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Robert James Fischer vs Boris Spassky
Fischer - Spassky (1992), Sveti Stefan & Belgrade YUG, rd 5, Sep-09
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Zaitsev Hybrid (C95)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jun-19-08  acirce: Kasparov-Karpov 1985 as well.
Nov-21-08  YoungEd: Not to mention Euwe over Alekhine; before ratings, to be sure, but I'm sure Alekhine's would have been higher.
Jan-31-09  WhiteRook48: well, interesting game. Was Fischer trying to win a drawn game again, or was he trying to save one and blew it? --A Patzer
May-26-09  WhiteRook48: I wish Spassky had demolished Fischer like this back in 1972
Sep-19-09  kengol: I really think this 'ratings' business has become a red herring and is a distortion. Do we really need a number next to a players name (any of the above cited, for example) before we can be sure that they were exeptional talents!?
Nov-12-09  piroflip: The Bobby snipers will always find an excuse to attack him. He came back after 20 years of not playing to beat a still active ex W.C.

Not vintage Fischer but still playing on a different planet to ALL of those picking holes in his play here.

Nov-12-09  pawn to QB4: hi kengol - no, we don't. But I do think ratings are one of the few things we have in chess against something which bedevils almost anything else I'm involved in: namely, the tendency for older mediocrities to assume young people haven't surpassed them, or their buddies and heroes of the old days.
Nov-12-09  AnalyzeThis: As soon as I saw 19. Ba5, I thought of a loss Fischer had against Petrosian in 1962 where he also played a Ba5 move.

Spassky found a blind spot in Fischer's opening prepration in this game.

Dec-21-09  FlashinthePan: To <pawn to QB4> Fischer is a notable exception to this would-be benefit of ratings, as clearly, current ratings aren't worth the rating that was in force when Fischer was at his height. Or else, Topalov, for example, would have been consistently better from 2006 to now than Bobby was at his very best, and Bobby with his 1972 level would be ranked world number 6 today. Can anyone in their right mind really believe that?
Dec-21-09  pawn to QB4: No, they certainly shouldn't imagine Topalov will cut a figure in chess history like Fischer. But I would imagine - though this is not something the rating system measures - that Topalov in 2008 was playing objectively better chess than Fischer in 1972 because of the general advance in play.

Why I think ratings are a good idea is that I've several times pushed on giving a youngster with a 150 grade (ECF) a shot in the team, against an old timer who maintains that his, or his buddy's, 120 rating is somehow unreal and the youngster belongs watching while the old guys surely will perform this time like they unaccountably haven't in the last ten years. I don't know if the same would apply at master level, without a rating system, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if masters in their 30s thought they were still ahead of the prodigies, if we didn't have the (imperfect) rating system.

Incidentally, it's clear that a 2800 rating now doesn't imply the sort of dominance it would have done in the 70s. This is because of inflation in the Elo system, but I've never seen a convincing argument as to why this has happened. Our ECF ratings have just been corrected for deflation - the opposite problem.

Dec-21-09  Petrosianic: <The Bobby snipers will always find an excuse to attack him. He came back after 20 years of not playing to beat a still active ex W.C.>

Depends what the question is. Yes, he did win the match. But his performance rating was only about 2630. So, is that a great result after 20 years of inactivity? Maybe, I have very little to gauge it against. But it's a far cry from the people who thought he could come back and play just like he did in 1971. There were quite a few of those before the match, and hardly any afterwards.

Dec-21-09  AuN1: <Petrosianic: <The Bobby snipers will always find an excuse to attack him. He came back after 20 years of not playing to beat a still active ex W.C.>

Depends what the question is. Yes, he did win the match. But his performance rating was only about 2630. So, is that a great result after 20 years of inactivity? Maybe, I have very little to gauge it against. But it's a far cry from the people who thought he could come back and play just like he did in 1971. There were quite a few of those before the match, and hardly any afterwards.>

you could make the argument that he was still playing like he did in 1971, unfortunately the year was 1992 then, and chess theory had progressed immensely in those twenty 1 years.

Dec-21-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Of course there would have been a decline due to non-practice. How do you think Kasparov would do after a 20 year lay-off? Or anyone today in the top fifty? About the same way Bobby did. But many of the grandmasters interviewed during the 1992 match felt that Bobby was still strong and could have given the players of 1992 a run for their money. But anyway, Bobby ran laughing all the way to the bank. Contrary to some reports, Bobby did not lose his money that he made from the match.
Dec-21-09  Petrosianic: <you could make the argument that he was still playing like he did in 1971, unfortunately the year was 1992 then, and chess theory had progressed immensely in those twenty 1 years.>

I think you could try, and that answer might even be partially correct. Like, in this game, Fischer seemed thrown for a bit of a loop by Spassky's 25...f5. A fairly common motif in 1992 but not in 1972. But there were other games where Fischer just flat looked sloppy. On any given day, he could still play a great game, like in Game 1, but on other days, he seemed flat.

Had he made a full comeback, and started playing 3-4 tournaments a year, he would undoubtedly have improved from this level. How much we don't know. I don't think it would have been to his previous level. Fischer himself understood that conditioning was vital. As he said "I've gotta stay in shape or it's all over". In 1992 he was 20 years older and in poorer physical condition than in 1972. Had he come back in force, he might well have cracked the Top 10 again, but before the match, people were talking about him beating Spassky 10-0 and being an immediate challenger to Kasparov. Those predictions were extremely overoptimistic.

Mar-10-11  hottyboy90: Really enjoyed this game. Not often you see Spassky beat Fischer but Fischers play had definately gotten weaker and after a 20 year layoff he was not updated on current opening theory whereas Spassky was. Good Game Though
Dec-30-11  grook: Guys, been wondering, after Black's 30...Nxd5, can White play 31.Qxe4, posing some difficult questions for Black's King.

Or is there a nice refutation I'm missing?

Dec-30-11  King Death: <grook> After 31.Qe4 Nf8 looks like a good answer, covering h7 and putting more pressure on the knight at e6.
Dec-30-11  mojonera: perfomance rating in this match : Fischer 2698.5 , 2780 + 2560 /2 + 28.5 and spassky 2641.5
Dec-30-11
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <you could make the argument that he was still playing like he did in 1971, unfortunately the year was 1992 then, and chess theory had progressed immensely in those twenty 1 years.>

What arguments' this ? I'm unaware of any 'argument' put forward that Fischer was playing in '92 like he was in '71 ?!

Ofcourse chess theory had <progressed immensley in those twenty 1 years> .. and ofcourse later players lived off the back of that 'progress' ..Off the back of his contribution. But time moves on and chess is a sport..The same applies to Kasparov now and will apply to Carlsen in the future..

When I compare Fischer with the top ten around now, I compare it in a way which produces a level playing field..

So I'd invite a young and hungry Fischer to the silicon friendly chess world table of today..Say from around 1961.. and I'd stand back and see what bloody carnage he would create over that lap top friendly table ..

Jul-14-13  Ulhumbrus: Five alternatives to 18 d5 are 18 Rc1, 18 Re3, 18 Bc3, 18 Bf4 and 18 h4
Feb-23-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Why was Fischer continuing to play, though he was a rook down?
Feb-23-15  RookFile: After move 37 for example, white has a bunch of pieces near blacks near naked king. Unfortunately for him, white's king is in check and in a couple of moves Spassky has his men guarding the king, so Fischer resigned. I agree that it was a real longshot.
Mar-12-16  jerseybob: Fischer's 19.Ba5 gives me a flashback of another game he lost horribly, the French Defense against Petrosian at Curacao. As <Dick Brain> says, it lacks punch. I'm not crazy about the previous move, 18.d5, either.
Mar-13-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Fischer's only career loss to Spassky as White--that is, in a game actually played.
Mar-13-16  Howard: Thanks, perfidious ! I never knew that Fischer only lost ONCE to Spassky when playing White...

...but, then, as you point out Game 2 form their 1972 match "doesn't count."

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