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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (game of the day Apr-26-2022)
Spassky - Fischer World Championship Match (1972), Reykjavik ISL, rd 3, Jul-16
Benoni Defense: Knight's Tour Variation (A61)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Olavi: Timman commented that Spassky simply let himself be slaughtered.>

I agree with Timman: Spassky did nothing during the whole game.

In the first 10 games of the match he seemed to be slumbering.

Apr-26-22  Phony Benoni: This was the game that inspired my love of the Modern Benoni. Fischer has a lot to answer for.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Only a months, perhaps only weeks, after this game, the ...Nh5 idea got pummeled in Gligoric vs Kavalek, 1972. Theory advanced pretty darn quickly back then.
Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Note to self, plug into the computer: If 11...Ne5 12. f4 what is the best possible move
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <Phony Benoni> Hikaru Nakamura, commenting on the final game of the Le Quang Liem-Carlsen match at the Oslo Esports Cup:

<As everybody knows, this is a very famous opening where Black has the structure c5-d6 versus e4 and d5. We call it the Ben-Oni. . . . It's considered very dubious at the grandmaster level. Even the name itself says a lot about the opening. Ben-Oni - I believe it's in Yiddish - means "son of sorrow." So it's a very sad opening, and there's a reason that it's called that. Because obviously when you play it you're sad, you're in pain, and you expect to lose the game of chess.>

Apr-26-22  Phony Benoni: <FSR> Well, to get bac to the source, there's Gneesis 3516-18:

<"16 Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. 17 And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” 18 As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni.[a] But his father named him Benjamin.[b"

[a] Son of sorrow
[b] Son of my right hand

I can't recall offhand how the name got applied to the opening. Maybe it's in the Apocrypha.

Apr-26-22  Brenin: <FSR, PB>: From Wikipedia, "Benoni Defense": <In 1825 Aaron Reinganum, a prominent member of the Frankfurt Jewish community, published a book entitled Ben-Oni oder die Vertheidigungen gegen die Gambitzüge im Schache in which he analyzed several defences to the King's Gambit and the Queen's Gambit, as well as the then unknown opening 1.d4 c5. Reinganum, who studied chess to alleviate his depression, conceived the name "Ben-Oni" as a nickname for his writings rather than the name of an opening.>
Apr-26-22  goodevans: Some of Missy's oh-so-clever puns accompany decidedly grim games but this one...

A contender for pun of the year?

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The opening is named after a river in Guyana.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Teyss: Good pun, too bad the song wasn't issued in 1972.

Could also have been "57 Channels (And Nothin' On)" albeit issued later.

For info it was the last winning game of this great match not to be punned, apart from Fischer vs Spassky, 1972 of course.

Apr-26-22  goodevans: <offramp> I think you'll find the river was named after Reinganum's book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Charlize Theron was born in Benoni, Transvaal, South Africa.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Spassky should have played 15.f3.
Apr-26-22  Phony Benoni: <Brenin> I like that account, for it shows that the opening was not his sorrow, but part of the way in which he dealt with his problems. If that's all chess does for us, it's plenty.

I think it was C H. O'D. Alexander who said, <"If God played God in the Benoni, I think White would win. But, at lower levels, Black has excellent practical chances.">

Fortunately for me, I play at one of those lower levels where the position you get is not as important as what you do with the position you get.

Jun-20-22  CapablancaDisciple: These are the times plus a few comments for this game (from the website

<<Game 3, July 16-17, 1972

Spassky Fischer
White Black
1. d4 (0:00) Nf6 (0:09)
2. c4 e6
3. Nf3 c5
4. d5 exd5
5. cxd5 d6
6. Nc3 g6
7. Nd2 Nbd7
8. e4 (0:11) Bg7 (0:24)
9. Be2 (0:15) 0-0 (0:24)
10. 0-0 (0:15) Re8 (0:31)
11. Qc2 (0:17) Nh5 (0:40)
12. Bxh5 (0:40) gxh5 (0:40)
13. Nc4 (0:40) Ne5 (0:41)
14. Ne3 (0:43) Qh4 (0:48)
15. Bd2 (0:47) Ng4 (1:03)
16. Nxg4 (0:52) hxg4 (1:03)
17. Bf4 (1:04) Qf6 (1:04)
18. g3 (1:05) Bd7 (1:07)
19. a4 (1:07) b6 (1:11)
20. Rfe1 (1:10) a6 (1:11)
21. Re2 b5
22. Rae1 (1:23) Qg6 (1:16)
23. b3 (1:23) Re7 (1:24)
24. Qd3 (1:33) Rb8 (1:25)
25. axb5 (1:34) axb5 (1:25)
26. b4 (1:35) c4 (1:30)
27. Qd2 (1:41) Rbe8 (1:33)
28. Re3 (1:55) h5 (1:35)
29. R3e2 (2:04) Kh7 (1:45)
30. Re3 (2:04) Kg8 (1:47)
31. R3e2 (2:04) Bxc3 (1:48)
32. Qxc3 (2:04) Rxe4 (1:49)
33. Rxe4 (2:06) Rxe4 (1:51)
34. Rxe4 (2:10) Qxe4 (1:51)
35. Bh6 (2:12) Qg6 (1:51)
36. Bc1 (2:13) Qb1 (1:57)
37. Kf1 (2:20) Bf5 (2:00)
38. Ke2 (2:20) Qe4+ (2:10)
39. Qe3 (2:21) Qc2+ (2:10)
40. Qd2 (2:22) Qb3 (2:11)
41. Qd4 (2:48) Bd3+ (s) (2:20)

The time control for the games of this match was 40 moves in 2 1/2 hours followed by 16 moves per hour thereafter.

(s) after a move indicates a sealed move.

Spassky spent 26 minutes on his 41st move, and played it just before the end of the first 5-hour playing session. So Fischer either had to reply quickly, or seal his move when instructed by the arbiter. He sealed his move.

At the start of the second session on the following day, the arbiter played Fischer’s sealed move on the board and started Spassky’s clock, with Fischer absent. Spassky waited a few minutes, then resigned and left. Soon, Fischer showed up, quickly completed the formalities, and then hurried out. That is the way I remember it; Fischer and Spassky never faced each other at this adjournment session.

Note on moves 1-18:
After Spassky’s 8th move, I started to jot down the times, having seen Spassky’s clock on the closed circuit TV. After Fischer’s 18th move, while Spassky was thinking, the TV showed 1:07 on Fischer’s clock, according to my notes. Although my time for Spassky was OK, I was somehow short by 9 minutes on Fischer’s time, which I had recorded as 0:58.>

According to this, Fischer took 9 minutes to play the move 11... Nh5 after which Spassky played 12. Bxh5 immediately!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Caissalove: Surely Spassky took 23 minutes before deciding on 12. Bxh5 �. if we are to accept the timings as shown?
Aug-05-22  Little Caezarz: Yes, (0:17) + 23 minutes = (0:40) minutes of accumulated think time.
Aug-31-22  CapablancaDisciple: Yes, my bad, Spassky took 23 minutes to play Bxh5
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <joddon: 14.ne3...terrible move move for championship mode....Spassky must have started to feel uncomfortable at this point and afterwards as well..>

It's considered best by stockfish, Spassky's
problems came later.

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Ulhumbrus: 14...Qh4 threatens 15...Ng4 forcing White to improve Black's shattered pawn structure by 15 Nxg4 hxg4.

Can White do something to answer the threat and avoid improving Black's shattered pawn structure?>


click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Honza Cervenka: Spassky should have played 15.f3.>

Just noticed, Honza Cervenka already mentioned it.

Feb-21-23  N.O.F. NAJDORF: <Honza Cervenka: Spassky should have played 15.f3.>

Kraidman played it as early as the eleventh move and went on to miss two winning chances against Fischer:

Kraidman vs Fischer, 1968

Feb-22-23  SChesshevsky: <Spassky should have played 15. f3>

Yeah, probably objectively best. But don't think can fault how Spassky played the opening.

After Fischer cleverly opens lines on the king side, Spassky now has to consider both trying to get the thematic e5 in without weakening king too much. Move f4 is typically the move to prep e5. But with the open file and strong black DSB maybe not appetizing.

Spassky's answer looked ok. He closes the file and gets a decent Bf4 which can support e5. Unfortunately, Fischer gets the Qside going, Spassky maybe loses a tempo, and never gets e5 counter play.

While f3 is probably good, I'm not sure what the idea is. In the Kraidman game, he does get in f4 after it looks like Fischer goofs around in a fairly passive opening. But can a tempo burning f3, f4 be counted on?

Sep-23-23  N.O.F. NAJDORF: <While f3 is probably good, I'm not sure what the idea is.>

White has to play f3 eventually if he is to save his e-pawn.

After 15. Bd2, he cannot play f3 because of:

17. f3 Bd4+ 18. Kh1 g3 19. h3 Bxh3

Oct-03-23  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Would not 12. f4 have been better than 12. Bxh5?

For example,

12. f4 Bd4+ 13. Kh1 Qh4 14. Bxh5

followed by 16. Nf3 ?

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