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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972), Reykjavik ISL, rd 1, Jul-11
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Gligoric System Bernstein Defense (E56)  ·  1-0


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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer (1972)

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 39 OF 39 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <SChesshevsky: Photo position could be after 36...Ke5 or 37. Ba3. Fischer's last double check before 29...Bxh2 might have missed the Ba3, Bc5 idea protecting b6 and e3 and now realizes he's probably busted.>

I see, thanks. Still, even without Ba3, Bxh2 looks like a terrible move in this situation. It might be okay to trade a bishop for two pawns if the bishop can't stop two passed pawns at once and your king can protect your own pawns and/or attack the opponent's, but here it was so easy for Spassky to protect everything and Fischer had no attack, so I can only attribute it to the psychic defibrillator the KGB planted in the seat of the chair.

May-20-18  SChesshevsky: <ChessHigherCat...Bxh2 looks like a terrible move in this situation. It might be okay to trade a bishop for two pawns if the bishop can't stop two passed pawns at once and your king can protect your own pawns>

You are absolutely correct. A terrible move!

The only explanation I can think of is that Fischer thought he saw a possible win with two connected passed pawns on the king side deep enough to force Bxp leaving a passed pawn in time to beat whatever White's King can do.

But also with a probable draw in hand if white B can take both pawns but it also allows Black to liquidate all whites pawns.

There doesn't seem to be a lot of examples where Fischer's judgement totally let him down in a relatively simple position. The photo really does seem to capture his reaction to this ...Bxh2 lemon perfectly.

May-20-18  Justin796: For God's sake it's a bad move lol..I've heard countless explanations...Fischer was going for the win blah blah...two words..bad move...or one...blunder!
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <Justin796> So what, name a player who hasn't ever blundered? He's wasn't auditioning to be the new messiah.
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <Justin796: For God's sake it's a bad move lol..I've heard countless explanations...Fischer was going for the win blah blah...two words..bad move...or one...blunder!>

Are you an idiot ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Anybody who thinks the GREATEST CHESS player of all time would blunder a Bishop away like this is MENTAL !
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Way back in <Apr-17-04>, <thomaspaine> quoted Reuben Fine, <Afterwards he [Fischer] told me he miscalculated, thinking that after 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3 he could escape, but overlooking 33. Kg4 traps the bishop.>

Do people think Fine was lying?

May-20-18  SChesshevsky: I guess Fine might be accurate but in the ...h3 line 33.Kg4 seems kind of forced as you probably can't allow ...Bg1 and then ...h2. And it's not that hard to see after the h pawn drops the B still can't get out.

So between missing ramifications of 33. Kg4 or something like 37. Ba3, I might go with Fischer missing Ba3.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <SChesshevsky> In the line under discussion, it goes on, 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3 33. Kg4 Bg1 34. Kxh3 Bxf2 and now it's necessary to foresee <35. Bd2> preventing Black's bishop from escaping via e1.

This line includes two captures, some circling around, and includes 5 moves by each side, so for me it's harder than foreseeing White's winning chances after the bishop is lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi beatgiant,

This post: Spassky vs Fischer, 1972 (kibitz #50)

I believe Fine. Why should he lie.

I recall at the 1992 pre-match press conference a brave journalist asked Bobby about 29...Bxh2 and if it was an attempt to win. Bobby mumbled 'Yes'.


During the game Bobby was up and down like a jack in the box complaining to Lothar Schmid about the cameras, the spectators, the lights...

Add in the occasion, his feeling of superiority and over confidence (in his previous 21 games he had Won 17 Drew 3 and Lost one.)

A recipe for disaster. He simply miscalculated. It happens. No big deal. It brought him down to earth with a big bump. He recovered.

Those that claim it was a terrible howler need reminding that before computers GM's were publishing analysis to show how Fischer could have saved the game. Spassky vs Fischer, 1972 (kibitz #380)

A howler is usually followed by an immediate resignation. This was a bog standard piece of miscalculation. Nothing else.

May-20-18  SChesshevsky: Yeah, Fischer might have missed 35. Bd2 in the ...h3 line.

But GM's, especially in an important game, usually don't goof up 7 move mostly forced calculations.

But who knows, anything's possible.

May-21-18  Granny O Doul: <Sally Simpson> Ivan Solotaroff was the journalist who asked the question. I thought it regrettable that he suggested the answer himself, "were you trying to infuse life into a lifeless position?" or some such. I mean, if you really want to know, let Fischer come up with his own answer.

Lombardy told Fischer right after the adjournment that his move 40 was a blunder. Fischer said nothing. Soon as the match was over though, Fischer said, "you were right, ...Kd5 was a draw".

May-21-18  Howard: Any updates, by some chance, as to whether Spassky actually had a forced win after Fischer's infamous 29...Bxh2 ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <SChesshevsky> <who knows, anything's possible> Even if White didn't find 37. Ba3 and played some other plausible move such as 37. Kg4, does it really change anything? Black would still be playing for a draw at best.
May-21-18  ZonszeinP: Spassky had everything under control .
Playing with ease.
Mr Fischer i think, needed to unbalance him. If it wasn't possible over the board, then off it.

I say so with all my respect for mr Fischer as a Chess genius .He needed to get out of the psicological inferiority before Spassky lest he was wiped out off the board

And Spassky allowed him to .

May-21-18  Justin796: Spassky lost what...5 games in a row after moving to the back room....tell me that didn't affect him!
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Justin796> Spassky lost what...5 games in a row after moving to the back room>

Well, sort of. Fischer did win 5 games after his 0-2 start before Spassky won another game, but there were 3 draws in between. And that's not what people typically consider 5 wins in a row. And they only played one game in the back room so your statement "after moving to he back room" is somewhat misleading. But, regardless, Fischer had a 2-point lead with the match almost half over even after losing the 11th game, a superb achievement considering his poor start.

And it's hard to say what would have happened had Spassky called Fischer's bluff before the 3rd game was played away from the cameras. I can see the following possibilities:

1. Fischer would have refused to play the game if it was to be played in the main arena in front of the cameras and accepted a forfeit, putting him down 3-0. He might have then gone home and had the match awarded to Spassky. Or, Fischer might have agreed to continue to play the match even though down 3-0, and won anyway. Or not.

2. Spassky might have been ordered to play the game in the back room away from the cameras under penalty of forfeiture. Spassky might then have backed down and played the game, perhaps filing a likely meaningless protest that this change was not specified in the match contract and therefore the forfeit was invalid. Or he could have decided to forfeit the match and gone back home, making Fischer the champion. But how many would have accepted Fischer as the champion under those circumstances, particularly since in that case he would not have yet beaten Spassky OTB. That probably would have really galled Fischer since every time that he would claim to be the world champion people could truthfully say "How could you claim to be world champion when you have never beaten Spassky OTB?"

And to think that some people still think that in a game of chess all the information is in front of you and all that you have to do to win, or at least not lose, is to play the best move in each position. Hah!

May-22-18  ZonszeinP: Not enough

Thoughts spread waves that can "invade" and affect the opponents own thoughts

Specialy if he had surrended beforehand

Even Krogius says something similar in his psychology thesis


May-22-18  ZonszeinP: Before the "back little room" issue they had played six times and Fischer had lost Four...........
May-22-18  Howard: There seems to be a myth that after the second "game" (which, of course, wasn't much of a contest), that all the remaining games were played in a back room. ONLY the third game was--period !

When Fischer died, our local paper here in Toledo printed that misconception---and no doubt they weren't the only one !

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Anyway even accounting for some of the ignorant and misinformed garbage posted above .. this game was at best still a draw for RJF after the Bishop "Blunder" ... lol

But it's clear Bobby was going for the win.

May-23-18  Justin796: Thank you ayler that was actually informative!
May-24-18  Justin796: There is psychology in chess...yes it's true you can't jedi mind trick your way to the top...but definitely it's a factor...take that game Fischer vs. Tal where Fischer wrote down the best move then changed hia move OTB when Tal smiled! Lol i love Tal..
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Fischer is the greatest chess player ever.

It's clear some folk in the chess world don't get this . lol

May-25-18  ClockPunchingMonkey: Fischer thought that after 31.... h4 white had nothing better than 32. gxh4. Then he has a better pawn structure.

But, he was wrong.

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