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Robert James Fischer vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Curacao Candidates (1962), Willemstad CUW, rd 13, May-23
French Defense: McCutcheon. Lasker Variation (C12)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-28-08  orrimoch22: for example i think that 6.Bh4 would be enough..
May-28-08  euripides: <orrimoch> good question. This was quite late in the tournament, the young Bobby Fischer was very frustrated (he later accused Petrosian and his colleagues of fixing the tournament) and his play here may reflect the frustration.

6.Bd2 is the main line in this variation, but 7.Bxc3 is unusual; usually White plays 7.bxc3 and Fisccher's bishop excursion seems to lose time.

<6.Bh4> g5 7.Bg3 Ne4 8.Ne2 and Black can get the bishop back anyway or play for more.

A good way to check strange play in the openings on this site is to click on the 'similar games' link.

May-28-08  euripides: ... actually using the link I recommended I discover it was 8.Ba5 that was really unusual.

Games Like Fischer vs Petrosian, 1962

May-28-08  euripides: Curiously at Curacao Petrosian also benefited from a rather bizarre queenside excursion in the French by Tal, who was ill and later withdrew from the tournament:

Tal vs Petrosian, 1962

May-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Yeah, that was a very bizarre game. Tal is the Anti-Tal in this game, going pawn hunting out of the opening and getting rolled. Black is much better even before the blunder at the end.
May-28-08
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: <euripides> <... actually using the link I recommended I discover it was 8.Ba5 that was really unusual.>

Unusual, yes, but not improv. It was a line recommended in some obscure chess periodical or other, by Kopylev, or someone. Fischer, being surprised by the McCutcheon, decided to try it out, hoping to surprise the surpriser, but it didn't work out because it just wasn't that good a line. He'd have done better sticking with the main lines.

This is the single best example of Fischer's flat play at Curacao. It's almost painful to see in how many games as White he piddles away the advantage of the first move in ways like this.

May-29-08  euripides: <Pet> that's interesting. So that's how the Russkies fixed Curacao: by feeding Bobby duff opening analysis.
Jul-21-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  sackman: In his "My 60 most memorable games" Fischer refers to this game, he gives 7 Ba5? and 8 Ba5?? and comments that black already had the initiative after move 11.
Jul-21-09  AnalyzeThis: The MacCutcheon is a great opening. Pillsbury used to use it sometimes. Excellent way to play for the win with black.
Aug-20-09  ewan14: Does anyone know how Petrosian would have continued if Bobby had played

7 bxc3 ?

Thanks

Ewan

Apr-13-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: My recollection of this game is that Fischer's Ba5 was a suggestion of a Russian analyst in Shakmatnyi Bullyetin and that *somehow* Petrosian got a high sign that Fischer would play the move.

Anyone know more on this story, true/untrue? (I am pretty sure the 'Russian analyzt' part is true, not so sure on the 'high-sign' part.)

Apr-13-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: The first is true (a suggestion by Kopylev, Kopylov, or someone like that). The second is unlikely. Petrosian had actually prepared the McCutcheon to use on Fischer in the Stockholm Interzonal, but seeing little point in wasting it there, held it back for the Candidates instead.
Apr-13-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <Petrosianic: The first is true (a suggestion by Kopylov, or someone like that). The second is unlikely. Petrosian had actually prepared the McCutcheon to use on Fischer in the Stockholm Interzonal, but seeing little point in wasting it there, held it back for the Candidates instead.>

Thanks for the clarification!

Apr-13-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: In Stockholm, Fischer also played 4. Bg5, but Petrosian played 4...dxe4 and later drew. In his preparations of the McCutcheon, Petrosian would have been sure to see N. Kopayev's suggestion and dismissed it.
Apr-13-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: I've never heard if Petrosian was aware of 8. Ba5. He might not have been, it was apparently a minor footnote in a magazine, and had never been played. If he was aware of it, I'm sure he dismissed it, yes, because it wasn't very good.

There'd be no way to know Fischer was going to play it unless Fischer, in turn, had known that Petrosian was going to play the McCutcheon, which he probably didn't (Petrosian had never played it before). Probably Fischer, wary of falling into a novelty, wanted to get out of Petrosian's "book" as quickly as possible, and played something offbeat that he remembered seeing somewhere. Had Fischer given the variation any serious study before the game, I doubt he would have played it at all, as it allows Black to equalize fairly easily.

Here's the way this game is described in Tigran Petrosian: His Life and Games>:

<In round thirteen the French Defence brought Petrosian yet another victory - in his game with Fischer. For this meeting he had long ago prepared an old and (for the present day) very rare continuation - the so-called McCutcheon variation. Tigran had travelled to Stockholm with this variation, but there had been no sense unleashing his secret move there, so he stored it for a more serious moment. Petrosian was not only relying on the variation itself, but on its psychological effect, for he knew that Fischer did not orientate very well in unknown situations.

When Fischer saw that Petrosian had chosen an unexpected, but difficult for himself opening, he even glanced reproachfully at his opponent. Petrosian returned this glance, and mentally congratulated himself on his success - the 'secret weapon' was doing its work, even if Fischer should find the strongest answer. But the question of the refutation of the defence did not arise; Fischer went in for a peculiar bishop manoeuvre (a suggestion of Soviet origin) and Petrosian was soon in command of the game, which he carried to victory in the second session.>

Nov-12-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Knight13: 8. Ba5 was an outdated move, which Petrosian already knew. Good try though.
Dec-02-10  Ulhumbrus: <Mateo: The losing move seems to be 27.a4? (27.Nb5! is equal). After 27...Rf4! 28.Rd1 (forced as the Knight is pinned)) Ng6 (or 28...Re4), White loses a pawn.> On 27 Nb5 Bxa2 28 Nxa7 Ra8 29 Ra1 Rxa7 30 Rxa2 it is inexact for Black to play 30...Nc6? at once because on 31 Bc4 Rxa2 32 Bxe6+! gains a tempo. 30...Kf7! is the right move order and after 31 Bc4 Rxa2 32 Bxa2 Nc6 wins the e5 pawn.
Mar-10-11  Garech: Great game from Petrosian, and great preparation gooing by the kibitizing above - thanks for the info.

-Garech

Mar-11-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Timman mentions that Fischer only had 5 weeks after Stockholm, "giving him too little time for thorough preparation against the Soviet players."

"Curacao 1962"

He gives the source of the novelty 8 Ba5 as Nikolay Antonovich Kopaev, a theoretician noted mainly for his endgame analysis.

It is a pity Fischer never annotated these games, as it is unclear what he could have thought was good about this move.

Dec-21-11  ewan14: Has anyone managed to find out ( yet ) what Petrosian intended to play if Fischer had played the main line ?

No info. in my Petrosian books

Dec-21-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: None of my Petrosian books mention what specific improvement he'd found, or for sure if he'd found ANY new improvement, or was just relying on Fischer's unpreparedness for the line to get an edge. The Vasliev quote above isn't quite clear whether "secret move" meant the McCutcheon itself, or some new move IN the McCutcheon.

I think Petrosian played the McCutcheon once or twice after this. You might look to those games to see what he might have been planning here.

May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: What a great game by Petrosian. I thought after move 24. Rd3 that white still might have been able to get a draw. Petrosian really took advantage of his opportunities in this game.
Feb-21-16  ZonszeinP: The French could be a strong weapon in the hands of Petrosian and Korchnoi
Feb-21-16  Ulhumbrus: The move 29...Kf7 suggests that one advantage of having the e pawn on e6 is that Black can defend it with his king
Aug-30-17  Albion 1959: After this game Petrosian held a 3-1 plus score against Fischer. But over the next 20 games, Petrosian was only ever able to defeat Fischer one more time. Game 2 of the 1971 Candidates match:
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