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Robert Byrne vs Boris Spassky
Spassky - Byrne Candidates Quarterfinal (1974), San Juan PUR, rd 3, Jan-18
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Zaitsev Hybrid (C95)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-25-04  Almanzor2: Yes. Another player who has a good collection of Queen sacrifices is Nezhmetdinov. He always loved to sacrifice his Queen! Check out these two games: Polugaevsky vs Nezhmetdinov, 1958 0-1; Nezhmetdinov vs O Chernikov, 1962 1-0 I am sure Tal has some as well.
Feb-15-05  checkpat: Why not 25Qc2? Byrne has plenty of time to save his Q
Feb-15-05  euripides: <checkpat> after 22 Qc2 Black plays 22..fxg2 with the threat of Nf3+ and Ne1+, so 23 Rxe5 Rxe5 with threats on the e file e.g. 24 Rd1 Rde8 25 Qc1 ab and Black looks much better. 22 Qc1 might allow White to play (22... fg) 23 Rd1 but it looks very ropey. <Alman> thanks for drawing attention to this magnificent game.
Jul-24-05  calman543: Why did white resign?
Jul-24-05  OneBadDog: <calman543> Theres nothing forced in the position, but Black still has a huge edge. White's b and h pawns are both weak and blockaded. In the endgame, two minor pieces are almost always stronger than a ♖ and in this game, Black has the two pieces plus an extra pawn. Sooner or later, Black's extra pawn will probably start avancing with the support of the ♔ and the two minor pieces. White could have played on longer, but without any hope of saving the game.
Sep-21-07  Owl: The game says its round 1 but isnt suppose to be round 3 because Spassky drawed Byrne in Round 1 and and won round 3 against byrne --am I right about this??
Sep-21-07  Owl: This is the game from the quaterfinals candiates match in 1974
Sep-22-07  savagerules: Spassky destroyed R. Byrne in this match +3 -0 =3 to advance to play Karpov. Byrne had switched to 1 e4 openings a few years earlier (probably due to Fischer's influence) after playing queen pawn openings for most of his life but it was to no avail. Byrne was never a factor again in world chess after this match in 1974.
Dec-04-07  amuralid: Tremendous intution!!!

This game can be found in "Chess Master vs Chess Master" by Max Euwe and Walter Median. Although late, I will try to give Euwe's comments to some questions and some points that I found useful for my game(approx USCF 2150). I have placed all of Euwe's comments in <quotes>

i. The break through 16... d4 is fantastic. It shows the depth of understanding that a GM has. A common trait among lower rated players is to change the center's characteristics at the wrong times. I wish I could have even 1% of a GM's understanding of openings. I usually have about 50% chance of correctly playing a central break.

ii. After 20... Rad8, (changing descriptive notation to algebraic) : <21.Nf1! Ne5 22.Qc2 fg2 23.Nh2. This is what Spassky considered to be the best defense. A white knight now controls f3 and Black's attacking cances are not very promising. On the other hand, Black has almost full compensation: two bishops and two pawns for the Queen. Spassky draws attention to the remarkable continuation: 23... g5 24.Rad1 Ng6, threatening 25... Nf4 and 26... Nh3 mate. After 25.f3 Nf4 26.Kf2 the mate is parried, but the struggle goes on.>

iii. <checkpat: Why not <sic> 25.Qc2? Byrne has plenty of time to save his Q>

If 22. Qc2 <22.Qc2 fg2 White sacrifices the Exchange: 23.Re5 (forced) Re5 24.ba6 Bf3. White must try to defend against the treat of 25... Rde8 and 26... Re1+. The best way is 25.a7 Rde8 26.a8=Q (26.Qd2 failsagainst 26... Bh6)26... Ba8 27.Ra8 Ra8 28.Kg2, and Black has the better endgame, but White still has some play.>

iv. <calman543: Why did white resign?>

<There is no point in continuing the game, Black can play in his own good time for the advance of his KBP, and in most cases he will be able to capture White's RP or NP without any compensation for White.>

v. Technique. Advantage after b4.
Psychologically this game is very well played. At our level, often against strong opposition we enter complications and may come up with an advantage (e.g.: by move 25 I think Black is winning) but then fritter it away because we are still in the complications mind frame. I really like how Spassky realizes that from move 25 onward it is a matter of technique and goes about doing the following: a) solidify/ blockade the a-passer of White
b) maintain his c-pawn
c) attack the h-pawn
d) win the a-pawn and exchange rooks
e) give away his dark squared bishop (after having exchanged one of his rooks) to obtain a solid position where White is left toothless

Jul-11-08  Petrosianic: <The game says its round 1 but isnt suppose to be round 3 because Spassky drawed Byrne in Round 1 and and won round 3 against byrne --am I right about this??>

Yes, this is definitely the 3rd game of the match.

I'd love to see the time expenditures for this game. Spassky must have been in horrible time trouble. Notice how many times he repeats the Nh2-Nf3 sequence at every opportunity to get to Move 40 faster.

Jul-11-08  Magic Castle: <Calman 54: Why did white resigned?> White rook cannot capture white pawns and bishop as they defend its other. Black then marches his King and Knight to capture more pawns. Since white Rook is inutile, better resigned than be ridiculed and suffer slow death.
Oct-28-08  savagerules: Byrne had under the influence of Fischer had switched solely to 1 e4 and copied Fischer's defense of Najdorf and King's Indian but unfortunately for him, he was no Bobby as Spassky proved in this match destroying him 4.5 to 1.5 and sending Byrne's career on a downward spiral.
Oct-28-08  MaxxLange: well, Spassky was the stronger player
Oct-29-08  Peter Nemenyi: Byrne was forty-six at the time of this match, startlingly old to be at the high point of his career, and it's no surprise that he declined sharply thereafter. Age is generally a better explanation of a chessplayer's decline than psychology, which is why I've never believed that Fischer broke Taimanov and Larsen mentally; they were due to regress badly after 1971 anyway.
Dec-30-09  M.D. Wilson: Playing Fischer didn't help, Peter.
Dec-30-09  AnalyzeThis: I think that decline is really tied to motivation. Korchnoi did fine, he was still motivated. Most other people, at some point, start to wonder why exactly they are spending their whole lives staring at wooden chess pieces.
Dec-30-09  ughaibu: Then they switch to online chess.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Another defensive idea is <<21.Qd4> Nxe5 <22.Qa7> Bd5 23.Qxc7 fxg2 24.Re3 =>

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Or <21.e6 Ne5 22.exf7+ Kxf7 23.Qc1 fxg2 24.Qf4+ Kg8>

click for larger view

e.g. <25.Ne4 Rf8 26.Nf6+ Bxf6 27.Rxe5 Bxe5 28.Qxe5>

click for larger view

with 28...Rd3 or 28... Rd2, about equal

Mar-06-11  notyetagm: Wow, brilliant game by Spassky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: With best play Spassky's queen sacrifice seems to lead to a position with equal play. Byrne could have played better after the queen sac.
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: Spassky was criticised in the USSR chess media for his risky play which seems unfair. In his book of the candidates matches, Byrne admitted that the strategy of returning the Queen with 22 bxa6 was "not correct" and that the pressure of the match got to him. He felt that Spassky judged the moment was psychologically right to play 19..exf3
Mar-13-19  Howard: 27...Rd8! was far stronger according to Stockfish, leading to a completely won position for Spassky.
Mar-13-19  Howard: 27...Rd8! was far stronger according to Stockfish, leading to a completely won position for Spassky.

Personally, I first became familiar with this game through the excellent book Chess Master vs. Chess Master.

Mar-13-19  Petrosianic: <Annotator: 1. a "friendly guide" to the complexities of master play, who first cites the MCO column for the game under review, then remains silent until White is a rook ahead, and finally, points out how Black could have held out longer; alternately, someone whose grasp of chess books doesn't extend beyond his library on the opening.>

In fact, 27...Rd8 is inferior to what was played, for reasons already discussed.

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