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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-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???????????¿
Sep-20-14  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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Jan-21-15  G Kasparov: It wasn't 30.g3 that Fischer missed, it was 32.Kf3 that he missed. Fischer thought he would play 32.Kf1.


Kasparov vs Topalov, 1999

Jan-21-15  Petrosianic: It wasn't 32. Kf3 that he missed either.

The consensus at the time seemed to be that Fischer had counted on 30. g3 h5 31. Ke2 h4 32. Kf3 h3 34. Kg4 Bf1 35. Kxh3 Bxh2, but that he overlooked that White now has 36. Bd2!, keeping the Bishop trapped.

Jan-21-15  G Kasparov: MAYBE YOUR RIGHT!!


P Frazer vs Taubenhaus, 1888

Jan-24-15  Helmy: Does 31. Ke2 g5! Fischer forcing a draw?
Jan-24-15  DWINS: <Helmy: Does 31. Ke2 g5! Fischer forcing a draw?>

What is the point of 31...g5 and why do you give it an exclamation point? It does nothing to prevent Spassky from bringing his King to g2 and capturing Fischer's bishop.

Jan-24-15  SimonWebbsTiger: As noted before, possibly the best reference work on this endgame is chapter 8 of "Analysing the Endgame" by Jon Speelman (revised edition, Batsford 1988). Curiously, Jan Timman makes no mention of Speelman's work in the new edition of his book on the match. ("Fischer World Champion!", Euwe and Timman, New in Chess, 2002.)

31...g5 was not sufficient to draw.

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