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Robert James Fischer vs Boris Spassky
"Best by Protest" (game of the day Feb-20-07)
Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972)  ·  Queen's Gambit Declined: Tartakower Defense. Exchange Variation (D59)  ·  1-0
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Given 108 times; par: 61 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 23 OF 23 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-12-14  Petrosianic: <AylerKupp>: <I think what was meant was that Fischer lost his first 2 games at Curaçao. No matter how good you are, overcoming a 0-2 start in such strong company is very hard.>

Especially when you still have a losing score at the 3/4 mark.

If you've read Fischer's Sports Illustrated article, you know how duplicitous it was. He tries to finagle the reader into thinking he was in the battle for First Place, but pointedly avoids saying anything specific about how he did in the tournament (I guess he figured it couldn't be called lying that way. Only misleading, which is somehow better).

Meanwhile, he said a LOT about how well he did at Bled '61, worded in such a way that the reader is supposed to assume that he performed similarly at Curacao. Right up there with the leaders; any little thing might have put him over the top. He doesn't lie outright, but the article is extremely dishonest.

Mar-12-14  Petrosianic: <keypusher> <You can quite readily conclude that Spassky's achievements above exceed Petrosian's.

Of course, you don't <have> to.>

True. I think you could make a reasonable case for either Spassky or Petrosian as the Player of the 60's. But nobody else.

It's a little like the Cowboys vs. Steelers arguments for the 1970's. The Cowboys played in more Superbowls and had a much better win/loss record (due to some poor Steelers seasons in the early 70's). But the Steelers WON more Superbowls. So, who was the Team of the 70's? It's debatable.

Now, if you said "Who was the Team of 1974-1979", there's no question. It's Pittsburgh, hands down.

Mar-12-14  Petrosianic: Players of the Decade for the 20th century is interesting. Here's who I'd pick:

00's: Lasker
10's: Lasker
20's: Capablanca, though you could make an outside case for Alekhine 30's: Alekhine
40's: Botvinnik
50's: Smyslov
60's: Petrosian or Spassky
70's: Fischer or Karpov, though I'd lean towards Fischer. 80's: Kasparov
90's: Kasparov

Arbitrarily drawing cutoff dates at certain years produces odd results, though. Who was the Player of 1975-1985? Karpov, of course. But we're not counting from fives, we're counting from zero's.

The Karpov/Fischer debate for the 70's is similar to the Cowboys/Steelers debate. Karpov had greater overall achievements, but Fischer hit higher heights.

Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Petrosianic> Yes, many people, particularly political commentators, believe that if they tell a lie often enough, it will be perceived as the truth. And sometimes the lengths that they go to makes me wonder how they can say certain things without laughing.
Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Petrosianic> What puzzles me is why people like <harrylime> consider it necessary or even desirable to build up and exaggerate Fischer's accomplishments. Fischer was such a great player that I would think that his accomplishments would stand on their own without any need for embellishment. I guess that I will never understand.
Mar-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic: Meanwhile, (Fischer) said a LOT about how well he did at Bled '61, worded in such a way that the reader is supposed to assume that he performed similarly at Curacao. Right up there with the leaders; any little thing might have put him over the top. He doesn't lie outright, but the article is extremely dishonest.>

In my opinion, there was more than a touch of disingenuousness about that piece-Fischer, of course, never looked like winning anything in the event. One aspect often overlooked is that Korchnoi was the sole leader after the first cycle with 5/7.

In Wade's work on Fischer, Keres wrote that he believed Fischer had lost his objectivity after winning Stockholm with ease, possibly overlooking that finishing in the first six was necessary, not winning.

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: <In my opinion, there was more than a touch of disingenuousness about that piece-Fischer, of course, never looked like winning anything in the event. One aspect often overlooked is that Korchnoi was the sole leader after the first cycle with 5/7.>

Korchnoi wasn't pacing himself. He was putting maximum effort into every game and setting himself up for a collapse. It was Fischer himself who triggered that collapse (another thing Fischer neglected to mention).

Korchnoi was still riding high when he lost this won game to Fischer after missing an elementary tactic.

Korchnoi vs Fischer, 1962

He beat Filip the next round, but then went on a four game losing streak to Petrosian, Keres, Geller and Tal. Fischer arbitrarily decided that he had thrown the first three games, but not the 4th, even though that's the oddest one of all. Korchnoi almost never lost to Tal, especially a sick Tal.

<In Wade's work on Fischer, Keres wrote that he believed Fischer had lost his objectivity after winning Stockholm with ease, possibly overlooking that finishing in the first six was necessary, not winning.>

Fischer never did seem to grasp the difference between an interzonal and a candidates. Winning an interzonal was not important. Mecking won two, Larsen three, and neither of them went very far in the candidates. Kotov had a result even better than Stockholm in 1952, and finished about the same as Fischer in the following candidates. In an interzonal, you don't have an elite opponent every day, and few players are focused on first place.

Fischer was probably keen to win it because he had no previous important international Firsts. He'd done well at Zurich and Bled, but on 1/1/1962, the ONLY international tournaments he'd ever won were Reykjavik 1960 (very minor), and Mar del Plata 1960 (another minor tournament, and only a first place tie). By the time he retired, he'd only won or tied for first in a mere 10 international tournaments (three of them in 1970).

Mar-13-14  Howard: Good points by Petrosianic regarding the differences between an interzonal and a Candidates tournament.

It has been pointed out many times that the main reason Fischer took first place at Stockholm 1962 was because he bulldozed the weaker players--much more than his rivals did. More specifically, he allowed only ONE draw against the players who finished in the 10 or 11 bottom places---none of his rivals (Petrosian, Geller, etc) did as well against the underdogs as Fischer did.

But as far as how Bobby did against the players who finished in the top 10 (besides himself)...it was a very different story. He did reasonably well against the likes of Petrosian, Geller, Gligoric, etc, but a couple of his rivals did just as well against that elite group as he did....

....and since the Candidates tournament consisted exclusively of heavyweights, that's where Fischer met his match. At the age of 19, he wasn't quite ready to win a super-strong tournament like that. He needed more time--and that's what he got.

Mar-13-14  Petrosianic: Except for Benko and Filip, I think any of the other 6 MIGHT have won that tournament, if everything had gone right for them.

Whatever chances Fischer had were spoiled by the fact that he went in too overconfident. Mednis in "How to Beat Bobby Fischer" describes the fact that journalists at the time were talking about a kind of Cult of Fischer (that continues to this day). It's not Fischer's moves, but Fischer himself who so dominates his opponents as to make them incapable of resistance. (And remember, three years earlier, they were pulling the same nonsense about Tal, and how he wins by hypnotizing his opponents). Chess Life was practically taking bets on who would win the Fischer-Botvinnik match.

Mednis thought, and I agree, that the talk affected Fischer to some extent. If you play over his games from Curacao, it's almost painful seeing how often he fritters away the opening advantage with White.

That Fischer-Petrosian McCutcheon game is a perfect example. Petrosian didn't have any crushing TN's prepared. The whole surprise was that he'd played an unexpected defense. That's it. So, Fischer played this oddball Ba5 maneuver that he'd read about somewhere, but never really checked out, and Black equalized almost immediately. There are a lot more games like that from Curacao.

Apr-19-14  Ed Frank: Love this game so much. Fischer makes it look so easy.
Apr-22-14  MrJafari: It seems that great Fischer played more than enough moves in this game and he could has won earlier!
Apr-22-14  Kindzero: Any way, let's get back to the game..
This is a good example of how fear can defeat you. Spassky was simply afraid of Fischer. That's why he lost this round, and ultimately, the match. He's a good player, but the fear got to him.

Spassky should have gone up a pawn and recaptured with his knight on move 9. But that's when the fear was starting to sink in, and from that point on, he was playing Fischer's game, and not his own.

Aug-01-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  guenther42: Decades later, the 'all seeing" computer could not improve on Bobby's Game 6 moves at Reykjavik, as close to a "perfect game" as you get in chess. Spassky's "fear" may have come from realizing this during the game. The weak moves he was provoked into were mystifying and disturbing. An all-time great game.
Aug-01-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  DrGridlock: <Petrosianic: Players of the Decade for the 20th century is interesting. Here's who I'd pick: 00's: Lasker
10's: Lasker
20's: Capablanca, though you could make an outside case for Alekhine 30's: Alekhine 40's: Botvinnik
50's: Smyslov
60's: Petrosian or Spassky
70's: Fischer or Karpov, though I'd lean towards Fischer. 80's: Kasparov 90's: Kasparov

Arbitrarily drawing cutoff dates at certain years produces odd results, though. Who was the Player of 1975-1985? Karpov, of course. But we're not counting from fives, we're counting from zero's.

The Karpov/Fischer debate for the 70's is similar to the Cowboys/Steelers debate. Karpov had greater overall achievements, but Fischer hit higher heights.>

By your own critera, it's hard to name Fischer the "player of the 70's." After the '72 match vs Spassky, Fischer did not play a single competitive game in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 or 1979.

Aug-12-14  Petrosianic: <By your own critera, it's hard to name Fischer the "player of the 70's." After the '72 match vs Spassky, Fischer did not play a single competitive game in 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 or 1979.>

I admitted it was a tough question. Fischer reached greater heights, while Karpov had greater overall achievements (arguably, so did Korchnoi). So, it depends which of those things you value more.

Aug-12-14  Howard: I'm afraid that Petrosianic is incorrect in claiming that Fischer didn't play any competitive chess during the rest of the 1970's, after 1972.

It's a fairly well-known fact that Fischer played three games against a computer program in 1977 and won ALL THREE. Therefore, Fischer indeed did play.....

Oops ! Wait a minute---those three games were HARDLY what one would call "competitive". Computers back those days probably weren't even playing at the USCF expert level (rating of 2000-2199)---at best !

Thus, Petrosianic is quite correct. He's also correct, in my opinion, that to call Fischer the greatest player of the 70's, is not very accurate.

Aug-12-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Some here may recall when a computer first beat an Expert-level player; believe it was an event in the Midwest in 1977, player was C Fenner.
Aug-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: Kindzero: petrosian could not have won a pawn. I absolutely HATE when people think they're so good at chess that they can claim that Fischer blundered on move 9. Because those people are usually absolute patters who know nothing about chess, and imagine themselves to be great. Petrosian could not have won a pawn.
Aug-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: 9.Nxd5 Bxh4 10.Nxc7 Bxf2+.
Aug-22-14  Howard: You mean that FISCHER could "not have won a pawn". You said "Petrosian". Certainly had me confused for a moment.
Aug-22-14  Petrosianic: <Howard>: <I'm afraid that Petrosianic is incorrect in claiming that Fischer didn't play any competitive chess during the rest of the 1970's, after 1972.>

Although I'd agree that the Greenblatt games weren't "competitive" (three games played in private against a Class B strength computer), it was actually Dr. Gridlock who said the bit about no competitive chess after '72. I kind of tacitly agreed, though (simply by not challenging the claim in my reply).

Aug-22-14  Howard: A forerunner to this game as far as the opening, by the way, was Furman-Geller, 1970. Granted, someone else might have posted this already but I'm not gonna wade through the previous 22 pages of comments to see.

The Fischer-Spassky game here followed the aforementioned one for about the first 16-17 moves before it deviated. There are, at any rate, some very interesting comments on the opening to Furman-Geller----check them out !

Aug-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <DrGridlock's> post is certainly reasonable; for why any knowledgeable poster would accept the idea that Fischer vs a computer of US Class B strength resembles a competitive match is beyond me, and any hair-splitting as to whether or not Fischer competed in the '70s after this match is an exercise in pointlessness, best conducted by someone who wishes to claim a most hollow victory.
Aug-22-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: I said Petrosian?! Holy moly I was off.
Aug-23-14  coldsweat: In playing through this game, the most impressive thing was the inexorable advancement of white's e pawn. Much has been made of 20.e4, but as I played through, 22.e5 and 31.e6 were equally thrilling.

This feature, combined with the already-mentioned seeming simplicity on the surface, underneath which were layers of raging complexity, plus the shifting focus of white's attacks, make this game what has become in chess history.

A few notes -- I have no problem with Boris wanting to play tennis as the match drew near. In one of the interview links given earlier in this kibitz, he was talking about his heart rate going up to around 160 during tough match conditions. While his advisors' focus was on analysis, Spassky's was on staying alive!

I also enjoyed the comment given by Karpov that Spassky told his handlers, when taking off to play tennis, that he would figure out the rest "over the board".

It's refreshing to see not such an emphasis on memorization in a Soviet player. I have a gut feeling, does anyone agree, that Both Spassky and Fischer would have been better Chess960 players that Kasparov, because so much of Garry's enormous intelligence had to do with his ability to memorize.

And finally, in response to DrMal, I would just say that Bobby was indeed, and remains, an American super-hero. He's the kid next door who shot into outer space through his own talent and tenacity. He's the individual beating the omnipotent bureaucracy. He's the fool who tries to do the impossible, and succeeds. And it seems an objective thing to say that his 6-0 / 6-0 against Taimanov and Larsen may never be equaled.

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