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Robert James Fischer vs Bent Larsen
"Denver Omelette" (game of the day Oct-26-2007)
Fischer - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1971), Denver, CO USA, rd 1, Jul-06
French Defense: Winawer. Advance Variation (C19)  ·  1-0



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Robert James Fischer vs Bent Larsen (1971) Denver Omelette
Fischer holds out his fists to let Larsen pick who has white for the first game of the candidates match, 1971.

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Howard> The Losing Move – Beginning the creeping barrage (part 2 of 2)

I think that the following observations are, or may be, significant:

1. 34...g5 as played by Larsen did not show up in any engine's top 3 moves.

2. At d=28 Houdini's evaluations of its top 3 moves were almost the same on the previous run; 34...Ke6=[0.00], 34...Ke5=[+0.03], and 34...g6=[+0.18]. So the results were almost deterministic when using MPV=3, and the difference might be attributed to using MPV=5 in the previous run.

3. At d=30 Komodo 10's evaluation of its top 3 moves were somewhat different on the previous run; 34...Ke5=[+0.83], 34...Ke6=[+0.94], and 34..g6=[+1.04] and the move rankings were different, 34...Ke5 was evaluated higher than 34...Ke6, the reverse of this run. I don't know why.

4. At d=43 Stockfish's evaluation of its top 3 moves were also somewhat different on the previous run; 34...Ke6=[0.00], 34...Ke5=[+0.08], and 34...g6=[+0.20]. But at least its move rankings were the same.

5. At d=30 Komodo 11's evaluations were very different, much lower, than Komodo 10's and much closer than Houdini's and Stockfish's. And its move rankings were the same as those 2 engines. So using Komodo 11 will probably make it easier to get 3 engines to agree on the move rankings so I think I'll use Komodo 11 from now on. :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Howard> The Losing Move – Continuing the creeping barrage. (part 1 of 2)

These are the 3 engine evaluations after 34.Bxa7 g5 35.Bb6 using MPV=3:

click for larger view

Black's Houdini 4 Komodo 11 Stockfish 8

Move d=30 d=31 d=45 <St.Avg>

-------- --------- --------- --------- ----------

35...Kg6 [+1.38] [+2.12] [+4.54] <[+2.68]>

35...Qa3 [+1.64] [+2.12] [+4.63] <[+2.80]>

35...Qb4 [------] [------] [+4.77] <[+4.77]>

35...Qxc2 [+0.71] [+0.77] [------] <[+0.74]>

And, filling in the gaps by inserting evaluation values one centipawn greater than the lowest evaluation, we get the following. But remember that these averages would be optimistic

Black's Houdini 4 Komodo 11 Stockfish 8

Move d=30 d=31 d=45 <St.Avg>

-------- --------- --------- --------- ----------

35...Kg6 [+1.38] [+2.12] [+4.54] <[+2.68]>

35...Qxc2 [+0.71] [+0.77] [+4.78] <[+2.09]>

35...Qa3 [+1.64] [+2.12] [+4.63] <[+2.80]>

35...Qb4 [+1.65] [+2.13] [+4.77] <[+2.85]>

And these would be the move rankings independent of the evaluation:

Black's Houdini 4 Komodo 11 Stockfish 8

Move d=30 d=31 d=45 <St.Avg>

-------- --------- --------- --------- ----------

35...Kg6 2 2 1 <1.7>

35...Qxc2 1 1 4 <2.0>

35...Qa3 3 2 2 <2.3>

35...Qb4 4 4 3 <3.7>

True Rank: 1 = [ 35....Kg6, 35...Qxc2 ]; 2 = [ 35...Qa4 ], 3 = [ 35...Qb4 ]

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <AylerKupp: <diceman> No, and I don't even know what "annotation" mode is.>

Basically generates an annotated game.

<And if I were to take you literally, how does it start at the end of the game and move forward since there are no moves after the end of the game?>

Well, since you start at the end. Forward is backward.

Maybe I should have bastardized digital language and come up with “Norward?” :)

<Maybe you're thinking of what I know as <backward sliding>. This involves starting the analysis at either the end of the game or whenever the engine correctly sees a certain win. Then you back up one move (2 plies) and start the analysis again.>

The way this works is, you set a time, and sensitivity. The time determines how long it will think per move, sensitivity sets how much it will annotate. 1 pawn sensitivity will probably only show major blunders, 1/10 pawn sensitivity
will show more alternative moves.

It takes the start of the game and looks at its
database. It adds relevant lines, and alternative lines. When it is out of the database it marks the
first new move “N.”
(no computer calculation yet)

It then jumps to the end of the game
and analyzes norward with the “N” new
move being the last one it looks at.
(you do have the option to turn off
the database, and it will analyze until
move 1)

It adds standard chess annotation !/? as
well as, “only move/better is” and so on.
It will display better variations, and so on.
It also has some canned commentary such
as “White is ruining his position.”

When a game ends in mate. You can see it
quickly jump norward until it cant calculate
a mate any more.
(it will only show analysis if there was a quicker mate)

<you set a time> This looks like an average.
If you set it to 30 seconds, it wont
break analysis, and move exactly at 30 seconds.

It seems to call turning points better.
I think because, when it is analyzing move 29, its already seen move 30 analyzed.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Howard> The Losing Move – Conclusion (part 1 of 3)

Well, after a lot of huffing and puffing and some wrong turns along the way, I've come to the conclusion that after 34.Bxa7, <34...g5 was the losing move>.

click for larger view

My reasoning is supported by Houdini 4, Komodo 10/11, and Stockfish 8 as follows:

1. <Stockfish> After 34.Bxa7, Stockfish's top 3 responses by Black were 34...Ke6, 34...Ke5, or 34...g6 and it could not find a winning position for White Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #239)). It evaluated the resulting positions at d=42 equal; at [0.00], [+0.21], and [+0.24] respectively. Yet after 34...g5 Stockfish at d=45 evaluated the position after 35.Bb6, the move that Fischer played, as winning for White, [+4.54] (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #241)).

2. <Komodo> After 34.Bxa7, Komodo's top 4 responses by Black were 34...Ke6, 34...Ke5, 34....Ke7 (Komodo 10), and 34...g6 (Komodo 11). And they also could not find a winning position for White Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #239)). At d=30 they evaluated the resulting positions as follows:

Komodo 10: 34...Ke5 at [+0.70], 34...Ke6 at [+0.84], and 34...Ke7 at [+1.14].

Komodo 11: 34...Ke6 at [+0.25], 34...Ke5 at [+0.36], and 34...g6 at [+0.61]. Komodo 11 is rated somewhat higher than Komodo 10 and its evaluations are more in line with Stockfish's and Houdini's, so I think that they are probably a little bit more accurate.

Yet after 34...g5 Komodo 11 at d=31 (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #241)) evaluated two of Black's top responses to 35.Bb6 as winning for White, 35....Kg6 and 35...Qa3, [+2.12] for both of them. Only for the move played by Larsen, 35...Qxc2, did it fail to find a win for White.

But sliding forward and starting the analysis after 34.Bxa7 g5 35.Bb6 Qxc2 36.a5 (the move that Fischer played in the game), Komodo 10 at d=32 evaluated the position as a win for White at [+2.61] (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #232)). So, following the moves played in the game, 34...g5 was also considered by Komodo 10/11 to be the losing move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Howard> The Losing Move – Conclusion (part 2 of 3)

3. <Houdini> Houdini had by far the hardest time showing that 34...g4 was the losing move. After 34.Bxa7 Houdini's top 3 responses at d=28 were the same as Stockfish's; 34...Ke6, 34...Ke5, and 34...g6, all indicated as equal at [0.00], [+0.03], [+0.16] respectively (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #239)). But, unlike Komodo or Stockfish, it could not find winning positions for White after its top 3 responses to 35.Bb6; 35...Qxc2 (as played in the game), 35...Kg6, and 35...Qa3, evaluating the resulting positions at [+0.71], [+1.38], and [+1.64] respectively (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #241)). So, for completeness, not only must 35...Qxc2 be eliminated as a saving move, but also 35...Kg6 and 35...Qa3.

35...Qa3 is easy to dispose of as a saving move. In Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #230) Black was destroyed after 36.Re1+, with Houdini at d=22 evaluating the resulting position at [+14.52].

35...Kg6 was not investigated earlier but, at least on the surface, there doesn't seem to be anything to recommend it. It took quite a while (more than 21 hours!) but at d=34, Houdini evaluated the resulting position as winning for White, [+2.07]. Here is Houdini's winning line: 36.a5 Qa3 37.Re1 f4 38.Rb1 Qa2 39.Be4+ Kf7 40.Rb5 Qa1+ 41.Bg1 g4 42.Rf5+ Ke7 43.Rxf4 Qxa5 44.Rxg4 h5 45.Rg7+ Ke8 46.Ra7 Qe1 47.Bd5 Qc1 48.Bc6+ Kf8 49.Rc7 c3 50.Rd7 h4 51.h3 Qb1 52.Be4 Qe1 53.Bd3 Qg3 54.Bf1 Qe1 55.Bg2 Qc1 56.Bd5 Qd1

In contrast, it took Komodo only a little over 4 minutes to find a line with a winning evaluation for White ( [+2.20] ) and it took Stockfish only a little over 13 minutes at d=32 to do the same ( [+2.68] ). Perhaps Houdini 5 can do better.

So back to 35...Qxc2. Houdini couldn't find a winning line for White as played in the game after the following:

(a) 36.a6, evaluating the resulting position at only [+0.43] (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #232))

(b) 36.a6 Qb2 37.Bd8+, evaluating the resulting position at only [+0.33] (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #234)) (although it did consider that White would be winning after 37.Be3, evaluating the resulting position at [+2.65], so maybe Fischer missed a shorter win.)

(c) 36.a6 Qb2 37.Bd8+ Ke6 (not posted), evaluating at d=29 the resulting position at only [+0.77].

(d) After 36.a6 Qb2 37.Bd8+ Ke6 38.a6 Qa3 (also not posted) it DID evaluate the resulting position as winning for White, [+7.83] at d=30. But it did not consider the position as winning for White after 38...Qf2, evaluating the resulting position at only [+0.41].

So, would 36.a6 Qb2 37.Bd8+ Ke6 38.a6 Qf2 have been a saving line for Larsen? No, none of the 3 engines considered it as such, evaluating the resulting positions as winning for White, [+4.28] at d=30 (Houdini), [+3.01] at d=36 (Komodo 10), and [+9.34], d=49 (Stockfish) (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #231)), although it would have required Fischer to find 39.Rb1 instead of playing 39.Bb7 as he played after 38...Qa3. All 3 engines considered the positions after 38.a6 Qf2 39.Bb7 as equal; [0.00] (Houdini), [+0.34] (Komodo 10), and [0.00] (Stockfish).

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Howard> The Losing Move – Conclusion (part 3 of 3)

After 32.Bxc6 Qxc3 all 3 engines all 3 engines evaluated the position as OK for Black; [0.00] at d=28 (Houdini), [+0.53] at d=27 (Komodo 10), and [0.00] at d=40 (Stockfish). So it doesn't seem like 32...Qxc3 was the losing move and this was, after all, the original question. The losing move must therefore have come later.

Instead, it looks to me that 34...g5 was indeed the losing move. At least according to Komodo 10/11 and, particularly, Stockfish 8. Houdini 4 had a much greater difficulty arriving at that conclusion, and even that can be considered conditional on White finding 39.Rb1 after 34...g5 35.Bb6 Qxc2 36.a6 Qb2 37.Bd8+ Ke6 38.a6 Qf2.

Why did Houdini 4 have such difficulty compared to Komodo and Stockfish? I don't know. But in these positions Houdini took the longest time to reach a given search depth, and apparently the positions after 34...g5 required in-depth searching. Maybe Houdini 5 would do better; and if I get it (another story), I might try it and see.

I should also try <diceman>'s suggestion and use backward sliding and see if that results in the same conclusion, only to kick myself if it does with a lot less time and effort I spent on this analysis.

But the most important question is: Why was 34...g5 the losing move? Again I don’t really know. But this was a very sharp conclusion to this game and maybe 34...g5 represented a loss of tempo that Black could not afford, even though in some line Black was able to put up a struggle by later advancing both his f- and g-pawns.

And 34...g5 looks good on the surface. It not only provides support for Black's passed f-pawn if it advances but it also provides Black's king another escape square at g6. Perhaps someone else (not me!) might want to investigate the alternatives that these 3 engines suggested after 34.Bxa7; 34...Ke6, 34...Ke5, 34...g6, or even the immediate 34...f4.

Finally I think we all need to remember that these moves were all played towards the end of the first time control when both players were likely short of time. And the fact that they each found almost all the only moves to either win or prolong the game under these conditions is simply amazing.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <diceman> This is clearly a feature of your GUI. Which GUI do you use? FWIW, I use Arena 3.5 which does a reasonably good job as a GUI and has lots of features, but nothing like this as far as I know. It also has the great advantage of being free, which was a big consideration when I first got started with computer-assisted chess since I wasn't sure whether it would be something that would keep my interest so I didn't want to make a financial investment on it. Now I have the investment of time and learning that I put into Arena so I am reluctant to change GUIs.

With Arena, if you want to do backward sliding, you have to do it manually yourself (or maybe it has a feature I've never uncovered) and, as I said before, I've never tried it. But maybe I will.

The process you describe seems like "my" backward sliding, particularly your comment that when it's analyzing move 29 it has already seen move 30 analyzed. It seems to have a few useful additional bells and whistles like adding the standard chess annotations like , etc. I wonder what evaluation is required before it gives it an annotation of ++ or --.

But you make a reference to a database that it looks at before any computer analysis is done. How does that database get populated? I assume that it comes with your GUI, you can populate it using a commercial database, or it's done by previous analyses you've conducted, or a combination of the three.

Maybe, if you have the time and the interest, you'd like to try it with this game. Then we'll see if it agrees with my conclusion about 34...g5 being the losing move.

I liked your "Norward" and your "Forward is backward". The first one I think is a portmanteau, in which part of multiple words are combined to form a new word. The second one sounds 1984ish; e.g.

War is Peace
Freedom is Slavery
Ignorance is Strength

Jun-27-17  Howard: That's far more analysis than I'd probably have time to go through, but (trust me !) I truly appreciate it nonetheless !!!
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Howard> I doubt that anyone would have the time, or the interest, to go through all the analysis I posted. It was one of those situations where, once I got into it, I couldn't let go; my pig-headedness got the better of me. And it took a lot more effort and time that I originally expected, partly due to my getting sidetracked. But I did learn one valuable lesson; if you want to make sure that you reach your goal, you need to be systematic about it.

If you only have time to read one post, read my conclusion above (Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #243)). After all, you were the reason that I spent all this time an effort so requiring you to read those three posts seems to be fitting "punishment" :-). Besides, I would be interested to find out if you agree with my reasoning.

Other "fun" analyses are Fischer vs Larsen, 1971 (kibitz #230) which shows the demolition of Black's position of 38...Qa3 by 39.Re1+ that Fischer apparently missed (although I can't really quibble with his 39.Bb7 which caused Larsen to resign 2 moves later)

And this is one analysis after 37.Bd8+ Ke6 38.a6 Qf2 (instead of Larsen's 38...Qa3) evaluated by Houdini at [+0.41], d=30 that I didn't post, and is perhaps noteworthy for (a) a remarkable find by Houdini for a possible saving resource for Black in a sideline and (b) an incredible miss by Houdini of a winning sequence for <Black> later in the same sideline which I saw immediately and Houdini later confirmed with some forward sliding:

1. [+0.41], d=30: 38...Qf2 39.Bxg5 c3 40.Ra1 f4 41.Bh4(a) Qc5 42.Bf3 c2 43.a7 Qxa7 44.Rxa7 c1Q+ 45.Kg2 Qc2+ 46.Bf2 Qg6+ 47.Kh1 Qb1+ 48.Bg1 Qd3 49.Ba8 Kf6 50.Ra2 Qb1 51.Rf2 Kg5 52.Bf3 Qa1 53.Kg2 Qg7 54.Rc2 Kf5+ 55.Kh1 Qa1 56.h3 Qe1 57.Rf2 Kg5 58.Kh2 Qc3 59.Kg2 Kh6 60.Kh1 Kg5 61.Kg2 Kh6 and it seems that Houdini is headed towards a draw by repetition since it can't figure out how White can make progress.

click for larger view

(a) An attempt at deflection since after 41...Qxh4 42.a7 White's a-pawn queens and survives and Black's c-pawn doesn't. 41.a7 might seem simpler but after 42...f3!! (exclamations mine, of course) Houdini finds at least a perpetual check in the open board: 43. Bxf3 (forced, otherwise after 43.Rg1 White is immobilized and cannot force the queening of his a-pawn) 44...Qxf3+ 43.Kg1 Qg4+ 44.Kf2 Qf5+ 45.Ke2 Qe5+ 46.Be3 Qh5+ 47.Kd3 Qb5+ 48.Kxc3 Qc6+ (a big surprise, Houdini misses 48...Qe5+ followed by 49...Qxa1 and <Black> wins! Restarting the analysis from the position after 48...Qe5+ Houdini confirms this!) 49.Kd3 Qb5+ 50.Kc2 Qc4+ 51.Kd2 Qb4+ 52.Kc2 Qc4+ 53.Kd2 etc.

This once again shows how essential it is to check each and every computer line for possible misevaluations.

Dec-23-19  SpiritedReposte: Thorough analysis wow.
Dec-23-19  cunctatorg: Sad comment; torturing Bent Larsen...
Mar-21-20  Ulhumbrus: <littlefermat: <Bobby Fischer's chess memory, for example, is formidable. In 1971, I interviewed him in New York just after he had returned from winning a chess tournament in Buenos Aires, becoming the challenger for Boris Spassky's title. In his previous candidates' matches, he had beaten the Soviet Union's Mark Taimanov by a score of 6-0, and had followed that by absolutely pulverizing Bent Larsen, the Great Dane, by another 6-0 whitewash. Taimanov I could understand. He was not in Fischer's league. But Larsen! That Danish player was the strongest in the West, aside from Fischer himself. Nobody can take Larsen by a 6-0 score. I asked him how he did it.

''Well,'' Fischer said, ''you have to know that Larsen is a romantic. He likes wild positions. He likes to throw you off with crazy moves. Another thing about Larsen. If he wins the first few games, he is unbeatable. He gets this confidence, you know, and you can't beat him. But if he loses the first few games, he loses confidence and sort of folds up.

''Anyway,'' said Fischer, ''we started our first game and around the 10th move he threw something at me. He figured to catch me by surprise. But when I looked at the position, I remembered it was something that Steinitz had tried against Lasker in the 1894 championship match. If I hadn't known that position, I might have spent a lot of time figuring it out and maybe I couldn't even have done it on my clock. But once I saw the position, I remembered that I had once analyzed it, and I knew Larsen was dead. When I played the right move, Larsen knew that I knew, and he lost the game and also the next five.'' >


NYTIMES, "Cold War in the World of Chess" by HAROLD C. SCHONBERG, Sept 27, 1981.

Anybody know the game Fischer is referring to? >

It seems that it is the first game, or in other words, this game.

Your third quoted paragraph above begins <...we started our first game and around the 10th move he threw something at me....>

One example of a guess as to what Fischer means by < around the 10th move> is that Fischer is referring to his 12th move 12 Re1 although it could also be his 13th move 13 Ba3.

There is just one problem with all this, however: There does not seem to be any game in that match with this opening variation.

One example of an answer is that Fischer is referring to some move on his part which Steinitz played in some position with a similar pawn structure.

Apr-22-20  Diana Fernanda: Can someone be called GM if llost six game row.?
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <<Diana Fernanda: Can someone be called GM if llost six game row.?>>


Apr-22-20  SChesshevsky: <...said Fischer, "we started our first game and around the 10th move he threw something at me...I remembered it was something that Steinitz had tried against Lasker in the 1894 championship match" ...>

Fischer might be referring to 10...c4 and especially 11...f6. And the 3rd game of Lasker - Steinitz 1894 where Steinitz played...f6. I guess trying for a dark square blockade but left his light squares horribly weak.

Seems here the light squares also became a concern for black. Interesting that Fischer didn't mention his loss to Mednis, who also played ...c4 ...f6 in a French I believe. Which I'm sure Fischer went over thoroughly searching for improvements.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <SChessevsky>. He’s Bobby and I’m a fish, but I don’t get what he’s talking about.

<Lasker vs Steinitz, 1894>

Apr-23-20  SChesshevsky: < He's Bobby...what he's talking about.>

Guessing once he saw...f6, he remembered that if the now weaker e6 can be exploited it's probably very good.

I'm sure how Lasker took advantage of the e6 hole was stuck in Fischer's mind. But it probably got a huge memory boost when he went over the loss to Mednis where he looks like he might've got side tracked.

Jun-26-20  Howard: So, 34...Ke6 would have led to equality according to Stockfish.
Dec-30-20  areknames: In his book on the Match of the Century, Mario Monticelli writes that Fischer himself described this game as one of the best he had ever played. Any primary source for this? Not that I doubt that Bobby would have thought this mind you, obviously this game is an Ode to Chess.
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: To any USER on this site who wants to put up their computer analysis re this game ...

I don't give a MONKEYS

This match was in 1971 .

Foooook off . Move on . Fischer was the best chess player on Earth back then. Live with it.

Dec-30-20  Petrosianic: <harrylime>: <I don't give a MONKEYS >

Nobody cares if you care. What an ego to think that they do. You don't even play chess, and you hate Fischer. What's your opinion worth lol lol duh lol zzzzzzzzz

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <<Petrosianic: <harrylime>: <I don't give a MONKEYS > Nobody cares if you care. What an ego to think that they do. You don't even play chess, and you hate Fischer. What's your opinion worth lol lol duh lol zzzzzzzzz>>

Petrosian lost to Bobby ...

Is this nooos to you ?? I'm not sure lol lol lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: < <Bobby Fischer's chess memory, for example, is formidable. In 1971, I interviewed him in New York just after he had returned from winning a chess tournament in Buenos Aires, becoming the challenger for Boris Spassky's title. In his previous candidates' matches, he had beaten the Soviet Union's Mark Taimanov by a score of 6-0, and had followed that by absolutely pulverizing Bent Larsen, the Great Dane, by another 6-0 whitewash.>

One small problem. Fischer won in Buenos Aires in 1970, (Buenos Aires (1970)), before he'd played Taimanov and Larsen. Fischer did beat Petrosian in Buenos Aires in 1971, of course, but that doesn't fit with Schonberg's narrative.

I'm calling bullshirt on the whole quote. Doesn't sound like Fischer to me.

Jan-28-22  Justin796: If g5 was a losing move for Larsen, I feel bad for Larsen who didn't play badly at all. Kudos to Fischer who was in top form.
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: Let's eat!
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from Bobby Fischer: Road to the Crown by nosuchdude
plus 262 more collections (not shown)

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