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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
"Bish, You Were Here" (game of the day Apr-13-2019)
Spassky - Fischer World Championship Match (1972), Reykjavik ISL, rd 1, Jul-11
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Variation. Gligoric System Bernstein Defense (E56)  ·  1-0



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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer (1972) Bish, You Were Here

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 44 OF 44 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-02-20  PaulLovric: < AylerKupp: <<jerseybob> But the idea that he threw the game? No way!> See my hypothesis about Fischer not only losing this game on purpose as well as his premeditated forfeit of the second game in the match at Fischer vs Spassky, 1972 (kibitz #110). Just don't take it too seriously.> He definitely threw the first two games on purpose, he knew he was that good.
Feb-09-20  asiduodiego: Incredible so many arguments still being thrown around this game, which is admittedly just a boring draw-fest, until Bobby blundered with Bxh2?. It's not a fatal blunder by itself, but it turns a drawn position into a position in which black has to be ultra precise just to (perhaps) escape with the draw, so, by definition, it's a blunder. And, it turned out, Bobby got lost in the complications of the position. In my opinion, he probably thought that he could escape with the Bishop, but that turned out to be impossible. C'est la vie.
Feb-15-20  asiduodiego: And, if you want to say that 29 ... Bxh2? was justified because it shows "fighting spirit", I say this: 1 e4 e5 2 Qh5!?, also shows "fighting spirit". But it is not good chess.
Mar-11-20  QueensideCastler: 30...h5 main line is certainly a draw with the fortress idea in mind. The 30...Ke7 sub-branch is also fun to exmaine in detail. 30...a6 is also likely draw, as many positions is transpositions.
Mar-16-20  Chesgambit: 36... a6 is draw
29... Bxh2! play for win not mistake
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Sorry for not going over the 43 pages of kibitzing to look for the answer to this question. I am sure it is somewhere in those 43 pages, but can someone save me time? The question is: did Fischer HIMSELF ever explain his thinking on 29...Bxh2? (The question mark is not for the move but for grammar.) Thank you!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: @ <Fusilli>
According to Vlastimil Hort Fischer said he threw the game.

<"Bobby gave the point to Spassky,” said Hort. “It sounds crazy but that is what he said. Bobby was so confident that he would win the match that he gave away the bishop and the first game.”>

I don't buy it.

Mar-16-20  Olavi: Hort's stories in general are extremely unreliable, containing many historical mistakes as they do, and re Fischer in particular, the hero worship gets bizarre sometimes.
Mar-16-20  Petrosianic: <I don't buy it.>

Neither did Fischer. At the Sveti Stefan Press Conference in 1992, he confirmed that he simply overlooked that the Bishop would still be trapped. He didn't confirm exactly which move he overlooked, but almost surely it was 35. Bd2! (the one everyone suspects).

Mar-16-20  Petrosianic: <asiduodiego>: <Incredible so many arguments still being thrown around this game, which is admittedly just a boring draw-fest, until Bobby blundered with Bxh2?.>

Not completely. The play after 15. e4
Rfd8 16. e5 Ne8 17. Ng3 Rac8 18. Rac1, followed by 19. Ne4 looks quite interesting. Not sure why Spassky didn't go for it, unless he was just determined to start the match with a quiet draw.

Mar-16-20  RookFile: Fischer's opening prep for this game was excellent. He just got a little overconfident.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Chesgambit> 36... a6 is draw. 29... Bxh2! play for win not mistake.

As far as 29...Bxh2 not being a mistake it depends on what you mean by a "mistake". To me a mistake (or blunder) is a move that changes the <most likely> result of a game, from a draw to a loss or from a win to a draw or loss. I say <most likely> because players are human and sometimes they, well, make mistakes even in completely objectively won or drawn positions. So you can never say for certainty when humans are involved. You can't say for certainty when computers are involved either, but that's another issue.

I think that most players, at least the top players, would agree that prior to 29...Bhx2 the most likely outcome of the game, given reasonably good play by both players (and in a WCC match reasonably good play by both players can be assumed). But after 29...Bxh2 the position has been transformed to one where White has all the winning chances and that Black can hope for at best a draw assuming, once again, reasonably good play by both players. And in the actual game Fischer was not up to the task.

As far as to whether 36...a6 is a draw, you are apparently correct. Chess engines will not give you a definitive answer because they don't always correctly assess fortress-like positions. For example, Stockfish 11 at d=42 with 5-piece Syzygy tablebase support evaluates the position at [+5.00], definitely a winning advantage,] after less then 2 minutes of calculation in my archaic and slow 32-bit machine. But at d=84 after almost 3½ hours of calculation it does not increase its evaluation of the position in White's favor, giving the following line: 37.b6 Kc5 38.a5 Kc4 39.Kg4 Kd3 40.Kh5 g5 41.Kg4 Kc2 42.Ba3 Kd3 43.Be7 Kxe3 44.Bxf6 Ke4 45.Be7 Kd5 46.Bxg5

click for larger view

Now White is up a bishop for a pawn, White's king can blockade Black's e-pawn, and White's bishop can prevent Black's king from reaching b8. You would think that White could set up a zugzwang position but Stockfish still can't make any progress.

46...Kc6 47.Be3 Kd7 48.Kg5 Ke8 49.Kf6 Kd8 (49...Kd7 prevents the immediate capture of the Pe6 but then 50.Bf4 forced Black's king away from the defense of the e-pawn) 50.Kxe6

click for larger view

And now White is a whole bishop up. But the position is still a draw per the Lomonosov tablebases. White can't prevent Black's king from reaching c8.

I show the rest of Stockfish's line to show the difficulty that White has in making progress: 50...Kc8 51.Ke5 (and now Black could reach a stalemate position by 51...Kc8 since White then can't prevent Black's king from reaching a8) 51...Kd7 52.Bd4 Ke7 53.Kd5 Kd7 54.Bf2 Kc8 55.Kc5 Kd7 (again, 55...Kb8 seems like a quicker and easier way to ensure a draw) 56.Kc4 Kd6 57.Be3 Kd7 58.Bg5 Kc6 59.Be7 Kd7 60.Ba3 Ke6 61.Bb4 Kf7 (Black's king is willing to stray far away from the clear draw after ...Kb8 but Stockfish still can't make any progress. Aaaah, to be able to calculate that far ahead!) 62.Kc5 Ke8 63.Kd6 Kd8 64.Bc3 Kc8 65.Bd2 Kb8 (now the draw should be obvious; Black can reach a8 and it will be a stalemate if White's bishop stays in the h2-b8 diagonal or White's king reaches c8 or after 35 more moves) 66.Bg5 Kc8 67.Ke5 Kd7 68.Be3 Kc8 69.Bc5 Kb8 70.Ke4 Kc8 71.Ba3 Kb8 72.Kf5 Kc8 73.Kg4 Kb8 74.Bc5 Kc8 75.Be3 Kb8 76.Bf4+ Ka8 77.Bg5 (now White's bishop must move away from the h2-b8 diagonal otherwise it's stalemate) 77...Kb8 78.Bf6 Kc8 79.Be5 Kd7 80.Bg7 (80.Bc7 takes away the e8 square for Black's king but the position is still a draw) 80...Kc6 81.Bh8 Kd5 82.Kf5 Kd6 83.Bc3 Ke7 84.Bd2 Kd7 85.Bb4

click for larger view

And here I ran out of patience.

But you can see that all that 29...Bxh2 did was make it harder for Black to achieve a draw and so, from a practical and not a theoretical perspective, it was a mistake.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Diademas> I don't buy it.>

Neither do I. It seems like the same type of excuse that Fischer used after Curacao Candidates (1962) when, after bragging that he would win the tournament, he failed to do so.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Rookfile> He just got a little overconfident.>

A little? Do you really think that he was that confident that he would win after 29...Bxh2? If indeed he missed 35.Bd2 then his play of 29...Bxh2 was not the fault of overconfidence, it was the result of his faulty analysis of the position.

Mar-16-20  RookFile: He didn't think he would win. Even if white plays the mistaken 32. gxh4 Fischer isn't going to win. That possibility gives him a better pawn structure and a chance to torture white, but it's still going to be a draw. It would just be a little game of prestige and pyschology.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <AylerKupp>
As I pointed out probably a few pages back in the kibitzing, it is a mistake for White to play <a5> in the lead-up to these fortress endings.

The following position is won for White.

click for larger view

The key difference is, with the White pawn still on a4, situations that would otherwise be stalemate become instead zugzwang, eventually forcing Black to play ...a5. White can then capture the a-pawn and eventually break through and promote the b-pawn.

That process takes long, which is why it's hard to find with typical depth-limited computer lookahead. It's a good case for Monte Carlo tree search (or even a human, one of the few moments when I feel my analysis here is not completely obsolete).

Mar-20-20  asiduodiego: zPetrosianic> Indeed, that line seems interesting. Black seems to be pushed against the wall. But, again, there is nothing concrete in that line, just White gets some advantage in space, but I can't see a clear way to obtain objective advantage (of course, I'm a patzer analyzing a line without computer eval, so please understand). I guess Boris prefered the safe line, after the unslaught in the candidates, trying to prove to Fischer that "you can't do anything here". Well, in this game at least, that strategy worked perfectly against Bobby, who tried to create something out of nothing, and the whole thing blew up in his face.
Apr-29-20  edwardsrick: One of the most famous games indeed... Actually, modern chess engines sometimes struggle with the proper evaluation after Bxh2.

You can analyze this position with the engine here:

The biggest difference is that a human can, at least in theory, solve a mathematical problem without needing a calculator.

May-02-20  Chesgambit: hmm sorry bxh2 not playing for win position but is equal 36...a6 draw ( very high depth analysis server analysis)
May-02-20  Chesgambit: equal because black can force b6 a5 and it's equal ( kd6 kc5 ideas) otherwise white can win with epic way
May-02-20  Chesgambit: Spassky vs Krogius,N ( 1958 )
Bxc5 played
I notice it at depth 79 position is equal not a6 Ke5 ke4 draw a6 is maybe losing or draw I looked chessbase database depth 66 ( a5 b6 Bg5 Ke6 Black : a6 b7 Kc8)
0 but maybe white have winning idea
36...Ke5 is draw or not?
May-02-20  Chesgambit: @Fusilli Fischer thinks about a4 -b6 (or a5 b6) a6 -b7 position maybe he thinks I losing at this positions
May-02-20  Chesgambit: I used 7 pieces database 36...a6 is draw of course
May-03-20  joddon: never will I forget this game,Fischer cant get his BISHOP OUT!!
May-05-20  Chesgambit: @joddon it's not mistake fischer just calculated some long variations but don't see zugzwang idea Kd5??
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