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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


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Black's 12...f5! is a demolition of pawn structure combination or decisive obstruction or interference move, setting up 22...Bxd5 and 26...Bg7 for a winning attack on White's weakened castled position, utilizing the pin tactic as a deflection to force a won king and pawn ending.
Aug-03-05  euripides: <offramp> thanks for sharing that insight with us.
Aug-03-05  RookFile: Well, I let Fritz run for a while,
it likes 23. Qf3 or Qe2, but evaluates
it as slight advantage to white.
Aug-03-05  RookFile: So, in other words, white played
an opening and had a slight advantage.
Is this supposed to be a surprise?

The lack of depth of Spassky's knowledge in this opening, compared to Fischer's can be shown by 23. e5.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <euripides: <offramp> thanks for sharing that insight with us.> It was absolutely no problem!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After 22...h5 white seems to have much the better of it - he has an extra pawn and it looks like he has a much better position. 23.e5 looks a bit premature. Perhaps something like 23.Rd2 might have been better.
Aug-26-05  LIFE Master AJ: <all> I have studied this game many times. One of the best examples of annotation of this game can be found in GM Robert Byrne's and Ivo Nei's book: "Both Sides of The Chessboard."

I am also - relatively sure - that, when this game was first played, that 12.Qg3! was new to theory. (Part of the prepared arsenal of opening weapons - and surprises! - that the Soviet contigent brought to this match, in the hopes of defeating Bobby Fiscer.)

It was PRECISELY because of the MANY TN's ... that Fischer began to vary his play! It was when he began to play opening lines that he had never played before ... he began to show the depth of his genius. (The Russians were completely unprepared for this match strategy by Bobby. There is a famous cover of 'Chess Life and Review' ... that turned out to be prophetic: "But Boris ... what if he doesn't play 1.P-K4?")

Dec-12-06  joelsontang: after black's 12...0-0-0, according to 'basic chess openings' by gabor kallai, white has 13.Bxb5 followed by Ndxb5 and says that white is very much better'not to mention 12...0-0-0 is a mistake and black had to play 12...b4 in response to white's 12.Qg3. any opinion to share?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Here is an example.

Velimirovic vs R K Al Kazzaz, 1974

Feb-01-08  uhooru: All I remember was probably Fine or somebody else remarking that the interest in this game was that Fischer gave up a pond to obtain an "ideal" position for his minor pieces in the Sicilian, Knight on c5, bishop on the a1-h8 diagonal and white biship on the a8-h1 diagonal. And that Spassky basically came up with amazing exact defense to save the game.I didn't see the analysis of the day criticizing the play of either.
Feb-29-08  Knight13: <what about the next move, on 29 Nxe6? brillance or madness?> Neither;


Jul-15-08  CharlesSullivan: As late as move 38, Fischer had a convincing win with 38...♖d1! and now [A] 39.♕c7 ♕xg5 40.♖b4 ♕d5+ 41.♖c4 ♖b1+ 42.♔a3 a5 43.♕c5+ ♔a6 44.♕xd5 ♗xd5 wins--for example: 45.♖h4 ♖b3+ 46.♔a2 ♖xc3+ 47.♔b2 ♖b3+ 48.♔c2 ♔b6 is hopeless for White; or [B] 39.♖d4 ♕b1+ 40.♔c4 ♕a2+ 41.♔b4 ♖b1+ 42.♔c5 ♖b6! 43.♕d7 ♕a3+ 44.♔c4 ♕b3+ 45.♔d3 ♕d1+ 46.♔e3 ♕e1+ 47.♔d3 (if 47.Kf4 then e5+) 47...♕f1+ 48.♔e3 ♖b2! is decisive.
Jul-15-08  CharlesSullivan: Spassky's last chance to draw was 31.♔a1 when best play is 31...♖d2 32.♖b1 ♕c6! 33.♖b2 ♕h1+ 34.♗b1 ♖xb2 35.♔xb2 ♘a4+ 36.♔a1 ♕c1 37.♕h8+ ♔a7 38.♕d4+ ♔a8 39.♕d8+ draw. Timman gives some faulty analysis after 31.♔a1 ♖d2 32.♖b1 ♕a5 33.♕h8+ ♔a7 34.♖b2 e5 35.♕h6 when he claims that "Black can force the draw with 35...♘b3+!" He continues with 36.♖xb3 ♖xc2

click for larger view

But White now has 37.♖xb7+! instead of Timman's 37.a3, picking up the loose c2-rook after both 37...♔xb7 ♕h7+ and 37...♔a8 38.♖a7+! ♔b8 39.♕h8+ ♔xa7 40.♕h7+ -- a clear win.

Jan-19-09  M.D. Wilson: Looks like Fischer forced the draw here.
Jan-25-09  WhiteRook48: what? Fischer was playing for a DRAW?? He usually never does that. Nice perpetual
Jan-31-09  elAurens: Spassky took 7 minutes to play his first 12 moves, including the novelty 12 Qg3. So that was his home preparation. Fischer used 29 minutes on his 0-0-0 reply. Spassky then took 22 minutes on his 13th, which was Bxf6. And Fischer took another 19 minutes choosing how to recapture. One hour and ten minutes were used for just these three moves. You can see all the times at
May-04-09  WhiteRook48: great save by Fischer
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: In the position after 36. Re4:

click for larger view

Euwe and Timman in “Fischer World Champion!” (3rd edition, New in Chess ©2009) analyze <36...Bc6>, which suggestion they attribute to Korchnoi. One variation they analyze runs 37.Rb4 Bxa4+ 38.Kc1 Rd1+ 39.Kb2 Bb5! 40.Qg7+ Kb6 41.Kc2 Qa1 with a winning attack in this resulting position (with White to move, but there is no defense):

click for larger view

There is no defense to the threatened 42. ... Qc1+ 43.Kb3 Qb1+ 44.Ka3 Qa1+ 45.Kb3 Rb1+ 46.Kc2 Qa2+ with mate next move.

Another line they analyze runs as follows: 37.Nf3 Bxa4+ 38.Kb2 Rd1 39.Rb4 Bb5 40.Qg7+ Kb6 with this resulting position (with White to move):

click for larger view

Of this position, Euwe and Timman say (ibid. at page 140): “ … and White cannot exploit the slightly better position of his knight and will lose as in [the variation given above]". This is not correct, however, because after 41.Kc2 Qa1, White can exploit the fact that his knight has vacated the g5-square by playing 42.Qg5 to defend against the check on c1. I do not think that Black (on move) is then winning in this position:

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: To summarize the key conclusion from my prior comment, against Korchnoi's suggested <36. ... Bc6>, White would still have been able to hold the draw in the line beginning with <37. Nf3!>.
Mar-07-11  hottyboy90: What error/s did Spassky make for Fischer to be able to force a draw,I think Spasskys Rb4 is an error and I am not entirely sure of what it does.
Sep-14-11  talisman: <what error> ♖b4 sets up mate...spassky looking great in the opening-♕g3, wins pawn. after move 13 bobby has 3 ways to retake...all bad. spassky is probably winning until move 23.e5? e5 deserves the ?...and he took 20 minutes on it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <....I am also - relatively sure - that, when this game was first played, that 12.Qg3! was new to theory...>

This was indeed a novelty, and in subsequent games, both 12....0-0-0 and 12....b4 were played.

<...There is a famous cover of 'Chess Life and Review' ... that turned out to be prophetic: "But Boris ... what if he doesn't play 1.P-K4?")>

That cover was great!

<hottyboy90: What error/s did Spassky make for Fischer to be able to force a draw,I think Spasskys Rb4 is an error and I am not entirely sure of what it does.>

The errors in this middlegame were largely by Fischer-it was he who let slip the win, as noted above.

Spassky's 40.Rb4 is far from being an error; it is the only move to avoid loss, despite his two extra pawns.

If Black were instead on move, he would play 40....Qc1+ followed by 41....Rd2, which is winning.

Mar-08-13  Hesam7: Spassky's mistakes:

A) 29 Qh5? White loses all his advantage, he had to opt for 29 Qf1 instead.

B) 31 Kc1? now White is losing, 31 Ka1 would have kept the game equal.

Fischer was winning from the 31st move until the very end when he forced a draw and in the meantime he missed several easier wins, chief among them: 33...Na4!.

Jan-02-16  Howard: Between Charles Sullivan's analysis and also Kursten Mueller's book on Fischer's games, it appears that Fischer missed at least 2-3 forced wins in this game.
Jan-06-17  Howard: If I remember correctly, Soltis once had a position after White's 38th move in his monthly "find the win" column, in which (back then) he'd present nine positions in which readers would attempt to find-the-win.

More specifically, one of his columns, back around 1984, presented nine positions from WC matches in which a player MISSED a win. In the case of this game, I believe Soltis claimed that 38...Ka8 would have won...

...except some sources point out that 39.Qe5! would have held the draw.

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