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Robert James Fischer vs Reuben Fine
"A Fine Line" (game of the day Jun-13-09)
New York (USA) 1963  ·  Italian Game: Evans Gambit. Compromised Defense (C52)  ·  1-0
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 13 OF 13 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Incidentally, Robert Byrne's peak world ranking was #11 in five different months between October 1973 and September 1974. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/...

Yasser Seirawan was #14 in September-October 1987. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/...

Pal Benko was #17 in September and December 1958. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/... (He came to the United States at some point in the same year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pal_Be...)

Larry Evans was #19 in July-August 1952. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/...

Walter Browne was #27 in December 1975-January 1976. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/...

Larry Christiansen was also #27, in January-February 1992. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/...

Lev Alburt was #28 in January 1975. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/... He defected to the U.S. in 1979. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lev_Al...

All of those are Chessmetrics rankings. Apart from Benko and Evans, all of these players' peaks occurred after FIDE began using the Elo rating system. I haven't looked at their rankings on the FIDE lists, but doubt that they would be materially different.

May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Such an interesting thread here.
May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Incidentally, contrary to Silman and Saidy's statements, Fine would not have had to know anything resembling then-current opening theory to know that after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.Bc4, 6...g6 was considered dubious because of 7.Nxc6 bxc6 8.e5! That line was first played in Blackburne vs Paulsen, 1882. It had gotten Lasker in trouble in his world championship match against Schlechter (Schlechter vs Lasker, 1910), the great man only saving himself through Laskerian defense. It is often called the Magnus Smith trap, apparently because of the game M Smith vs A Kreymborg, 1911 - an odd thing, since Smith was far from being the first, or the most prominent, player to play the line.

In point of fact, I don't think the line is bad for Black. After 8...Ng4!, Houdini 3 shows Black at least equalizing in all lines:

9.Bf4 d5! 10.Nxd5 Bg7! 11.Nc3 Qb6 12.0-0 Nxe5 13.Bb3 Ba6 14.Re1 Rd8=

9. exd6 Qxd6 10. Qxd6 exd6 11. Bf4 Be6 12. Bxe6 (for 12.Bb3, see A Hennings vs Gheorghiu, 1966 (0-1, 58)) fxe6 13. h3 Nf6 14. O-O-O Nd5 15. Nxd5 cxd5 16. c3 Kd7 17. h4 a5=

9. e6 f5 10.h3 Nf6 11. Bb3 Bg7 12. g4? (12. O-O O-O 13. Bf4 d5 14. Re1 Ne4, with small advantage to Black) 12... Qa5, with large advantage to Black, B Ivanovic vs M Tosic, 2004 (0-1, 37).

May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Everyone forgets poor Abraham Kupchik, a GM-strength player whom Chessmetrics ranks #14 in the world in January 1917 (just below Bogoljubow), http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/..., and August 1926 (just below Vidmar), http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/....
May-07-13  SChesshevsky: <Petrosianic: ... Fine's performance in the opening rounds of AVRO is similar to Savon's. An overpowering spurt far above his norm.>

Those AVRO wins especially against Botvinnik, Alekhine, and Flohr are why I don't think they considered him a championship contender.

I think they played these games very loosely which they probably wouldn't have done against a serious contender. Fine certainly wasn't so talented to bust these guys by move 20 like in those games had they played tighter.

Fine was certainly a dangerous and creative player and they probably underestimated him but I don't think they would've changed their opinion about his chances heads up in a 9 or 12 game match unless they saw evidence of more consistency in winning tight games against top players. I'm not sure that evidence did ever appear.

May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <SChessevsky: Those AVRO wins especially against Botvinnik, Alekhine, and Flohr are why I don't think they considered him a championship contender....>

Here is an excerpt from Sergeant's book Championship Chess, with Alekhine's view of Fine, as early as 1933:

'Before (Alekhine) left the States the Champion was induced to say whom he thought likely challengers for his title in the future. He naned two Americans, Kashdan, who was favourably known in Europe already, and R Fine, whose achievements so far were mainly in his own country, and the Czecho-Slovakian, Flohr.'

<I think they played these games very loosely which they probably wouldn't have done against a serious contender. Fine certainly wasn't so talented to bust these guys by move 20 like in those games had they played tighter....>

Alekhine had his moments, but I don't see evidence that he-or others-underestimated Fine.

<....Fine was certainly a dangerous and creative player and they probably underestimated him...>

See above.

<....but I don't think they would've changed their opinion about his chances heads up in a 9 or 12 game match unless they saw evidence of more consistency in winning tight games against top players....>

No title match would have gone a mere twelve games in those days, and the score for Alekhine vs Fine, prior to AVRO was 2-1 with four draws for Alekhine, which hardly seems evidence that Alekhine was substantially stronger, while also giving credence to the view that Fine was already a strong GM. Then there's Nottingham 1936, which saw Fine finish equal third, ahead of, amongst others, Alekhine.

How would any single title contender, or even world champion, 'consistently win tight games against top players'? By definition, this is a most difficult feat for even the greatest players to bring off from one game to another, much less on a consistent basis.

May-07-13  RookFile: Fine was far better than Reshevsky in the openings, in his prime. He put a lot of research into them, and could literally blow you right off the board if you walked into one of his prepared lines. This game is probably the best example:

Fine vs Botvinnik, 1938

May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <RookFile> That was certainly the case, and the game cited is an outstanding example.
May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: On the other hand: Fine vs A Simonson, 1932

Fine had played extensively in Europe in the years immediately prior to AVRO. For instance:

Nottingham (1936) (=3rd/4th, a half-point behind Botvinnik and Capablanca; field included all the AVRO players except for Keres)

Amsterdam (1936) (=1st/2nd with Euwe, ahead of Alekhine)

Hastings 1936/37 (1936) (2nd, half-point behind Alekhine)

Zandvoort (1936) (1st/2nd with Euwe)

Kemeri (1937) (8th place, his worst result in the period)

Margate (1937) (1st/2nd with Keres, 1.5 points ahead of Alekhine)

Semmering/Baden (1937) (2nd, 1 point behind Keres, ahead of Capablanca, Reshevsky, and Flohr)

Hastings 1937/38 (1937) (=4th/5th with Flohr, behind Reshevsky, Alexander and Keres)

While not an unbroken record of success, this shows that Fine would not have been underestimated. The others had played him enough to know exactly what they were getting into.

May-07-13  unferth: <SChesshevsky: I think they played these games very loosely which they probably wouldn't have done against a serious contender.> if so, they were absolutely nuts. Fine's results in the two years leading up to AVRO were as good as anyone's.
May-07-13  unferth: <Phony Benoni> beat me to it.
May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <SChesshevsky> I don't understand how you can think that the other players at AVRO 1938 didn't regard Fine as a serious contender. He won Game Collection: Hastings 1935/36 with an undefeated 7.5/9, a point ahead of Flohr and 1.5 points ahead of Tartakower.

In his next international tournament, Zandvoort (1936), he won with 8.5/11, undefeated, a full point ahead of reigning World Champion Euwe, and two points ahead of the rest of the field, which included the likes of Tartakower, Bogoljubov, Maroczy, Gruenfeld, Spielmann, and Keres.

His next tournament was Nottingham (1936), one of the only tournaments in history with five former, current or future world champions. As usual, he was undefeated, but finished equal 3rd-5th, tied with Reshevsky and reigning World Champion Euwe; half a point behind joint winners Botvinnik and Capablanca; and ahead of former/future World Champion Alekhine, former World Champion Lasker, Flohr, Vidmar, Tartakower, Bogolyubov, etc. Fine beat Lasker and drew the other former/reigning/future world champions.

Then it was on to Amsterdam (1936). Fine tied for first with Euwe, half a point ahead of Alekhine. For once he did lose a game, overstepping on time in a drawn position against Hans Kmoch.

Fine again played in the Christmas tournament at Hastings 1936/37 (1936). He scored 7.5/9, but lost to Alekhine, who finished first, half a point ahead of Fine.

I don't know the details, but Fine also won Stockholm 1937. (Fine, <A Passion for Chess>, p. 107). Shortly thereafter, he won a match against the strong Swedish player Gideon Stahlberg, apparently by a score of 5-3 (+4 =2 -2).

Then Fine proceeded to the USSR "as an official guest of the Soviet Union" (<A Passion for Chess>, p. 111). He played in tournaments at Moscow and Leningrad that included all of the USSR's leading players except Botvinnik (<A Passion for Chess>, p. 111). I don't know the details, but as usual he won them both.

Then Fine played at Margate (1937). As usual he rolled up an impressive plus score, scoring an undefeated 7.5/9, tying with Keres for first. Fine beat Alekhine, evening the score between them to +1 =4 -1 (<A Passion for Chess>, p. 126). Fine and Keres finished 1.5 points ahead of Alekhine. Alekhine regained the world championship later that year.

At Ostend 1937, I don't know the details, but Fine tied for first with Keres and Grob (!), who had the tournament of his life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o...

At Semmering/Baden (1937), Fine won two games and drew the rest. That was good enough for clear 2nd, a point behind Keres, but ahead of Capablanca and Reshevsky.

At Hastings 1937/38 (1937), Fine had a lackluster performance for him, scoring an undefeated 6/9, tied with Flohr, but behind Reshevsky (7), Keres and Alexander (6.5).

Fine returned to the U.S. after that. AVRO was the only international tournament he played in in 1938 (<A Passion for Chess>, p. 140). Immediately before AVRO, Chessmetrics has him ranked 7th in the world, 35 points behind #1 Alekhine. http://www.chessmetrics.com/cm/CM2/...

As we know, Fine started that ultra-strong tournament with an incredible 5.5/6, beating Botvinnik, Reshevsky, Euwe, Flohr, and Alekhine, and drawing only Capablanca. AVRO (1938)/Reuben Fine

Based on that record, I cannot imagine how you think that the other leading players did not regard Fine as a serious contender for the title.

May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Stockholm 1937
1 Fine * = 1 = 1 1 1 1 1 1 8.0
2 Stahlberg = * = = = = 1 1 1 1 6.5
3 Danielsson 0 = * = = 1 1 = = 1 5.5
4 Stoltz = = = * = = = 1 1 = 5.5
5 Bergqvist 0 = = = * = = = 1 1 5.0
6 Lundin 0 = 0 = = * 1 = = 1 4.5
7 Sundberg 0 0 0 = = 0 * 1 = 1 3.5
8 Landau 0 0 = 0 = = 0 * = 1 3.5
9 Holm 0 0 = 0 0 = = = * 0 2.0
10 Collett 0 0 0 = 0 0 0 0 1 * 1.5

Ostende 1937
1 Grob * 1 1 0 = 0 1 1 = 1 6.0
2 Fine 0 * 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 6.0
3 Keres 0 1 * 1 = = 0 1 1 1 6.0
4 List 1 0 0 * 1 = = 0 1 1 5.0
5 Landau = 0 = 0 * 1 = 1 = 1 5.0
6 Koltanowski 1 0 = = 0 * = = = 1 4.5
7 Tartakower 0 0 1 = = = * 0 = 1 4.0
8 Dyner 0 0 0 1 0 = 1 * = = 3.5
9 Dunkelblum = 0 0 0 = = = = * = 3.0
10 Reynolds 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 = = * 2.0

Moscow 1937
1 Fine * 1 = 1 = 0 1 1 5.0
2 Kan 0 * = = 1 1 1 = 4.5
3 Panov = = * = 1 = = = 4.0
4 Belavenets 0 = = * 0 1 1 = 3.5
5 Alatortsev = 0 0 1 * 0 1 = 3.0
6 Yudovich 1 0 = 0 1 * 0 = 3.0
7 Bondarevsky 0 0 = 0 0 1 * 1 2.5
8 Lilienthal 0 = = = = = 0 * 2.5

Leningrad 1937
1 Fine * 1 = 1 = 1 4.0
2 Levenfish 0 * 1 1 = = 3.0
3 Rabinovich = 0 * = = 1 2.5
4 Budo 0 0 = * 1 = 2.0
5 Rauzer = = = 0 * = 2.0
6 Ilyin-Genevsky 0 = 0 = = * 1.5

Olympiads

Folkestone 1933 (bd.3): +6 =6 -1 9.0/13 69.2%

Warsaw 1935 (bd.1): +5 =8 -4 9.0/17 52.9%

Stockholm 1937 (bd.2): +9 =5 -1 11.5/15 76.2%

May-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <phony benoni> <FSR> Wow, I had no idea. Not to start a fight with anyone, but I think you could put that up against any stretch of Pillsbury's career.
May-08-13  SChesshevsky: I'm not saying they thought he wasn't good. But the only way to get a great player's respect is by beating them in games from an equal or at least pretty close position. This typically involves a long game with subtle positioning.

The top don't give a lot of credit to the opponent when they get busted before move 20. They typically chalk it up to gimmicky lines or coffee house traps.

It seems that some years prior to 38 there wasn't much evidence that Fine could win close games, say over 40 moves, with top players. At this site I saw one each against Alekhine, Keres and Tartakower. As a comparison, Reshevsky had six with a 56 move win against Capablanca, and a 71 move win over Boguljubov, and one each over Tartakower, Alekhine, and two versus Keres.

Had Fine shown more after 38, meaning winning tight games against the best, maybe their estimation might have changed but given the way they played against Fine through 38 (please look at the AVRO wins against Flohr, Botvinnik, and the one where Alekhine has to march his King out!), I can't be convinced they viewed him as a serious contender.

May-08-13  schweigzwang: * goes to check and see how many long, subtle games Morphy won over his opponents *

ok ok ok, That was a different era.

May-08-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <SChesshevsky>

<It seems that some years prior to 38 there wasn't much evidence that Fine could win close games, say over 40 moves, with top players. At this site I saw one each against Alekhine, Keres and Tartakower. As a comparison, Reshevsky had six with a 56 move win against Capablanca, and a 71 move win over Boguljubov, and one each over Tartakower, Alekhine, and two versus Keres.>

Right, they discounted Fine because he won too many blowouts.

Look, you said something silly. Like me, you didn't know how successful Fine was before AVRO. We've all said stupid things. It only gets ridiculous when you keep trying to defend your original error.

May-08-13  unferth: why would Botvinnik or Flohr have deliberately played "loosely" against anyone at AVRO, whether they regarded him as a genuine contender or not? it was understood to be in effect a candidate's tournament, and both those men were hungry for a title shot; it seems unlikely they'd have been in a mood to take unnecessary chances against anyone when every half point could have been critical. why discount Fine's performance decades after the fact on the basis of vague subjective impressions, with no supporting statements by any of the players involved? William of Occam's ghost does not approve.
May-08-13  Petrosianic: Alekhine announced during the tournament that he'd feel no obligation to play the winner. And at the time, FIDE's "official" challenger was Salo Flohr (who finished last at AVRO).
May-08-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Botvinnik has written "The eight undoubtedly strongest chess players in the world met in a two-cycle tournament. Credit is due to the Dutch organizers for bringing them all together, in spite of the fact that the two most outstanding participants, Capablanca and Alekhine, were enemies and were not on speaking terms."

I don't think he took Fine or anyone else for that matter, lightly. He'd already seen Fine in play at Nottingham two years before.

May-08-13  Petrosianic: <"The eight undoubtedly strongest chess players in the world met in a two-cycle tournament.>

Well, that's debatable. I think that even as late as 1938, Lasker had some claim to belonging in that group. But in any case, this was certainly conceived as a "super-tournament", with no weak players.

May-08-13  RookFile: I forget exactly what he said, but Chess Life had very high praise from Botvinnik regarding Fine when the latter died.
May-11-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Don't see much room for debate on that point, as Lasker was out of chess for more than two years by the time AVRO came off.
Sep-07-13  pericles of athens: Don't think I've seen this game before! Glad I found it.
Mar-17-14  Meaux: Fischer should have said: "I eat Ruebens for breakfast!"
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