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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 205 times; par: 76 [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
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 53 OF 53 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Dec-02-14  RookFile: <This game is unimpressive.
11. Bg5 is a move that even a club level player would never play.>

Blah blah. It's black to move in this position:


click for larger view

Most of us here would have to admit that we would not play ....Na4 in this position for black. I want to start with this assumption.

The problem is that we need to play some move with black. Assuming we don't see ....Na4, what would we do?

A) ...Nfd7, a typical Gruenfeld move, is out due to pressure on e7. (By amazing coincidence, I think this is what Byrne was thinking).

B) ....Bxf3 cedes the two bishops and strengthens white's center.

C) ...Qd7, to get off the pressure from the g5 bishop, allows Ne5 at some point.

D) ....Nbd7 is laughable because then black would have wasted a tempo with this knight.

I probably would have selected ....Bxf3 and followed up with ....Qd7 and ....e6, trying to put the pawns on white squares to give black a measure of white square control after having ceded the two bishops. Then, somewhere around move 40, it would be 1-0 for Byrne, after a nice positional grind.

Fischer knew it was time for black to go "all in" here.

Dec-13-14  nowo: <Pawnny><todicav23> It doesn't matter what black plays at moves 35 and 36; the evaluation is around -27 and the game is completely lost for black.
Dec-13-14  nowo: <Rookpawn><Petrosianic> Sacrifice - the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.

Is this any less a sacrifice than Petrosian's queen sac, for example?: Petrosian vs Pachman, 1961

Dec-13-14  nowo: <Rookfile> <Sharpnova> I agree with Rookfile. Easy for us to play "Monday morning quarterback" and second guess other's moves. However, we seem to forget things like pressure, nerves, stress, fatigue, etc. Playing OTB is completely different than analyzing and criticizing while sitting at our computers. Byrne may have simply been over-confident and thought the kid would crack under the pressure he was applying. He made some mistakes and Bobby made him pay - that's part of chess.
Dec-26-14  reti: Everyone should remember that Donald Byrne was an International master playing a 13 year old kid named Bobby Fisher.
Dec-26-14  Petrosianic: Actually, he wasn't. Byrne got the IM title in 1962.

But here's something that does get forgotten. This is one of only two Fischer wins in the tournament, against 4 losses. Here's his other win, which has gotten far less fanfare.

Fischer vs Seidman, 1956

Dec-26-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  andrewjsacks: Wow! Almost the Game of the Decade--if you ignore several by Tal.
Dec-26-14  Petrosianic: <nowo>: <Sacrifice - the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone.

Is this any less a sacrifice than Petrosian's queen sac, for example?>

It's a niggling distinction to be sure, but put it this way. Would you call it a sacrifice if you gave up a Rook for 3 minor pieces? Probably not, because the 3 minors are worth more than the rook. Giving up a Queen for a Bishop is generally considered a sacrifice, yes. Because you give up <more> material than you get. (Although since a King is worth infinite material, you could argue the opposite side of that question too).

In this game, Fischer gives up Queen for Rook, Two Minors and a Pawn (and an attack). Is that a sacrifice? Well, on the one hand you could argue no, because he got more material than he gave up. On the other hand you could argue yes because he gave up a queen, and didn't get his opponent's queen (and people see the queen as being a special case). Even with my Rook for 3 minors example, some might consider it a sac just because no single piece you got was worth as much as that rook.

Third question: If a player gives up Queen for two Rooks (and no particular attack), is that a sacrifice? Opinion would probably be pretty heavily divided on that. If we go strictly by the point system in those beginner books, a queen is worth 9 points, and the two rooks worth 10. So, not a sacrifice by that measure. And I think most of us, in a neutral position (where we're not in danger of being mated) would make that trade and feel we were coming out ahead, not sacrificing.

Feb-25-15  amurph64: @ todicav23 Bobby didn't "lose" his Queen. He chose to sacrifice it to set up a winning attack.
Feb-25-15  Petrosianic: <He chose to sacrifice it to set up a winning attack.>

Again, it's debatable if it's a sacrifice <at all>, if you get more than a Queen's worth of material in exchange for it. If I give up a Knight, that's not a sacrifice if I win a Rook at the same time.

Feb-25-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: <Again, it's debatable if it's a sacrifice <at all>, if you get more than a Queen's worth of material in exchange for it. >

It's a sacrifice when played, even if the result is to win material. Almost all combinations (except forced mates) fall into that category.

Feb-25-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: As Peter Griffiths wrote on one of John Nunn's games, Fischer's brilliant idea was a matter of technique: a transaction.
Mar-12-15  1 2 3 4: <sharpnova: with the losing side's blunders being more consistent.> this sentence confirmed you're a troll.
Mar-12-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Marmot PFL> It's a sacrifice when played, even if the result is to win material.>

I disagree. If you wind up with material worth more than the material you gave up, it is not a sacrifice. But it can be debated. For example, were you getting more material than you sacrificed a forced continuation or was it the result of a blunder by your opponent? In the first case I would definitely say that it was not a sacrifice while in the second case I would tend to say that it was a sacrifice since the recovery of material was not forced. I would also say that it was a sacrifice even if the material recovery was forced, if you did not see the continuation all the way to its conclusion. Because, at the time you made the sacrifice, you were not sure that you would get the material back, even if it later turned out that you did.

Mar-18-15  ChessValley: AyerKupp: Interesting way of looking at a sacrifice. The way you describe it implies that a sacrifice always converts to a type of advantage other than a material one, ranging from a positional advantage to a checkmate position.

Would you call a sacrifice which ends up in a material advantage an "investment"?

Mar-18-15  Petrosianic: No, I'd call it a win of material.
Apr-06-15  kubbybulin: What if 18.Be6 Qb5+ 19. Ke1?
Apr-06-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <kubbybulin: What if 18.Be6 Qb5+ 19. Ke1?>

19....Qe2 mate.

Apr-06-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<ChessValley> Would you call a sacrifice which ends up in a material advantage an "investment"?>

It depends. If the recovery (or more) of the sacrificed material is forced and can be foreseen, then it's either not really a sacrifice or a "sham sacrifice". If the recovery of the material is not forced or cannot be foreseen, but results in a positional advantage that compensates for the material deficiency, then I would indeed call it a sacrifice.

Oh, BTW, if the sacrifice does not lead to the recovery (or more) of the material and does not result in a positional advantage that compensates for the material deficiency, I would call it a "blunder". :-)

Apr-16-15  not not: perfidious, if you look at the picture and then at the quality of the game..... which chess player could come up with this quality at such an aerly age?

@Fischer's brilliant idea was a matter of technique@

no, 13y old boy brilliant idea was a matter of technique

can I see mr Griffits ideas at the age of 13? he was probably mentaly at the mental age of reading comics and believing the spiderman is real

sad people

May-09-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  MindCtrol9: This game is really a brilliant one which, when I mention Fischer, this is the game that I rremember like Fisher's best ever.I have reviewed this game many times because of the beauty of how Fischer being only 13 made such amazing and deep calculation giving his Queen to win the game with minor pieces.Like somebody said:This is the game of the century. .Fischer was far ahead from all the players in his time.
May-11-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eduardo Bermudez: "I told a couple of stories about The Game of the Century. One was how, after Fischer's combination, Donald canvassed the other players to see if they thought he should honor Fischer's great play by letting the young man checkmate him. They approved, of course - at that point young Bobby was not yet Bobby Fischer - as Byrne pointed out. The other story involved Byrne moving his queen's bishop to the wrong square in the opening. He was contemplating what he should do about it, when he had a strong urge to go to the bathroom(!) So he quickly picked up the bishop, put it on another square, and left the board. As he said, at that point how did he know it was going to become The Game of the Century?" Dan Heisman on Donald Byrne
Aug-16-15  nilanjanasm: 36 Kf1. Bad move by Byrne. He could play Kh2 still. Extremely bad
Aug-16-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <nilanjanasm> On 36.Kh2, Bd6 wins.
Aug-18-15  nilanjanasm: There wouldn't be a forced mate, and Byrne would have lost after more moves. But I agree that bd6 will win
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