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Robert James Fischer vs Istvan Bilek
Havana (1965), Havana CUB, rd 12, Sep-12
French Defense: Classical. Burn Variation (C11)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-02-06  Autoreparaturwerkbau: Yep, hats down to 35.f4!
Dec-16-08  Helios727: On move 18, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks?
Dec-16-08  tonsillolith: <On move 18, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks?>

I think because neither of the two rooks were on open files, so it would take several moves to get them doubled up or coordinated. Plus, the black king was exposed. Both of those factors would allow white's queen to go around picking off the undefended pawns.

Apr-26-09  madlydeeply: sweet ending.
Apr-26-09  madlydeeply: i suppose since the black king was open to harassment from the white never had time to get his rooks working together v. the white king.
Apr-26-09  madlydeeply: i daresay Fishcer often chooses open rook files over abysmal pawn structures (16 gxf3)
Apr-26-09  AnalyzeThis: <Helios727: On move 18, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks? >

He saw h5. This meant Qg6 and a pawn drops.

But, he had to see even deeper than this, because with two rooks, when they really go to work, they can win any pawn, and the queen can't defend.

Fischer saw that black couldn't set that up here.

Apr-12-11  Shams: Roman "the original [CTRL] + [V]" Dzindzichashvili lightly video annotates this game here, starting at ten minutes in:

[unknown player]

Apr-14-11  znsprdx: <Helios727: On move 18, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks?> answered in this same video Fischer-BILEK

[unknown player]

at 21:01 mark

Apr-14-11  znsprdx: actually I'm feeling kinda stupid if 14...a6 supposedly 15.Qxh6 is the big move? Amazing is this line: 14....f6 15.Bd3 g5 16.hxg5 f5 17.Rh1 Qg7 18. R[g]h3 Q x[Q]h6 19.Rx[Q]h6

supposing R[a]d8 to hold the knight.
20. Rh8+ Kf7 R[1] h7+ Kg6

now it is mate in 5 - have fun!

My only problem is how did the French defense survive after this :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: (a) <, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks?> and (b) <My only problem is how did the French defense survive after this :)>

Heh. By coincidence, I played a tournament game last weekend where - as Black in the French - I reached an eminently winnable position with Queen (and outside passed pawn) versus two Rooks.

Initiative is the key. It's actually the only viable strategy, because the Queen is such a poor defender. You aim to target your opponent's weaker pawns, while steadily improving your King position, and using tactical threats - mates, pins, skewers, forks - to restrict the mobility of the enemy King and Rooks.

Of course the Rooks have the firepower to concentrate forces on an isolated pawn and win it. The trick is to make sure that any such attack leads to mass exchanges and a winning pawn ending, usually because the enemy King has been lured or driven away from its own pawns.

You have to be careful, in most cases, not to advance your passer too quickly -- except, of course, in positions where the defending pieces are temporarily placed on awkward squares, and you can ram the pawn home before they regroup.

It sounds more complicated than it is. Having said that, my game went wrong ... I missed a couple of clear wins, then dropped my passed pawn in a position where my opponent could hold the draw by a single tempo.

Which is how a moment of carelessness after 80 moves turns a win into a draw. I didn't even learn from the experience, because I did almost exactly the same thing in the next round, this time in a Rook ending with an extra pawn. A win until move 85, when I inexplicably let it slip to a draw.


Oh, and the answer to the question about the French? There are many other sub-variations out there. I've played the French for 30 years without once feeling the need to play this 3...Nf6 4.Bg5 dxe4 line.

Mr Burn's variation, I believe. All very well for a casual game on <Burn's Night> aka Hogmanay or New Year's Eve, when we celebrate Amos Burn's birthday on 31st December. But not the best line if Black wants to win, despite a recent flurry of fashionable interest among GMs.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Helios727: On move 18, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks?>

Great a calculator as Fischer was, this comes under the oft-amorphous heading of judgment, as there's little doubt in my mind that he had intended this when playing the committal 16.gxf3 instead of the natural 16.Rxf3.

Once White plays 16.gxf3, he is forced to attack, as he may count himself lucky to hold any of these endings with heavy pieces, particularly if queens should come off.

Even a much weaker player like myself can see that Black's rooks have trouble getting co-ordinated, but only a player with the technical mastery of Fischer can make the winning process look simple.

It's ironic that the rooks only get to work together, in the most desultory fashion, when their king's cause is lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: seems entirely natural to me.
Mar-24-12  JoergWalter: many answers are given here:

[unknown player]

Aug-01-15  ToTheDeath: A really nice game, 12.Bb5! is a star move delaying Blacks development. The position with Queen vs two rooks is very easily winning owing to the exposed king, the outpost on g6 supported by the advanced h5 pawn and the loose pawns on c7 and h6. Fischer was experienced enough to correctly assess this as winning ahead of time. By the time Black gets coordinated it's too late.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <Helios727: On move 18, how did Fischer know that his queen would beat the two rooks?>

Three or 4 posters have given excellent responses to this question. I will now give a cynical response:

In the French Defense, the first player to castle will nearly always lose.

Black castled first, so White could be confident in the win.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: "Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess" (Bantam Books, New York, 1966) uses this test position:

click for larger view

"This position could have occurred in my game with the Hungarian Grandmaster Bilek in the 1965 Havana Tournament. My opponent avoided this position."

After 17. Rdg1 Black played 17 ... f6. On 17 ... Rg8 White has 18. Rxg7! Rxg7 19. Qxh6+ Rh7 leading to the diagram, then Mate in Two with 20. Qf6+ Rg7 21. Qxg7#.

Jul-09-18  tonsillolith: Looking back at this game, I still find it amazing to see the transformation from move 20 to move 39. It's like Black didn't do anything except give up pawns and allow White to undouble his pawns.
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