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Robert James Fischer vs Paul Keres
Curacao Candidates (1962), Willemstad CUW, rd 21, Jun-13
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Keres Defense (C96)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-21-06  mtoom: I thought Nxe5 is better than Nh6.

But, Fischer loses the exchange regardless and board position favors Keres.

Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: In the ten games that Keres played Fischer, he never once won with the white pieces.
Oct-08-07  M.D. Wilson: Keres' wins with the Caro-Kann against Fischer are worth studying.
Aug-13-08  ToTheDeath: In all the annotations I've read (Mednis, How to beat Bobby Fischer; Davies, Play 1.e4 e5!) it is assumed that White can't play 69.Nxd6? because of 69...Rxf2+ 70.Kxf2 Kc7 71.Nf7 Nxe4+! 72.Nxe4 a2 queening.

However, after 69.Nxd6!! 70.Kxf2 Kc7 71.Nf7 Nxe4+ 72.Nxe4 a2 73.Nc5! a1=Q (otherwise Nb3 draws) 74.b6+! Kxb6 (74...Kc8 79.b7+ is equivalent) 75.Nxd7+ followed by 76.Ndxe5 White has achieved a fortress with his knights and by pushing his d pawn he should not lose.

A startling resource which as far as I know has not been mentioned by anyone.

Nov-19-08  jerseybob: Fischer's use of the line 12.d5,Nb6 13.g4? instead of repeating the successful 12.dc of their previous Lopez shows how chaotic his approach was at Curacao. Why tamper with success? Maybe the soviets did cheat - that seems pretty clear - but Bobby wasn't yet ready to be a world champ.
Nov-20-08  AnalyzeThis: I agree with you that Fischer wasn't quite world champ strength. On the the other hand, by any measure, he was top 10 strength. It seems unlikely that 12. d5 Nb6 13. g4 would be just outright bad, especially since Fischer probably made this decision before the game started. We should probably be cautious, as amateurs, in critiquing opening play of the all time greats.
Nov-20-08  jerseybob: My point - and I think a close look at Fischer's Curacao games would bear this out - was that some of Fischer's opening play was not up to the demands of this tourney. Perhaps his crushing victory in the Interzonal earlier that year had lulled him into overconfidence. I'm sure he did plan that line in advance, but it doesn't necessarily make it good.
Nov-20-08  AnalyzeThis: It doesn't make it bad, either. Certainly from playing over the game, it doesn't seem that Fischer should have lost. His losing mistake came later.
Nov-20-08  jerseybob: And what was that losing mistake? To me, after 13.g4,h5! white is always playing defense. Fischer's genius made the game close - and he may indeed have missed a draw - but black had most of the chances. g4 is a move often seen in the Lopez, but not usually - in the games I've seen - until the white QN has made its d2/f1 odyssey and is ready to support the g4 advance. Here, it's just done naked, and naked is how the white king soon looks. I'll repeat my original objection: Keres seemed totally befuddled after 12.dc and Fischer was playing the position like a violin. 12.d5 is not inherently a bad move(13.g4 is the lemon). I'm just wondering why Fischer felt the need.
Nov-20-08  AnalyzeThis: Well, now we're arguing with Bobby Fischer about a line in the Ruy Lopez.

Just say that to yourself about 10 times, to let that sink in.

I have no idea what the losing mistake was, this is GM play that's way over my head.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <jerseybob: Fischer's use of the line 12.d5,Nb6 13.g4? instead of repeating the successful 12.dc of their previous Lopez shows how chaotic his approach was at Curacao. Why tamper with success? >

Because he didn't want to walk into a prepared line. Check out the games from the 1972 Spassky match sometime. Fischer varied his openings like mad, even when they had been successful before. When he repeated lines (the Sozin variation in game 4 he had previously used against Larsen, the Poison pawn in game 13), he got into trouble.

That doesn't mean 12. d5 and 13. g4 in this game was a good idea...

Nov-29-08  jerseybob: Analyze: Since when is arguing with Bobby Fischer some cardinal sin? Are you saying I'm not to draw my own conclusions about games? What's this whole forum about anyway? If something doesn't look right to me, I question it, no matter whose name is attached; that's how you improve. And since this line (13.g4) never again appeared in his play - to my knowledge - I'd say he drew the very same conclusion. Down through the years he did weed a number of bad ideas out of his opening play.
Nov-29-08  AnalyzeThis: Sure. Use your own judgment. Go ahead. Experience shows though, that when you argue with Bobby Fischer about a chess position, you're usually wrong.

For example, Larry Christianson had no problem with this approach.

Christiansen vs L Milman, 2005

Dec-01-08  jerseybob: Analyze: First off, great piece of research in finding that Christiansen game! You'll have to tell me how you did that with this database; I'd really like to know. As for the game, it appears Milman thought he had an improvement on Keres' treatment and could safely snatch the g-pawn. Christiansen brilliantly showed how wrong that was. I'd still like to know what he would've done if Milman had aped Keres by playing 16..g6 to transpose into the Fischer game; maybe something involving g5, but white's kingside looks awful loose. By the time Milman played g6, white controlled the kingside dark squares and it was all over. And of course, since Christiansen played this line in the first place, I've gotta concede it must be playable. But I still don't like it! Happy Holidays.
Jan-07-09  M.D. Wilson: The Crown Prince of Chess, Paul Keres, would be 93 today. Keres' wins with the Caro-Kann against Fischer are worth looking at.
May-31-11  Everett: <ToTheDeath> Wow, a knight and pawn fortress. Pretty amazing stuff <you, Fritz, however> found. Very cool.
Nov-13-11  knighterrant999: <ToTheDeath> Fascinating analysis. I wonder if black can make hay with his g pawn?!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <ToTheDeath> fortress deserves a diagram.

click for larger view

I put the Black K at a6, but other alternatives are no better (and some are worse).

The amazing point is that Black (1) can not really take anything, (2) can not stop the march <d5-d6-d7-d8Q>, (3) can not execute his own pawn-march fast enough. Thus Black has to seek a draw via some sort of a perpetual.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Odd to see Fischer lose this type of endgame, with Queens off the board. His positional skills and ability to find correct pawn structures were so good, over the years. He seemed to have a mediocre (for him) tournament at Curaco.
Nov-14-11  AnalyzeThis: Fortress question is interesting.
Nov-14-11  DWINS: Houdini found an improvement on <ToTheDeath's> analysis.

After 69.Nxd6, Black still wins after 69...Bh3+! A representative line is 70.Kg1 Rxf2 71.Kxf2 Kc7 72.Ne8+ Kd8 73.Nd6 Ke7 74.b6 Kxd6 75.Nb5+ Kd7 76.Nxa3 Nxe4+ 77.Ke2 Kc8 78.Nc2 Nc5 79.Nb4 Kb7 80.Nc6 e4 81.Ne5 Bf5 and Black's advantage keeps growing after each move. At this point Houdini rates it as (-4.35) at depth 25.

I'm no endgame expert and this position looks really complicated, but I wonder if it would be a problem for a grandmaster to win it.

Dec-09-12  Conrad93: This is the first time 12.Nb6! is played in the database.
Mar-02-15  poorthylacine: Yes, DWINS, the same with Fritz 11 (-4.44), but Fritz is first" tempted" to play 69...Rxf2+, which would end with drawing; while in the variation with 69..Bh3+! Black will win, for instance after 82.Nf7 Kxb6 83.Ke3 Ka5 and so on...
Premium Chessgames Member
  louispaulsen88888888: 68. Nxd6! works according to my engine and also, as you see here, Stockfish.
Jul-27-23  tympsa: Keres played 10 games against Fischer. With black pieces he won 3, lost 2 and drawed one. He did not win with whites, but that is pretty good score with black pieces against Bobby. For comparison Spassky played 55 games against Fischer and won only once with black pieces ( not considering here 2nd game from 1972 match which Fischer forfeited )
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