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Fischer v. Spassky - Analysis by GM Daniel Naroditsky

Posted: Sat Oct 03, 2015 9:18 am
by Sean Evans
[Event "World Championship"]
[Site "Reykjavik"]
[Date "1972.07.23"]
[Round "6"]
[White "Fischer, Robert "]
[Black "Spassky, Boris "]
[Result "*"]
[ECO "D59"]
[WhiteElo "2785"]
[BlackElo "2660"]
[Plycount "34"]
[Eventdate "1972.07.11"]
[Eventtype "match"]
[Eventrounds "21"]
[Eventcountry "ISL"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[Sourcedate "1999.07.01"]

1.c4 { Bobby famously claimed that 1.e4 is "best by test," a brazen assertion
that he religiously adhered to throughout his chess career. Indeed, of the 558
games available on MegaBase, Fischer advanced the e-pawn a staggering 518
times (93%). Such uniformity is unheard-of at the elite level, but it served
Fischer remarkably well. However, match play is a different kettle of fish,
and Bobby understood that Spassky and his team had stayed up day and night
preparing for 1.e4. The experience of coming to the board - armed to the
teeth with opening weapons - and seeing a different first move must have
served as a nasty psychological blow for Boris. } 1...e6 { Throughout the 1960s and
1970s, Spassky experimented with various openings against 1.d4 and 1.c4, but
with the match already hanging in the balance, he sticks to his trusty Queen's
Gambit Declined. } 2.Nf3 d5 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.Bg5 { Nowadays, } ( 5.Bf4 { is all the rage, and the tabiya arising after } 5...O-O 6.e3 Nbd7 7.c5 { has
featured prominently in modern high-level chess. But of course, as the saying
goes, that was then, and this is now! } ) 5...O-O 6.e3 h6 7.Bh4 { As Kasparov
notes, Spassky was no novice to the intricacies of this position. Three years
earlier, Petrosian tested him with the less popular } ( 7.Bxf6 Bxf6 8.Qd2!? { , when Spassky reacted somewhat passively with 8...b6 and proceeded to lose in
rather painful fashion. There is no doubt, however, that he had minutely
analyzed the causes of his defeat and would have shown the most accurate path
to equality: } 8...dxc4 9.Bxc4 Nd7 10.O-O c5 { as in Karpov-Kasparov, Moscow (6)
1985. White's space advantage is canceled out by Black's bishop pair, and the
game is most likely to end in a colorless draw. } ) 7...b6 { This is the famous
Tartakower-Makagonov-Bondarevsky variation, an ultra-solid line that has been
around for a century and whose complexities have been analyzed and re-analyzed
in minute detail. Spassky himself had essayed it on 19 prior occasions, losing
only once (against Portisch in 1967, and only through a last-minute blunder in
a drawn position). White has been unable to demonstrate a clear path to an
edge, although he has many ways to apply pressure and Black must know a great
deal of theory to stay afloat. } ( 7...Ne4 { is a far less popular but no less
sensible alternative, aiming to exchange as many pieces as possible and
eventually to break through in the center. After the semi-forced } 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 { White has many ways to bolster the c3-knight, but - rather unsurprisingly -
most encounters between Grandmasters end peacefully. The recent game
Carlsen-Nakamura, Stavanger 2015, continued } 9.Rc1 c6 10.Qc2 Nxc3 11.Qxc3 dxc4 12.Bxc4 b6 13.O-O ( 13.Ne5 { is perhaps somewhat more testing, although } 13...Bb7 14.O-O Nd7 15.Nxd7 Qxd7 16.Rfd1 Qe7 { probably yields no more than a
symbolic edge. } ) 13...Nd7 14.Rfd1 Bb7 15.h3 c5 16.d5 exd5 17.Bxd5 Bxd5 18.Rxd5 Nf6 19.Rd3 Rad8 { and Black is doing swimmingly. } ) 8.cxd5 { "At the time
this was the main line. Later they began playing 8.Qc2, 8.Rc1, or 8.Be2"
(Kasparov). I should point out that changes in opening fashion do not
necessarily imply that the modern line is somehow "better" than the old line.
Usually, Grandmasters find a succesful antidote to a certain continuation, and
the fashion shifts toward a less-explored line that offers more practical
chances for an edge. } 8...Nxd5 ( 8...exd5?! { is considered inaccurate, and
understandably so. After } 9.Bd3 Bb7 10.O-O { we reach a souped-up Carlsbad in
which Black has terminally weakened his queenside pawn structure. As Kasparov
points out, Black's position remains very solid, but there is no doubt that he
will endure nasty positional pressure in the moves to come. } ) 9.Bxe7 Qxe7 10.Nxd5 exd5 11.Rc1 { Once again, Fischer opts for the main line. Interestingly,
Spassky had faced } ( 11.Be2 { three times before 1972, but it is hard to
imagine that such a modest developing move can pose Black any serious problems.
Indeed, following } 11...Be6 12.O-O c5 { Black has solved all of his problems and is
definitely not worse. } ) 11...Be6 12.Qa4 { The point. White delays the
development of his kingside (a somewhat risky venture to be sure), but applies
pre-emptive pressure on Black's queenside. Of course, Fischer did not invent
this move; it was played as early as 1936 by Eliskases, and Spassky had faced
in his 1966 World Championship Match against Petrosian. But the devilish Bobby
had an improvement up his sleeve. } ( 12.Bd3 { Once again, vanilla development
allows immediate equality with } 12...c5 { For instance, } 13.dxc5 bxc5 14.O-O Nd7 15.e4 d4 { and Black was already for choice in the high-level correspondence
game Holmberg-Jaderholm, Corr. 2006. } ) 12...c5! { Kudos to Spassky for
sticking to the principled route, even though he must have suspected that
Fischer had analyzed this position and come up with an improvement. } 13.Qa3 Rc8 14.Bb5!? { And there it is: Petrosian had preferred the modest 14.Be2,
enabling Spassky to complete his development and claim full equality (although
he did not do so in the most precise way). As Kasparov notes, this
mysterious-looking move is the invention of Russian Grandmaster Semen Furman,
who successfully uncorked it against Geller in 1970. The idea is threefold: 1.
If Black develops his knight to d7, he will constantly have to worry about the
possibility of Bxd7. 2. One of Black's seminal idea in this position is to
expand on the queenside with ...a7-a5. Now, this advance would leave the
bishop ingrained on b5 like a vengeful splinter. 3. At some point in the
future, Black might like to chase the bishop away with ...a7-a6 (notice that
the immediate 14...a6 does not actually create the threat of ...axb5). But
that would leave the b6 pawn quite tender and vulnerable to future attack.
Although Black does have a way to question the objective quality of this sally,
it is an excellent practical weapon that brought Spassky out of his comfort
zone and directly contributed to his downfall. } ( 14.Be2 { Black has numerous
ways to equalize, but perhaps the most clear-cut is } 14...a5 15.O-O Na6 { as in
Vitiugov-Tomashevsky, Saratov 2011. } ) 14...a6 { This is somewhat of a reflex
reaction, but - as we have just discussed - it is a potentially serious
concession that enables White to complete his development and obtain a small
but nagging initiative. Kasparov informs us that Russian GM and opening
theoretician Yuri Averbakh - currently the oldest Grandmaster alive at 93 -
pointed out the correct path shortly after the game: } ( 14...Qb7! { The idea
of this move is straightforward: given an opportunity, Black will set in
motion a destructive queenside pawn avalanche with ...c5-c4. I hear the
question on the tip of your tongue, and it appears that } 15.dxc5 bxc5 16.Rxc5 Rxc5 17.Qxc5 { indeed leaves White a clear pawn up for no compensation. But
after } 17...Na6! { it suddenly transpires that White's king is in mortal danger.
Despite his material advantage and positional dominance, White must tread with
the utmost caution not to get mated. It is a bit of poetic justice that the
man who introduced this idea into practice was none other than Efim Geller,
hungry for vengeance after his loss to Furman. Following } 18.Bxa6 ( 18.Qc6 Qxc6 19.Bxc6 Rb8! { and the initiative rages on despite the absence of
queens. } ) 18...Qxa6 19.Qa3 Qc4 { White must bite the bullet and enter a
somewhat worse endgame with } 20.Qc3! ( 20.Kd2 { was Timman's choice against
Geller in the stem game (Hilversum 1973), but he fell under a devastating
attack after } 20...Qg4 21.Rg1 d4! 22.Nxd4 Qh4! { and White's entire queenside
dissipates, since 23.Rf1 fails to 23...Bc4. Having been put through the meat
grinder three years earlier, Geller most definitely deserved this victory! } ) 20...Rb8 21.Qxc4 dxc4 22.b3 cxb3 23.axb3 Rxb3 24.O-O { and White should
not have too many problems holding a draw, although he must remain extremely
vigilant to keep the a-pawn in check. I am curious if Fischer was aware of the
possibility of 14...Qb7 during his preparation. In any case, finding such an
idea over the board is a next to impossible task, and - at the end of the day
- moves should be judged not only on their objective strength, but - first
and foremost - on their practical value. And 14.Bb5 was definitely a good
choice from a practical standpoint. } ) 15.dxc5 bxc5 16.O-O { Phew! White has
finally tucked his king safely away, a moral victory even though the position
remains objectively equal. The bishop is (obviously) untouchable, and Black
must choose between a litany of sensible ways to complete his development. } 16...Ra7?! { Spassky follows Geller, renewing the threat of ...axb5 and preparing to
buttress the c5-pawn by doubling on the c-file. Tempting though it appears,
this move maintains the status quo without actually taking any steps to repel
the pressure. In my view, } ( 16...Qa7 { (Larsen) was the only true route to
equality, repositioning the queen and preparing further queenside expansion
with ...a6-a5. After } 17.Ba4 a5 18.Rfd1 Na6 { Black comfortably finishes his
development while keeping his pawns safe. } ) ( 16...Qb7 { is suggested by
Kasparov (initially by Geller) as an alternate path to equality, but I am not
convinced that it does the trick: } 17.Ba4 Qb6 18.Ne5 a5 19.f4 Bf5 20.Rfd1 Be4 { Kasparov evaluates this position as equal, but } 21.Qb3! { confronts
Black with deep problems. The point is that } 21...Ra6 { is powerfully met by } 22.h3! { when Black is essentially in Zugzwang! Perhaps our Silicon buddy can find
a way to keep the balance, but Black's position looks terribly unpleasant to
me. } ) 17.Be2 Nd7 { Spassky finally deviates from Furman-Geller, choosing to
complete his development before embarking on any concrete action. Before
Spassky can take another breath, though, Fischer uncorks a powerful knight
sally that marks the beginning of a truly incredible sequence. In retrospect,
the "deterministic" } ( 17...c4 { might have been the lesser evil. Kasparov even
claims that it enables Black to equalize, but I dare to disagree. Following } 18.Qxe7 Rxe7 { White is not obliged to plant a knight on d4; } 19.b3 { is a
more serious try. Black is in an awfully nasty predicament, since 19...cxb3
creates further weaknesses on the queenside and 19...c3 is tantamount to
suicide. Black is therefore best advised to double on the c-file with } 19...Rec7 { , although following } ( 19...cxb3 20.axb3 Rec7 21.Ra1 Rc3 22.Bxa6 Nxa6 23.Rxa6 Rxb3 24.Nd4 Rb2 25.h3 { I think I'd rather eat dirt the rest of my life
than have to defend the Black side of this position. } ) ( 19...c3?! 20.Bd3! { White will double on the c-file, and it is only a matter of time before the
c3-pawn will fall. } ) 20.Rc3 cxb3 21.Rxc7 Rxc7 22.axb3 { Black has a long
defensive road ahead of him, although he should hold the draw with accurate
defense. } )
18.Nd4! { Whabam! Spassky was probably aware that this move existed, but
clearly underestimated its potency. The point, of course, is not to win the
brilliancy prize. Rather, White will eliminate Black's bishop on the next move,
inducing serious and irreparable pawn structure damage. Remember that Black
already has to concentrate most of his forces to keep his center intact. Now,
he will have to deal with further weaknesses on the opposite side of the board. } 18...Qf8?! { Caught off guard, Spassky fails to perceive the threat, and plays
right into White's hands. As several commentators pointed out, it was
necessary to adopt an active mindset with } ( 18...Nf6 { , aiming to
counterbalance the impending pawn structure damage by achieving optimal piece
coordination. There is no question that White's position is preferable after } 19.Nxe6 ( 19.Nb3 Rac7! { equalizes on the spot, since } 20.Qxa6? { is
highly inadvisable on account of } 20...Rb8! { when the queen is suddenly in
trouble! } ) 19...fxe6 20.Rc2 { , and despite Kasparov's assertion that this
"would have promised White little," I cannot see a direct path to equality.
Perhaps } 20...Rc6 21.Rfc1 Rac7 { is the most prudent course of action, setting up a
formidable defensive bastion. Still, I'm sure that someone like Karpov (or
Fischer, for that matter) would have salivated at the prospect of torturing
Black for another 50 moves. He can start with } 22.f3 { , controlling the
important e4 square and hinting at an eventual e3-e4. } ) 19.Nxe6 fxe6 20.e4! { We've got a situation! The energy that saturates every ounce of Bobby's play
is truly a sight to behold. Had Black's knight stood on f6, this deadly
advance would not have been possible. As is stands, Black's passive and
disjointed army is simply unprepared to adapt to this new environment. Indeed,
Black's center is now truly under fire: maneuvers like Bg4 and Qh3 hang in the
air, and Black is still tied down to the c5-pawn. Make no mistake: his
position remains very much defensible, but Spassky, in a misguided attempt to
plug the holes, goes terribly astray. } 20...d4? { "This move, conceding the
important c4-square, was rightly condemned by the commentators" (Kasparov).
Indeed, Spassky misses the forest for the trees, and seems to forget that
White can switch his theater of operations from the queenside to the kingside
in literally two moves. Black's position was unenviable, but } ( 20...Nf6 { was
called for. Black takes the g4 square under control and diffuses the flames
before they permanently engulf his position. Once again, though, I must
disagree with Kasparov, who implies that this move keeps the balance. Indeed,
the clever } 21.Qe3! { leaves Black in a very difficult situation, since } 21...Nxe4 { is strongly met by } 22.Bd3! { White will recover the pawn and end up with a
clear positional advantage. For instance, } 22...Rd7 ( 22...Ng5 23.h4 ) 23.Rfe1 Rc6 24.Bxe4 dxe4 25.Qxe4 { and Black's terribly mangled pawn structure lands him
in a rather nasty situation. } ) ( 20...c4 { also fails to do the trick on
account of } 21.Qh3 Rc6 22.b3 Nb6 { and although both Tal and Kasparov believe
that "Black has a perfectly defensive position," I am not convinced that this
is the case: } 23.Bg4 Re7 24.Qe3! { and Black is under immense positional
pressure, hardly able to move a muscle. Still, both of these options would
have constituted the lesser evil. } ) 21.f4! { Black's problem is not so much
that White has an immediate threat. Rather, his only source of counterplay is
connected with the ...c5-c4 break, and he has deprived himself of this crucial
idea with his last move. White has all the time in the world to organize a
kingside attack, while Black's disjointed forces can only bumble about on the
first three ranks. } 21...Qe7 { A sensible move, preemptively reinforcing the e6-pawn
and preparing an eventual ...Rf8. } ( 21...Kh8 { was another reasonable
defensive option, to which Fischer undoubtedly intended to reply } 22.e5! { , just as in the game. White fixes the e6 pawn and will attack it by
constructing a deadly queen-bishop battery along the h3-c8 diagonal. } 22...Nb6 23.Bg4 Qe7 24.Qh3! ( 24.f5 { as mentioned by Kasparov is less clear on account
of } 24...Qg5! ) 24...Re8 25.Bf3! { and Black's position starts to come apart at
the seams. Indeed, White's plan is perfectly simple and eminently decisive:
Bf3-e4 followed by either Qh5-g6 or f4-f5, in both cases attaining a crushing
attack. } ) 22.e5 { Simple and powerful. In such a position, there is often no
need to mask one's intentions. Now, Black must deal with a potential mating
battery along the b1-h7 diagonal, as well as the possibility of f4-f5. } 22...Rb8 { Spassky targets the symptoms but not the cause, depriving the queen of the b3
square but doing little to stop White's bishop from reaching c4 with
devastating effect. As the previous commentators unanimously point out, } ( 22...Nb6 { was Black's last (!) serious chance to mount a stout resistance. White
must brush aside the temptation to break through immediately, and simply
follow through with his main idea of constructing a queen-bishop battery. To
this end, } 23.Qd3! { (Kasparov) is the most elegant precise solution. The
myriad of weaknesses in Black's cramp prevents him from covering the e4 square.
Black's only hope is to enter a pawn-down endgame with } 23...Nd5 ( 23...Qb7 { looks
sensible, but falls prey to } 24.Bg4 Qd5 25.Qg6 Re7 26.Bf3! Qxa2 27.Be4 { and in spite of Black's most tenacious efforts, White has succeeded in
building a deadly battery. } ) 24.Qe4 Qe8! ( 24...Ne3 25.Bd3 Nxf1 26.Qh7+ Kf8 27.Qh8+ Kf7 28.Qxc8 { is clearly hopeless as well. } ) 25.Bd3 g6 26.Qxg6+ Qxg6 27.Bxg6 c4 { The game is clearly not over yet. Indeed, Black has
succeeded in obtaining quite a bit of counterplay for his material investment,
but the accurate } 28.Be4! { is a sobering blow that reestablishes White's
dominance. Black's pawns - impressive as they appear - are not really going
anywhere, while White can either mount a frontal assault with Rfd1 or break
through on the kingside with f4-f5. In any case, White's position is
objectively winning, but he must still demonstrate accurate technique. } ) 23.Bc4 { I am almost certain that Spassky intended 23...Nb6, missing that 24.Qb3
indirectly defends the bishop while mounting a decisive onslaught against the
e6-pawn. With the bishop firmly ensconced on c4, Black simply does not have
the defensive firepower to deal with the oncoming avalanche. } 23...Kh8 ( 23...Nb6 24.Qb3! { was first pointed out by Tal, and it is totally crushing indeed.
Black has nothing better than } 24...Nd7 25.Bxe6+ Kh8 26.Qh3 Rxb2 { ,
reestablishing material equality and trying to muddy the waters just a bit.
Even so, } 27.Rb1! { is decisive. White regains control of the b-file and
simply penetrates from every angle. One particularly gruesome finale would be } 27...Rxb1 28.Rxb1 Rc7 29.Bc4! { and there is no need to go any further. Even
someone who has never seen a chess board in his life would appreciate the
extent of Black's misery (okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, but you get the
point). } ) 24.Qh3! { As Nimzowitsch famously wrote, a space advantage
inevitably leads to greater mobility for your pieces, enabling them to
"trampoline" from one flank to another. The queen has done a marvelous job on
a3, and now it seeks greener pastures on the opposite side of the board. Black
can defend the e6 pawn for the time being, but only by crippling his position
even further. } 24...Nf8 { At this point, most players (yours truly included) would
have hardly resisted the temptation to crash through immediately (with f4-f5).
While there is nothing inherently wrong with such an approach - and 25.f5 is a
strong move indeed - there is simply no need to rush things. Black's position
is so passive, White's domination so total, that he can afford to improve his
position to the fullest extent before mounting the decisive invasion. } ( 24...Rxb2 25.Bxe6 { is an exact transposition to the line given in the note to
Black's last move. The only difference, of course, is that it is now Black to
move. As it turns out, this changes little: } 25...Rab7 26.Rce1 Nf8 27.Bc4 { with
f5-f6 to follow (Kasparov). } ) 25.b3! { And this is precisely what Fischer
does! Once again, I should make perfectly clear that 25.f5 is objectively no
worse, but why allow Black any counterplay connected with ...Rxb2? } 25...a5
26.f5! { Now, the time has come. "[This is] the start of a model attack on
the king - Bobby conducts it almost like a machine" (Kasparov). } 26...exf5 { Perhaps } ( 26...Qg5 { would have yielded more saving chances, although } 27.fxe6 Re7 28.Rce1 { looks similarly hopeless. } ) 27.Rxf5 { As I discussed in a previous
article, the queen in an attack often plays the role of "supporting actress,"
a somewhat paradoxical idea that was introduced to me by GM Yasser Seirawan.
The queen will serve as the Julius Caesar, guiding its subordinates without
interfering until the very end. } 27...Nh7 ( 27...Ng6 28.Rcf1 Nxe5 { would have
fallen to the pretty } 29.Qg3 Re8 30.Rxe5 Qxe5 31.Rf8+! { and Black has a
rather unflattering choice between losing his queen and getting mated, two
alternatives that might be used in a sadistic game of "would-you-rather". } ) 28.Rcf1 { Cue the war bands. White has concentrated all of his pieces on the
kingside, every one of the occupying an optimal square. Now it is time for
"Julius Caesar" to make his (her?) presence known. } 28...Qd8 ( 28...Ng5 { sets a
prosaic trap (29.Qh4?? Nf3)+, which Bobby would have undoubtedly seen in a
millisecond. } 29.Qg3 { is totally crushing: } 29...a4 30.h4 Ne6 31.Qg4! { and
Black can resign. } ) 29.Qg3 Re7 30.h4! { The last finesse, an impish little
move that shows Black who is boss and leaves him almost comically paralyzed. } 30...Rbb7 ( 30...d3 31.Bxd3 Qd4+ 32.Kh1 { and Black's "counterplay" is over. } ) 31.e6 { Now, Julius Caesar will have a nice little throne on e5. Needless to say,
as soon as Black's knight dares to move, it will instantly be axed by the
rook. } 31...Rbc7 ( 31...Nf6 32.Rxf6 gxf6 33.Rxf6 { and the computer points out
that it is mate in eleven. } 33...Rh7 34.Qe5 Rbg7 35.Rf3 { is one particularly
bloody conclusion. } ) 32.Qe5 Qe8 33.a4!? { This is the ultimate in-your-face
move, somewhat emblematic of the whole match. The businesslike Qe4 would have
decided the game immediately, but "Fischer prefers uncompromising suffocation"
(Kasparov). } 33...Qd8 34.R1f2 Qe8 35.R2f3 Qd8 36.Bd3 { Finally, Bobby gets down
to business. } 36...Qe8 37.Qe4 Nf6 { Equally unflattering was } ( 37...Rxe6 38.Rf8+ Nxf8 39.Rxf8+ Qxf8 40.Qh7# ) 38.Rxf6! gxf6 39.Rxf6 Kg8 40.Bc4 Kh8 41.Qf4 { The ultimate triumph of White's strategy. In this gruesome position, Spassky
understandably decided to end the agony. }

Re: Fischer v. Spassky - Analysis by GM Daniel Naroditsky

Posted: Wed Oct 07, 2015 11:39 am
by WuShock
We just saw the movie " Pawn Sacrifice " , and Game 6 was highlighted , with Spassky standing at the end of the game applauding ..........

I looked thru the game briefly , but does seem Bobby missed a mate in 28 , at move 36.....

Instead of Bd3 , Rh5 is forced mate........

I analyzed for 2-3 hrs , after 36. Rh5 , and the info was :

#27 , Depth = 56/79 , 6363 kN/s

(#27): 36,,,,d3 37. Rxd3 Qe8 38. Rxh6 Rc8 39. Rf3 Qd8 etc

Sorry ...... forgot how to post image....... ... zE5MzY4MjY