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James T Sherwin vs Robert James Fischer
Log Cabin 50-50 (05) (1957), rd 5, Mar-31
King's Indian Defense: Saemisch. Closed Variation (E87)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Sep-10-04  wall: Fischer loses and missed a mate. After 38.Ke2?? (38.Kc3 is better), 38...Re4+!! (instead of the losing 38...Rxd1??) 39.fxe4 Bg4+ 40.Kf1 Rxd1 mate.

White wins after 41.Qxd3 Rxd3 42.Kxd3 Kf7 43.Ra7 Bd8 44.Ra8 Ke7 45.Ke4 Ke8 (only move) 46.Kf5.

Mar-15-05  RookFile: Fischer was not yet Fischer, of course.
Mar-15-05  ughaibu: In that case who was it who won the US championship that year?
Mar-15-05  RookFile: This is a one of this minority cases
where a book is more useful than a chess database. So, I'm using Robert Wade and Kevin O'Connell's classic book on Fischer's games.

To put this is perspective:

In January, 1957, Fischer was playing in the semi final round of the Manhattan chess club championship and got eliminated from the finals, losing to the same Max Pavey who beat him in a simultaneaous exhibition to start his career.

In February, 1957, Fischer played
in a Log Cabin tournament, a different one than the one in this Sherwin game. The Log Cabin tournament was more like 'action' chess than real chess, the requirement was 50 moves in 50 minutes. In February, Fischer could do no better than 6th place, finishing behind Fuerstein, Santasiere, Green, Fuster, and Wanetick, all minor masters at best.

In March, Bobby is back, playing in
the Log Cabin again, where the above
Sherwin game was played. Again, he
did not distinguish himself. The
very round before this game he drew
to a later punching bag like Saidy,
who on move 43, presumably in time trouble, misses 43.... Rh6, winning the queen, and the game, against Fischer:

Fischer vs Saidy, 1957

By the way, the Wade and O'Connell
book shows that is
in error by listing the Fischer -
Saidy game as West Orange rather than
Log Cabin 50 -50.... the very next
round is the Sherwin game listed here.

In the spring, Bobby plays in the
New York Metropolitan league, and
loses a short match to Dr. Max Euwe,
1.5 to 0.5.

As late as July, Bobby plays in the
New Western Open. He does better
this time, he's still in 6th place,
but he wins a good game against the
solid master Erich Marchand. Then
he plays a bunch of kids in July
in the US Junior championship, winning
it, of course.

Were you to stop the story here,
there is nothing, nothing unusual or
amazing about Bobby Fischer. Certainly he's a pretty good player, a low rated master, for example, but
not as good as Reshevsky, for example,
was at the same age.

It was at this point that something
happenned, and the most dramatic upsurge in strength and talent the chess world has ever seen, occurred.
The record shows that after finishing
6th in the New Western Open, Bobby
would finish first, every time, in
every tournament he played in on US
soil, for the rest of his career. In
1957, this included the hat trick:
the US Junior Championship, the US Open, and the US Championship.

So, at the start of 1957, Bobby was
perhaps an expert in chess strenth.
By the end of 1957, Fischer was a
legitmate, 2500+ strength player.
I don't believe the chess world has
ever again seen such a dramatic
upswing in strength in a single year.

Mar-15-05  RookFile: I forgot 1 tournament, of course:
the Piatigorsky Cup, of 1966, of
course, where Fischer finishes 2nd
to Spassky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Thanks, <Rookfile>, I was looking for something on the web about Fischer's remarkable upsurge in 1957 to respond to <ughaibu>, but I doubt I will find anything more complete than what you just wrote.
Mar-15-05  Catfriend: Excellent post, <RookFile>, I only have to add that during the same time, more or less, it took an unknown Russian player called Tal 4 years to become one of the greatest players ever.
Mar-15-05  hintza: <it took an unknown Russian player called Tal 4 years to become one of the greatest players ever> Tal was Latvian.
Mar-15-05  Catfriend: <Hintza> You're right, and I even know it:) It's just usual to call all Soviet players <Russian>. But I stand corrected.
Mar-15-05  RookFile: I played Tal once, in a simul.
Of course, we all got killed.
Was in college, at the time, taking
a class on the Russian language,
so we made up a sign in Russian,
for the famous Latvian, and put it
up on the club wall.
Mar-15-05  hintza: <Catfriend> I know, I just don't like to see former Soviet nations and Russia confused, that is all. Especially where the great Tal is concerned! :-)
Nov-10-07  MarvinTsai: I just love to see a solid response to a post from someone with biting behavior.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: Rookfile: "I don't believe the chess world has
ever again seen such a dramatic
upswing in strength in a single year."

Well nowadays when that happens officials have suspected "prohibited devices" which did not exist in 1957.

May-08-08  CharlesSullivan: Fischer missed the spectacular 34...e4!! 35.fxe4 f3!! 36.♖d3 ♗g5+ 37.♔d1 ♖b1+ 38.♖xb1 ♖xb1+ 39.♔c2 ♖c1+ 40.♔b3 ♖xc4 and Black wins. Had he been playing in a game with a longer time control, perhaps he would have seen it.
May-08-08  CharlesSullivan: Fischer also missed the fairly simple 35...♖8b4! 36.♕xb4 ♖xb4 and wins. He must have been under time pressure to miss this one!
Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: <wall: Fischer loses and missed a mate. After 38.Ke2?? (38.Kc3 is better), 38...Re4+!! (instead of the losing 38...Rxd1??) 39.fxe4 Bg4+ 40.Kf1 Rxd1 mate.

White wins after 41.Qxd3 Rxd3 42.Kxd3 Kf7 43.Ra7 Bd8 44.Ra8 Ke7 45.Ke4 Ke8 (only move) 46.Kf5. >

Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: 38 ... ?

click for larger view

<38...Rxd1?? [The final spectacular opportunity missed was 38...Re4+!! 39.fxe4 Bg4+ 40.Kf1 Rxd1# ]>

38 ... ♖b4-e4+!!

click for larger view

39 f3x♖e4 ♗f5-g4+ 40 ♔e2-f1 ♖d5x♖d1#

click for larger view

click for larger view

click for larger view

click for larger view

Aug-28-09  WhiteRook48: open lines
Mar-10-12  benjamincito: Fischer 38.,bad play, Humanus is
Oct-11-15  jszigeti: "It's just usual to call all Soviet players <Russian>." So usual that Fischer did it too. There was one event (Fairly sure it was Bled 1961) where Fischer stated he was going to beat "all the Russians" when one of them pointed out that none of the Soviet players present were Russians to which he replies "They are all Russians to me!" [ The "Russians" were Geller-Ukrainian, Keres-Estonian, Petrosian-Armenian, Tal-Latvian. ] Fischer scored 3.5/4 ceding only a draw to Keres but Tal pounded the bottom of the table very hard to win the tournament by a full point with Fischer second a full point ahead of Petrosian, Keres and Gligoric.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The event was indeed Bled 1961, and Keres was the player who pointed this out to Fischer.
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