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Fischer - Taimanov Candidates Quarterfinal Match

Robert James Fischer6/6(+6 -0 =0)[games]
Mark Taimanov0/6(+0 -6 =0)[games] Chess Event Description
Fischer - Taimanov Candidates Quarterfinal (1971)

About five months after the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970) qualifier was held, the first stage (the quarterfinals) of the Candidates matches was held in four cities in May 1971. In Vancouver, Canada there was a 10 game match between Mark Taimanov and Bobby Fischer, played May 16th - June 1st. Fischer sensationally won the match with a perfect score of 6-0, thereby proceeding to the Fischer - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1971). After the event, Taimanov was reported to have said, "At least I still have my music." He wasn't being merely melodramatic: the consequences of this loss were to haunt him for years. In an interview with Joel Lautier, Taimanov later recounted:

"Until the match with Fischer in 1971, everything went smoothly in my chess career. This dramatic match changed my life into hell."

"As Fischer himself admitted at the time, the final score did not reflect the true balance of strength. The terrible feeling that I was playing against a machine which never made any mistake shattered my resistance. Fischer would never concede any weakening of his position, he was an incredibly tough defender. The third game proved to be the turning point of the match. After a pretty tactical sequence, I had managed to set my opponent serious problems. In a position that I considered to be winning, I could not find a way to break through his defenses. For every promising idea, I found an answer for Fischer, I engrossed myself in a very deep think which did not produce any positive result. Frustrated and exhausted, I avoided the critical line in the end and lost the thread of the game, which lead to my defeat eventually. Ten years later, I found at last how I should have won that fatal game, but unfortunately, it didn't matter anymore! I have written a book about this match, entitled How I Became Fischer's Victim, it represents an essay on the American player and describes how I perceived his style and personality, once the match was over."

"The sanctions from the Soviet government were severe. I was deprived of my civil rights, my salary was taken away from me, I was prohibited from travelling abroad and censored in the press. It was unthinkable for the authorities that a Soviet grandmaster could lose in such a way to an American, without a political explanation. I therefore became the object of slander and was accused, among other things, of secretly reading books of Solzhenitsin. I was banned from society for two years, it was also the time when I separated from my first wife, Lyubov Bruk." (1)

Lumber industry magnate and Canadian Chess Federation president John Prentice was associated with the sponsorship and organizational duties of the event. Elod Macskasy and Peter Biyiasas brought the moves onto a wall-board display at the University of British Columbia. (2) For a contemporary report, see

(1) Chessbase interview in 2002,

Original collection: Game Collection: WCC Index (Fischer-Taimanov 1971), by User: Hesam7.

 page 1 of 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Taimanov vs Fischer 0-1401971Fischer - Taimanov Candidates QuarterfinalE97 King's Indian
2. Fischer vs Taimanov 1-0891971Fischer - Taimanov Candidates QuarterfinalB44 Sicilian
3. Taimanov vs Fischer 0-1421971Fischer - Taimanov Candidates QuarterfinalE97 King's Indian
4. Fischer vs Taimanov 1-0711971Fischer - Taimanov Candidates QuarterfinalB47 Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation
5. Taimanov vs Fischer 0-1471971Fischer - Taimanov Candidates QuarterfinalD80 Grunfeld
6. Fischer vs Taimanov 1-0431971Fischer - Taimanov Candidates QuarterfinalB44 Sicilian
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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May-21-15  TheFocus: <No, I don’t think so, but I probably shouldn’t have lost by such a score. Fischer himself conceded that. He said the result didn’t correspond to the way the struggle went in the match, and that by the sixth game in his opinion the score should have been no more than 3½–2½ in his favor. But the psychological factor played a role. It was the first time I was encountering not a playing partner, but a computer that didn’t make mistakes> - Mark Taimanov, in answer to the question “Do you nevertheless think that you had chances of winning your match against Bobby Fischer?”
May-21-15  Petrosianic: It's an odd comment considering that computers in those days played at about 1200 strength, if they were lucky.
May-21-15  TheFocus: But Fischer was the precursor to modern computers.

You could say that computers play Fischer-like.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Petrosianic> Maybe that question was asked to Taimanov much later than immediately after the end of the match, kind of like a retrospective, and by that time computers were much stronger than at the time of the match.

And I'm sure that many opponents had similar feelings about playing Capablanca in his prime even though computers had not been invented yet; Capablanca was referred to as "the machine".

May-21-15  Petrosianic: In those days, you'd think "The Chess Machine" would summon up images of Ajeeb and Mephisto. Except that those didn't play flawlessly.
Jul-01-15  SpiritedReposte: Paraphrasing I think Botvinnik "Fischers real test will be against the strong GM Bent Larsen, where a 6-0 result will not be possible as it was with Taimonov" lol oops.
Dec-18-15  thegoodanarchist: <A.T PhoneHome: ...

People say that Fischer was suffering from cold or something like that during the games 1-5 against Petrosian. To me that's utter bollocks>

I have been reading this entire page and really enjoyed all the comments, but this statement is just not right at all.

People get sick - colds happen. I got a cold on the last day of a tournament one time. I was new to tournament chess and didn't know that I could withdraw. I played the worst game of my tournament career because I had no energy and couldn't focus.

Who are you to judge if the report is correct or not? You presume to know more than the people who were eyewitnesses to history. Such a claim is not reasonable.

Clearly TVP was superior to Larsen and Taimanov, so better competition does explain the less lopsided result. But that does not mean Fischer couldn't catch a cold. He was human and susceptible to viruses just like the rest of us.

Dec-18-15  Howard: The story about the cold is mentioned in Karsten Mueller's book on Fischer's games. If Fischer didn't feel he was well enough to play, he could have probably gotten a medical postponement.

At any rate, the final score of 6.5 to 2.5 certainly didn't tell the whole story !

Dec-18-15  TheFocus: <Howard> <The story about the cold is mentioned in Karsten Mueller's book on Fischer's games. If Fischer didn't feel he was well enough to play, he could have probably gotten a medical postponement.>

Fischer stated that he did not believe in postponing a game because he was sick.

Feb-13-16  Timi Timov: I'm sorry for Taimanov... he even said that his life became a hell after the match
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <TheFocus:

<Howard> <The story about the cold is mentioned in Karsten Mueller's book on Fischer's games. If Fischer didn't feel he was well enough to play, he could have probably gotten a medical postponement.>

Fischer stated that he did not believe in postponing a game because he was sick.>

He certainly didn't believe in postponing a victory. :)

Aug-13-16  zanzibar: <In a 2012 interview with the Russian website Chess News, Grandmaster Evgeni Vasiukov, Taimanov’s second for the match, blamed malnutrition for the lopsided score in the1971 Candidates Match. According toVasiukov, Taimanov didn’t eat properly during the competition, preferring to save his meal money to buy Western goods unavailable in the Soviet Union. Vasiukov acknowledges Fischer was the stronger player, but argues that the final score should have been closer, a belief Fischer supported.>

Worth a look just for the purdy pictures.

Nov-30-16  pksaha: "How I Became Fischer’s Victim" is title of a book by Mark Taimanov. Despite my level best efforts, I have not been able to track it on Amazon or any other place. Any links?
Nov-30-16  hemy: <pksaha> I copied this book (in Russian language) and "Taimanov Selected games" (in English) to my dropbox for limited time. You can download them:

Dec-23-18  m.okun: "I was Ficher's victim" ("Ja bil zertvoi Fishera" in Russian), Moscow, 1993.
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Taimanov was no victim. He was ill and suffering from home sickness.
Dec-23-18  savagerules: Taimanov, just like Larsen and Petrosian had Fischeritis. 6-0 6-0 6.5-2.5 and Fischer had a cold at the beginning of the match with Petrosian or it would have been even worse than it was.
Jun-12-19  whiteshark: Isn't it called now <Hongcouver> for a reason?
Sep-10-19  The Boomerang: "Petrosianic: It's impressive because it's one of the very few shutouts in chess history."

I read or heard that it was the first shutout in 50 years, what was the other one if it happened?

Sep-10-19  Retireborn: Capablanca-Kostic, 1919. Capa Rice club 1913.
Oct-12-19  ewan14: It was Gligoric who said Fischer had a cold.
Fischer's pride prevented him from requesting postponements ( like what the Soviets did )
Oct-12-19  ewan14: In '' the Russians v. Fischer ''one of Petrosian's seconds ( Suetin ? ) said that at 2 1/2 points each Petrosian was really feeling the strain ! And then in the sixth game Petrosian blundered in the opening moves !
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <The Boomerang> I read or heard that it was the first shutout in 50 years, what was the other one if it happened?>

It depends on whether you consider that a specific minimum number of games is required to be considered a "shutout" since in the recent World Cup there were 20 2-game matches at Classic time controls that ended with a score of 2-0, 15 in the first round alone. But I'll assume that you would like a larger number of games in the "shutout".

Then it was more than 100 years ago and depends on how you define "shutout". In the Lasker - Janowski World Championship Match (1910) WCC match the win criteria was the first player to win 8 games, draws not counting. Lasker won the match by a score of 8-0, but with 3 draws.

Was this a shutout? You decide.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Boomerang> <AK>

< "Petrosianic: It's impressive because it's one of the very few shutouts in chess history." I read or heard that it was the first shutout in 50 years, what was the other one if it happened?>

Probably whoever said that was thinking of Capablanca - Kostic (1919).

Mar-01-21  fabelhaft: Taimanov played a warmup match against Tal as preparation. Tal asked if he was supposed to play in some special way, but was told by Taimanov to just play his best chess. They played five games, and Tal won all of them...
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