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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972), Reykjavik ISL, rd 15, Aug-17
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Main Line (B99)  ·  1/2-1/2
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Yes...

"This is STILL the GREATEST CHESS MATCH ever tho ."

***

Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <"So gotta say these games in this match after game 11 are Bobby just coasting and not the true hungry Bobby.">

I don't know why Harry insults his hero (and Spassky) that way. The only game that Fischer could be accused of coasting in is #20.

Incidentally, Stockfish finds 13.Bxb5! in 20 seconds. This is why you tend not to see sharp openings like this at the top level anymore....

Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi K.P.

I don't think it's an insult, he has an opinion which it appears both of us think is wrong.

True after game 13 there were 7 draws which is possibly the longest sequence of back to back draws in Fischer's tournament career. (that is a good guess BTW.)

But these were tough games with Fischer as Black dodging Geller's minefields.

"Stockfish finds 13.Bxb5! in 20 seconds."

Fischer sensed the danger and obviously thought he could handle the 13.Bxb5 sac. He took 29 minutes to play 12...0-0-0. Spassky then spent 22 minutes rejecting it. Up to here he had used only 7 minutes.

20 seconds is long time in computer jargon. It tells me there was a lot going on and it was not too obvious. I would have been more impressed with 1.25 seconds, then we really are talking about a missed shot.

***

Oct-18-18  RookFile: You probably aren't cruising if you play the Najdorf Sicilian. Just a thought.
Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <sally simpson>

<"Stockfish finds 13.Bxb5! in 20 seconds."

Fischer sensed the danger and obviously thought he could handle the 13.Bxb5 sac. He took 29 minutes to play 12...0-0-0. Spassky then spent 22 minutes rejecting it. Up to here he had used only 7 minutes.

20 seconds is long time in computer jargon. It tells me there was a lot going on and it was not too obvious. I would have been more impressed with 1.25 seconds, then we really are talking about a missed shot.>

Totally agree, it's not a missed shot by any means. Velmirovic, who specialized in this sort of thing, found 13.Bxb5 in the comfort of his study and then unleashed on an unsuspecting opponent in the 1974 Olympiad.

Velimirovic vs R Q M Al-Qazzaz, 1974

That's the way it used to go in these sharp, heavily-analyzed systems in the days before engines.

Some people continued to play Spassky's way even after the Velmirovic game, R Blumenfeld vs F Street, 1976, and Danny Gormally actually managed to win a game after walking in to 13.Bxb5.

J Anderson vs D Gormally, 2007

Pointing out that SF finds 13.Bxb5 in 20 seconds is not meant to denigrate Fischer and Spassky; it just shows how strong engines have gotten, and how dangerous it is for strong GMs to play sharp, heavily analyzed lines in the engine age.

Oct-18-18  SChesshevsky: 13. Bxb5, yeah it seems today computers have eliminated the possibility of a dubious sac. At least in the opening.

Now, if you think your opponent might be computered up, you almost have to decline any sac so as not to probably be lost by move 20.

Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <harrylime:

After the loss in game 11 Bobby went into CRUISING MODE ...>

Going 6-0, 6-0, in the Candidates,
Fischer didn't have a "cruising mode."

Recently supplied computer analysis, has shown the draws to be complex/active fights.

Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sally Simpson> 20 seconds is long time in computer jargon.> (part 1 of 2)

Not necessarily, it depends on what the computer is doing. If, as in this case, it's analyzing the proper move for White to play after 12...0-0-0 then this is how far my admittedly ancient computer (32-bits, 4-cores, 2.66 GHz clock speed, 4 GB RAM, 1024 KB hash table, MPV=3, and no opening book) and 3 different engines evaluated <in this analysis (I'll skip my usual multi-core engine non-determinism diatribe)> as their principal variation in approximately 20 seconds' analysis of the position:


click for larger view

<Stockfish 9>: [+0.90], d=21, 00:00:18: 13.Bxb5 axb5 14.Ndxb5 Qb6 15.e5 Nc5 16.exf6 gxf6 17.Bh6 Bc6 18.Nd4 Rhg8 19.Qh3 Rd7 20.g4 d5 21.b4 Ne4 22.b5 Nf2 23.Qg3 Ba3+ 24.Kb1 Nxd1 25.Rxd1 Rd6 26.Qf2 Bc5 27.Na4

Stockfish evaluated several different moves as top move during its first approximately 20 seconds of calculation. Stockfish first identified 13.Bxb5 as its top move at d=11 after less than 1 second of calculation and maintained it as it top move through d=13, but reverted to considering 13.Bxf6 as its top move at d=14. It then re-identified 13.Bxb5 as it top move at d=15 and maintained it as its top move until d=19 but reverted back to identifying 13.Bxf6 as it top move at d=20, reverting back to identifying 13.Bxb5 as its top move at d=21 and maintaining it as top move through d=22 after 25 seconds of calculation.

<Houdini 6>: [+0.41], d=14, 00:00:16: 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Qxg7 Rdf8 15.Qg3 Qb6 16.Qe3 h5 17.a4 b4 18.Nce2 Nd7 19.Rh1 Kb8 20.g3 Nc5 21.b3

Houdini never identified13.Bxb5as its top move in its approximately first 20 seconds of calculation.

<Komodo 12.1>: [+0.93], d=16, 00:00:19: 13.Bxf6 gxf6 14.Qg7 Rhf8 15.Nxe6 fxe6 16.Qxe7 Rde8 17.Qxh7 Rh8 18.Qf7 Nc5 19.Qxc7+ Kxc7 20.b4 Nxd3+ 21.Rxd3 Rxh2 22.Red1 Rg8 23.g3 Rd8 24.Kb2 Bc6 25.a3 Rg2 26.Kb3.

Komodo never identified 13.Bxb5 as its top move in its approximately first 20 seconds of calculation.

If you assume that most more modern computers are at least twice as fast as mine, here's how far my computer got in approximately 40 seconds which would be the rough equivalent of how far the more modern computer would get in approximately 20 seconds:

<Stockfish 9>: [+0.97], d=24, 00:00:55: 13.Bxb5 axb5 14.Ndxb5 Qb6 15.e5 Nc5 16.exf6 gxf6 17.Bh6 Rhg8 18.Qh3 f5 19.Qh5 Rg6 20.Bg5 Bxg5 21.fxg5 Ba6 22.a4 Nxa4 23.Nxd6+ Rxd6 24.Nxa4 Rxd1+ 25.Qxd1 Qf2 26.g3 Rxg5 27.Re5

Stockfish consistently considered 13.Bxb5 as its top move at least until d=25 after a calculation time of 00:01:28. At that time it evaluated the resulting position at [+0.82].

<Houdini 6>: [+0.40], d=15, 00:00:36: 13.Bxb5 axb5 14.Ndxb5 Qa5 15.e5 Rhg8 16.exd6 Bf8 17.f5 e5 18.Kb1 Rh8 19.a3 Bc6 20.Qd3 Kb7

Houdini first identified 13.Bxb5 as its top move at d=15 after approximately 30 seconds of calculation, but reverted to considering 13.Bxf6 as its top move at d=16 and d=17 after a calculation time of 00:01:29

<Komodo 12.1>: [+0.61], d=17, 00:00:44: 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Qxg7 Rdf8 15.Qg3 Qb6 16.Be2 Rfg8 17.Qf3 Kb8 18.a3 Ng4 19.h3 Bf6 20.hxg4 Bxd4 21.Qd3 Bf2 22.Rf1 Qe3+ 23.Qxe3 Bxe3+ 24.Kb1 Rd8

Komodo still did not identify 13.Bxb5 as its top move in its first 40 seconds of calculation. It did not first do so until d=19 after a calculation time of 00:01:06, evaluating the resulting position at [+0.70]. It maintained that assessment at d=20 after 00:01:51 minutes of calculation.

Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Sally Simpson> 20 seconds is long time in computer jargon.> (part 2 of 2)

So, a few points I would like to make:

1. In order to determine what the top move is in any position, it's not sufficient for an engine to identify it as such; it must <continue> to identify it as such for the rest of its analysis, or at least until their position evaluation stabilizes.

2. In the first approximately 20 seconds of calculation Stockfish, Houdini, and Komodo reached search depths of 22, 14, and 16 ply respectively. After approximately 40 seconds of calculation Stockfish, Houdini, and Komodo reached search depths of 23, 15, and 17 ply respectively. And after approximately 60 seconds of calculation Stockfish, Houdini, and Komodo reached search depths of 24, 16, and 19 ply respectively. And throughout these intervals the move that each engine considered its top move changed several times. In order to have a reasonable amount of confidence as to what an engine considers its top move you typically have to let the analysis run longer than these search depths until you <know> that the engines' evaluations have stabilized. FWIW, I don't attach much credibility to these engines' evaluation until they reach search depths in the high 20s or low 30s (Houdini, Komodo) or high 30s or low 40s (Stockfish). And even than, I have to verify that their position evaluation has stabilized. And, needless to say, you have to take the multi-core engines' non-determinism into account.

3. Chess engines, if they are not using an opening book, do not have any historical knowledge about a particular position. But humans do. And for probably close to 100 years, certainly more than 50 years (from personal experience), with Sicilian Defense positions with Black pawns on a6 and b5, with the Pb5 unprotected by any Black pieces, and with both White knights (and sometimes only one) and White's LSB attacking Black's Pb5, the consequences of the sacrifices N(either knight)xb5 and Bxb5 must <always> be considered. If you are not doing so, you have no business playing either side of these positions in the Sicilian Defense.

So I'm reasonably certain that both Fischer and Spassky considered the consequences of either of these 3 sacrifices since at least 10...b5 and possibly even earlier. So I think you are right, Fischer obviously thought that he could handle the 13.Bxb5 sac (or 13.Ncxb5 or 13.Ndxb5 sacs) and Spassky spent a relatively long time rejecting them. And they both were apparently technically wrong, at least as far as these 3 engines are concerned.

And their decisions are not understandable to me. This was the 15th game of the match and after 14 games Fischer led by a score of 8.5 – 5.5 so he needed only 4 points in this and the next 9 games to secure the title. So it seems to me that the pragmatic thing to do was to avoid unanalyzed complications that might lead to a loss. Then again, according to <diceman> above, "Fischer didn't have a 'cruising mode'". So I have no right to criticize, I have never become WC.

Conversely, Spassky needed 6.5 points in this and the next 9 games to retain the title (the champion kept his title in case of a tie match, 12-12) so I would have thought that he needed to take some risks to reduce his deficit. No question in my mind what Tal in his prime would have done. And at least he <did> become WC.

But I wasn't playing in a WCC match then (and neither were these engines) and certainly a match with such pressure on both participants. So what I think is not relevant, and the engines don't think, they just calculate. Both Fischer and Spassky thought they each made the best decision (as did these engines :-) ). So be it.

Oct-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<SChesshevsky> 13. Bxb5, yeah it seems today computers have eliminated the possibility of a dubious sac. At least in the opening.>

I'm optimistic that, as computers (hardware and software) become even more powerful, that the opinion of some sacs that were previously considered dubious will be reversed. Particularly if (gasp!) the opinion of the dubiousness of those sacs was based on faulty computer analysis. Yeah, it does happen.

<Now, if you think your opponent might be computered up, you almost have to decline any sac so as not to probably be lost by move 20.>

Not if you are even bettered computered up than your opponent. :-) Imagine the shock to your opponent when he offers a sac that his computer preparation indicated was unacceptable and then you not only proceed to accept it and crush him anyway.

Oct-18-18  SChesshevsky: <AylerKupp Not if you are even bettered computered up than your opponent.>

True. I guess I'll be forced to put up the big bucks for AlphaZero v2.0 whenever it becomes available. Google seems like reasonable folks. How much do you think they'll charge? :-)

Oct-19-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ayler kupp>

<So I'm reasonably certain that both Fischer and Spassky considered the consequences of either of these 3 sacrifices since at least 10...b5 and possibly even earlier. So I think you are right, Fischer obviously thought that he could handle the 13.Bxb5 sac (or 13.Ncxb5 or 13.Ndxb5 sacs) and Spassky spent a relatively long time rejecting them. And they both were apparently technically wrong, at least as far as these 3 engines are concerned.

And their decisions are not understandable to me. This was the 15th game of the match and after 14 games Fischer led by a score of 8.5 – 5.5 so he needed only 4 points in this and the next 9 games to secure the title. So it seems to me that the pragmatic thing to do was to avoid unanalyzed complications that might lead to a loss. Then again, according to <diceman> above, "Fischer didn't have a 'cruising mode'". So I have no right to criticize, I have never become WC.

Conversely, Spassky needed 6.5 points in this and the next 9 games to retain the title (the champion kept his title in case of a tie match, 12-12) so I would have thought that he needed to take some risks to reduce his deficit. No question in my mind what Tal in his prime would have done. And at least he <did> become WC.>

Re Fischer, I don't think there is anything to add to diceman's comment. Re Spassky, I would stress that the fact that he didn't sacrifice a piece didn't mean he was playing it safe. 13.Bxf6 Nxf6 14.Qxg7 wins a pawn, though Black certainly gets counterchances. Many annotators at the time thought Spassky's continuation was best and that it essentially gave him a winning position that he messed up later, though Charles Sullivan's kibitz from 10/14/18 seems to show that it's all not so clear.

The back history of the opening may interest you, if you don't already know it.

Fischer, of course, was famous for his fidelity to a narrow opening repertoire, and in particular to the Najdorf Sicilian with Black. He was particularly known for upholding the black side of the Poisoned Pawn Variation, but 7....Be7, as in this game, had been part of his arsenal since the 1950s, and by no means indicated pacific intent on his part (see, e.g. Minic vs Fischer, 1970).

Fischer had played the PPV twice already in the match, and been clobbered the second time, in game 11 (Spassky vs Fischer, 1972). So it was almost predictable that he would play 7....Be7 in his next Najdorf Sicilian, which was this game.

The Soviets had obviously prepared Spassky's novelty, 12.Qg3. But it seems at least possible that they hadn't foreseen, or hadn't really figured out, what to do in case Fischer played 12.....0-0-0, given the thinking times as reported by <sally simpson> below. (This is somewhat surprising, but Fischer wasn't particular prone to pawn sacrifices. 12....b4 later became standard -- maybe they concentrated on that.) And apparently they hadn't worked out 13.Bxb5.

Libraries have been written about the Fischer-Spassky match, of course, so maybe one of the books explains exactly what the Soviets had and hadn't prepared.

Oct-19-18  SChesshevsky: Looks like the early Qg3 idea got a good test in the 1957 USSR Championships with pretty good play.

Keres vs Aronin, 1957

A Bannik vs Petrosian, 1957

Spassky even faced it

V Mikenas vs Spassky, 1957

Tal sprung it on Fischer in 1959 with a seemingly decent game

Tal vs Fischer, 1959

Seemed to show promise even with Velimirovic losing to Bronstein in 1970

Velimirovic vs Bronstein, 1970

I'm not sure why it wasn't more common prior to 1972?

Oct-19-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <keypusher> I would say that Spassky's failure to play 13.Bxb5 meant that he was playing it <relatively> safe. Sure, 13.Bxf6 was a good move and as I pointed out earlier both Houdini and Komodo considered it the best move at low ply and Stockfish, also at low ply, waffled between 13.Bxf6 and 13.Bxb5 as to which move was better. And, as you said, 13.Bxf6 does win a pawn so if one has to choose whether to play 13.Bxf6 and win a pawn or 13.Bxb5 and sacrifice a piece for 2 pawns I would definitely say that 13.Bxf6 was the safer move, particularly if you haven't done much if any home analysis of either one. Perhaps it was because Spassky had a choice of moves that led him to choose the safer one. After all, if he didn't have any good alternatives, then he would probably had played 13.Bxb5.

The position after 13.Bxf6 is a complex one. In addition to 13...Nxf6 Black has 2 other reasonable, or at least not unreasonable, ways to recapture, 13..Bxf6 and 13...gxf6. I ran a quick analysis with Stockfish 9 and at low ply (d=28) it considered 13...Nxf6 superior (but not by much), evaluating the resulting position at [+0.62] compared with 13...gxf6 [+0.68] and 13...Bxf6 [+0.78]. Practically interchangeable for all practical purposes. And, FWIW, after 13...Bxf6 Stockfish considers 14.Bxb5 best. But as we both know, the Sicilian, and the Najdorf variation in particular, is a rich and complex opening where both sides have winning chances. I'll assume that Spassky was not surprised that Fischer played it against 1.e4.

Speaking of the Najdorf, do you know how it got its name? The first game I was able to find with the characteristic position was Yates vs Tartakower, 1926 which reached the characteristic position by transposition after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 a6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6. Najdorf was 16 years old when this game was played. But the Wikipedia article on Najdorf says that he was tutored by Dawid Prezpiórka and (drum roll) Savielly Tartakower, and that he always referred to Tartakower as "my teacher". So maybe they collaborated on a way to improve Black's game from Tartakower's loss to Yates.

My favorite story about the Najdorf (which I faced often during my playing days since I was usually a 1.e4 (or, in those days, 1.P-K4) player although I seldom played it as Black) was during the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955) when Najdorf, Panno, and Pilnik went down in defeat after springing the prepared TN...g5 against Keres, Geller, and Spassky.

Oct-19-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <SChesshevsky> Qg3 is (or at least was) also common (or at least not uncommon) move in the Scheveningen variation of the Sicilian but there it typically happens after both sides have 0-0, White plays f2-f4 and continues with Qd1-e1-g3. The earliest game I was able to find that reached that position was Averbakh vs. Kalgorodov, 1950 (not in Opening Explorer) but it might have occurred with slightly different move sequences in earlier games. The idea, of course, is to allow the queen to participate in the k-side attack and support e4-e5.
Oct-20-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

K.P mentioned the number of books about this match. I wonder how many there actually are.

Some comments regarding this position and Fischer’s pawn sacrifice.

14.Qxg7


click for larger view

This is just a selection of the books I have on this match. (these are those I could quickly lay my hands on. I have others...somewhere...)

Evans and Smith: ‘Fischer - Spassky, Move by Move.’

“No matter how he twists and turns Black must give up a pawn. In compensation he gets the two Bishops as well as good placement for his minor pieces. Nonetheless a pawn is a pawn.”

Golombek ‘Fischer v Spassky’

“An interesting pawn sacrifice that at once enlivens the position from Black’s angle.”

Purdy: ‘How Fischer Won’

“Black hasn’t very clear compensation for his pawn - just the initiative and prospect of getting Spassky to use up a lot of his 2½ hours at an early stage.”

Reshevsky: ‘The Fischer - Spassky Games’

“The question is what did Black have for the pawn? The answer is that he had nothing for it.”

Alexander: ‘Fischer-Spassky Reykjavik 1972’

“This has been widely referred to as an interesting sacrifice - but Black must lose a pawn and this is much the best way to do so.”

Perhaps others can add to this list from other books they have on hand.

***

Oct-20-18  Howard: The "book" that Reshevsky wrote was hardly worth the paper it was printed on, in my view.

What about Gligoric's book? What did that have to say about 14.Qxd7. That was a decent book, as I recall.

Oct-20-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Howard,

Do not have the Gligoric book on hand. It's very popular, someone else will post what it has to say about 14.Qxg7.

Reshevsky also appears on the cover of 'Fischer - Spassky' Report on the chess match of the century along with Rischard Roberts, Harold C, Schonberg, Al Horowitz and Samuel Rehevsky.

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon...

They say, page 164:

"It did not appear as if he [Fischer] had obtained sufficient counterplay for the pawn."

***

Oct-20-18  Howard: The Richard Roberts book was actually the first book I got on the match! It was excellent as far as biographic info, off-the-board shenanigans during the match, and how Fischer (and Spassky) qualified for the match.

But the "annotations" were very, very sparse !!!

Oct-20-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi Howard,

Just did a search for the Gligoric book. No joy as yet but I did find other books I was looking for weeks ago!

Cannot recall my first Fischer-Spassky book. Think it was Alexander's but not too sure.

Maybe some of the foreign lads might let us know what their non-English books say on the pawn sac.

Edward Winter, always my first port of call when I want to foind out something (how many books on this match were written) has a whole page dedicated to the match with some very interesting reading including a paragraph on the books written in English and mentioning other languages.

http://www.chesshistory.com/winter/...

"...three books on the Spassky v Fischer match, by Alexander, Gligoriæ and Horowitz/Reshevsky, ‘were on sale in Britain within a fortnight of the close of play’. Alexander’s was considered the best."

Apparently a 100 copies of Purdy's book, 'How Fischer Won.' was shipped to Skopje and got lost.

Next time you are at the Skopje airport wander into lost property and see if they are there.

***

Oct-20-18  Muttley101: <harrylime: After the loss in game 11 Bobby went into CRUISING MODE ... After all , he'd already given/gifted Boris a two game head start ...

So gotta say these games in this match after game 11 are Bobby just coasting and not the true hungry Bobby.>

Fischer coasting after game 11? Complete tosh, refuted by Fischer's own words- he commented after the match that he was exhausted because he really felt the pressure of Spassky's play in the second half of the match. He was fighting pretty much all the way.

Oct-20-18  RookFile: I remember the Gligoric book. What he said is black has his pieces on the ideal squares for the Najdorf. Then he asks if black is lost or if he has equal chances, and says it is hard to tell, even for an expert.
Oct-21-18  DWINS: <Sally Simpson, Howard>,

Gligoric says, "... Black may hope for some counterplay as compensation for the lost pawn."

My favorite book of the match is "Both Sides of the Chessboard" by Robert Byrne and Ivo Nei and they say referring to 13.Bxf6, "This move should have won the game, since it forces the gain of a pawn."

Oct-21-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

Thanks DWINS,

Anybody want to hazard an educated guess on how many books have been about this match.

His books, documentaries, articles...have their own wiki page.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_...

I make it about 10-12 in English on the match. It does not list non-English books.

Oct-22-18  RookFile: White wins a pawn. Golly, that's so simple. Whatever could Fischer have been thinking?

Silliness. The analysis itself is incomplete. If you want to be honest, you would say something like:

"White wins a pawn. Black gets the two bishops. White cedes some control of the dark squares over to black. Black will get a tempo hitting the queen when he puts his rook on the half open file. Lots of pieces on the board. Position murky and unclear."

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