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Mato Damjanovic vs Robert James Fischer
Buenos Aires (1970), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 2, Jul-20
English Opening: Symmetrical. Anti-Benoni Variation (A31)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jul-18-07  SniperOnKN2: White took with the wrong pawn on move 16. In this Accelerated Dragon formation, 16. exd5 opens e-file and pressures e7, while the queenside remains closed. With queen flank and center stablized, white proceeds with h4-h5. Notice the black bishop is useless, 0 targets.
May-12-08  RookFile: Very cooperative by Damjanovic in this game to strive for an endgame where he has a light squared bishop, and then puts all his pawns in the light squares.


May-12-08  Cinco: 63...Nf6 kicks the white bishop off the a4-e8 diagonal, which forces black to defend his queenside pawns with his king as white rushes the queenside with his own. Classic Fischer endgame play.
Jun-18-09  marknierras: move 43... Nd6 locks white king in place- cannot move to create counterplay; moves 50 to 55 forces white to position pawns to white squares. (This closes down its own bishop; Notice also that all of blacks pawns are on the opposite color; white's bishop is useless
Aug-27-11  DrMAL: 26.f5! would have given Fischer a big advantage, after 26.Bd4?! and the exchanges the game was basically drawn. With 37...Nxd7 it was a dead draw. 66.bxa4+?! was a silly error, giving black some chances and then 67.Kc5?! made matters worse. 68.Bc8 was necessary, anything else lost quickly. Maybe after being in a drawn position for 40 moves white got bored to death.
Aug-27-11  Petrosianic: Yeah, White looks good early on. The ending starts on Move 37. It is basically drawn, but Black has the better minor. Most of the maneuvering revolves around Black trying to get a4 in, which White prevents with his Bishop. So Black finally fixes the pawns on the Kingside, and gets in a4 at a moment when the Bishop is occupied defending them.

66. bxa4+ is dumb, I don't know if he panicked at the thought of Black getting in a3 (it looks bad, but it should be safe), or if he was had a burst of aggressiveness. Visually, it LOOKS like White should be better after 69. Kxb4, since his King is closer to the remaining pawns, and Black's is out in the middle of nowhere. Maybe that's what White was thinking when he played bxa4. But it doesn't work out that way, since he can't really approach Black's pawns effectively, but black can make an end run on e4 and g4.

Still, White keeps it surprisingly close up to the end. He's about to Queen with Check, but has to play Bxe4, which takes Black's King off the crucial square.

Aug-27-11  DrMAL: <DrMAL: 26.f5! would have given Fischer a big advantage> Oops I meant WHITE. Guess I got confused because up to that point it looks like Fischer is playing white LOL, his play up to that point is well below his par (and white's play is really excellent compared to the rating CG has for him!).
Aug-27-11  Petrosianic: The last rating they have for him is from 2001. His rating in 1971 was 2490, which was pretty good for the pre-inflation days. Looks like he died only 5 months ago, in fact.
Aug-27-11  DrMAL: Pre-inflation days LOL no such thing. I see you too have been duped by Chessmetrics. Thanx for the info, but if "2490" comes from that ridiculous site where it's "ratings" are computed from the ludicrous assumption that world ranking implies the same rating regardless of era (as if chess never grew in knowledge or technique, or even population size), it's "rating" is truly "inflated."

In other words, the only "rating inflation" is at Chessmetrics, his artificial inflation grows ridiculously with time in the past.

Aug-27-11  Petrosianic: That number is from the FIDE Rating List.
Aug-27-11  DrMAL: Thanx. Just out of curiosity do you have a link? I always have trouble getting FIDE ratings from back then, cheers.
Aug-27-11  Petrosianic: Oh, yeah. Mark Weeks' site has all the FIDE lists pre-2000.

Aug-27-11  DrMAL: Cool, thanx a lot, very useful! Yes, 2490 makes more sense he played this game really fabulously (up to move 66 LOL).
Aug-27-11  Petrosianic: That's what makes this game interesting. You want to be world champion. A lesser player equalizes. To be better, you have to find a way to win games like this, at least some of the time. But how?

If you keep the pressure on long enough, something may give. bxa4 is not only a bad move, it's obviously a bad move. So, why would someone play a move that was obviously bad? Assuming the game isn't fixed, it's either because they panicked and thought the alternative was worse, or because they thought they saw an opportunity that wasn't there. (After a couple of hours of being ground down, you can imagine seeing all sorts of things).

So, that's what I think happened. Either White was panicked by the thought of a3, or, more likely, he thought White was better after Kxb4, but was too frazzled (or short of time) to look at it deeply enough to see that White's not on top at all.

Apr-30-15  Howard: So where was the point of no return ? The book Bobby Fischer's Chess Games labels one particular move as the decisive error, but then Agur's book Fischer: His Approach to Chess labels a different move as where the game was completely lost.

But I don't have either of those books handy.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Howard: So where was the point of no return ?> I don't see such claim in Agur's book. However there's his following comment:

<Had he [Damjanovic] been aware of the subtleties of Fischer's plan, he would have kept rooks on the board by playing 29 ♖d5!.>

Jul-14-15  Howard: Wasn't there a footnote in the back of that book giving some additional analysis of that game ?

I'm almost sure it was that book.

Jul-14-15  Retireborn: <Howard> You're right - the Agur book has a footnote on p264 where 66.Ke3 a3 67.Kd3 Kc5 68.Ke3 Ne8 69.Kd3 Nd6 70.Bd7 Nc4!! (from a book by Matanovic) is given as winning for Black.

However, Houdini replaces 69.Kd3 with 69.Bd7 Nd6 70.Ba4 or 69.Bc8 Nd6 70.Ba6 to take the sting out of the ...Nc4 idea and thinks White is holding.

So Damjanovic was correct to say that 66.bxa4? was the losing move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <retireborn....So Damjanovic was correct to say that 66.bxa4? was the losing move.>

In the Wade et al compendium of Fischer's games, the move receives the punctuation ??.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Excellent outcome, thanks to all!
Nov-06-17  newzild: Isn't 75. Bxe4 a draw?

eg, 75...Nxe4 76. Kxh6 Ke5 77. Kg6 and I can't see how Black can stop White's h-pawn without abandoning protection of his last remaining pawn, on g5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <newzild: Isn't 75. Bxe4 a draw?

eg, 75...Nxe4 76. Kxh6 Ke5 77. Kg6 and I can't see how Black can stop White's h-pawn without abandoning protection of his last remaining pawn, on g5.>

The snag is that Black can play 75....Kxe4 76.Kxh6 Kf4, after which 77.h6 Nxh6 is simple enough.

The alternative is 77.Kg7 Kf5, which leads to such lines as 78.Kg8 Kf6 79.Kh7 Kf7 80.Kh8 Ne5 or 78.Kh8 Nh6 79.Kh7 Nf5 and wins.

Nov-07-17  newzild: <perfidious>

True, ta.

For some reason I thought Black had to capture with the knight.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <newzild>, in analysis, I omitted the obvious moves (76.Kxh6 Kf4 <77.Kg7 Nxg4>), leading to what ensued.

The price for getting ahead of oneself.

Nov-07-17  Retireborn: I still find it surprising that Fischer played into this Dragon-type position; one would expect 4...e6 5.Nc3 Bb4 or 5.e3 Nc6 which he played successfully in a few other games. Perhaps he was impressed by 10...Be6 which Reshevsky had used to draw with him years earlier.

23...e5 is a mistake (Houdini prefers 23...Rfc8) and White can attack with 24.f5! (pointed out by Dr Mal below) or 26.f5.

Or 26.Bc4 Qxe4 27.Bxc5 Qxe2 28.Rxe2 Rxc5 29.Rxe6 reaches an endgame that is unpleasant for Black, although opposite bishops may save him.

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