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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
"Crime and Punishment" (game of the day Jul-22-10)
Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972)  ·  Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Poisoned Pawn Variation (B97)  ·  1-0
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Given 51 times; par: 36 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  scutigera: Accidental chess talent hasn't been good enough to get you to the top for decades now (since Capablanca at least); you have to study the work of other masters and understand it thoroughly. So chess skill is the focused ability of an entire intellect, and logically, if skill at chess had much to do with skill at life, you would expect masters to be unusually good at life skills as well: interpersonal relations, love, friendship, health and lifestyle choices, career decisions.

I don't find that this theory describes top masters especially well, certainly not as well as the idea that chess skill is an unnatural obsession that happens to be attractive to a relatively common mindset. Some sufferers are far enough gone that they post essays on life and psychology as comments to old chess games.

May-16-13  Rookiepawn: Well, we will never know whether Fischer would have beaten Karpov had he tried to, truth is: he lost against Karpov, simply because he refused to play, which in my opinion is the worst way of losing. He surely deprived chess of many interest games.

Chess implies, as any competition sport, the responsability of showing up and demostrate you are the best.

This is not being anti-Fischer, who was an exceptional player, it is just fact.

Premium Chessgames Member
  RandomVisitor: After 13.Kh1

click for larger view

Rybka 4.1 x64:

[-0.05] d=28 13...Bd7 14.Nb1 Qb4 15.Qe3 Ne7 16.a3 Qa4 17.Nc3 Qc6 18.Na5 Qc5 19.Qxc5 dxc5 20.Nxb7 Nc6 21.Rab1 Nd4 22.Rfd1 Nxe2 23.Nxe2 Ba4 24.Rb2 Bc6 25.Nc3 f5 26.Na5 Bxe4 27.Nxe4 fxe4 28.Rb7 h4

Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: I think RV's analysis shows that Fischer had a bad day for this game. Certainly his opening judgement was vindicated and his results overall with the poisoned pawn Sicilian were exceptional.
May-19-13  Olavi: In a practical game an attacking player would be unlikely to take the b7 pawn. Nei suggests 17.c4 Rc8 18.Nc3 Qc6 19.Rab1, possibly Spassky's intention as Nei was one of the seconds.
May-16-14  Llew: to say that his overall results were exceptional is a gross understatement - this game is Fischer's ONLY loss(!) in the PP variation. definitely a bad day for greatest of all time
May-16-14  Petrosianic: Technically, Fischer had one other Poisoned Pawn Loss. Against Geller, but Fischer was playing White in that game.

This is his only loss with the variation as Black because he played it so seldom, and, until 1972, only against weaker players. Other than Spassky, Fischer played the line against Parma (+1-0=2), Bilek, Tringov, Mazzoni, and Kavalek. The Kavalek game (a draw) is the most interesting game of that bunch.

May-16-14  Howard: Which Geller game was that ?
May-16-14  SimonWebbsTiger: Fischer-Geller, Monte Carlo 1967.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Petrosianic> <This is his only loss with the variation as Black because he played it so seldom, and, until 1972, only against weaker players.>

He didn't get a lot of chances. Zero chances against super-GMs, with the exception of Spassky. After he started playing the Poison Pawn in 1961, the database shows just 14 games with the position after 7.f4, including three from the 1972 match.

May-16-14  Petrosianic: He got a lot of chances, but his main defense was 7...Be7. Qb6 was one of the secondary lines. Were it the primary line, one would assume there'd be a loss or two prior to 1972.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Petrosianic: He got a lot of chances, but his main defense was 7...Be7.>

Until 1961, yes. He played 7....Be7 a lot in the 50s. But of the 14 games I referenced 1961-1972, 9 were poison pawns (and one of the ...Be7 games transposed to the PPV).

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: There was a running battle with Gligoric in 7....Be7 until Fischer surprised his friend by responding 1....e5 to 1.e4 one day (Gligoric vs Fischer, 1960); thereafter, Gliga opened 1.d4 in their games as White and gave his redoubtable opponent a lot of trouble.
Aug-22-14  ChessYouGood: Good to see dominating play by the superior player, Boris, who had enough faith in his ability to remain competing
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <ChessYouGood: Good to see dominating play by the superior player, Boris....>

Great sense of humour.

<....who had enough faith in his ability to remain competing>

Sure he did--trouble was, after losing the thirteenth game in a titanic battle, he drove his challenger to the wall and could still win no game after this one.

If you consider two games won outright of twenty played, against seven losses, evidence that that player is the stronger, best of luck. You must have been a brilliant debater in your day.

Aug-22-14  Howard: Perhaps what ChessYouGood actually meant was that despite being down by three points going into the 11th game, Spassky nevertheless steeled himself and won.

I'll add this comment---when Spassky jumped to a 2-0 lead, a lot of people no doubt thought that it would be an arduous task for Fischer to overcome that deficit but little was anyone to know...........that for the remainder of the match, Spassky was to win only ONE more game--period !

Be honest---how many people could have anticipated that fact at the time ?

Aug-22-14  Petrosianic: <Be honest---how many people could have anticipated that fact at the time ?>

Suspected it, maybe. Predicted it, probably not. The same thing happened in 1963. After winning Game 1, who would have predicted that Botvinnik would only win one more game? Not many. But you sometimes get extreme results in even a long match, so I doubt anyone was flabbergasted either.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Might be better for us to stick to facts than to take excursions into the thought process of someone who is obviously lacking in knowledge of these great champions.
Aug-25-14  coldsweat: Spassky was a great chess player, the reigning world champion, and this game shows him being strong and creative over the board.

I love his firm refusal to trade pieces with Fischer, which Bobby was desperately trying to make him do. In this, he kept the initiative, and his opponent on his heels.

I love seeing fully developed engagements like this, with pawns advanced deep into enemy territory. Through move 22 there had been only a couple of minor exchanges!

When Boris seemingly sacrificed his Bishop with his twenty-third move, I almost wet my pants! Later, I got the feeling that his 27.Qf6! stunned the beast from Brooklyn.

He outplayed his brash challenger on his own turf, just as he had done to Spassky a few games earlier.

How boring computer-generated games are, at least to me, compared to the creativity of humans struggling against one another such as is displayed here!

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: 'Beast From Brooklyn' is an appellation describing Fischer which, I must confess, never occurred to me.
Aug-26-14  Petrosianic: <When Boris seemingly sacrificed his Bishop with his twenty-third move, I almost wet my pants!>

We really didn't need to know that. Especially since for the players themselves, the game was already over by that point. What did you expect? 23. Qxb5 Bxb5, and White has both Bishop and Exchange hanging?

If Fischer had still had any thought at all of holding the game, why 24...h3, rather than Qxf1+, at least getting a Rook for the Queen instead of giving it up for nothing. When you were soiling yourself, the players were already just going through the motions. The really exciting part had happened earlier.

Aug-22-15  BarcelonaFirenze: can any of you guys explain me the purpose of 11,...,h5, please?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <BarcelonaFirenze: can any of you guys explain me the purpose of 11,...,h5, please?>

After white plays 11.Be2,

click for larger view

he is intending to play 12.Bh5.

click for larger view

Fischer thought that was worth preventing, and he did so by playing 11...h5.

Aug-22-15  Nerwal: <can any of you guys explain me the purpose of 11,...,h5, please?>

It's a standard move in the Rauzer structure with gxf6. The main point is that ♗h5 is annoying in many circumstances :

* when White plays f5 threatening fxe6
* Black cannot go 0-0-0 because f7 hangs
* after 0-0 Black cannot play things like ♔h8 and ♖g8 because f7 hangs again.

That said, in that specific position many strong players have successfully tried to go without h5.

Aug-22-15  BarcelonaFirenze: Offramp, Nerwal, thank you very much.
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