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Robert James Fischer vs Lajos Portisch
Stockholm Interzonal (1962), Stockholm SWE, rd 4, Jan-31
Caro-Kann Defense: Two Knights Attack (B10)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <talljack: Does anyone see why Smyslov played 19. ... c5?>

Its a safe bet, when Smyslov played
19...c5? Portisch said:

Thats what I was thinking, but go find your own game Vasily, this is my position.

Feb-09-11  talljack: LOL, Yeah, I don't know where I got Smyslov from, I must have been looking at one of his games earlier. But seriously, does anyone see why PORTISCH played c5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: I don’t think Fischer, or Portisch would have called 19...c5 “a decisive error”
(its not exactly a bad idea to fix whites c pawn on the same color as his bishop)

You could call 20...Qxe5 a worse move.
(20...Rad8 looks stronger)
Even as late as 34...f4! and 36...f4! Black could have played better.

This is a case of a small edge played very accurately by Fischer and less accurately by Portsch.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking it was over at
move 19.
(small advantages tend to leave a lot of fight in the position)

Feb-09-11  talljack: I agree that 34 ... looks better. I don't have Fritz installed at the moment (wasting too much time playing it) to check my analysis, but it looks better. I didn't see that Ra or Rf to d8 looked better though. I went through a number of lines. It looked to me like just dxc leaves black with a lot of explaining to do. But again, I didn't check with Fritz, and I'm only a 1750 player. I completely agree with your assessment that this was a game won by Fischer just playing his slightly better position more accurately than Portisch, but it still looks to me like c5 provided the crack in which Fischer inserted the lever. But then again, if you look at a lot of his games, especially from the late 60s early 70s, it looks like no matter what anyone did, he'd find a crack.
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: The interesting thing is that Fischer was so strong he rarely had to play “close” endings. (folks were usually busted by move 40)

If his opening and middle game were less aggressive
We would probably call him the modern day Capablanca. (with weaker edges we would have more games like this) The fact that he was Fischer lead to less “Capa style” games.

Feb-09-11  talljack: I agree. I have a few of his endgames in my favorite endgame list. In 1968 the games he played against Matulovic and Ivkov were particularly interesting. Your comment is true of Tal too. Very strong endgame if his opponent was lucky enough to last that long. His 1961 game against Ivkov (too) is a great example. Thanks for the chat. It's been very interesting. If you want to reach me more directly, my email is Note the double kk.
Oct-05-12  kardopov: What?!! No more square for the black rook?!! Ahh... Fischer, you're truly a genius!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Fischer masterfully transformed his advantage. After 40... Rxa2:

click for larger view

It is hard to believe that the winner will be the c-pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: How about <37...f4+> so 38. Kxf4 Rd4+ 39. Kf5 Rxc4, with a more active defense than in the game. I'm no Fischer, but I can't see how White would win.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <beatgiant> That looks like an improvement. Yet, Portisch's move doesn't look bad, and the position at that point looks defensible. I think Fischer won, simply put, because he outplayed Portisch. He was able to create problems for Portisch. There's probably no single move that can be marked as the loser move.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: I don't see a plausible defense after 44. Re3. Maybe it was a mistake to leave the e-file with 43...Rb1. How about <43...b6> for example?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < Fusilli: ....I think Fischer won, simply put, because he outplayed Portisch. He was able to create problems for Portisch....>

This cuts to the heart of what happened: a stronger player poses one problem after another and the opponent cracks.

Lasker in his day was a past master at this sort of endgame play; today, we have the precocious Carlsen demonstrating that care must be taken in even relatively simple positions.

Oct-14-12  kardopov: <Lasker in his day was a past master at this sort of endgame play; today, we have the precocious Carlsen demonstrating that care must be taken in even relatively simple positions.> I'm really interested how Carlsen would fare against chess softwares, especially against stronger one. Does Carlsen style could project to be an anti-thesis of a computerized chess program?
Apr-06-13  marljivi: No,no,no,37...f4 loses on the spot-38.Kf4Rd4 39.Kf5Rc4 40.Rh7!Rd4 (40...Ke8 41.e6 )41.e6Rd5 42.Ke4Ke6 43.Rh6f6 44.Rf6 ,but what is wrong with 37...Rd4 38.b3f4=? I also agree that after the move f5-f4 on move 34 or 36 white doesn't have any advantage what so ever.Here Portisch must have been in extreme time-pressure.Later,however,it was already difficult to defend for black,since white's king on f5-with the support of kingside pawn majority-is very active.For example,white is winning even in case of 43...b6,since he can afford to sacrifice the b3 pawn-43...b6 (or 43...Re2 44.Rd5b6 45.Rd6,etc.) 44.Rd6!Re3 45.Rc6Kd7 (45...Rb3 46.Rc7Ke8 47.Kf6 ) 46.Rh6Ke7 47.Rh8Rd3 (47...Rb3 48.Ra8a5(48...Ra3 49.Rb8 )49.Ra7Ke8 50.Kf6Rf3 51.f5Rf4 52.Re7 ) 48.Ra8Rd7 49.Rb8Rc7 50.Ke4Rd7 (50...f6 51.Rh8fe5 52.Rh7Kd8 53.Rc7Kc7 54.Ke5 ) 51.f5Rd4 52.Ke3Rd7 53.Kf4!...(53.f6?Ke6 54.Re8Kf5 55.Re7Rd4 56.Ra7Ke5 57.Rf7Ke6 58.Rf8Rd6 59.Kf4Rd3 60.Kg5Rg3 61.Kh6Rb3=)53...Rd4 54.Kg5Rd3 55.f6Kd7 56.Rf8!? ;56.Rb7!?Ke8 57.Re7Kf8 58.Ra7 .
Apr-06-13  marljivi: I have also tried to improve black's play with 26...h5!?,in order to fix white's g pawns or simplify the position in case of g3-g4,but here Portisch actually played well with 26...g5,eventually achieving draw-position at move 34.Position is by no means easy for black,but 26...h5!? simply holds: 26...h5!? 27.Bd1Bc6 28.Rd6g6 29.g4...(29.Bf3Rc8! 30.Bc6Rc6 31.Rc6bc6 32.g4!Kg7 33.Kh2...(On 33.Kf2 also 33...f5!=.)33...f5!!=;33...hg4? 34.Kg3 ,for example 34...f6 35.ef6Kf6 36.Kg4Kf7 37.Kf3Kf6 38.Ke4 ,or 34...Kh6 35.Kg4Kh7 36.Kg5Kg7 37.g3a6 38.a3a5 39.a4Kg8 40.Kf6Kf8 41.g4Ke8 42.f5gf5 43.gf5ef5 44.Kf5Ke7 45.b3Kd7 46.Kf6Ke8 47.e6Kf8 48.Ke5! ,but not 48.ef7?? with stalemate,haha!!!) 29...hg4 30.Bg4Rc8 31.Kf2...(31.Re6!?Bd7 32.Rg6fg6 33.Bd7Rd8 34.e6Kf8 35.Kf2Ke7 with unclear position;31.Bf3Bf3 32.gf3Rc6! 33.Rd7Rb6 34.b3Ra6 35.a4Rb6=.) 31...Kf8 32.Bf3Bf3 33.Kf3Ke7=.Black's rook will simply go to h-file on next move.
Sep-19-13  Howard: In his book Bobby Fischer Rediscovered,
Soltis actually referred to this endgame as one of the most instructive rook-and-pawn endgames of the 20th century.

Incidentally, Chess Life analyzed it back in mid-1986.

Sep-28-14  SpiritedReposte: It's just not that easy to convert a rook ending like this!
Aug-13-15  sicilianhugefun: Bobby Fischer said that most tournament organizers don't give brilliancy prize for Endgame techniques.
Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: We don't get 2300+ players post analysis every day, so I took the liberty of reposting marljivi's impenetrable wall of text, reformatted so that it can be read by humans, supplemented by Stockfish 6 + 5-pieces Syzygy tablebases.

marljivi: No, no, no, 37...f4 loses on the spot:

38.Kf4 Rd4 39.Kf5 Rc4 40.Rh7! Rd4 <40...Ke8 41.e6 > 41.e6 Rd5 42.Ke4 Ke6 43.Rh6 f6 44.Rf6

but what is wrong with 37...Rd4 38.b3 f4= ? I also agree that after the move f5-f4 on move 34 or 36 white doesn't have any advantage whatsoever. Here Portisch must have been in extreme time-pressure. Later,however,it was already difficult to defend for black, since white's king on f5 - with the support of kingside pawn majority - is very active. For example, white is winning even in case of 43...b6, since he can afford to sacrifice the b3 pawn:

43...b6 <or 43...Re2 44.Rd5 b6 45.Rd6, etc.> 44.Rd6! Re3 45.Rc6 Kd7 <45...Rb3 46.Rc7 Ke8 47.Kf6 > 46.Rh6 Ke7 47.Rh8 Rd3 <47...Rb3 48.Ra8 a5 <<48...Ra3 49.Rb8 >> 49.Ra7 Ke8 50.Kf6 Rf3 51.f5 Rf4 52.Re7 > 48.Ra8 Rd7 49.Rb8 Rc7 50.Ke4 Rd7 <50...f6 51.Rh8 fe5 52.Rh7 Kd8 53.Rc7 Kc7 54.Ke5> 51.f5 Rd4 52.Ke3 Rd7 53.Kf4! <53.f6? Ke6 54.Re8 Kf5 55.Re7 Rd4 56.Ra7 Ke5 57.Rf7 Ke6 58.Rf8 Rd6 59.Kf4 Rd3 60.Kg5 Rg3 61.Kh6 Rb3=> 53...Rd4 54.Kg5 Rd3 55.f6 Kd7 56.Rf8!? ; 56.Rb7!? Ke8 57.Re7 Kf8 58.Ra7 .

I have also tried to improve black's play with 26...h5!?, in order to fix white's g-pawns or simplify the position in case of g3-g4, but here Portisch actually played well with 26...g5, eventually achieving draw-position at move 34. Position is by no means easy for black, but 26...h5!? simply holds:

26...h5!? 27.Bd1 Bc6 28.Rd6 g6 29.g4

<29.Bf3 Rc8! 30.Bc6 Rc6 31.Rc6 bc6 32.g4! Kg7 33.Kh2 <<On 33.Kf2 also 33...f5!=>> 33...f5!!=; 33...hg4? 34.Kg3, for example 34...f6 35.ef6 Kf6 36.Kg4 Kf7 37.Kf3 Kf6 38.Ke4, or 34...Kh6 35.Kg4 Kh7 36.Kg5 Kg7 37.g3 a6 38.a3 a5 39.a4 Kg8 40.Kf6 Kf8 41.g4 Ke8 42.f5 gf5 43.gf5 ef5 44.Kf5 Ke7 45.b3 Kd7 46.Kf6 Ke8 47.e6 Kf8 48.Ke5! <<but not 48.ef7?? with stalemate, haha!!!>>

29...hg4 30.Bg4 Rc8 31.Kf2 <31.Re6!? Bd7 32.Rg6 fg6 33.Bd7 Rd8 34.e6 Kf8 35.Kf2 Ke7 with unclear position; 31.Bf3 Bf3 32.gf3 Rc6! 33.Rd7 Rb6 34.b3 Ra6 35.a4 Rb6= >

31...Kf8 32.Bf3 Bf3 33.Kf3 Ke7= Black's rook will simply go to h-file on next move.


Premium Chessgames Member
  NeverAgain: My comments:

<37...f4 38.Kf4 Rd4 39.Kf5 Rc4 40.Rh7! Rd4 41.e6 Rd5 42.Ke4 Ke6 43.Rh6 f6 44.Rf6 >

Actually, 42...Ke6 is not the best move and does lose by force. SF6 considers 42...Rd1 to be better. However, there's no reason to examine this whole variation in detail since your 37...Rd4 line leads to a completely even position:

37...Rd4 38.b3 f4+ 39.Ke2

click for larger view

39...Rd8 40.a4 Rg8 41.Kd3 Rg2 42.Ke4 Rb2 43.Rh8 Rxb3 44.Rc8 b6 45.a5 Kd7 46.Ra8 Ke6 47.axb6 axb6 48.Re8+ Kd7 49.Rb8 Ke6 50.Re8+ [= 0.00/53 5083MN tb=1778263]

Your suggestions of 34...f4 and 36...f4 are also evaluated as [0.00] at depths over 40.

OTOH, SF6 prefers 26...a6 to 26...h5:

<26...h5 27.Bd1 Bc6 28.Rd6 g6 29.Bf3> SF's preference over your 29.g4 main line <29...Rc8 30.Bc6 Rc6 31.Rc6 bc6 32.g4 Kg7 33.Kh2> (or 33.Kf2) and here your ...f5 recommendation leads by force to a White win:

<33...f5 34.exf6+ Kxf6 35.Kg3 Kg7 36.Kh4 Kh6 37.b3>

click for larger view

and after an exchange of waiting moves on the queenside Black will be forced to exchange on g4, allowing the white king to penetrate, e.g. <37...a6 38.a3 a5 39.a4 hxg4 40.Kxg4> In this last position SF sees mate in 22 at depth 50.

26...a6 does hold:
<26...a6 27.Kf2 Rb8 28.Bd1 b5 29.cxb5 axb5 30.Rc7 c4> [= 0.00/41]

click for larger view

with a possible sequel <31.Be2 Kf8 32.b3 Ra8 33.bxc4 b4 34.Bf3 Rxa2+ 35.Ke3 Bxf3 36.gxf3 Ra3+ 37.Ke4 Rc3> [= 0.00/46]

click for larger view

<38.c5 Rc4+ 39.Kd3 Rc3+> and White cannot avoid repetition without losing his kingside pawns.

Nov-15-15  Howard: Mueller's book brands 50...b5 as an error because it weakens the c5 pawn.
Aug-27-17  The Kings Domain: Fischer shows his mastery of the endgame. Capablanca would have been proud.
Aug-27-17  tea4twonty: 50..Rb1! 51. Rh7+ (51. Kd5 a5! 52. Kc6 Kf6 53. Kxb6 a4!) 51..Ke8 52. Ke6 Re1+ draws
Apr-15-18  Toribio3: Fischer is not only a genius human being but a gifted chess player as well!
Aug-27-19  RookFile: Games like this showed that Fischer had brought his endgame up to world class level, definitely a level up from where he was at Portoroz.
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