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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
Second Piatigorsky Cup (1966)  ·  Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange. Classical Variation (D86)  ·  1-0
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 8 OF 8 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-10-07  Petrosianic: Left out 68. 1968 wasn't a total wash, but Netanya and Vinkovki simply weren't in Fischer's league. The only thing worth mentioning about Fischer 1968 is that he actually played in a tournament in Israel. A little irony there, in light of his later aberrations.
Sep-10-07  Petrosianic: <The number of games that Petrosian played in in the 1960's is not some huge amount more than what Fischer played.>

Actually, it is, at least for Petrosian's championship years. (For 1960-1962, Fischer was very active, of course.)

Petrosian was actually one of the more active champions. Not quite up there with Karpov and Kasparov, who seemed to play in everything, but close behind.

I don't have Kasparov's numbers immediately handy, but checking a 1986 article, Karpov played 45.4 serious tournament games a year as champion, compared to Petrosian's 44.2.

At the time, the record for most total games played as champion was:

1. Karpov: 454
2. Petrosian: 265
3. Alekhine: 238
12. Fischer: 0

According to this, only 1/3 of the 12 champions played at half of Karpov's level or better (which would be 22.7 games per year). During his "wilderness years", Fischer was averaging 21.6 (compared to an eye-popping 58.0 for 1960-1962), so in effect he caught "Champion's Disease", without winning the championship. Bummer.

Sep-10-07  RookFile: Back to the point at hand: the number of chessgames that Petrosian played in the 1960's is not some huge amount more than what Fischer played.
Sep-10-07  RookFile: What keypusher doesn't understand is, below the super GM level, the player's rating doesn't matter to Fischer or Petrosian. It's kind of like saying that a grown man arm wrestled a 10 year old boy vs and 8 year old boy.

In terms of top level, high quality games, Fischer played the same level of quality opposition in his tournaments in the 1960's that Petrosian did.

The Elo and chessmetrics rating systems took all this into account, and that's why they both put Fischer at #1, even during the years Petrosian was champ.

Fischer in 1965 was probably equal in strength to Petrosian: by 1966 he was already stronger, as evidenced by Fischer finishing far ahead of Petrosian at Santa Monica 1966.

Sep-10-07  slomarko: <The chessmetrics system, on the other hand, IS designed to compare players of different eras.> lol this is exactly what the chessmetrics system WASN'T designed to do. but patzers just can't get that simple fact straight.
Sep-10-07  Petrosianic: <Back to the point at hand: the number of chessgames that Petrosian played in the 1960's is not some huge amount more than what Fischer played.>

Most people would consider twice as many to be a huge amount. If you don't, well, it's a matter of semantics.

Sep-10-07  Petrosianic: <Fischer in 1965 was probably equal in strength to Petrosian: by 1966 he was already stronger, as evidenced by Fischer finishing far ahead of Petrosian at Santa Monica 1966.>

We can cherry pick our evidence to reach any conclusion we want. I could do the same to prove the exact opposite. Example: Spassky must have been vastly superior to Fischer to be able to beat him out despite having no time to prepare, and being exhausted from a championship match that had ended a mere 7 days before the tournament began. Petrosian, who had beaten Spassky, must have been even stronger. (Isn't this fun?)

But honestly, theories that take all the evidence into account are more plausible than these cherry-picked ones. As mentioned before, we can see how Fischer did against Soviet GM's in the years 1963-1969, and it was in no way better than 1958-1962. We saw in 1962 that Fischer wasn't quite there yet. You can say "screw the results, I have an unofficial rating list that says Fischer was the best anyway." But frankly, I don't think you realize just how tacky these attempts to give Fischer a title he was afraid to even compete for sound.

Fischer qualified for the Amsterdam Interzonal and refused to play. (It was Larsen's opinion that he wouldn't have qualified even if he had, though personally I wouldn't go that far). If Fischer thought he wasn't yet ready to try again, I trust his judgment more than yours. It's not until 1970 that we see any real evidence that things had changed, and Fischer was now on top of the world. (I could be cruel and cherry-pick something or other to show that he wasn't the best even then, but I'll take the high road here.)

As with Topalov, Fischer already has reputation enough for actual chessplaying ability. It's a reputation for sportsmanship that desperately needs cultivation.

Sep-10-07  RookFile: I did a quick count. Fischer played roughly 370 professional games of chess in the 1960's, Petrosian played like 530. This is about 16 games more per year for Petrosian.

These totals do not include 1964, when Fischer played upwards of a thousand simul games touring the country, only a small percentage of which are in this daatabase.

Dec-23-07  Everett: If you don't play, you don't get ranked. It's a joke of the "prestige" of being the world champion that one can still count as being great without proving it like all the rest.

Chessmetrics over Elo any day.

And any cultured, civil and compassionate person over Fischer any day as well.

Dec-23-07  ughaibu: Petrosianic: Fischer lost twice to Geller in 1967.
Dec-24-07  Petrosianic: <Chessmetrics over Elo any day.>

Chessmetrics is very good, though even it has its flaws. The points they take away for inactivity can produce some unusual results, especially in the case of someone like Lasker, who they have as #9 going into his match with Marshall, behind Maroczy, Schlechter, Tarrasch, Marshall (!), Duras (!!), Teichmann (!!!), Rubinstein, and Janowsky (!!!!).

Now you may be tempted to say he deserved to lose all those rating points for being so inactive, but if you do, you'd be falling into a trap. Is the point of taking those points away to <punish> him? Or is the point to accurately measure his ability? If the latter, then we can see on repeated occasions, that he didn't really lose all that playing strength from being inactive, and so the system hasn't really accurately measured him.

Another problem with all rating systems, is that the ability to smash bunnies and the ability to beat the elite is all rolled together into one number.

Which is more valuable? Larsen could smash bunnies much better than Petrosian could, and as a result, he won more tournaments. But Petrosian could beat Larsen 2 out of every 3 decisive games. In a situation like that, which player is "better" than the other? Mileage can vary, but since chess is a one-on-one game, most people tend to think that the player that can beat the other one one-on-one is the stronger of the two. Which is part of why people prefer match championships to tournaments.

Dec-24-07  Petrosianic: <Petrosianic: Fischer lost twice to Geller in 1967.>

That's true. Actually, though it wasn't all in 1967, Fischer lost three straight games to Geller around that time:

Geller vs Fischer, 1965

Fischer vs Geller, 1967

Fischer vs Geller, 1967

Dec-24-07  Everett: <since chess is a one-on-one game, most people tend to think that the player that can beat the other one one-on-one is the stronger of the two. Which is part of why people prefer match championships to tournaments.>

I see your point, but I must concur with others on this site who think tournaments are the way to go, for styles make for (mis)matches at times (see Kramnik-Kasparov 2000, Kramnik-Shirov 199? and the first 9 games of Karpov-Kasparov 1984-5), and do not predict any more accurately chess strength than a tournament would. Match play and tournament play are simply different, and both are worthwhile assessments. Fischer, for all his craziness, was so unsure that the strongest player would win a match he demanded ridiculous changes to the system to ensure the "less" strong would have no chance of pulling off an upset.

Also matches are much more often poisoned by politics, enough so to question their ability to assess "chess strength."

And most "bunnies" nowadays are near 2700 in the top tournaments. Look at all the tremendous players that are not in the top 10!

Still, I see your points...

Dec-21-08  WhiteRook48: 39...g5 loses for Fischer.
Oct-01-09  WhiteRook48: 30...Rf6 does, actually
Oct-01-09  Lt.Surena: The ELO inflation is amazing these days. However, what is missing is the 'individuality' or the unique style of play that is no longer present. 40 or 50 years ago we had Petrosian and his unique positional/defensive play. I really enjoyed watching him play King's Indian Defense as white. Who wouldn't want to watch Tal and his firebrand attacking style. Or see Spassky play King Gambit. Or see Fischer or Gligoric play King's Indian Defense as black. Or see Korchnoy play French. A lot of games are boring these days.

Aronian brings new ideas to Queen's Gambit but that's only a rare exception these days, IMHO.

Oct-01-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <Lt.Surena: The ELO inflation is amazing these days. However, what is missing is the 'individuality' or the unique style of play that is no longer present. 40 or 50 years ago we had Petrosian and his unique positional/defensive play. I really enjoyed watching him play King's Indian Defense as white. Who wouldn't want to watch Tal and his firebrand attacking style. Or see Spassky play King Gambit. Or see Fischer or Gligoric play King's Indian Defense as black. Or see Korchnoy play French. A lot of games are boring these days. Aronian brings new ideas to Queen's Gambit but that's only a rare exception these days, IMHO.>

It is harder now to find innovations -but I agree with you. I miss the old days when there were so many styles of play - don't forget Larsen! To some extent the computers are a cause. If you look at many positions in (for example) the Semi-Slav it is obvious the players are following computer moves.

As to ELO inflation - I think it is about 200 points in 40 years. What can you expect when someone can become a Grandmaster by simply beating up on 2400 players.

Oct-07-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: The ratings are not a true indicator of strength. Does anyone really believe that GMs today are stronger than players like Larsen, Gligoric, Stein, Bronstein, and others of that era just because of their ratings? The ratings of today's GMs are way inflated compared to the strength of the players. What you do see are a lot of "weak" GMs without individual styles. Most are clones of each other. They are not as strong in strategy, or defense or endgame play. Just a lot of "weak sisters."
Jan-11-10  M.D. Wilson: Chess is like a science in the sense that it's a body of knowledge that increases with time, with new enthusiasts standing on the shoulders of giants. Einstein knew more physics than Newton, but no one in their right mind would claim Newton was less brilliant because he didn't figure out relativity. It's all relative (pardon the pun). In a random position or an endgame, I still think players like Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine would be a force to be reckoned with.
Jun-29-11  sophiephilo: excellent end game. that tension is terrible! ust goes to show that a bishop is always more useful in an end game that a knight.
Jul-06-11  Ulhumbrus: 50 Ba2 threatens both Kxa7 and Be6 trapping Black's Knight
Feb-11-12  drukenknight: >>The number of games that Petrosian played in in the 1960's is not some huge amount more than what Fischer played. Fischer played plenty of chessgames in the 1960's, including Santa Monica 1966 where he finished well ahead of Petrosian

Okay that is very true, but let's face it, having Bobby Fischer as your pt man for the western hemisphere is like having Jeff George. On paper he looks great but he winds up having lapses in big moments. I actually saw Jeff George just refuse to fall on a fumble here in Wash DC.

In Fischer's case many times on the great stage when he was at a big moment he messed up and lost it. Do we have to make a list?

62 Curacao
The Match w/ Reshevsky
62 Botvinnik game, not a blow up but he blows the endgame 66 This game, didnt he run off after Spassky showed him some moves? 67 Sousza
[long period of nothing]
72 1st match game w/ Spassky

This is a long list of clinch ups in the big time. A Russian player like this would never get out of first round round. They got 10 other guys who can memorize openings and play tournament chess for two weeks straight. Fischer is all AMerican chess had so they had to coddle him. He doesnt even have to qualify for the interzonal he's so fragile...

Feb-11-12  RookFile: I'll just make one point, which is that a tie with Reshevsky in their match, in games played, exceeded pre-match expectations of almost all the experts. Reshevsky was built to play matches - he won with white and drew with black. Kasparov credits this experience with taking Fischer to the next level. Not a bad result for a teenager.
Feb-11-12  Chessmaster9001: Interesting endgame. Textbook example of advantage of bishop vs knight in an open position.
Jan-10-13  kjr63: Wow, Fischer plays like a lunatic.
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