and the Reversed Grunfeld throughout my career.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Kool beans ... I also played the Grunfeld for 25+ years.

I have not stopped studying it, and I plan on playing it more in the future, hopefully with some TN's courtesy of Fritz.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: I wish I had the book ... that I made reference to above. I think the title of it was: "The Chess Prodigies That I have Taught." (Or something like that.)
Mar-25-14  Howard: The book in question was called My Seven Chess Prodigies, by the late Jack Collins.

They included Sal Matera, Raymond Weinstein (probably still in a mental institution), and the late Robert Byrne.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: "My Seven Chess Prodigies." By Jack Collins. YES!!! (That was it.) Thanks!!! :)

Love it, want it, if a fan wants to get it for me, I would be tickled pink!

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <Petrosianic> I have always been impressed by the Steinmeyer game. Black's attack, beginning with 13...Qf4+, seems good, yet it leads to a loss. I gather from Fischer notes that he was playing home analysis. It is just overwhelming...
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <maxi: <Petrosianic> I have always been impressed by the Steinmeyer game. Black's attack, beginning with 13...Qf4+, seems good, yet it leads to a loss. I gather from Fischer notes that he was playing home analysis. It is just overwhelming...>

I can think of a few from that tournament I would have preferred. Kingscrusher did a terrific video about this one -- W G Addison vs Fischer, 1963

There is the King's Gambit against Evans, the Ruy Lopez against Weinstein...of course the biggest problem with 60MG is that it ends five years too soon.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: The problem is that Fischer quitted chess too soon.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: <maxi> I was around 13-14 when Bobby Fischer won the World Championship. I would probably not have gotten into chess (as much as I have) except for this event.

I think just about everyone wishes:
#1.) Bobby would have played more ...
#2.) That he would have never dropped out of chess.

Mar-26-14  Howard: Personally, I turned 12 during the time the match took place.

Still remember being in bed one evening with an upset stomach, and my late mother telling me that Fischer had just forfeited the second game of the match....and that some people were predicting he would probably just abandon the match and go back to the U.S.

Almost happened !

Mar-26-14  Petrosianic: I'm not saying the Steinmeyer Game was bad. I'm just not sure why it was "Memorable" in a way that other good games weren't. I'd rather have seen the other games that KP mentions, especially the Addison and/or Evans game. Fischer-Evans is a natural followup to Spassky-Fischer, and would have let Fischer tell us what lessons he drew from the 1960 game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Bobby's last chess contributions were when he wasn't even 30 years old. What a shame! Years ago, I was having an exchange here in CG (with chancho, I think), and I wrote a little story.

I was young at the time of the Spassky-Fischer match, and my father was still alive. He had never played chess, and didn't even know the rules, but since I mentioned often over dinner the World Championship match and the information was on all the newspapers, he knew who Bobby and Boris were.

When Bobby won my father astounded me by flatly stating that "Bobby wasn't going to play chess anymore". I said, "what do you mean, why do you say such an absurdity?", and he answered that all that Bobby ever wanted was to become chess champion of the world; nothing else.

In answer to my post chancho made the comment "your father must have been a wise man". I don't know if he was being sincere or sarcastic.

We know now that Bobby was not well in the head. The strain of playing chess was probably even more demanding on him than on a normal player. Probably he just couldn't cope any more.

Mar-26-14  Petrosianic: <We know now that Bobby was not well in the head.>

We don't really know it, we've just theorized it to the point that we accept it as fact. A lot of people with poor education and no social skills can do things we would regard as pretty outrageous without actually being ill.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Really <Petrosianic>? Bobby had an excellent practical education. He spoke several languages and had travelled the world over, the best possible education. His mom was a smart and educated woman. I am pretty sure that any psychiatrist, based on the many strange things he did after he became wch, would conclude he was not well in the head.
Mar-26-14  Petrosianic: He'd probably strongly suspect it, but a real psychiatrist would diagnose a patient he hadn't examined. Fischer had some good practical experience, but social skills were never his strong suit. He had a smart mother, but rebelled against her. (She was a Jewish Communist, so he became strongly anti-both).

To be fair to Bobby, she does seem to have been a little on the domineering side. On a scale of 1-10, with Pollyanna as a 1, and any Verna Felton character as a 10, Regina was probably about a 7. But these days <everybody> has an illness that absolves them from any responsibility for what they do. It's a sign of the times. (Kramnik probably suffers from Early Draw Syndrome).

If Fischer wsa ill, when have you decided that he was ill by? 1960? 65? 70? 75?

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <LIFE Master AJ> Well, we guys from that time wished the two things you said, AND that Yoko Ono and John had never met...
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: <Petrosianic> Of course, there are many great Fischer games, filled with particular fascinating details. It's just that I always found the Steinmeyer to be interesting.

I hesitate to give you a year, not being a psychiatrist, but, from the press releases of the time that I remember, Bobby's mental health must have deteriorated rather fast after 1972.

Yes, possibly Kramink suffers from EDS. Or perhaps from PDS, (Premature Draw Symptom).

Mar-26-14  diceman: <maxi:
Yes, possibly Kramink suffers from EDS. Or perhaps from

PDS, (Premature Draw Symptom).>

I thought that was Leko?

Apr-11-14  Rookiepawn: Just my one cent: I wouldn't really call Black's move 17 a sac, since it is in fact a forced path to material gain. After move 25 Black has RBBP for the Q, and a crushing position, and I think it's all forced.

This doesn't make it less bold and brillant.

Apr-11-14  Petrosianic: You're right, it should not properly be called a "sacrifice". As you say, it gains material, and even gives Black a forced perpetual check, if he wants it.

But some people tend to use the word "sacrifice" any time you give up a queen and don't get the other guy's queen. It's not strictly correct, but I understand the usage.

Apr-12-14  Rookiepawn: <Petrosianic> Very true, and of course it is OK by me to call it a "sac".

The other sacs, the ones in wich material is not forcedly recovered, we can easily recognize them because someone, after hours of analysis and steaming engines, finds a hidden salvation move for the loser. Then the sac is called "unsound"... and controversy starts!

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: What a beautiful thing this game is.
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