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Milan Matulovic vs Robert James Fischer
Vinkovci (1968), Vinkovci YUG, rd 3, Sep-09
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Zagreb (Fianchetto) Variation (B91)  ·  0-1



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Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <King Death> Yes, comparisons between players of different eras is always tricky at best because of the different circumstances in which they played, and not just Fischer. How do we factor in Morphy, whose career was even shorter than Fischer's and his "dominance" over his peers even greater? And how much of a factor have the availability of strong chess engines and chess databases had in Carlsen's performance when Fischer had no access to either? And the issue of comparing players of different eras is not restricted to chess; how do we compare in basketball the "dominant" performance of Wilt Chamberlain in the 1960s with Shaquille O'Neal in the 1990s?

Of the 3 links I provided above the article by Jeff Sonas,, most closely addresses the issue of "dominance" (the other 2 links address the issue of "greatest", "best", or "highest ranked" which are not the same thing). Below are the results of Sonas' 10 categories for "dominance" and how Fischer fits within them. Of course, any criteria that takes longevity into account will penalize Fischer.

(1) Longest time as world champion: Lasker (26.9) years. Second (maybe) was Steinitz depending on when you "formally" consider him the world champion; 8.2, 21.7, or 27.8 years. Fischer was 11th with 2.6 years.

(2) Largest rating gap between #1 and #2 player: Steinitz, 199 rating points ahead of Bird in 1876. Second was Fischer, 146 rating points ahead of Boris Spassky in 1971.

(3) Most years with #1 ranking: Lasker, 24.3 cumulative (active) years between 1890 and 1926. Second was Kasparov, 21.9 cumulative years between Sep-1982 and Oct-2004. Fischer was 6th, 9.1 cumulative years.

(4) Highest rating ever: Fischer, 2895, Oct-1971. Second was Kasparov, 2886, Mar-1993.

(5) Highest single-match performance rating: Fischer, 2887, vs. Larsen in 1971. Second was Lasker, 2882, vs. Steinitz, 1896.

(6) Highest single-tournament performance rating: Karpov, 2899, Linares 1994. Second was Kasparov, 2881, Tilburg, 1989. Fischer best single-tournament performance rating was not in the top 10.

(7) Most tournament performance ratings of 2820+ (50 tournaments): Kasparov, 17 tournaments. Second was Lasker, 6 tournaments (what a gap between 1st and 2nd!). Fischer was tied 5th - 8th with Alekhine, Keres, and Capablanca with 2 tournaments each.

(8) Longest straight time (years) as #1 ranked player: Kasparov, 19.8 straight years, Feb-1985 to Oct-2004. Second was Lasker, 12.6 straight years, Jun-1890 to Dec-1902. Fischer was 4th, 7.9 straight years.

(9) Most top performing years (years with the best performance rating): Kasparov, 16 years. Second was Lasker, 12 years. Fischer was 11th with 4 years.

(10) Most top 2 performing years (years with either the best or 2nd best performance rating): Karpov, 23 years. Second was Kasparov, 21 years. Fischer was tied 12th – 16th with 6 years along with Keres, Tal, Petrosian, and Zukertort (!)

So who was the most dominant chess player of all time according to Sonas? Well, you'll have to read the articles for his opinions and his reasons and see if you agree with them. :-)

Mar-27-12  SimonWebbsTiger: @<AylerKupp>

I always break ad-lib the Robin Williams "Mr. Keating" quote from <Dead Poets Society> , the bit about J. Evans Prittchard, Phd and how to measure poetry, when people start quoting stats in their quest to prove their hero Grandmaster X was the greatest ever. To wit:

"Be gone J. Evans. NO! I don't want a group of chess players going about measuring chess as if it were American Bandstand. 'I'll give Fischer a 26 but I can't dance to him.'" ;-)

They were all greats, including the GMs who never won the title e.g. Geller who did so much with Gligoric, Bronstein and Boleslavsky to make the King's Indian the weapon it is.

Mar-27-12  Shams: <SimonWebbsTiger> "Tear it out, boys! Tear out the entire introduction! I want it gone!"
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <SimonWebbsTiger> And the best thing that I can say to those kinds of "objective" arguments is: Who cares? They were all capable of creating games of beauty, and giving us untold pleasure.

Tarrasch probably said it best: "Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make men happy." The rest is not important.

Jan-17-13  andrewjsacks: Talk about a late resignation...
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <andrew> Believe the final comment by Robert Wade on this virtuoso performance by Fischer was: 'Matulovic availed himself of the privilege of sealing a move and adjourning before resigning'.

J'adoubovic very often thus availed himself in lost positions, so as to postpone that dreadful nought against his name in the following day's sports pages.

Karpov had what I once saw termed a 'near-manic hatred of resigning' and was also known to practise this method of delaying his date with the hangman.

Jan-17-13  RookFile: Games like this show the mystery that is Fischer. He wins this: if you and I play this way with black, we lose. Matulovic had a clear positional plan involving domination of d5 and basically implemented it. He made one or two mistakes in the details, and that's all Fischer needs to win.
Jul-18-13  Zugzwangovich: Andrew Soltis writes of this game, "On 30 Bd3 Black should insert 30...h4! 31 gxh4 before 31...Qxf3 32 Qxf3 Rxf3 because then the e-pawn is doomed." If someone could explain this note to me I'd appreciate it since I'm clueless as to its meaning.
Jan-26-15  G Kasparov: A similar game

Matulovic vs S Tatai, 1967

Jan-26-15  G Kasparov: 13...Ke7!!!!
I would have to give that a puadruple exclamation marks!!
Jan-26-15  515: One of my favorite Fischer games. So seemingly effortless.

Karpov's 11...Ke7 against Kamsky, Dortmund, 1993 has the same feel as Fischer's 13...Ke7 in this game. In both cases the move is counterintuitive and in both cases Black threatens to win on the spot.

Apr-24-15  Artemio: but can any other World Champions has a record of the shut out that Fischer did in the highest level of chess?
Apr-24-15  Artemio: Can anyone beat the record of the performance Fischer did with Larsen in 1971 candidates?
Apr-24-15  Zonszein: Not a big deal. Mr Larsen was psichologically afected. He was not really -6 Fischer!!
May-04-15  Howard: One occasion that comes fairly close was Ivanchuk's wipeout of Yudasin in their 1991 Candidates match.

Ivanchuk won the first four games, and then drew the fifth one.

May-04-15  Petrosianic: Not in the candidates, but two other match shutouts are Steinitz-Blackburne and Capablanca-Kostic. Shutouts are rare because, as in football, it's considered vaguely in bad taste to "run up the score". Also, when a match is effectively over, the sure winner tends to coast the rest of the way and save his strength and TN's for the next encounter. Spassky also started 3-0 against Larsen, and then rested up for the Candidates Final.

One interesting match is the first Korchnoi-Polugaevsky match. Korchnoi started off +5-0=2. Not a shut out, but he was kicking butt and not worrying about running up the score. Then he lost one game and that was it. With his undefeated status gone, he was then content to draw all the rest.

May-07-15  SpiritedReposte: <Artemio> Don't forget he blanked Taimanov as well 6-0.

American chess players got their work cut out for them if they want to eclipse Bobby's achievements.

May-11-15  Zonszein: It was not very "polite" (LOL) from Fischer to "wipe out" Larsen and specially Taimanov, who suffered a lot when he went back home. About Korchnoi-Polugaevsky 1977, I believe that the latter improved in the second half of the match and Korchnoi simply could not beat him anymore
Sep-19-15  Howard: On the contrary, Korchnoi just coasted during the second half of his match against Polugaevsky. After quickly racking up a five-point lead after just seven games, he just settled for draws (and one loss) the rest of the way.
Jan-18-17  WorstPlayerEver: Still I think 28...d5 (or 29...d5) is better.
Jan-18-17  WorstPlayerEver: 27...h4 is also killing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <WorstPlayerEver: Still I think 28...d5 (or 29...d5) is better.>

A. Why?

B. Probably lots of ways to win by then.

Fischer was definitely not in a hurry in this game.

Jan-19-17  WorstPlayerEver: A. Because soon Black will be 4 pawns up.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <WorstPlayerEver: A. Because soon Black will be 4 pawns up.>

Then do your fellow kibitzers a favor and post the line.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Troller: I found a small piece written by Bent Larsen on the Vinkovci tournament. Larsen and Fischer met afterwards in Copenhagen 1968 and Fischer showed some of his games. These are then given with Fischer's comments, albeit in Danish (and possibly simply reproduced from memory by Larsen). The piece is from Danish Chess magazine "Skakbladet", unfortunately the issues from the 1960's are not available online yet.

General remarks on the tournament:
<They really did their best. In advance I had informed them that I was very strict on my demands for the lighting and ineed they procured some special lamps from Zagreb.

I was hard on the Yugoslavian players, 7-0!

In the last three rounds I didn't play very well; I do not know why. I don't think I was relaxing even though I was already certain to win the tournament. I wanted to win it by a large margin.

The last two players were very weak.

Ivkov does not play anywhere near as well as he used to. He played a completely horrible opening against me.>

On this game he said about 9.Bh3!?:
<Don't you know that? Matulovic has played this several times and he has never lost. People usually castle, that is a mistake.>

On 15..Bb7:
<Inaccurate, now White should play 16.Qe3. I should have played 15..Qb6!>

On 20.h3:
<Cunningly played in a poor position. Against 20..Qc6 he has 21.Nd4! and he intends to answer 20..Rc4 with 21.g4 after which the knight can get to the good square g3. This I prevent.>

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