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Donald Byrne vs Robert James Fischer
"The Game of the Century" (game of the day Mar-09-2013)
Third Rosenwald Trophy (1956), New York, NY USA, rd 8, Oct-17
Gruenfeld Defense: Three Knights Variation. Hungarian Attack (D92)  ·  0-1


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

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 55 OF 57 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-01-16  pabloin: Byrne - Fischer 0-1: Twice
"The Game of the Century" 1956
"The Brilliancy Prize" 1964
┐Poor R. Byrne or It is some kind of honor... ?
Aug-25-16  mikechess: Could someone explain what would be wrong with white 17.He5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <Could someone explain what would be wrong with white 17.He5?>

Helicopters don't move that way.

Aug-25-16  mikechess: Sorry, Of course I meant 17.Ne5
Sep-20-16  ketchuplover: 17...Bxe5 looks promising to me
Premium Chessgames Member
  steinitzfan: I'll have a look at this with Fritz later this evening. I can't say as I ever knew exactly when White was lost in this game. I remember reading (in the distant past) that there were ways for Byrne to parry the combination if he'd just seen it. Of course, but how far back though? It'll be interesting to look into it.
Sep-23-16  PawnSac: < mikechess: Could someone explain what would be wrong with white 17.Ne5 ? >

Well, here are some examples...

17. Ne5 Bxe5 <18.O-O> Qc7 19. dxe5 Nxd1 20. h3 Qxe5 21. hxg4 Red8 and black has Rook, knight, and two pawns vs. white's 2 bishops.

If instead white takes the Q after 17. Ne5 Bxe5 <18.Bxb6> Bd6+ 19. Kd2 Ne4+ 20. Kc2 Bxd1+ 21. Rxd1 Bxa3 and black is up a clear rook and pawn.

If white recaptures the bishop with 17. Ne5 Bxe5 <18.dxe5> Rxe5+ 19. Kf1 Rxc5 20. Qxc3 Bxd1 21. h3 Re8 22. Kg1 Be2 23. Kh2 Rxc4 and white is down a rook and bishop.

Oct-17-16  todicav23: The Game of the Century was played exactly 60 years ago.
Nov-06-16  Tal1949: Grabbing the queen (18. Bxb6) was certainly a disaster. The flood gates opened after that. 18. Qxc3 was still a loss but the position would not have looked so embarrassing.

Great finish by the young Bobby. Every black piece/pawn is defended and he controls every square. Wow!

Nov-12-16  MariusDaniel: Great game!Both players played real smart moves
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Seems like a taleted kid this Fischer guy. I wonder what became of him...
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: he came back, as a politician.
Dec-01-16  MariusDaniel: This chess game is a rare gem!
Dec-14-16  DIO: Where is the banner?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <DIO: Where is the banner?>

It is just to the right of the board. Can you see it? It says, "You have won the chess quiz! Congratulations on winning 600 vintage chess books!!"

On the right.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: So, if Donald had been more like his brother, and resigned when the game was clearly hopeless, when should he have resigned this?

The King March he does at the end is clearly hopeless. It's obvious that Black has a forced mate, no matter how many moves it may take. But staying in the corner amounts to the same t hing, so, at the very least he should have resigned before 36. Kf1. That's about the time it becomes clear Black has a forced mate.

What's the earliest he might have resigned? Really, the game is hopeless the moment White takes the Queen. The only chance to hang in is something like 18. Qxc3 Qxc5 19. dxc5 Bxc3 20. Bxe6 Rxe6. Black's much better but it's still a game.

So White is definitely busted after 18. Bxb6, but that's a bit early to resign. Black could still misplay it. I would say that the moment the dust has settled, after 25... Nxd1 and Black has a Rook and two pieces for the Queen, plus a weak and undeveloped White Kingside is the <earliest> moment that White might reasonably be expected to resign.

So somewhere between Move 26 and 36 is when the resignation ought to have happened if there was going to be one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <Petrosianic: So, if Donald had been more like his brother, and resigned when the game was clearly hopeless, when should he have resigned this? ...>

Donald was playing a 13 year old Fischer. Robert played a 20 year old one. There is a difference.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Another good candidate for the resignation point is before White's 28th. We've played a few moves past the "Dust Settling" moment, Black has picked up two more pawns and now has a Rook, two minors and three pawns for the Queen. There's REALLY nothing for White to play for from here out, and little chance of Black botching it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <petrosianic> there may have been several opportunities to resign earlier. My question would be what was D. Byrne after? To see his young boy stumble on his way to victory or give the kid the opportunity to mate him brillantly and produce this gem?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: By all accounts Byrne played on because he knew he had taken part in something special. and very sportingly let Fischer mate him.

It's not too uncommon for a player to allow the mate if the combo leading up to it has been a cracker.

Having said that I think if Fischer had played the quicker mate

click for larger view

37...Re2+ instead of 37...Bb4+

37...Re2+ pans out to a mate on move 40. This is the forced final position.

click for larger view

I think Byrne would have resigned before that one appeared on the board.

And in the actual game if Byrne had resigned after playing his 41st move we would be left here (Black to play)

click for larger view

And we would have 55 pages of arguing which is the better checkmate. 41...Rc2# or 41...Ba3#


Also in a mid tournament pub quiz many years ago our team won because I remembered how many moves were played in 'The Game of the Century'.

If Byrne had resigned I doubt the game would have forged such a question and I would have been asked something different.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <It's not too uncommon for a player to allow the mate if the combo leading up to it has been a cracker.>

The mating combination at the end is fairly pedestrian. When you've got the king trapped on the back rank by a rook that way, and minor pieces swarming around, you just know there's a mate in the air even if you don't see the exact moves right away. But that's fine. If there were no special reasons for playing to mate, where would the natural resignation point be?

The more I look at it, White's 28th move seems about right. That's where we're getting to positions where a B player would probably be able to beat a GM. After 28. Re1, which he played, it's hard to imagine anything White can do with just a Queen and Knight. Black's only possible weak point, f7, is well protected by the Bishop; there's no chance of a perpetual, no nothing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Really, the more I think about it, the more it seems that White should have just taken the Knight on Move 12.

12. Nxa4 Nxe4 13. Qb4 a5 14. Qxe7 Bxf3 15. Qxd8 Rfxd8 16. Bxd8 Bxd1 17. Nc3 Rxd8 17. Nxd1 Rxd4 18. Be2, and White is a clear pawn down, but he's far better off than he was in the game.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Petrosianic,

It is quotes like this I've read at various places. None ever mention at what move Donald decided to play on.

"Fischer was winning the game decisively and Byrne asked some of the other players if it would be a good "tip of the hat" to Fischer's superb play to let young Fischer play the game to a checkmate instead of Byrne resigning, which would normally happen between masters.

When the other players agreed, Byrne played the game out until Fischer checkmated him. "

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: I think Byrne could easily have indicated he was just playing to mate by his body language, which is likely what he did.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Well, that raises a question right there. Generally it's considered rude to play on in such a position. If Byrne decided to keep playing, in order to improve the game's aesthetic qualities, did he TELL Fischer that he was doing this? Or did he allow Fischer to think he was being rude until the game was over? Or did they both just intuitively realize what was happening? You say he talked to the other players about it, but did Fischer know?
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