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Robert James Fischer vs Boris Spassky
Havana ol (Men) fin-A (1966), Havana CUB, rd 2, Nov-14
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Smyslov Defense (C93)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-14-11  Ulhumbrus: <Everett: <Ulhumbrus: 36 Bxe5 leads to opposite coloured bishops after 36...Rxe5 37 Qxb8 Rxb8 38 Rxd7 but on 38...Rf8 39 Ra7 wins a pawn> What about 38..Re7 as a response to the pressure of f7? I still wouldn't want to be Spassky after 39.Rxe7 Bxe7 40.e5, and Fischer may have had something better to play...>

On 36 Bxe5 Rxe5 37 Qxb8 Rxb8 38 Rxd7 Re7 an alternative to 39 Rxe7 is 39 Red1. A first point is that Black can't play ...Bb2 if the Black KB has to defend the Rook on e7. A second point is that on 39...Rxd7 40 Rxd7 the attack on f7 gives Black no time for 40 ...Bb2 and on 40....Rf8 41 Ra7 Bb2 42 Rxa6 White's Queen side attack has arrived first. Finally on 39...Rbf8 40 Rxe7 Bxe7 41 Rd7 Bf6 42 Ra7 once again White's Queen side attack has arrived first.

Sep-14-11  scormus: <Benzol and Everett> yes it does seem move 36 was a critical point. Curious, in hindsight, that he went for grabbing the a6 pawn whcih was inferior, as (of course) was grabbing a pawn in game 1 of WC).

Fischer's thinking was always so exact, did he go through a phase when he (privately) felt Spassky was too much for him, and needed to resort to pawn grabbing.

36 Bxe5 seems a very natural way to gain an advantage, so why did he not play it? Zeitnot?

Sep-14-11  scormus: But perhaps what I should have written first was ... what a complex game in its depth and subtlety. In those days we were not surprised to see such games at the highest level ... Bottvinik, Smyslov, Petrosian. But today .... can you imagine Topalov playing such a game on either side? Like everything else, chess has become much more "in your face"
Apr-02-13  leka: Scormus do not downgrade the modern players like Toplalov or the older genaration like Paul Morphy.Jeff Sonas gives to Morphy rating 2743 a joke.The real rating for Morphy closer to 2900.Fischer 36.Queen a6???? and Spassky 40..Queen b7????? And these players had 2.5 hours for 40 moves todays games 2 hour per 40 moves.And Fischer and Spaasky could analyse the game after 40 moves in the whole night.In the chess Canidats Magnus Carlsen played 7 hours long games in the same day.You can not compare 1960s games to the modern shorter thinking time format.Today Carlsen and Kramnik can not analyse the game whole night after 40 moves
Apr-02-13  leka: The correction Topalov
Apr-02-13  leka: In the Candidates 2013 Carlsen played 7 hours in a row
Apr-02-13  hcgflynn: How about 53. - Rb1?
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <hcgflynn: How about 53. - Rb1?>

It lets white in on the a file.


The rook, bishop, and king
(thru g5) will harass the black king.

Apr-03-13  hcgflynn: Might be true, but black will have a passed pawn... maybe worths the risk? :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Bobby should've won this and blew it.

Players in the 60's did'nt meet each other that often and Bobby played even less so.... er ... History gets to fill in the gaps ....

Apr-03-13  leka: B.Spassky could have tried 14..knight c4 as good as 17...c5 Also later 17..rook c8 or 17...Queen b6 Spassky got a weaker position you have to improve somewhere earlier
Oct-06-14  Howard: For the record, Andrew Soltis discussed this game briefly in the most recent issue of Chess Life.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: A game from Round 2. Played, I believe, on 14th November 1966. It had been postponed from 5th November 1966.
Jul-18-16  Lt.Surena: There is a very interesting story behind this game.

Bobby was originally scheduled to play the World Champion Petrosian here at table one. However, Rabbi Bobby went Sabbatical (pun intended) and claimed he was an observant jew (LMAO) and refused (Chickened out) to play the Wrold Champ Petrosian so he could observe Jewish Sabbath that day. US team defaulted. Tigran went on and played/spanked Larsen instead to win the gold medal at table one.

Later on, the USSR team agreed to re-play USA. However, it was Boris's turn to play table one much to Bobby's relief.

GM Ray Keene recalls what happened in Havana at Larsen vs Petrosian, 1966 when he observed Tigran substitute game Larsen-Petrosian Havana 1966.

This goes to prove "Everett:" 's point that Bobby in fact did pick and choose his opponents and the time to play them. A new low for Bobby to use religion to duck opponents.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Lt. Surena>, Bobby never claimed to be an observant Jew. His church did observe Saturday as the Sabbath though.

Here is the real story. Part 1

<A good deal was said, however, in all the Havana papers about Fischer's refusal to play before 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 5th. It has been generally accepted, for the past year or two, that Fischer never plays, or even discusses the game, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday; that period is, he says, his "holy day." He has gotten religion, but no one has been able to find out which, or whether it has a brand name; the subject is one of several that Bobby flatly refuses to discuss.

Still, Lt. Col. Edmund Edmondson, Executive Director of the U.S. Chess Federation, had raised this point when making arrangements with one of the responsible Cuban officials prior to the departure of the U.S. team; and he had been assured that Bobby's Sabbath would be respected. But on Nov. 5, when, by the luck of the draw, the Russians were asked to postpone the start of Fischer's game against Petrosian, from 4 to 6 p.m., Alex Serov, manager of the Russian team, not only refused but treated U.S. team captain Donald Byrne to a lengthy, irrelevant anti-American harangue.

At this point, Byrne filled in Col. Edmondson, in New York, by telephone. After consultation between our team members, captain Byrne, and USCF officers (by telephone), the U.S. position was that our team had gone to Havana after being assured that schedule variations would be made to permit Fischer's participation in accordance with his religious beliefs. Anyone refusing to honor this agreement was, therefore, refusing to play the U.S. team, since Fischer was so obviously the team leader in playing strength. Olympiad officials, and the Soviet team, were notified that the U.S. team would be present to start the round at 6 p.m. in accordance with our prior arrangement. Serov, again with irrelevant remarks (this time disparaging Fischer's playing strength), flatly refused to compete and said his team would be present at 4 p.m. When he received word of the Soviet stand, Col. Edmondson sent the following caable to Mr. Folke Rogard, President of F.I.D.E. in Stockholm: "USSR REFUSED PLAY USA MATCH UNDER ORGANIZING COMMITTEE AGREEMENT DELAY FISCHER GAME START. YOUR INTERVENTION URGENTLY REQUESTED FOR SOVIET COMPLIANCE. IF THEY CONTINUE REFUSAL WE CLAIM 4-0 FORFEIT.">

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Part 2
<Back in Havana, the U.S. team arrived at the playing site at 6 p.m. to find that a rather premature action had been taken; the USSR – USA match score had been posted as a 4-0 forfeit in favor of the Soviets, with no one having yet learned the views of F.I.D.E. President Rogard. Since everyone else – even the Soviet players – wanted the match to be played, it seemed that their manager had gone off on a tangent contrary to the interests of chess. Upon hearing this news, team captain Byrne reiterated the U.S. position to chess officials on the scene. From New York, Col. Edmondson sent clarifying messages to various parties who would be interested in a fair outcome of the dispute.

The next day, F.I.D.E. President Rogard's recommendations reached Havana. He asked first of all that "a friendly agreement be obtained" to reschedule and play the match; stated that if the parties refused an Arbitration Council would have to be set up to reschedule the match; or, if rescheduling were found not possible nor appropriate, the match results could be scored as a 2-2 tie.

"Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds," and Serov was nothing else if not consistent; he refused to consider the possibility of "friendly agreement."

Accordingly, on November 9, an Arbitration Council – with members from Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Cuba, and Czechoslovakia – taking into account the fact that prior to Nov. 5 every other team had agreed to accommodate Fischer's scruple, urged the Russians to agree to a rescheduling of the match. Igor Bondarevsky, captain of the Russian team, had at this point suddenly replaced Serov as Soviet spokesman. Bondarevsky explained that, since the incident had developed "international repercussions," the decision would have to be made by his home federation. He added that one could be expected in a few days. But the very next day, Jesus Betancourt, director of INDER (the Cuban Sports Federation) announced that, in order not to doisappoint their Cuban public, the Russians had agreed to have the match rescheduled for Nov. 14th. This was instantly hailed by the Havana papers as a "noble gesture," and for the next several days they publicized the coming match. (One cartoon depicted Petrosian and Fischer in baseball garb, warming up in the pitcher's bullpen to compete against one another.) Came the big day, and the Russians – for "tactical reasons" – replaced the cautious Petrosian with Spassky against Fischer, to the distinct disappointment of not only the Cuban public but chess fans everywhere. Fischer, conducting White, exploited an opening advantage and achieved a winning bind in 35 moves; but on the 36th, with 45 minutes at his disposal, he made a hasty Pawn snatch and followed it up with a careless rejoinder which permitted Spassky to salvage a draw. On board 2, ex-world champion Mikhail Tal soundly trounced our Robert Byrne. On board 3, Pal Benko held Soviet champion Leonid Stein to a draw. On board 4, Lev Polugaevsky drew with me in a hard-fought contest. The score: 2.5 – 1.5 in favor of the Russians.>

Jul-18-16  RookFile: How strong that team was. For tactical reasons, you replace the world champion with the man who will be the next world champion. Meanwhile, a former champ is putting the decisive point up on the board on board two.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Small wonder the Soviet side were invincible from Dubrovnik 1950 through Nice 1974, only failing to win the gold in 1978 at Buenos Aires due to a superb performance by Hungary, while missing Karpov.
Jul-19-16  Retireborn: <perfidious> I'm working through NiC 2000/8 where Leko, analysing his win against Khalifman at Istanbul 2000, says it's the first time Hungary beat Russia in the Olympiad match.

In 1978 the score was 2.5-1.5 to the USSR, thanks to Spassky beating Portisch's French defence on top board. Khalifman played the French too, funnily enough!

Jul-19-16  Howard: Keep in mind though that "Russia" did not exist until January 1, 1992. Before that, it was the Soviet Union.

Thus, trying to compare 2000 with, say, 1978 is not really a valid comparison.

Jul-19-16  Retireborn: It's true that the 1978 team with Petrosian and Vaganian was half Armenian, but Leko evidently felt that the comparison was valid emotionally, at least.
Jun-06-17  machuelo: to the Focus: Would you please tell me where the Edmondson commentaries were first published. Thank you.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: Analyzing:

Premium Chessgames Member
  laskereshevsky: I think leko was talking about Russia-Hungary matches cause Hungary has beaten USSR twice.

FIRST Moscow 1956:
GM Barcza 1-0 Smyslov
GM Szabo,IM Benkő,IM Bély 1/2 Vs Botvinnik,Keres,Taimanov

SECOND Skopje 1972
GM Bilek 1-0 Korchnoi
GM Portisch,IM Forintos,IM Ribli 1/2 vs Petrosian, Smyslov, Tal

(Soviets all GMs)

the whole record is 17 matches
With +10 =5 -2 in USSR favour

Jan-29-19  gokusano: <SECOND Skopje 1972
GM Bilek 1-0 Korchnoi
GM Portisch,IM Forintos,IM Ribli 1/2 vs Petrosian, Smyslov, Tal

(Soviets all GMs)>

Except Korchnoi, the rest of the Russians were all ex-champion of the world, wow! And Korchnoi years later, became a challenger. What a formidable line-up, only to be trampled by the hungry for win Hungarian.

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