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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972)  ·  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 23 OF 23 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-02-14  SpiritedReposte: <What shows his will to fight? The blunder itself you mean?>

Yes. He had an easy draw as Black and decided against it.

Aug-03-14  Everett: <RookFile: There has never been a modern player who has put wins up on the board with the black pieces the way Fischer has. By definition these means he took more risks than others did. There's no getting around that.>

Actually, he played demonstrably weaker competition throughout his career in the west. It was only late in his career that he was finally getting plus scores vs the Russians, for example. And he skipped a lot of the toughest competitions in the middle of his short career, including entire championship cycles.

In any case, Fischer studied the KID and Najdorf like no other at the time, and analyzed a lot of the risk out of these openings, and he deserves all the credit for that.

Aug-03-14  Everett: When Fischer had no chance to lose, he would happily grind. Much like Karpov and Carlsen after him.
Aug-08-14  asiduodiego: Come on. Fischer wasn't a "reckless" player. He was an "aggressive" player. He normally would shun complications, and usually went for clear paths in his games. Of course sometimes he made nice tactical sacrifices or tactical shots, but those were always straight-forward variations. I don't recall any instance of Fischer making unclear tactical shots, or going for risky and unclear variations, such as Tal did, for example, and that was one of the keys of his success: he was an aggressive, but objective and very careful player.
Aug-08-14  Petrosianic: That's right, the move was aggressive, but not reckless. If the combination had gone the way we think Fischer had planned it, White would have regained the pawn but been left with a slightly weakened pawn structure. Mind you, this would STILL be a drawn ending, but it would give Fischer something to make probing attacks against, and try to turn it into something bigger.
Aug-11-14  Doniez: It is almost unbelievable how Fischer's WS Bishop is trapped by Spasssy's King! It's worth a whole life at the chessboard!
Aug-11-14  Petrosianic: What part do you find unbelievable? If you're saying it looks like it should be intuitively obvious that the Bishop should escape, it's really the other way around. It looks like it shouldn't. And indeed it doesn't. The gut reaction is right.

The conventional wisdom is that Fischer was thinking:

29. ...Bxh2 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3 33. Kg4 Bg1 34. Kxh3 Bxf2

...But that he didn't see that the Bishop was still trapped after 35. Bd2! And so, what he was originally thinking was that it would go something like:

29. ...Bxh2 30. g3 h5 32. Ke2 h4 32. gxh4

And White gets the pawn back but he's got an isolated h pawn now. Black probably wouldn't win, but at least he could put on a little pressure and be able to say that he was the one on the offense in Game 1.

Really, the only unbelievable part about it is the inexplicable fascination it holds for people. There's no way that Bxh2 should be the most memorable move of the match, but for some reason it is. It's probably one of the reasons Fischer couldn't keep playing, if every minor miscalculation was going to be treated like the bombing of Hiroshima.

Aug-11-14  Petrosianic: It's odd, but if you asked someone to name the two most memorable moves of the match, they'd surely be the over-criticized Bxh2 and the over-praised Nb1.
Aug-11-14  ughaibu: How about 1.c4 in game six? Or 1..... in game two?
Aug-11-14  Petrosianic: Yeah, I think 1. c4 is one of the really memorable moves. In hindsight, maybe it shouldn't have been. Fischer had played it recently against Polugaevsky, and even experimented with 1. b3 in 1970.

But to see him abandoning 1. P-K4 on such a serious occasion, yeah, it was pretty electrifying. Spassky fell back on his 1969 prep and played the Tartakower, which Fischer was probably expecting. I've always wondered what would have happened if Spassky had returned the surprise and played the Tarrasch Defense (his alternate defense in 1969).

Aug-11-14  Petrosianic: Another thing that made that move so memorable was that at least in the Fischer-Polugaevsky game, Fischer had played a kind of reversed Dragon Sicilian formation which was, at least vaguely kinda sorta in his style. Against Spassky he turned it into a full blown Orthodox Queen's Gambit.
Aug-17-14  coldsweat: It seems to me that little has been said about what actually happened in this startling opening game. For what it's worth, here's my take. Fischer wasn't playing merely for the moment, but for the history books. He was at the peak of his powers. He was there not just to play chess, or even to win the championship, but to play great chess – interesting, creative, daring, innovative, brilliant chess … chess that was provocative and compelling for a much larger swath of humanity. He accomplished this in game 13, sacrificing his bishop and burying his rook so that he could take on Spassky's rook with his pawns and win. Botvinnik called this the “highest creative achievement of Fischer.” Might not Fischer have had an inkling, a foretaste, a premonition of this type of use of his pawns with his ill-fated 29. … Bxh2? In playing through the game, it seems to me that it's not until Spassky's 47.Be3 that Fischer realizes that his e & g pawns are hopelessly lost. So during his deliberations of his 29th move, it's fair to say that his analysis of moves 30 – 47 was faulty – a sequence of some 34 half-moves into the future. And we armchair quarterbacks, using our computers to do our chess thinking for us, criticize him. How ludicrous this is. It isn't inconceivable to me that the distractions Fischer complained about after this game were real enough to him to make him feel that they were impeding him from playing his best chess … and this was unacceptable to him – enough so to make him feel willing to walk away of necessary. But fortunately for all of us, and for future generations, it didn't come to that.
Aug-17-14  RookFile: Topalov does the same thing. He keeps trying to set problems for the opponent, no matter what. In this case, Bxh2 didn't work. It happens.
Aug-29-14  asiduodiego: <Petrosianic> I think the fascination with this move is that it looks ugly. That's it. At first glance the gut reaction is "but g3 wins the bishop, duh" and it's right, but it's not that simple. In the end a nice lesson for beginners in the dangers of pawn grabbing.
Aug-29-14  Everett: <coldsweat: It seems to me that little has been said about what actually happened in this startling opening game>

More like you haven't read the thread thoroughly.

Aug-30-14  howian1: Fischer's B-h2 is one of the strangest moves in history, an obvious blunder quickly seen by even a rank amateur.

No one caculates quicker than a computer and we are amazed that complex combinations are quickly seen. Some say Fischer plays like a computer. Interestingly Fritz 12 does not see Bxh2 as a serious blunder even after 30 seconds of calculation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: <Petrosianac: It's probably one of the reasons Fischer couldn't keep playing, if every minor miscalculation was going to be treated like the bombing of Hiroshima.>

How in the world is that an over criticized blunder? If playing such a patzerish and deservedly criticized move caused Fischer to quit chess......Kramnik missed a mate in one, for crying out loud, and was correctly criticized for it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <coldsweat> With all due respect to Botvinnik, Game 13 is hardly qualified to be called the "highest creative achievement of Fischer"

After all, Spassky blundered away a simple draw at the end


Sep-20-14  ColeTrane: 29...Bxh2???????????¿
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Sally Simpson: Fischer played a bad move no club player would play.

OK I'll give you that. Though it takes another 26, some of them very good moves by Spassky, to prove it. And yet I've seen so called club players make the same blunder under even more severe conditions, like having no Rook's pawn so they cannot even make an attempt to free the trapped Bishop.

On the other hand, Fischer played hundreds (nay thousands) of good moves that no club would ever play.

Let it go.

Sep-21-14  RookFile: Bxh2 is an error, but probably half the people criticizing Fischer think he didn't see g3. Of course he did. What he missed is a move a few moves down the road.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Sep-20-14 ColeTrane: 29...Bxh2???????????¿

<Sep-20-14 Sally Simpson: Sally Simpson: Fischer played a bad move no club player would play...>>

Wrong! Great players can get away with it:
Anand vs Carlsen, 2013
Carlsen played 18...Bx♙a2.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <offramp> Yes, but Carlsen's bishop had an easily seen escape. Fischer's bishop didn't, except perhaps in Fischer's mind. You're not "getting away with anything" if there is nothing to get away from. Now, if Carlsen's bishop was truly trapped and it only got away through a blunder in Anand's part, that would be one thing, but that wasn't the case.
Oct-30-14  MissScarlett: <As the Czech Railways Chess Train rolled around central Europe this month, a veteran Grandmaster revealed the answer to one of chess' most baffling unsolved mysteries.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <MissScarlett> To hear Fischer tell it, he never made a chess blunder in his life. All the errors he made on the chessboard were on purpose.
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