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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 41 OF 42 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Bobby Fischer was better than Boris Spassky at this moment in time. Much better.

Bobby Fischer had been the best chess player in the world long before this match.... Soviet Commie influence over FIDE had kept Bobby at bay...

May-30-18  FredGambit: I've never before seen such a fanatical, unshakable determination to say nothing over and over and over again. I'm in awe of <harrylime>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <harrylime> For those with an open mind, we're trying to prove or disprove in a conclusive way whether the game was theoretically lost or drawn for Black after 29...Bxh2. But, since you've already made up your mind and are unwilling or incapable of expressing an opinion, it shouldn' be of any interest to you whatsoever.

But you're right about the bonkers part.

May-31-18  morfishine: <FredGambit> On your comment: <I've never before seen such a fanatical, unshakable determination to say nothing over and over and over again. I'm in awe of <harrylime>> LMAO, thats why I have this obnoxious boor on permanent ignore: This way he can really say nothing ROFL
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <AylerKupp>
<we're trying to prove or disprove in a conclusive way whether the game was theoretically lost or drawn for Black after 29...Bxh2>

In my case, I was only trying to rebut a claim that the draw for Black was <easy>. <If so, then how did Fischer miss it?>

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <beatgiant> I don't remember anyone calling a draw for Black <after> 29...Bxh2 as being easy. Before 29...Bxh2 maybe, but not afterwards. All I've ever said is that what was likely a "simple" draw (to at least a top level GM) before 29...Bxh2 became a difficult draw after 29...Bxh2, and it was so hard that Fischer missed the best continuation and lost.

Besides, whatever is proven or disproven as a result of extensive engine and/or tablebase analysis has to be qualified as being "technical". We should never forget that a chess game is played between two human beings under time constraints and, in this game in particular since it was the first round of a WCC match that had attracted a lot of attention, probably with more pressure on either player than usual. Even if the result after 29...Bxh2 was a theoretical draw for Black, it doesn't mean that Fischer would necessarily find it, as indeed he didn't in this game. Likewise, even if the results after 29...Bxh2 was a theoretical win for White, it doesn't mean that Spassky would necessarily find it either, particularly after best play by Fischer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <AylerKupp>
Then I will spell it out for you.

More times than I can count, kibitzers here have claimed to prove a draw with the aid of short and simplistic computer analysis.

In the most recent case, we were shown a long, practically single-branched line containing a horrendous blunder in the middle, ending in a book draw which a computer mis-evaluated, and a firmly stated belief that it would become the analytical main line if only a 7-piece tablebase were added to the engine.

That's the kind of thing I mean by <too easy>.

Jul-12-18  Albion 1959: Forty six years to the day and it is time to revisit the opening game of this historic match. Of course much of the attention has been focused on move 29 Bxh2. Should it be given as ?? or maybe !? or ?!. It certainly livens up the game and avoided what would have been a dull draw. Hindsight is a wonderful thing to have, even more so 46 years later with computers and powerful far-reaching search engines. But back in 1972 things were very different. Fischer obviously miscalculated, maybe he did not carry the analysis further than he should have done? In any event from 30 onwards he was always fighting for a draw and very nearly pulled it off. The analysis all seem to agree that Bxh2 was not in itself the losing move and that Fischer's mistake came later on. Possibly Ke7 on move 30 to centralise the king is an improvement on h5? It is accepted that Fischer's losing move was on move 40 with f4?? instead of Kd5 gaining a tempo by attacking the bishop. However, it needed accurate technique from Spassky to score the win, though he did have the advantage of an adjournment and the use of seconds to find the winning path. I wonder if had to play this ending as an allegro finish, would he still have found the win over the board ? A fascinating endgame study, only made possible by Fischer's refusal to take an easy on draw that was on offer. A trait of Fischer's play (which I admire ) is that he would often take games to their limits !
Sep-02-18  CharlesSullivan: Here begins the first post about the crucial stages of this game.


Black has three moves that can still lead to a draw: 35...Kd6, 35...g6, and 35...a6. Fischer, as was his custom, chose the most direct one.

click for larger view

(Position above after 35...Kd6)


"This is a perfectly reasonable move ... But perhaps 36 a4 was a little slow?" Thus wrote Jonathan Speelman (<Analysing the Endgame> (1981), p.78) as he was about to spend six pages examining analysis produced by Fridrik Olafsson. Olafsson indicated that White can (probably) force a win here with 36.Kg4. Olafsson's claim of a win for 36.Kg4, coming from a high-ranking grandmaster, was extremely influential, and was generally accepted to be true. Timman's 2nd English edition (2003) of <Fischer World Champion!> and <Garry Kasparov on Fischer (2004)> both quoted analysis supporting Olafsson's claim. However, Karsten Müller's <Bobby Fischer> (2009) quoted analysis from Speelman's book demonstrating that 36.Kg4 Ke5! 37.Kh5 Ke4!! will draw. Interestingly, also in 2009, Timman's 3rd English edition finally notices Speelman's contribution from 1981 and concedes that 36.Kg4 does not win by force. (Somewhat oddly, the question mark is still attached to 36.Kg4 in Timman's book.)
Almost as a footnote to this tempest, I will note that after 36.Kg4, there are actually four moves that Black can safely play: 36...Ke5, 36...Kd5, 36...Kc5, and 36...g6.

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(Position above after 36.a4)


Black has five moves that can still lead to a draw: 36...Kd5, 36...Kc5, 36...Ke5, 36...a6, and 36...g6. Ken Smith and Ludek Pachman both thought that Black must avoid 36...Kc5 37.Ba3, but 37...Kd5!! draws; for example, 38.Kg4 Ke4 39.Bc5 a6 40.b6 g6, etc.

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(Position above after 37.Ba3


Ludek Pachman thought that Black's 37...Ke4 was the losing move. However, we shall see that that is untrue. In fact, Black has four moves that can still lead to a draw: 37...Ke4, 37...e5, 37...a6, and 37...g6.

My next posting will be about Fischer's losing move ...

Sep-03-18  CharlesSullivan: The second post about the crucial stages of this game.

38.Bc5 a6 39.b6 f5(??) (The losing move)

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(Position above after 39.b6)

Reshevsky and Robert Byrne both published books which indicate that Black's 29...Bxh2 was the losing move; Pachman and Mednis both wrote books that said Black's 37...Ke4 was the losing move; Gligoric actually thought that Black's 40th move was the loser. However, more recent books (those by Speelman, Kasparov, Timman, and Müller) now point to 39...f5 as the reason for Fischer's defeat.

There are actually three moves that can still lead to a draw: 39...Kf5, 39...e5, and 39...g6.

[1] <39...Kf5>

As far as I know, only Reshevsky even mentions 39...Kf5 as a defensive try, and he wrote that it would be "unavailing." But after 39...Kf5 40.Kf3 e5! (instead of Reshevsky's 40...g5??) Black has a fairly smooth draw by reaching the stalemate position in the corner: 41.e4 Ke6 42.Bf8 g6 43.Bb4 f5 44.Be1 Kd6 45.Bb4+ Kc6 46.a5 fxe4+ 47.Kxe4 Kd7 48.Kxe5 Kc8 49.Kf6 g5 50.Kxg5 Kd8 51.Kf6 Kc8 52.Ke7 Kb8 53.Kd8 Ka8 54.Kc8 (Stalemate) DRAW:

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Being able to reach this corner (and stalemate) is a recurring theme in many drawing variations in this endgame.

After 39...Kf5, 40.Kh4 forces Black to find 40...g6! (the only move to draw) when play might continue 41.Kg3 e5 42.Kf3 Ke6 43.Bb4 and now 43...f5, 43...Kd5, 43...Kf7, 43...Kf5, and 43...Kd7 all lead to draws.

[2] <39...e5> and [3] <39...g6>

Gligoric thought he refuted 39...e5 with 40.Kg4 g6 41.Be7 Kxe3 42.Bxf6, but Timman correctly states that 42...Kd4! draws. This position can also be reached by transposition beginning with 39...g6: 40.Kg4 e5 41.Be7 Kxe3 42.Bxf6 Kd4!. The finish might be 43.Kg5 Kc5 44.Bd8 a5 45.Kxg6 e4 46.Kf5 e3 47.Ke6 e2 48.Bh4 Kxb6:

click for larger view

Black will abandon his 3 pawns and White cannot force a queen with the "wrong" bishop.

Pachman thought 39...e5 40.Kg4 g6 41.Kg3 f5 42.Kh4 f4 43.exf4 Kxf4 44.Be7 e4 45.Bg5+ Kf3 46.Bc1 e3 47.Kg5 e2 48.Bd2 wins (after 48...Kf2?? 49.Kxg6), but 48...Ke4!! draws:

click for larger view

An interesting finish would be 49.Kf6 Kd5 50.Ke7 g5 51.Be1 g4 52.Kd7 Ke4 53.Kc7 Kf3 54.Kxb7 g3 55.Bxg3 Kxg3 56.Kxa6 e1=Q 57.b7 DRAW

Botvinnik gave 39...e5 40.Bf8 Kxe3 41.Bxg7 Kd4 42.Bxf6 Kc5 43.Bd8 Kb4 44.Kf3 Kxa4 45.Ke4 Kb5 46.Kd5 and now Prins found 46...a5! when Black has enough counterplay to ensure the draw.

The next posting will show that Black had no salvation at move 40.

Sep-03-18  CharlesSullivan: The third post about the crucial stages of this game.

40. Kh4 f4

Is Black's game irretrievably lost after 40.Kh4? Perhaps Black has a saving resource? As Pachman wrote: "After the game a widely held view was that Black could have saved the game by 40...Kd5. This is incorrect." To support his view, he gave 40...Kd5 41.Bb4! Kc6 42.Ba5 (42.a5 also wins, as Kasparov found) 42...Kc5 43.Kg5 Kc4 44.Kg6 Kd3 45.Kxg7 Kxe3 46.Kf6 f4 47.Kxe6 f3 48.Be1

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and White obviously wins.

More difficult to crack is 40...Kd5 41.Bb4! Ke4:

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If White tries to protect his e-pawn with 42.Bc5, then 42...Kd5! and White -- to maintain a won game -- must repeat the position with 43.Bb4 Ke4. So the only way forward is 42.Bd2 Kd3 43.Bc1 Kc2 44.Ba3 Kd3 45.Bc5! Kc4:

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(Analysis position. What is White's correct 46th move?)

As Jonathan Speelman wrote, "By a very complicated manoeuvre White has lured the Black king to c4 instead of d5 so that a later ...♔c6 in one move is impossible." This variation was worked out by Jeffrey Kastner of the Manhattan Chess Club with later help by Robert Byrne and Bent Larsen. Speelman later used the analysis as part of his chapter on this Spassky-Fischer game.

(Surprisingly, none of these players published a completely convincing conclusion to this variation. Both Byrne and Speelman continued with 46.Bf8 Kd3 47.Bxg7 Kxe3 48.Kg5 Ke4 49.Bc3 Kd5 50.Be1. Byrne continued 50...Kc5 51.Bf2+, but now 51...Kd6, 51...Kc6, or 51...Kd5 (instead of Byrne's 51...Kb4) leads to a draw. Speelman continued 50...a5 51.Bf2 Kd6 52.Kf6 and now 52...Kd7 keeps the draw.)

As far as I know, Kasparov (in 2004) was the first to give a correct 46th move: 46.Bd6. As Karsten Müller noted, "Kasparov ends here." Müller provided the conclusion: 46...Kd5 47.Bf4! e5 48.Bh2 f4 49.exf4 exf4 50.Kg4! (50.Bxf4? Kc5!!=) 50...Kc5 51.Bg1+ Kb4 52.Kxf4 Kxa4 53.Ke5 Kb4 54.Kd6 a5 55.Kc7 a4 56.Kxb7 winning.

There is another winning 46th move: 46.Be7; e.g., 46...Kd3 47.Bg5 e5 48.Kh5 f4 49.exf4 exf4

click for larger view

50.Kg4!! (50.Bxf4 Kc4!!=) 50...Kc4 51.Kxf4 Kc5 52.Bd8 Kd6 53.Kf5 Kd7 54.Bg5 Kc6 55.Be3 Kd6 56.Kg6 wins.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <CharlesSullivan> <But after 39...Kf5 40.Kf3 e5! (instead of Reshevsky's 40...g5??) Black has a fairly smooth draw by reaching the stalemate position in the corner: 41.e4 Ke6 42.Bf8 g6 43.Bb4 f5 44.Be1 Kd6 45.Bb4+ Kc6 46. a5>

click for larger view

White should avoid being forced to make the a5 pawn push as in this line. For example, 45. Bf2 instead of 45. Bb4+, and then White gradually maneuvers his king forward, as in lines I posted above.

Sep-04-18  CharlesSullivan: <beatgiant><White should avoid being forced to make the a5 pawn push ...>
You are correct, Black wants to force White to lock the queenside pawns so that Black's king can reach the stalemate position near the a8-square. As we both noted, once White played 46.a5, Black can reach the stalemate position.
In the variation I gave, 39...Kf5 40.Kf3 e5 41.e4 Ke6 42.Bf8 g6 43.Bb4 f5 44.Be1 Kd6, your move of 45.Bf2

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is drawn after the necessary 45...a5! I hesitate to choose White's continuation since White has twelve non-winning moves in this position, but perhaps 46.exf5 gxf5 47.Be1 Kc6 48.Bxa5 Kc5 49.Ke3 Kc6 50.Kd3 f4 51.Kc4 e4 52.Kd4 f3 53.Ke3 Kc5! and I think the draw is clear enough:

click for larger view

If White moves his bishop, he loses the b6-pawn and doesn't have the right bishop to force a queen, and White's king obviously can't play Kxe4 because of ...f2.

A different try for White is to leave the resolution of the kingside pawns for later and play 46.Be1 Kc6 47.Bxa5 Kc5 48.Ke3 Kc6 49.Kd3 Kc5 50.Kc3 fxe4 51.Kd2 g5 52.Ke3 g4 53.Kxe4 Kc6! 54.Kxe5 g3 55.Be1 Kxb6:

click for larger view

This is a draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <CharlesSullivan> As I suggested and analyzed in previous kibitzing above, White should not play exf5 or use his bishop to chase the a-pawn. Instead, White's strategy should be to leave the bishop on the f2-c5 diagonal and not touch the pawns, and aim to advance his king using zugzwang. It's a busy day today, but I'll try to post an example in the next few days.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <CharlesSullivan> I analyzed the plan I outlined above, but concluded that Black is still able to draw.

White can manuever to reach a zugzwang like this:

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From here, Black defends with <1...fxe4> 2. Bg1 g5 3. Bc5 g4 4. Bg1 <Kd6>

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Now if 5. Kb5 <Kd5> looks like a draw, so White continues to temporize with 5. Be3 Kc6 6. Bc5 g3 7. Bg1 Kd6 8. Be3 g2 9. Bg1.

click for larger view

Now White has finally achieved another zugzwang to advance his king (if 9...Kc6 10. Bc5), but with Black's pawn far advanced now, he has <9...Ke6> to answer 10. Kc5 with <...Kf5> with kingside counterplay. I'm not able to find a White win. Instructive! (Or at least, I learned something.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Just for fun, I think I've worked out that the still is from just after 37 ♗a3 I don't think Fischer has played 37...♔e4 yet.

Any confirmation, better ideas?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: When someone finally gets around to compiling a list of Fischer's 60 Most memorable Moves, <29...Bxh2> will surely be tjere-- and probably in the Top Ten.
Apr-13-19  Granny O Doul: Lombardy told the story that he told Fischer after the game that he could have drawn at move 40. Fischer said nothing then, but on the day the match ended, he told Bill "you know you were right, ...Kd5 was a draw".

I don't suggest that this negates a zillion-play computer analysis; it's just a story.

Apr-13-19  rayoflight: Do You know if this game was adjourned and at which move? Tx.
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I think black was wrong to relinquish his attack on white's Q-side ♙s.

After 37...Kc4 38. Bf8 g6 39. Be7 f5 40. Kf4, black eats up the a- and b-(P)s while white is going after black's e-, f-, and g-♙s. White has to be careful. For example, 40...Kb3 41. Kg5 e5 42. Kxg6 f4, and now black has promotion threats on both wings. The ♗ may be overworked. It's far from clear who queens first.

This line was undoubtedly analyzed somewhere in the preceding 40 or so pages, but I'm not going to read them all.

Apr-13-19  Mountain1: Fischer emulates his hero playing the Morphy gambit with 29...Bxh2 and winning the WCC after going down 0-2
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It is finally Game of the Day: the worst game with the most kibitzing at

The pun is okay, especially as <Chambers Dictionary> says:

<bish (informal), noun,

a blunder, mistake.>

Did <Phony Benoni> know this? It would not be beyond his phenomenal mental ambit.

I would have preferred my own phrase, taken from <Gulliver's Travels>, see earlier kibitzing:

<"Cucumbers Into Sunlight".>

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: A lot of disappointed Americans on the day this game was played. The fuse of the Fischer chess-boom was lit.
Apr-13-19  Oldisgold: Spassky played well. It was not an easy win.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <offramp> Sorry,. I wasn't that subtle, but had only the most obvious meaning inmind. . I had just seen this game several times in the Pun Kibitzing Booth with mediocre puns and thought I couldn't do any worse.

Quality-wise, it's not a great game. Noting happens until Fischer makes an ill-advised move, whereupon Spassky wins after some more errors. Had Fischer offered a draw instead of playing 29...Bxh2, the game would be remembered only as the first game of the match and generated little kibitzing beyond the usual background chatter attached to Fischer game.

29...Bxh2 was a mistake, but it also generated excitement, uncertainty, and enough analysis to choke an engine. It made the game worth remembering. And, to my mind, being memorable is the most important quality of a GOTD.


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