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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 57 OF 59 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Aylerkupp

" The only one who could have answered them, at least for this game, is Donald Byrne, and unfortunately he is no longer with us."

But he did answer it whilst he was alive.

D Byrne vs Fischer, 1956 (kibitz #1430)

But I'll repeat again what it was IM Donald Byrne said about the end of this game.

"First of all, you have to remember that in 1956 no one knew that Bobby Fischer was going to become Bobby Fischer! He was just a very promising 13-year-old kid who played a great game against me.

When it got to the position where I was lost, I asked some of the other competitors if it might be a nice thing to let the kid mate me, as a kind of tribute to the fine game he played. They said, ‘Sure, why not?’ and so I did."


The tag 'The Game of the Century' was given to this game by Hans Kmoch:

"The following game, a stunning masterpiece of combination play performed by a boy of 13 against a formidable opponent, matches the finest on record in the history of chess prodigies."

So he is not quite saying it was the best game of chess played last century. In his opinion, it was the best game played by a child prodigy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <<morfishine> You are mere spectators, so spectate and otherwise, shut up> I think you may have misunderstood the point of this site...
Aug-28-17  Petrosianic: <Sally Simpson> <But I'll repeat again what it was IM Donald Byrne said about the end of this game.>

That still presupposes that there's some magical objective time that a game ought to end, that Byrne needed some kind of special permission to violate. There really isn't. Chess is just the only game whose fans can't stand to see played one second longer than they personally think it should be.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Petrosianic,

He was just covering his ass amongst his fellow players because he knew this game was something special and bound to end up in print.

People might think...

A) He was not good enough to know he was losing.

B) He played on till mate because he was sulking at getting beaten by a kid.

C) He thought the kid might blow it going for the final kill.

Some of these reason have been cited by posters not knowing (or understanding) what the real reason was.

It was an act of sportsmanship.


Back to:

C) He thought the kid might blow it going for the final kill.

Chess history is loaded with the so called weaker player screwing up a won game when they have a stronger player on the ropes.

The May Chess Life 1956 published a rating list.

Donald Byrne 2257.
Bobby Fischer 1726

I was 1825 when I beat my first 2200+ player. I knew I was winning and an unknown kind of nervousness crept in. Thankfully he never offered a draw. I might have taken it .

Aug-28-17  Petrosianic: <People might think... [A, B and C].>

They might think that ANYWAY. After all, the game itself is much better known than is the story about Byrne's explanation. You said yourself that you've seen posters saying all those things despite the explanation.

Without any explanation, only a very weak player could believe A. B possibly, but again, I think only a weak player would think it of a game with an exciting combinative sequence in progress.

As for C, suppose he had been playing for that reason? It would have been legit.

<I was 1825 when I beat my first 2200+ player. I knew I was winning and an unknown kind of nervousness crept in.>

Yeah, but I bet you weren't playing in an Invitational Tournament with the best players in the country. The joke in Eliot Hearst's column was that a USCF Rating is a numerical figure that reflects the way you played chess a year ago. I guarantee you that they didn't think of Fischer as a B player when they invited him to the tournament. It would have been sadistic if they had.

Aug-28-17  Petrosianic: What do you think about games like Game 16 of the 1972 match? That's the kind of game that users go apoplectic over, especially in Live Kibitzing. "How dare they keep playing???" I always tell them that if they're <really> sure of the outcome, then to just forget it and watch a different game (or leave if it's a match). That never gets an answer because they're not really sure.

Of course the same people also go nuts if a game ends earlier than they thought it should. I saw a kibitzer at Sinquefeld (presumably a Nakamura fan) loudly announcing that he'd lost all respect for Nakamaura forever, for agreeing to a draw in a position that was, if not totally dead, then at least one in which a draw was a reasonable result. It's a completely irrational mindset. Such people think that they and they alone know how long a game should last. But then they get upset that others don't know it too. What sense does that make?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: "Yeah, but I bet you weren't playing in an Invitational Tournament with the best players in the country."

it was a league game, 36 moves in 1½ hours. I played for Edinburgh IV and I beat the Edinburgh 1 team captain.

The funny thing about that league season I beat or drew with the higher graded players and lost to the lower graded players. Such is chess. These days I cannot beat anybody. I have aged, chess wise, badly. Probably due to lack of games, I only now play league chess, 9-10 games a year.

Last season I was losing v a 1300 player. He got nervous due to my poker-face and blew it. One of my few recent wins.

The World Famous End of Festival Edinburgh fireworks are just about to start. I live in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle and have a grandstand view.

People come from all over the country just to see (and applaud(?)) fireworks. I should hire out out my rooms for the night, I'd make a small fortune.

I'll get back to you on some other things.

Aug-28-17  Petrosianic: <The funny thing about that league season I beat or drew with the higher graded players and lost to the lower graded players.>

That happens sometimes. You put all the energy into the games with the top players, and expect the weaker ones to be cakewalks by comparison. But they can be dangerous too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi Petrosianic,

Yes there are few idiotic comments about all aspects of the game floating about and it not a recent thing.

I'm fairly new to Internet Chess. I joined my first one in 2008. Before then I wrote all my articles on Windows 3.1 (still a great system) put them on a floppy, emailed them from work or a net cafe and a friend posted them for me. I've only been here for 3 years.

From time to time on here I see old posts all saying the same nonsense and members like Everett and Perfidious, to name just a few, trying to correct their view. Not force their opinion on them but to get them to see it how chess players see it.

It often ends in bitterness (which in some cases never goes away.) hence a lot of the guff posted now goes unchallenged for fear of starting a thread war.

Offering a different point of view, no matter how slight, or correcting a statement on this site is not for the thin skinned. Here they appear to type with one hand and hold a mallet in the other.

(and you have to prefix every joke with: "I am now going to tell a joke"...tell joke...and add "that was a joke." )


The Fischer grade of 1726 in the May 1956 Chess Life was way off and everyone knew it.

The January 1956 cover of Chess Review is a picture is of Bobby (then 12) giving a 12 board simul v 12 young players ranging from 7 to 12 winning all his games in 2 hours and 20 minutes.

This by the way, is the full introduction of Kmoch's piece entitled 'Game of the Century'.

Apparently Fischer wasted a lot of time in the opening then played his 'Grandiose Combination' in 20 minutes. That may explain the quicker, and IMO, easier to see more banal mate.

click for larger view

37...Re2+ 38.Kd1 Bb3+ 39.Kc1 Ba3+ 40.Kb1 Re1 Mate.

click for larger view

I'm thinking sportsmanship or no sportsmanship Donald Byrne would not have allowed that one on the board and resigned before Re1 mate.

I know you don't like links but I am not typing it all in. (I would probably miss out a word and screw it up.). It makes it clear he is talking about child prodigy games.


Fireworks brilliant, ruined slightly by dipstick tourists cheering and clapping every bang and sparkle. Why do people applaud fireworks?

Aug-29-17  Magpye: <Petrosianic> <Yeah, but I bet you weren't playing in an Invitational Tournament with the best players in the country. The joke in Eliot Hearst's column was that a USCF Rating is a numerical figure that reflects the way you played chess a year ago. I guarantee you that they didn't think of Fischer as a B player when they invited him to the tournament. It would have been sadistic if they had.>

Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't Fischer invited because he won the Junior Championship? I bet they looked at him as a bonafide master.

Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: I think they thought of him as either a Master or very near to it. I'd have to go back and read some old Chess Life articles to see whether or not his -2 score exceeded expectations. It probably did (and this particular game definitely exceeded them).

In the 1957/8 US Championship, predictions were that he'd finish a little over 50%.

Of course they ran into trouble a few years later when they invited Robin Ault to the 1959 US Championship on the basis of his winning the US Junior, and he finished 0-11. That scared them off inviting Junior Champions until I think Ken Regan in the late 70's.

Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: Speaking of Ault, it might be instructive to compare Reshevsky's game against Ault in that tournament against this one.

Reshevsky doesn't dilly-dally in the opening as Byrne did. He's sure to get Be2 in early so his development doesn't suffer, and plays Bg5 in one move rather than two which is where Byrne really got in trouble. Ault goes crazy after that with a bizarre f6 plan, and goes down very fast. But the more interesting part of the game is how White played the opening. He might have been thinking back to this game.

Reshevsky vs R Ault, 1959

Aug-29-17  Howard: Actually, I think it was John Fedorowicz' participation in the 1977 championship, where they reinstated the idea of seeding the winner of the most recent US Junior.

Ironically, the "Fed" finished dead last in the 1977 event, but he was quoted in CL&R as saying that "at least" he did better than Leslie Ault did.

Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: I think Regan and Fedorowicz both qualified from the same US Junior, but they didn't play in the same US Championship.

Yes, I just looked it up. Fedorowicz played in the 1977 Championship and Regan in the 1978, but I believe that they both played as a result of the same US Junior (in which they had tied for first). They both finished tied for last place, but both had respectable scores.

Aug-29-17  Howard: You're probably right. Regan and "Fed", in fact, got their pictures on the December 1977 cover of CL&R, in fact !

For the record, Regan got off to an excellent start in the 1978 event by beating Shamkovich in the first round! Unfortunately, that turned out to his only win in the tournament.

Aug-29-17  Petrosianic: I was wrong when I said they both finished tied for last. Regan did, but Fed finished dead last. But still, his 4½-8½ score was quite respectable, a very far cry from Ault's 0-11, and basically justified the idea of including the Junior Champion.
Aug-30-17  Howard: You're right--Regan TIED for last, with the late Kim Commons. Just looked it up last night.

Robin Ault, incidentally, died in 1994. Chess Life noted it, but it was "buried" (no pun intended) at the very back of that issue, as I recall.

Sep-28-17  Dr Winston OBoogie: Just watched Kingscrusher's analysis on this game it's really good
Oct-20-17  Damenlaeuferbauer: In my opinion really "the game of the century" (Hans Kmoch)! Incredible precise calculation skills and great understanding of hypermodern chess from a 13 years old schoolboy. 11.-,Na4!!, 13.-,Nxe4!!, 14.-,Qb6!, 15.-,Nxc3!, 17.-,Be6!!!! (exclamation marks by Reuben Fine, The World's Great Chess Games, 1976). "We must keep an eye on that boy!" (Michail Botwinnik, after playing through this game). 16 years later, the "Brooklyn Eagle" became the only not Russian/Soviet-born world champion since Max Euwe (1937) and till Viswanathan Anand (2007). Great, great stuff!
Dec-21-17  MariusDaniel: Great chess moves!
Mar-09-18  schnarre: ...Tactical masterpiece by one of the greatest of the game!
Mar-09-18  Catur Proklamasi: Fischer is very very good ! Good bye !
May-10-18  Fanques Fair: This photograph is fantastic, because it marks the boy thinking of the fantastic move Be6 !
May-18-18  DansChessLounge: What a tactically sharp game from Fischer! Bravo!!! For analysis of the game view the video here --->
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Today whilst browsing a 2nd hand book shop I noticed a pile of old Time Magazines.

24th March 1958 was there...


...I bought it.

It has the article about Fischer winning the U.S. title and mentions the 'Game of the Century.'

A snippet from page 42.

"In the cosmopolitan cant of chess players, it is legend that masters of the game are all meshuga—Yiddish for a little batty.

But when they talk of Brooklyn's Bobby Fischer, the newly crowned U.S. champion, the kibitzers are moved to uncommon awe.

Bobby, they declare, is ganz meshuga, which is to say that he is quite addled.

Though he celebrated his 15th birthday only last week, he already shows all the marks of the great grand masters of one of the oldest, most intricate games known to man.

A floppy, abrupt young gangle-shanks, he stumbles through the physical world of school and subways and summer vacations in a tangle of arms and legs not quite under control.

But in the neatly ordered empire of the chessboard, he moves with vast precision. Swiftly he picks his way among the possibilities; haughtily he sidesteps the traps.

Experts compare his aggressive, scientific style to that of Russia's famed Alekhine, his flair for combinations to the touch of the U.S. master, Morphy.

He eclipsed such comparative greybeards as Samuel Reshevsky, 46, and Arthur Bisguier, 28, to win the U.S. title."



A good buy for £1.00.

Same mag covers the day an atomic bomb fell out of an American plane and landed on a farm in Mars Bluff, South Carolina.

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