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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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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 23 OF 23 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-16-13  Everett: <AylerKupp> all good points. Botvinnik deserves credit for his ability to adjust and focus, no doubt.

Winning the candidates itself is ridiculously hard, and the only ex-champ to ever do it, sort of, is Karpov in '89-'90, as he was seeded into the matches. Of course, since he rocked everyone save Kasparov during the '88-'89 World Cup, it is hard to argue this placement. Nonetheless, there has never been an ex-WC who has regained the title through the full Candidates cycle, yet multiple times through a direct rematch. This speaks to two things; 1) the fire isn't the same after already being champion and 2) it is much easier to win one match against a known opponent compared to slogging through the qualification.

In this light, winning candidates cycles more than once is an amazing and rare achievement. Smyslov twice, Spassky twice, Korchnoi twice, Karpov twice, and Anand... Three times, for the '95, '98 and 2008 matches. Even if you throw out '98 because it is FIDE, it is still an amazing career feat.

Kasparov couldn't bring himself even to compete in one after 2000, and Kramnik never won one. Interesting to consider, if Kramnik prevailed this last candidates tournament, it would have been the first time he ever qualified legitimately by winning through the candidates process.

Sep-17-13  RookFile: Mr Spock says that is it illogical, under the assigned parameters, to assign greater weight to winning qualifying events than it is to a successful title defense. He also says that discussion of achievements outside of the 1960's is not relevant to determining who the player of the 1960's was.
Sep-17-13  Everett: Kirk's logic is more sound.

I imagine Kirk said "thanks for playing."

Sep-28-13  som2012: While there can be no doubt that winning through the candidates round is incredibly tough but at the end what matters most is World Cup, no. of wins in all play including tournaments, candidates and tite defense during the period of prominance and/or dominance of a particular player. It's got to be that. It is too simplistic to brush aside the tournament plays, saying that it does not matter because the best players are conserving their energy and and not going in for the kill, it all evens out over a period of time. In that context Petrosian, Fischer, Karpov, Kasparov and Anand are the best that we have seen in past 50+ years, in my book.
Nov-02-13  LovingFischer: madly love this game
Nov-02-13  diceman: <AylerKupp: No matter how good you are, overcoming a 0-2 start in such strong company is very hard.>

Unless its a World Championship. :)

<Fischer was able to do that in the second half of the 2nd Piatagorsky Tournament in 1966 after a poor start (after 8/18 rounds he was tied for last and 2.5 points behind Spassky) but he wasn't able to do that in 1959.>

Its almost like adults know more than kids.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <diceman> I'll try to remember that and not get discouraged the next time I play in a World Championship match. :-) Because, for me, a 0-2 start would be a certainty, as well as a 0-3, 0-4, ... oh well, never mind.
Nov-10-13  drleper: Brilliant pun!
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Fischer was the top ranked player in the 60's and only the corrupt political shenanighans in world chess at the time kept him from being world champion earlier, than when he eventually wrested it from the ice cold iron soviet grip.

Fischer was ridiculously above every other player back then ratings wise..

Mar-12-14  zavariz: I like this game, it is really amazing the way Fisher plays.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <AylerKupp> I'm with you on the Botvinnik achievement regaining the title twice
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <harrylime> ... only the corrupt political shenanigans in world chess at the time kept him from being world champion earlier, ...>

What utter nonsense. Fischer first participated in the Candidates Tournaments in Yugoslavia in 1959 and Curacao in 1962 when he failed to win because he simply wasn't good enough. After Curacao he charged the Soviets with collusion, something that has never been proven, because after bragging how he was going to win it and failing to do so, he needed to come up with an excuse for not winning other than the fact that he simply wasn't good enough at the time, and that he couldn't overcome his 0-2 start in the tournament.

His next chance to qualify as a WC challenger was in 1966 but he declined to participate in the Interzonal in Amsterdam in 1964 so he didn't qualify for the series of knockout matches held at various places to determine the WC Challenger. And at Sousse in 1967 he withdrew from the tournament while in 2nd place over disputes about his playing scheduled, so he didn't qualify for the 1968 – 1969 knockout matches either.

He finally qualified for the 1972 WC match after winning the Interzonal at Palma de Majorca in 1970 and the knockout matches in 1971. But he really didn't qualify for the Interzonal at Palma de Majorca in 1970 since he didn't participate in the US Championship in 1969, the qualifying event for US participants for the Interzonal. Only after Benko <and all other participants in the 1969 US Championship> gave up their spots was Fischer allowed to participate in the 1970 Interzonal, and that was only because the FIDE president at the time, Max Euwe, interpreted the rules very loosely.

So, instead of the "corrupt political shenanigans in world chess" preventing Fischer from winning the World Championship in 1960, 1963, 1966, or 1969, it was the "corrupt political shenanigans in US and world chess that allowed him to win it in 1972 since he didn't actually qualify to participate in the cycle.

Mar-12-14  Petrosianic: Oh, Harry knows that half the stuff he says isn't true. He thinks that if he says it enough times, or if he gets away with saying it without contradiction, it will become true. In his more lucid moments, he's actually admitted that he does that.
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.

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.
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.
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) 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.

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