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Robert James Fischer vs Edward D Stepans
58th US Open (1957), Cleveland, OH USA, rd 2, Aug-06
Sicilian Defense: Dragon Variation. Yugoslav Attack Main Line (B77)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Sneaky: I imagine that 15.Ng4 would be sufficient but 15.Bh6! Is even better. I love how when Fischer gets an advantage he doesn't relax for a second... instead he starts to put the clamps on extra tight.
Mar-07-13  Bartimaeus: There's some nice tactics in this POTD winning material for white. Had less trouble with this as opposed to yesterday.

12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Nd5 and now black has couple of bad choices as white is threatening two things :

A) Nxe7+ forking Queen and King
B) ...Nxd5 Bxd5 winning the exchange

The Queen can't go anywhere to save the loss of exchange.

1) 14... Qd7 Nb6
2) 14... Qe8 Nc7
3) 14... Qb7 15. Nxf6+ Bxf6 16. Bd5

Pure tactics that should come intuitively to folks who love playing / have faced often the Sicilian Dragon.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I found 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Nd5, and thought that was all there was to it because of the threats of 14. Nxf6 Bxf6 15. Bd5 and the various ♘ forks. I didn't realize that there was a chance of winning even more material, let alone a mate threat in the offing.

Fischer knew the Sicilian inside and out, from both sides. I bet this was a trap he had studied as part of his preparation

Mar-07-13  Bartimaeus: <al wazir: I didn't realize that there was a chance of winning even more material, let alone a mate threat in the offing.>

The Knight on d5 poses an incredible number of threats and can win varying degrees of material depending upon Black's response but i don't see any immediate mating line. Which mate threat are you referring to ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  agb2002: The material is identical.

Black is probably considering the plan Nxd4, Bd7, Rfb8, a5, a4, etc. or something similar.

If the knight on f6 disappeared the square d5 would be defenseless and White could carry out the maneuver 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Bd5 winning the rook on a8. This suggests 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Nd5 with the double threat 14.Nxe7+, winning the queen, and 14.Nxf6+ followed by 15.Bd5:

A) 13... Qb7 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bd5 wins the exchange.

B) 13... Qd7 14.Nb6 wins the exchange.

C) 13... Kh8 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bd5 wins the rook on a8.

D) 13... Nxd5 14.Bxd5 also wins the rook.

E) 13... Rf8 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Bd5 as in C.

F) 13... Ra7 14.Bxa7, etc.

Mar-07-13  morfishine: I imagine the Book notes state: "12.Nxc6 and White wins"

White wins a clean exchange after <12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Nd5 Qb7 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bd5 Qb8 16.Bxa8>

PM: 11...b5 was the fatal error; In the game, Black lost a piece which makes me wonder if my line improves or is flawed; Probably doesn't matter much: Go down a piece or an exchange against Fischer and you are pretty much toast

Mar-07-13  gofer: Yesterday I wrote... <

Unfortunately, the <Crafty EGT> website throw out this POTD every couple of weeks. So its not difficult when you have seen it before many times...


Well okay. I was a day early...


Mar-07-13  Abdel Irada: <<•>How not to play the Dragon<•>>

By springing this trap in his pet variation of the Yugoslav Attack, Fischer gave his opponent a "free" opening lesson that cost the latter at least the exchange. (This, of course, is why Black has to exchange on d4 *before* playing ...b5 in this line.)

<<•> 12. Nxc6, Qxc6 >

Black has to recapture. If he tries to interpolate with a counterattack, his situation only becomes worse: (a) 12. ...b4? 13. Nxb4 or (b) 12. ...a5?! 13. a4 and White wins essentially as in the text.

<<•> 13. Nd5 ... >

Now Black does have choices, six of them, in fact. Unfortunately, they all lose at least the exchange.

Note that White threatens 14. Nxe7, winning the queen, so anything Black does must prevent this.

<<•> (1) 13. ...Qb7

14. Nxf6†, Bxf6

15. Bd5, Qb8

16. Bxa8, Qxa8

17. Bd4 >

White has won the exchange, and with his last move blunts Black's counterplay. From here, White's attack with h4-h5 will go ahead as planned and at leisure, since Black has no adequate threats of his own.

Other defenses are no better.

< (2) 13. ...Nxd5?
14. Bxd5 >

Here White wins an entire rook.

< (3) 13. ...Qd7
14. Nb6, Qb7
15. Nxa8 >

Here, too, White wins the exchange, and will continue with 16. Bh6 and the stock kingside pawn storm.

< (4) 13. ...Qe8
14. Nc7, Qc6
15. Nxa8 >

This transposes to line (3) and the outcome will be the same.

< (5) 13. ...Re8?
14. Nxf6†, Bxf6
15. Bd5 >

As in line (2), White picks up a full rook.

< (6) 13. ...Kh8?
14. Nxf6, Bxf6
15. Bd5 >

Again White comes out a rook to the good.

And so opening theory is verified through the bitter tuition of practical punishment for error. Black cannot play ...b5 without first interpolating an exchange of knights on d4. (And even this contains a positional pitfall, since White can exchange bishop for knight on f6 and ruin Black's pawn structure: 11. ...Nxd4 12. Bxd4, b5?! 13. Bxf6, Bxf6 14. Nd5 . To make matters worse, Black's d-pawn will fall, leaving him a pawn down and in a worse position.)

Mar-07-13  Abdel Irada: In the game, apparently Black tried to complicate his way out of the mess, with disastrous results. Although it made little difference to the final outcome, the text must be regarded as murder-suicide, for Black unquestionably cooperated in arranging his own demise.
Mar-07-13  hez: Ive played against the Dragon and never fully appreciated 10. ...Bd7. Now thanks to Fischer my eyes are open!
Mar-07-13  James D Flynn: Material is equal but White can now win the exchange by 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Nd5(threat Nxe7+ winning the Q, if Black replies Nxd5 14.Bxd5 wins the R on a8, if Re8 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. Bd5 wins the R) Qb7(if Qd7 Nb6 wins the exchange if Qe8 Nc7 wins the R) 15.Nxf6+ (if e5 dxe5 18.Nxf6 Bxf6 19.Bh6 Re8 20.Bd5 Qb8 21.Bc6 Bb7 22.Bxe8 Qxe8 wins the exchange but unnecessarily give s up a pawn)Bxf6 18.Bd5 Qb8 19.Bxa8(else Bb7 retains equal material) Qxa8.
Mar-07-13  Robin01: Does it work if one plays Nd5 before exchanging on c6?
Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Nd5 and no matter how Black wriggles he's going to lose material.

For example: 13...Nxd5 14. Bd5 Q moves 15. Bxa8

Mar-07-13  snakebyt: I knew this was going to be a brain tease so I stopped trying to solve it in a couple of moves. Fischer week has been harder than usual.
Premium Chessgames Member
  doubledrooks: <Robin01> wrote: <Does it work if one plays Nd5 before exchanging on c6?>

It doesn't seem to, for after 12. Nd5 Nxd5 there could follow:

a. 13. Nxc6 Nxe3 14. Qxe3 Bb7 and Black is okay

b. 13. Bxd5 Bb7 and Black is okay

Mar-07-13  John Abraham: It's a pretty simple and easy puzzle.
Mar-07-13  kevin86: I was looking about the skewer at d5,couldn't figure how to remove black's knight.

Fischer does it by threatening...and by threatening to threaten.

Mar-07-13  MountainMatt: This actually took a little less time to see than yesterday's - 12. Nxc6 Qxc6 13. Nd5 looks to win at least the exchange and possibly more (too many variations for my mediocre brain to juggle). I got a Thursday, woo hoo!
Mar-07-13  amateur05: Missed it again, like yesterday!
Mar-07-13  notyetagm: Fischer vs E Stepans, 1957



Mar-07-13  notyetagm: Fischer vs E Stepans, 1957

Wow, this is a nasty trap in the Dragon!

Who would guess that the natural move 11 ... b7-b5? just loses on the spot?

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <notyetagm> The real culprit is probably 9...a6 which experience has shown is just too slow, although it was clearly not known at that time. If Black wants to play an early ...b5 he can dispense with ...a6 by 9...Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5, offering up the Pa7 in order to open up lines on the q-side. In the Dragon every move counts!

If White continues with 13.Bxa7 Opening Explorer has 10 games in its database with 4 White wins, 4 Black wins, and 2 draws. This line was apparently introduced into grandmaster play by Topalov.

Mar-07-13  notyetagm: <AylerKupp: <notyetagm> The real culprit is probably 9...a6 which experience has shown is just too slow, although it was clearly not known at that time. <<<If Black wants to play an early ...b5 he can dispense with ...a6 by 9...Bd7 10.0-0-0 Rc8 11.Bb3 Nxd4 12.Bxd4 b5,>>> offering up the Pa7 in order to open up lines on the q-side. In the Dragon every move counts!>

Yes, that is called the <TOPALOV VARIATION> in Vigorito's book on the Dragon.

Mar-07-13  BOSTER: <notyetagm> <Who would guess that the natural move 11...b7-b5 just loses on the spot?>.

Not the guy, who believes that the queen has the duty to protect a piece.

Mar-07-13  Patriot: It took a while to work my way toward a winning idea. At first I thought "12.Nd5 looks very easy here. 12...Nxd5 13.Bxd5 but 13...Bxd4 14.Bxd4 e5 makes it a bit questionable." Then I looked at 12.Bd5 and wondered what white does after the simple 12...Bb7? Finally I looked at the mundane looking 12.Nxc6. This move doesn't even seem to meet the qualifications of a combination! It looks like there should be some form of double-attack on the c6-knight, but capturing it directly?

So, 12.Nxc6 Qxc6 13.Nd5! This threatens 14.Nxe7+, winning the queen.

13...Qd7 14.Nb6 winning at least the exchange.

13...Qe8 14.Nc7

13...Qb7 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Bd5

13...Nxd5 14.Bxd5

13...Re8 14.Nxf6+ Bxf6 15.Bd5

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