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Robert James Fischer vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Fischer - Petrosian Candidates Final (1971)  ·  Sicilian Defense: Kan. Modern Variation (B42)  ·  1-0
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Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Evaluation of 13.Bb5 (part 1 of 2)

<<vasja> 13.Bb5 wins exchange. Why it went unnoticed by commentators?>

Commentators certainly didn't ignore 13.Bb5. For example, in his video (link above in post dated Oct-15-13) <kingscrusher> commented on the consequences of 13.Bb5 and what looks like a deliberate, if possibly risky, approach by Petrosian. Maybe Tal was whispering over Petrosian's shoulder, in spirit if not in fact. And I suspect that Fischer saw its consequences, its merits, and deliberately avoided it. BTW, <kingscrusher>'s video (as in all his videos) has a great summary of Fischer's strategy in this game, highly recommended.

Here are 3 engine analyses of the position after 12...Qd7. I've included a diagram for the ending positions after 13.Bd5, the top move choice of all 3 engines, and after 13.Re1 when selected by the engines, along with my opinions of these ending positions.

<DWINS> didn't indicate the depth at which he ran his Houdini 1.5 analysis but my analysis using Houdini 1.5 I found that it evaluated the position at d=28 after the following moves as follows:

1. [+3.66]: 13.Bb5 axb5 14.Qxa8 Qb7 15.Qxb7 Bxb7 16.Nxb5 Kd7 17.Be3 Ba6 18.a4 Rb8 19.Rfc1 Rb7 20.Rc2 h6 21.f3 h5 22.Nc3 h4 23.a5 Rb4 24.Na4 d4 25.Bd2 Rb3

click for larger view

White is the exchange and a pawn ahead, but Black's pieces are much more active and he has the 2 bishops. Enough compensation? I can't assess.

2. [+1.10]: 13.Qd4 Qa7 14.Qxa7 Rxa7 15.Bf4 Be6 16.Rac1 Ra8 17.Rfe1 Nd7 18.Be2 Nc5 19.Red1 Rd8 20.Be3 f5 21.Bxc5 Bxc5 22.Nxd5 Bxf2+ 23.Kxf2 Bxd5 24.a4 Kf7

3. [+1.05]: 13.Re1 Qxa4 14.Nxa4 Be6 15.Bf4 Nd7 16.Rac1 Bb4 17.Re2 Be7 18.Rc6 Kf8 19.Rc7 Ke8 20.Bd2 Rf8 21.h3 g6 22.Be3 Bd6 23.Rb7 Kd8 24.Bg5+ Ke8

click for larger view

Material is even but White has the initiative and the better placed pieces, clearly advantage to White. We see some of Fischer's ideas in this line, specially the successful placing of the rook on the 7th rank.

Komodo 6 evaluated the position at d=26 after the following moves as follows:

1. [+2.95]: 13.Bb5 axb5 14.Qxa8 b4 15.Nb5 Qb7 16.Qa5 Kf8 17.Re1 Kg8 18.Bd2 h6 19.Rac1 Bf8 20.Bxb4 Bxb4 21.Qxb4 Bd7 22.a4 Kh7 23.Re7 Rc8 24.Rxc8 Qxc8 25.Nc3 Qf8 26.Re4 Qa8 27.Re1 Bc6 28.Re3 Ne4 29.Nxe4 dxe4 30.a5 f5

click for larger view

White is again the exchange and a pawn ahead and seems to have the initiative, and his pieces seem as active as Black's, if not more so. White also has 2 connected passed q-side pawns, one of them advanced. So I think that this is a lost position for Black.

2. [+1.36]: 13.Bf4 Qxa4 14.Nxa4 Be6 15.Nb6 Ra7 16.Rfc1 Bd8 17.Rc6 Rb7 18.Be3 Rc7 19.Rxc7 Bxc7 20.Bd4 Ng4 21.Re1 Bxh2+ 22.Kf1 Bd6 23.Bxa6 Nf6 24.a4 Bb4 25.Rc1 Ke7 26.f3 Rb8 27.Kf2 Kf8 28.b3 Bd2 29.Rc6 Nd7

3. [+1.30]: 13.Re1 Qxa4 14.Nxa4 Be6 15.Be3 d4 16.Bxd4 Rd8 17.Bxf6 Bxf6 18.Nc5 Ke7 19.Re2 Rd5 20.Nxe6 fxe6 21.Bc4 Re5 22.Rc2 Rc8 23.Rac1 Bg5 24.Rf1 Rc6 25.g3 Rd5 26.f4 Bf6 27.b3 g6 28.Re1 Kf7 29.Rce2 Rdd6 30.Kg2 h5

click for larger view

White is a pawn up with the better pawn structure, but the BOC might provide Black with some drawing chances.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: Evaluation of 13.Bb5 (part 2 of 2)

And Stockfish DD evaluated the position at d=34 after the following moves as follows:

1. [+4.20]: 13.Bb5 axb5 14.Qxa8 Qb7 15.Qa5 Qa6 16.Qxb5+ Qxb5 17.Nxb5 Kd7 18.a4 Ba6 19.Bf4 Rc8 20.Rfc1 Ne4 21.Rxc8 Bxc8 22.Rc1 Nc5 23.Be3 Ne6 24.Rd1 Bb7 25.Nc3 Nc7 26.Bf4 Bf6 27.Bxc7 Bxc3 28.bxc3 Kxc7 29.f3 Kd6 30.Kf2 Ba6 31.a5 Bc4

click for larger view

White is yet again the exchange and a pawn ahead, and material is much simplified. White should be able to win this one easily by centralizing his king, putting his k-side pawns on dark squares where they cannot be attacked by Black's bishop, and cutting off Black's king from the b-file by placing his rook on b1. If necessary or desirable, White can give up his rook for Black's bishop plus d-pawn, winning the K+P endgame easily with his 2 extra passed pawns.

2. [+1.75]: 13.Bf4 Qxa4 14.Nxa4 Be6 15.Nb6 Ra7 16.Rac1 Rb7 17.Rc6 Bd8 18.Be3 Ng4 19.Bc5 Rc7 20.Rxc7 Bxc7 21.f3 Ne5 22.Bxa6 f6 23.f4 Bxb6 24.Bxb6 Nc4 25.Bd4 Kf7 26.b3 Nd6 27.Rc1 Ra8 28.Rc7+ Kg8 29.Ra7 Rxa7

3. [+1.69]: 13.Qd4 Qa7 14.Be3 Qxd4 15.Bxd4 Be6 16.Rfe1 Kf8 17.Na4

So these engines didn't evaluate Fischer's 13.Re1 as high as 13.Bb5, and Stockfish didn't even consider it to be among its top 3 moves. And this is not unreasonable (from the engines' perspective) since the position that Fischer reached after, say, 30...Nb6 (see below) does not on the surface seem as advantageous as the positions the engines reached around move 30 after 13.Bb5.

click for larger view

But this was the first game of the 1971 match so it's understandable that Fischer did not want to attempt to go against Petrosian's obvious pre-game analysis after 11...d5 (engines don't worry about such things). He had already established a slight advantage by 12.Qa4+ and saw no point in complicating things unnecessarily. Which, in a way, is a good thing, since otherwise we would have been deprived of a positional masterpiece. And Fischer's 13.Re1 was not a bad move by any means, keeping his advantage.

Could Fischer have won much more quickly after 13.Bb5? Well, the engines seem to think so, but you decide.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: This was not the first game of the match. This was game 7.
Mar-30-14  yiotta: <Everett:Ohio Chess Fan:>after 24...d4, 25.Ra5 just looks wrong. 25. Rc6 should win the a pawn, as 25...a5 and the pawn is free because of the back rank weakness caused by the R on e5. Now if Black protects with the other R, then 26.Ra5 should be decisive.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: 24...d4 25. Rc6 Nd5

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <offramp> Ooops! Thanks for the correcion.
Mar-31-14  sicilianhugefun: Brilliant
Apr-01-14  yiotta: <Ohio Chess Fan>As sometimes happens, my mouth was faster than my brain; after 23...d4, 24.Bxa6 wins the pawn because of the back rank weakness. Petrosian probably felt there would be insufficient counterplay, thus 23... Rd6.
Aug-15-14  Everett: <yiotta: <Ohio Chess Fan>As sometimes happens, my mouth was faster than my brain; after 23...d4, 24.Bxa6 wins the pawn because of the back rank weakness. Petrosian probably felt there would be insufficient counterplay, thus 23... Rd6.>

If you want to keep absolute control of the position, then you do not invite an unprepared opening of the a-file. <23..d4 24.Ra5 and 25.a3> with a solid advantage suffices. If you rush the a6 capture with <23..d4 24.Bxa6 d3 25.Bb5 Rd4> Black is gaining activity and counterplay on the q-side pawns. Why not keep things tight and under control?

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: A very thematic example of how Fischer played chess. Just a lovely game, stunning, precise, logical.
Aug-24-14  ketchuplover: <parisattack> belated kudos on your 10th anniversary here :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <ketchuplover> Thank you, sir! I see you discovered months earlier.
Jan-02-15  SpiritedReposte: Fischer pretty much Petrosianed Petrosian.

Absolutely hog-tied in the final position.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Fischer learnt well from Capablanca--the clarity of White's play in this masterpiece is proof beyond doubt.
Jan-02-15  RookFile: Some interesting computer analysis. Fischer played to his strength in this game. Certainly got the job done.
Jan-02-15  diceman: <offramp:
This was not the first game of the match. This was game 7.> it was the first to go past six. :):):)

Jan-20-15  RWood: It's always a pleasure to replay this positional masterpiece. It is clear that Fischer eschewed the win of the exchange because Black would get some initiative in return, even if White may eventually prevail with optimal play. Instead, Fischer had beaten Petrosian's attempt to use a tortuous closed opening in the 6th game, and thus Petrosian's morale was already shaky. Much easier for Fischer to use a small advantage and squeeze Petrosian to death - which he did brilliantly.
Mar-11-15  PJs Studio: It has been pointed out several times by very strong analysis that after 13.Bb5+ picking up the exchange, whites Queen remains out of play on a8.

Fischer had better things in mind.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<PJs Studio> It has been pointed out several times by very strong analysis that after 13.Bb5+ picking up the exchange, whites Queen remains out of play on a8.>

I am not sure what strong analysis you are referring to, since none of the analyses of 13.Bb5+ on this page show any continuations, nor any way to take advantage of the White Queen's position on a8. Simply adding a "!" following a move without showing any continuations does not indicate analysis, strong or otherwise. And in the 3-engine analyses I posted above all 3 engines evaluated the position after 13.Bb5+ as winning for White, and in 2 of them (Komodo, Stockfish) the White queen retreats to a5 while in the other one (Houdini) Black quickly offers an exchange of queens, solving that "problem".

So I don't know what "better things" Fischer had in mind with 13.Re1. Too bad we can't ask him, other than by studying this game. And in a way it's a good thing that he played 13.Re1 since if he had played 13.Bb5+ we would have been denied a strategic masterpiece. But 13.Bb5+ would have likely ended the game more quickly.

My guess (and it is just that, a guess) is that Fischer, having just taken the lead in the match by winning game 6, did not want to take any chances and preferred steering the game into a simplified position where he could see that he would retain some advantage with little risk. And Petrosian, being in the reverse situation, was willing to enter into the unclear complications following 13.Bb5+ in an attempt to get some winning chances and possibly tie the match again. But, like I said, that's just a guess on my part.

Mar-13-15  PJs Studio: I mixed up the move order. I meant that Fischer's 13. Re1! was best because Bb5 puts the Queen out of play on a8 after 13. Bb5 axb5 14. Qxa8 and Petrosian has compensation with Fischer's Queen out of play.

I didn't look at the move order. "13.Re1! Was analyses as being best many years ago"

Thanks Ayler Kupp

Mar-14-15  Howard: After Fischer's sensational 22.Nxd7!!, was there any hope for Petrosian ? Mueller's book seems to imply that he still had slight drawing chances.
Mar-24-15  A.T PhoneHome: Good pun for this game would be <"Najdorf Hop"> since it was Fischer's 22.Nxd7 which reportedly made Najdorf jump out of his chair.

Referring to <"Marco Hop">; where in Sicilian White plays Nd5, both being Knight moves.

Any thoughts? :P

Premium Chessgames Member
  DrGridlock: <my analysis using Houdini 1.5 I found that it evaluated the position at d=28 after the following moves as follows:

1. [+3.66]: 13.Bb5 axb5 14.Qxa8 Qb7 15.Qxb7 Bxb7 16.Nxb5 Kd7 17.Be3 Ba6 18.a4 Rb8 19.Rfc1 Rb7 20.Rc2 h6 21.f3 h5 22.Nc3 h4 23.a5 Rb4 24.Na4 d4 25.Bd2 Rb3

click for larger view>

Can't possibly be an accurate engine analysis of 13 Bb4.

14 ... Qb7 is just a horrible move by black, that no engine would recommend.

Premium Chessgames Member
  lost in space:

click for larger view

shedder 12, d= 27/70

A: +0.82; 13. Re1 Qxa4 Nxa4 Be6 Bf4 0-0 16. Rac1 Bb4 Red1...

click for larger view

B: +0,79; 13. Bb5 axb5 14. Qxa8 0-0 15. Qa5 d4 16. Nxb5 Bb7 17. f3 d3...

click for larger view

C: 13. +0,59; 13. Be3 0-0 14. Rfe1 Bb7 15. Bd4 Rfe8 16. Qc2 Rab8 17. Rac1

click for larger view

I think a perfect correct decision from Bobby to avoid 13. Bb5.

Jun-18-15  RookFile: A hacker like me would have bashed out 12. Bg5 rather than 12. Qa4+. After all, my Fred Reinfeld book says not to bring the queen out too early, and 12. Bg5 does pressure d5. Obviously Fischer had a more profound understanding of the position.
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