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Robert James Fischer vs James T Sherwin
New Jersey Open (1957), -, rd 7, Sep-02
Sicilian Defense: French Variation (B40)  ·  1-0
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Given 109 times; par: 50 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-02-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: oopppsss my mistake, thanks <Shams>..
Sep-21-11  BlackOx: > Qxh4 <Once again, time-pressure had Sherwin burying his thumbs in his ears.

I do not understand the meaning of this expression as I am not a native of English. Is it an idiom or did Sherwin really put his thumbs into his ears ?

Sep-21-11  Resignation Trap: <BlackOx> Sherwin did this in a literal sense. If you do a search on google images, you may find a photo or two,
Sep-25-11  BlackOx: OK, Thank you.
Aug-29-12
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: This is game 1 in Fischer's <My 60 Memorable Games>.
Nov-24-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <from Sep-01-07>: <mcgee: 12 c4 Ndb4 13 exd6 Bxd6 14 Ne4 Nxd4 15 Nxd4 cxd4 16 a3 Nc6 17 Nxd6 Qxd6 and White has the better attacking chances, but a win....? 18 Bf4 e5 and Black has an extra pawn and is holding on...>

But why include <16. a3 Nc6> in this sequence (which just forces the Black Knight to retreat to a square that gives Black another piece controlling e5). If immediately <16. Nxd6>, Black cannot recapture because after <16. Qxd6>, then <17. Bf4> wins heavy material.

It seems that this continuation (not mentioned elsewhere AFAIK) would have won outright for White.

Jul-12-14  Ke2: I was flipping through the game with Houdini and 12.c4 is apparently +2. Probably the reason why it's invisible is because the position after 12 c4 Ndb4 13 exd6 Bxd6 14 Ne4 is a quiet force, there's no defense to the threat of Nxd6, Bf4.

14... cxd4 instead of 14... Nxd4 will lose only an exchange because the Nf6 still protects b8.

Pretty funny how the second page in one of the best books is flawed. Just shows how bad everyone is at chess.

And <Peligroso>, the immediate 16. Nxd6 is best.

Jul-13-14  Granny O Doul: Regarding the pinky move...perhaps since Sherwin was moving the rook just one square over, he wanted to rest his other fingers for what might be a long struggle.
Jul-30-14  jerrys90: The opening is what has become known as the King's Indian Attack (KIA)- and I would question the chessgames .com classification as "Sicilian : French varation" (?!) The KIA is particularly effective against the Sicilian with 2 ... e6, where Black's queen's bishop gets blocked in by the e6 pawn. Hence Fischer chose 3 d3 to enter a slower manoevering game leading to a king-side attack, as opposed to the open Sicilian with 3 d4, though of course he became world class at that too (the Sicilian Sozin for example). Check out Fischer's later KIA examples in the chessgames.com database: the last 2 against Geller and Panno are absolute corking attacks on the fianchettoed King.
Jul-30-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Granny O Doul: Regarding the pinky move...perhaps since Sherwin was moving the rook just one square over, he wanted to rest his other fingers for what might be a long struggle.>

He was saving "hand strength" to knock his king over at move 33.

Mar-18-15  Howard: Stop the presses ! Would someone please look at the comment by Ke2, which was posted back in July, 2014 ?

I don't have a computer yet, so how about reviewing what he said about Fischer's missing the highly advantageous move 12.c4 ?

Did Fischer really overlook something ? Would that move have led to a probably-winning position ?!

Mar-18-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Howard:
Did Fischer really overlook something ? Would that move have led to a probably-winning position ?!>

Fischer didn't mess with "pinky rooks."
He went for the king.

Mar-19-15  Howard: Well, on the 12th move Black's king was still reasonably secure, so it would have been a bit premature to go for it.

Wouldn't 12.c4 have been much better ?

Mar-20-15  Howard: Well, let me beat on the drum again...just how good a move was 12.c4 ?! Mueller's book, by the way, said it would have given White a strong initiative. Can anyone else be more specific ?
Mar-20-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <BlackOx: > Qxh4 <Once again, time-pressure had Sherwin burying his thumbs in his ears. I do not understand the meaning of this expression as I am not a native of English. Is it an idiom or did Sherwin really put his thumbs into his ears ?>

Refusing to face the obvious facts.

Mar-20-15  Howard: He probably really was sticking his thumbs in his ears. Probably to increase his concentration level.
Mar-20-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: One does what one must!
Mar-20-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Howard> Well, let me beat on the drum again...just how good a move was 12.c4 ?!> (part 1 of 2)

Gee <Howard>, you really need to get yourself a computer and some good chess engines. Until then, here is what some engines have to say for both 12.c4 and Fischer's selected move 12.exd6 after 11...Nd5:


click for larger view

Houdini 4, d=29:

1. [+2.98]: 12.c4 Nf4 13.gxf4 cxd4 14.Ne4 Rd8 15.Nxd4 dxe5 16.Nxc6 Rxd1 17.Rxd1 f5 18.Nc3 e4 19.Nxb8 Qxb8 20.Be3 Kf7 21.Nb5 a6 22.Nc3 Bc5 23.b3 Qc7 24.Ne2 h6 25.Rac1 Be7 26.Rc2 Bb4 27.a4 Bb7 28.Bf1 Kg6 29.Kg2 Kf7 30.h3 Kg6 31.Rb2


click for larger view

A very strange line. Why does Black sac the knight with 12...Nf4 instead of the seemingly more reasonable 12...Ndb4 like Komodo and Stockfish preferred and which Houdini itself preferred at d=28? And with 2R+N vs. Q+P it should be a win for White, even though at the end Houdini did not seem to know how to proceed.

2. [+0.54]: 12.exd6 Bxd6 13.Ne4 Ba6 (here Sherwin deviated with 13...c4) 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.dxc5 Qxc5 16.Bd2 Rbc8 17.b4 Qe7 18.Qb3 Bb7 19.a3 Nf6 20.c4 Rfd8 21.Bc3 Nb8 22.Rad1 h6 23.Rxd8+ Rxd8 24.Rd1 Nbd7 25.Qc2 Be4 26.Qe2 Rc8 27.Nh4 Bxg2 28.Kxg2 e5 29.Nf5 Qe6 30.Nd6 Rc6 31.Qd2 e4 32.b5 Rc5 33.Qe2 Rg5 34.Kg1 Rc5 35.h3


click for larger view

White has the B vs. N advantage and a q-side pawn majority even though his c-pawn is currently backwards. But the octopus knight on d6 is strong and can be reinforced by Bb4. So I think that Houdini's evaluation of White's position is more pessimistic than it really is.

Komodo 8, d=27:

1. [+2.13]: 12.c4 Ndb4 13.exd6 Bxd6 14.Ne4 cxd4 15.Nxd6 Qxd6 16.Bf4 Qe7 17.a3 Na6 18.Nxd4 Nxd4 19.Bxb8 Nf5 20.Be5 Bb7 21.Bxb7 Qxb7 22.b4 Nb8 23.Qd3 Nd7 24.Bb2 Rc8 25.Rad1 Nf8 26.Rc1 Nd7 27.Qe4 Qc7 28.Red1 h6 29.Rd2 a5 30.Bc3 h5 31.f3 a4 32.Qc2


click for larger view

After displacing the knight with 12.c4, it's 16.Bf4 which gives White the material advantage. 23.Bxb8 Qxb8 24.Qc2 reducing material further and planning to occupy the d-file with 25.Rad1 and advance the q-side pawn majority was also a possibility (24...Nd4, 25.Qc3). In the final position White's q-side pawn majority and upcoming control of the d-file probably gives White a winning advantage.

2. [+0.60]: 12.exd6 Bxd6 13.Ne4 Ba6 14.Nxd6 Qxd6 15.dxc5 Qxc5 16.Bd2 Rbc8 17.b4 Qe7 18.Qb3 Bb7 19.a3 Rfd8 20.c4 Nf6 21.Bc3 Nb8 22.Rad1 Nbd7 (up to here, with a transposition by Black on moves 19 and 20, Komodo's line is identical to Houdini's) 23.Rd4 h6 24.h3 Re8 25.Rf4 Red8 26.Qb2 b5 27.c5 Bd5 28.Rd1 a6


click for larger view

White has a clear advantage because of his passed c-pawn and the two bishops but Black's game seems solid and he might be able to get some q-side counterplay after ...a5. Whether that would be enough to hold the game is open to question.

Mar-20-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Howard> Well, let me beat on the drum again...just how good a move was 12.c4 ?!> (part 2 of 2)

Stockfish 6, d=36:

1. [+2.17]: 12.c4 Ndb4 13.exd6 Bxd6 14.Ne4 cxd4 15.Nxd6 Qxd6 16.Bf4 Qe7 17.Bxb8 Nxb8 (here Stockfish deviates from Komodo's 17...Na6) 18.Nxd4 Bb7 19.Bxb7 Qxb7 20.a3 N4c6 21.Qf3 Rc8 22.Nb5 Qe7 23.Rad1 a6 24.Nd6 Rd8 25.Qf4 Qc7 26.Nf5 Qxf4 27.Rxd8+ Nxd8 28.gxf4 Nbc6 29.Kg2 g6 30.Nd6 Nd4 31.Rd1 N8c6 32.b4 Kg7


click for larger view

Since 22.Nb5 does not lead to material gain, 22.Nxc6 exchanging another pair of pieces was a consideration, but hard to fault getting the octopus knight at d6. In the final position White is once again the exchange up and has a q-side pawn majority which will be hard to stop with just a pair of knights, so White should win in spite of his doubled and isolated f-pawns.

2. [+0.40]: 12.exd6 Bxd6 13.Ne4 Ba6 14.Qc2 cxd4 15.Nxd6 Qxd6 16.Qa4 Bb7 17.Nxd4 Nxd4 18.Qxd4 Qd8 19.b3 Qc8 20.c4 Nf6 21.Bb2 Bxg2 22.Kxg2 Rd8 23.Qf4 Qb7+ 24.Kg1 Qe7 25.Rad1 Rbc8 26.Kg2 Ne8 27.Qg4 Rxd1 28.Rxd1 Rd8 29.Rxd8 Qxd8 30.Bc3 Nf6 31.Qf3


click for larger view

White has the B vs. N advantage plus the q-side pawn majority, so Stockfish's evaluation is probably reasonable. But I am not sure if White's advantage is enough to win.

So all 3 engines evaluated 12.c4 as significantly better than Fischer's 12.exd6 because of the likely win of the exchange after the pretty much forced 12...Ndb4 13.exd6 Bxd6 14.Ne4 cxd4 15.Nd6 Qxd6 16.Bf4. Houdini's piece sac 12...Nf4 does not seem to help Black, White just gets a different type of material advantage.

So Sherwin should have been able to hold out much longer after Fischer's 12.exd6 either by 13...Ba6 or 13...c4 as played, both preventing c3-c4, although 13...Ba6 seems stronger as it does not weaken Black's c-pawn. And, if 13...Ba6, a timely ...cxd4 and the opening of the center would have slowed down or prevented White's k-side attack. But White still seems to get the advantage after Fischer's 12.exd6, so the only probably difference would have been the length of the game, not its final outcome.

But James Sherwin was no slouch. He qualified for the 1958 Portoroz Interzonal and he scored (+22=2) against the six players who qualified from that tournament to the Candidates tournament at Bled 1959. So he might have well been able to hold that last Stockfish line against the 15-year old Fischer.

Mar-20-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Petrosianic:

<Fischer> <This used to be my favorite. I thought it led to a favorable variation of the King's Indian reversed, particularly after Black has committed himself with ... P-K3>

The most annoying comment in the game. He never describes how and when he changed his mind about this.>

Isn't it obvious?
The "kid" matured.

Mar-21-15  Howard: How about 22...g6, in which Fischer says that despite White still being a pawn up along with the Bishop pair, "it still might be a fight though."

Was he right? Or would 22...g6 lost anyway ?

Mar-21-15  Howard: Probably the reason why Fischer gave up the Kings Indian Reversed after having been a devotee for it for so long, was because his playing style became more sharp and aggressive as he got older.

Nothing wrong with the KI Reversed, naturally, but it's rather passive. Fischer, at 14 or 15, might have found it suitable but not in later years.

Mar-22-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Howard> How about 22...g6, in which Fischer says that despite White still being a pawn up along with the Bishop pair, "it still might be a fight though." Was he right? Or would 22...g6 lost anyway ?> (part 1 of 2)

It looks like Fischer was wrong on this one. According to these 3 engines, Sherwin's 22...Qxh4 was Black's best move in that position, and Fischer's suggested 22...g6 was Black's second best move. But Black is already at a great disadvantage, so maybe it really didn't matter much what Black played.

Position after 22.h6:


click for larger view

Houdini 4, d=30:

1. [+1.52]: 22...Qxh4 23.hxg7 Rd8 (here all 3 engines deviated from Sherwin's 23...Kxh7, see below) 24.Bg3 Qh6 25.Re4 Qg6 26.Qe2 Re7 27.Rh4 f6 28.Qxc4 Rxg7 29.Qe2 Ng5 30.Re1 Rdd7 31.Qh5 Qxh5 32.Rxh5 Kf7 33.f4 Ne4 34.Bxe4 Rxg3+ 35.Kf2 Rg7 36.f5 exf5 37.Bxf5 Rd8 38.Be4 Bg4 39.Rh6 Be6 40.a3 Bd5 41.Kf3 Bxe4+ 42.Rxe4 a6 43.Rf4 Rg6 44.Rh7+ Rg7 45.Rxg7+ Kxg7 46.c4 f5 47.Rh4 Kf6 48.d5 Ke5 49.Rh6


click for larger view

All 3 engines preferred 23...Rd8 over Sherwin's 23...Kxg7 and indeed that is a common theme; an advanced pawn on the 7th often provides protection for an opponent's king. All 3 engines agreed on their evaluation of the best moves for both sides through 28...Rxg7 but while all 3 engines preferred 27...f6, I wondered if 27...Bb7 would provide better chances for Black.

It wouldn't have. Stockfish 6 evaluated the resulting position at [+2.31], d=33 after 30.Bxb7 Rxb7 31.Kg2 f6 32.Qxe6+ Qf7 33.Re1 Qxe6 34.Rxe6 Kxg7 35.Rc6 b5 36.Bf4 Nf8 37.Rh5 Re8 38.Kf3 Nd7 39.Bd2 Kg6 40.Rh4 a5 41.Rd6 Kg7 42.Rd5 Rh8 43.Rxh8 Kxh8 44.Ke4 Kg7 45.Kf5 Kf7 46.Rd6 Ke7 47.Bf4 a4 48.Re6+ Kf7

I was surprised at Houdini's 31.Qh5 exchanging queens with an attack apparently in progress, but White is still a pawn up with the 2 bishops and the q-side pawn majority, so transitioning to an endgame is not such a bad idea, although then 36.Rf7+ exchanging a pair of rooks would have been more consistent, if not better than 36.f5, gaining a protected passed pawn and giving Black a potentially weak isolated f-pawn.. And White could have still exchanged a pair of rooks after 389.Bd5+.

In the final position, in spite of still being a pawn up, I am not sure if White has a win. After all, all rook endings are drawn. :-). Houdini, with 5-piece Gaviota tablebases, evaluates the position as a borderline win at [+1.41], d=30 after 49...b5 50.b3 a5 51.Re6+ Kd4 52.cxb5 Rxd5 53.a4 Kc5 54.Kf4 Rd3 55.Re5+ Kb6 56.Re3 Rd1 57.Kxf5 Rf1+ 58.Ke6 Rb1 59.Kd7 Kb7 60.Kd6 Kb6 61.Rc3 Rd1+ 62.Ke6 Kb7 63.Rh3 Re1+ 64.Kd5 Rd1+ 65.Kc4 Rc1+ 66.Rc3 Re1 67.Kd5 Rd1+ 68.Ke5 Rh1 69.Rc6


click for larger view

Yet, in spite of its 2-pawn advantage and protected passed pawn, with all pawns on the same side of the board I still didn't think that White can win this. But the tablebase generator FinalGen calculates that White wins (obtains decisive material advantage) in 30 moves or less. Which just goes to show you how much I know.

2. [+2.70]: 22...g6 23.h5 Qh4 24.Bd6 Rd8 25.hxg6 Rxd6 26.gxh7+ Kh8 27.Re3 Re7 28.Rg3 Rd8 29.Re1 e5 30.dxe5 Be6 31.Re4 Qxh6 32.Rd4 Rde8 33.Be4 Rf8 34.f3 f5 35.exf6 Qxf6 36.Qg2 Qe5 37.Rg5 Qf4 38.Rd1 Ree8 39.Qd2 Qxd2 40.Rxd2 Rd8 41.Rxd8


click for larger view

After 41...Rxd8 42.Rg2 White is 2 passed pawns up and should be able to advance his f-pawn supported by his king. The outcome is not in doubt. I don't know what Fischer had in mind after 22...g6 but this Houdini line could not be it if he thought that Black might save the game.

Mar-22-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Howard> How about 22...g6, in which Fischer says that despite White still being a pawn up along with the Bishop pair, "it still might be a fight though." Was he right? Or would 22...g6 lost anyway ?> (part 2 of 2)

Komodo 8, d=31:

1. [+1.43]: 22...Qxh4 23.hxg7 Rd8 24.Bg3 Qh6 25.Re4 Qg6 26.Qe2 Re7 27.Rh4 f6 28.Qxc4 Rxg7 29.Rd1 Qc2 30.Re1 Ng5 31.Qe2 Qxe2 32.Rxe2 Nf7 33.b3 e5 34.dxe5 Nxe5 35.Rd4 Rdd7 36.Re3 Kf8 37.Kf1 Ng4 38.Ree4 Rxd4 39.cxd4 Bf5 40.Bd6+ Kg8 41.Re8+ Kh7 42.Bf3 Rd7 43.Re7+ Rxe7 44.Bxe7 Kg6 45.Ke2


click for larger view

From 28.Qxc4 onwards White has an extra pawn, a q-side pawn majority, and the 2 bishops, and after 32.Rxe2 this advantage should be decisive in the endgame. And in the final position White's endgame advantage is clear, so he should win.

2. [+1.95]: 22...g6 23.h5 Qh4 24.Bd6 Rd8 25.hxg6 Rxd6 26.gxh7+ Kh8 27.Re4 Qh5 28.Re3 Re7 29.Rg3 Rd8 30.Qd2 e5 31.Re1 Re6 32.Bf3 Qh4 33.Re4 Qxh6 34.Qxh6 Rxh6 35.Rxe5 Rxh7 36.Be4 Rh4 37.Rgg5 f6 38.Rh5+ Rxh5 39.Rxh5+ Kg8 40.Bd5+ Kg7 41.Bxc4 Bg4 42.Rh4 Bf3 43.Bd3 Rg8 44.Rh7+ Kf8+ 45.Kf1 Rg7 46.Rh6


click for larger view

Komodo's 27...Qh5 is an interesting attempt. If one far advanced pawn could help defend your king then I suppose that two advanced passed pawns could help defend it better! Still, in the final position White remains 2 pawns up and should win, and I am surprised that Komodo did not play 46.Rxg7 simplifying the position still further and making the likely win even clearer. So this line with 22...g6 is not going to help Black hold the game either.

Stockfish 6, d=38:

1. [+1.70]: 22...Qxh4 23.hxg7 Rd8 24.Bg3 Qh6 25.Re4 Qg6 26.Qe2 Re7 27.Rh4 f6 28.Qxc4 Rxg7 29.a4 Ng5 30.a5 Bb7 31.Bxb7 Rxb7 32.Qc6 Re7 33.axb6 axb6 34.Kg2 Qf5 35.Ra8 Rxa8 36.Qxa8+ Kf7 37.c4 Rd7 38.Qc6 Ra7 39.c5 b5 40.Bb8 Ra1 41.Bd6 Ra7 42.Rh8 Kg7 43.Rh4 Nf7 44.Qe8 Qd5+ 45.f3 Nxd6


click for larger view

White's approach to start operations on the q-side while a k-side attack was in progress is interesting since Black's pieces are occupied defending against the latter and don't have time to swing over the q-side to help. And in the final position after 46.cxd6 Qxd6 47.Qxb5 White will remain 2 pawns up although Black's pieces are active and the win might take a while.

2. [+2.12]: 22...g6 23.h5 Qh4 24.Bd6 Rd8 25.hxg6 Rxd6 26.Re4 Qh5 27.gxh7+ Kh8 28.Re3 Re7 29.Rg3 Rd8 30.Qe4 Qxh6 31.Re1 e5 32.Ree3 Ree8 33.Rg8+ Rxg8 34.hxg8Q+ Rxg8 35.Qxe5+ Qg7 36.Kf1 Qxe5 37.Rxe5 f6 38.Rh5+ Kg7 39.Bd5 Rd8 40.Bxc4 Kg6 41.Rh1 f5 42.Rg1+ Kf6 43.Ke2 Bb7 44.a3 f4 45.Bd3 Bd5 46.c4 Bb7 47.Rg6+ Kf7


click for larger view

Stockfish follows Houdini with 25.hxg6 but interposes 26.Re4 to perhaps show how helpless Black is in this position, since if 26...Qxh6 27.gx7+ 27.Qxh7 Black is demolished by 28.Rg4+ Kh8 29.Qe2 f6 30.Bxb7 Bxb7 31.f3 Qh5 32.Qf2 Rd5 33.Rh4 Kg7 34.Rxh5 Rxh5 ... with what should be an easy win (Stockfish, [+8.66], d=35).

In the final position White achieves what seems to be its typical advantage in these 22...g6 lines, a 2-pawn advantage, a passed d-pawn, and a q-side pawn majority, for a likely easy win.

Apr-08-15  Howard: AvlerKupp, I dunno what I'd do without you !

Thanks very, very much for the input.

Incidentally, if you want to indulge my curiosities further...how about looking up Gligoric-Fischer, 1959 (the one where Gligoric overlooked a forced endgame win). You'll see an inquiry from there, too, but it's regarding the middlegame.

Happy belated Easter !

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