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Istvan Bilek vs Robert James Fischer
"One Man's Meat is Another Man's Poison" (game of the day Nov-06-2014)
Stockholm Interzonal (1962), Stockholm SWE, rd 5, Feb-03
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Poisoned Pawn Accepted (B97)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-29-09  Eyal: This is the second game in which Fischer employed the "Poisoned Pawn" variation, and the first in a series of games in which he introduced several important novelties, especially to the 10.e5/12.Bc4 line, that played a major role in rehabilitating it for Black during the 60s. Here, by 14...Bxg5, he was improving on 14...fxe6 from A Dueckstein vs Euwe, 1958. In later games he introduced 12...Bb4 (Tringov vs Fischer, 1965) and 12...Qa5 (G Mazzoni vs Fischer, 1967).

After 15.Qxg5, <15...h6!> is a key move – besides creating a retreat square for the black king, which is important in certain lines, it forces the white queen to give up the ideal g5 square, where it keeps an eye on g7, e5 and e7 (denying it from the black queen) - so that 15...Qxc3?? 16.Nf5 or 15...fxe6?? Nxe6 would lose instantly.

The best move for White is considered to be <16.Qh5!> where after 16...fxe6 (16...Qxc3? 17.Rxf7) 17.Nxe6 he should gain an advantage, e.g. in case of 17...Rxf1+ 18.Rf1 Qe7 19.Qf5! or 17...Qxc3 18.Nxf8 Nxf8 19.Qf7+ Kh7 20.Qxf8; Kasparov supplies a lengthy analysis of the latter line in OMGP 4. But of course it was very difficult for Bilek to figure all this out during the game...

<22.Nf3> is accurate – instead, 22.Qh4? would lose to 22...Qe3+ 23.Qf2 (23.Kf1 Nc6 24.Rxa8 Nxd4) 23...Qc1+ 24.Qf1 Qxf1+ 25.Kxf1 Nc6 26.Rxa8 Nxd4; note that the interpolation of the check on c1 is necessary, since after 23...Qxf2+ 24.Kxf2 Nc6 25.Rxa8 Nxd4 White would win a piece by 26.Rd8, whereas with the white king on a light square 27.Rd8 runs into 27...Bb5+.

As Kasparov points out, on moves 25-27 Bilek missed several good chances for a draw with <h3!>. The idea is that by creating luft for the king, White threatens to activate the knight via f3 so it could join the attack on the black king, and it seems that Black would have to give back material in order to finally activate his own pieces. For example, 25.h3 Bc6 26.Nf3 Nd7 (26...Bxf3?? 27.Qe8+ Kg5 28.Rxf3) 27.Qxa8 Nxf8 28.Qxf8; or 26.h3 Be6 (26...Bc6?? 27.Qd3+ Kf7 28.Qc4+, or 27...Qf5 28.Rxg7+) 27.Qd6 Qf7 28.Rf8! Qd7 29.Qb6! Kh7 30.Qb1+ g6 31.Rf6 Bf5 (31...Qe8 32.Qxb7+ Nd7 33.Rxe6) 32.Qb3 Kg7 33.e6! Bxe6 34.Rxe6 Nc6 35.Rd6! Qf7 (35...Qxd6 36.Qxb7+ Ne7 37.Qxa8) 36.Qxf7+ Kxf7 37.Rd7+ Ke6 38.Rxb7. Maybe even in the final position White isn't lost, if he corrects his 27th move and plays 28.Rf8. But at any rate, the fact (mentioned in a previous post) that Bilek flagged while Fischer hardly used his own time is a tribute to the incredible depth of Fischer's home analysis.

Apr-17-11  Corndog2: After 12.Bc4, doesn't 12...Bb4 give black a slight advantage? Isn't this the line that is played more commonly nowadays? To me, black's position is more attractive, and I don't know if white has compensation for his pawn. Example Line: 12...Bb4 13.Rb3,Qa5 14.0-0, 0-0 15.Bf6, Nxf6 16.exf6, Rd8, where I think black is slightly better.
Dec-13-11  King Death: <Corndog2>, here's a famous game with 15.Bf6: R Byrne vs Larry Evans, 1965.
Sep-03-12  Luigi Bros: For black I think:

12. Bc4 Bb4 13. Rb3 Qa5, and great predicament for the white, because the the central pawn no have defense, and queen no can leave the position, because the knight is stuck. In any situation, Fischer won a piece.

Nov-06-14  andrewjsacks: A game like this, and others in which Fischer played this line, seems to defy the notion, expressed by Geller and others, that Fischer's one weakness was in "irrational" positions.
Nov-06-14  Tim Delaney: White's attack is spent, and there is nothing left to do. It's the chess equivalent of rope-a-dope.

The Black rook appears to be imprisoned, but in reality is ideally positioned behind a remote passed pawn. White's e pawn cannot advance, and Black easily controls the white squares on the king side.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: While white has virtually zero moves, black can advance his pawns with alacrity and white can't do thing one about it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Tringov vs Fischer, 1965 is another example of ruthlessly accurate defense by Fischer in the Poisoned Pawn. He had a great record with it.
Nov-06-14  RookFile: Openings like this show that Fischer was decades ahead of some of his opponents.
Nov-06-14  Peter Nemenyi: It's really not plausible that Fischer played this whole game in ten minutes on his clock, since that would imply that even at the end he was following his home analysis rather than calculating. Soltis says that Bobby "took less than 10 minutes to achieve a winning position" but used thirty-five minutes in all, which is far more believable.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < IMDONE4: Never thought of Fischer as much of a defender :)>

When you are the best player in the world for half of your career you don't hone your defensive technique as much as other, lesser players do.

As a lesser player, I speak from experience :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: He wasn't better than Spassky. He ducked Spassky for years until entering the '70 world championship cycle. Bob was the best player in the world for three years, beginning in '72. That much we know.
Nov-06-14  AnMN7: Surely One Man's Meat is Another Man's Poison
Nov-07-14  Peter Nemenyi: <HeMateMe: He ducked Spassky for years until entering the '70 world championship cycle.>

What basis do you have for this claim? Given how international tournaments and the Soviet chess system worked during Fischer's career, he could only have faced Spassky regularly before their match by being a Soviet citizen.

The record tells us that Fischer played at Mar del Plata twice, the second time in 1960 when Spassky was present, then never showed interest in that tournament again. Of the two Piatigorsky Cups, rare all-grandmaster tournaments held on American soil, he boycotted the one Spassky missed (1963) and played in the one Spassky attended (1966). Then at the 1970 Siegen Olympiad, by which time he'd become so erratic and demanding that it seemed unlikely he'd ever play team chess again, he joined the American team and faced Spassky, although the organizers had rejected twenty-four of his by-then-typical twenty-five stipulations. So not only was Bobby not ducking Spassky, the evidence could even be taken to suggest that he regarded Spassky's presence in a tournament as an incentive to play in it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <What basis do you have for this claim?>

Chess history, in the 1960s. Spassky was the one guy that Fischer could not beat. That doesn't mean he couldn't win a match against Spassky, but as Fischer got more and more paranoid, he could not enter a cycle in which spassky would likely be a match opponent, in the final or otherwise. That's how I read it. You are free to draw your own conclusions.

Nov-07-14  TheFocus: In their first three games, didn't Fischer get three huge advantages that he misplayed?

I have a lower regard of Spassky than Fischer did.

I do not consider that Spassky to have been one of the top ten of all times.

Fischer was seduced by his loss against the King's Gambit.

It is a wonder that he continued to play at all.

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Focus, what difference does it make when the game favored one player, at some number of moves? Results are what counts. Spassky had beaten Fischer more than once, and had never lost to him.
Nov-07-14  TheFocus: <HeMateMe> in their first five games, Spassky was certainly the better man.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <TheFocus: In their first three games, didn't Fischer get three huge advantages that he misplayed?>

No. Here are the five games they played before the WC.

Spassky vs Fischer, 1960

The King's Gambit. Fischer did get a big advantage, but then Spassky completely outplayed him. Fischer resigned inside of move 30 facing the loss of a piece. Speaks for itself.

Spassky vs Fischer, 1966

Their first exchange Gruenfeld. Spassky gets a slight advantage out of the opening and nurses it to an endgame win. Extremely high quality play from both men, but obviously Spassky played just a bit better throughout. It's a good illustration of Alekine's boast -- to win this game, Spassky had to beat Fischer in the opening, the middlegame, and the ending.

Fischer vs Spassky, 1966

Spassky holds in a Marshall. In 60MG, Fischer claimed that he missed a chance to get an advantage in the ending. Someone who knows the theory can weigh in.

Fischer vs Spassky, 1966

Spassky eschewed the Marshall and Fischer got a clear advantage (though not, I think, a winning position). He then screwed up grabbing a pawn, and nearly lost the game.

Spassky vs Fischer, 1970

Their second Exchange Gruenfeld, and a hell of a game. Fischer did get the advantage, but again grabbed a hot pawn and got completely outplayed by Spassky from that point. Reminiscent of their first game.

Nov-07-14  TheFocus: <keypusher> I meant in the three decisive games.

You know draws don't count.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < TheFocus: <keypusher> I meant in the three decisive games. You know draws don't count.>

Well, I wasn't sure, but...

<In their first three [decisive] games, didn't Fischer get three huge advantages that he misplayed?>

Again, the answer is no. He got a big advantage in the first game; he never had an advantage in the second game; and he had a small advantage in a very complex position in the third game.

Nov-07-14  Jim Bartle: Having a "huge advantage" and "winning" are two very different things. Winning a won position is an important skill in itself. If it weren't my winning percentage might be 60% instead of 30%.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <HeMateMe: He wasn't better than Spassky. He ducked Spassky for years until entering the '70 world championship cycle. Bob was the best player in the world for three years, beginning in '72. That much we know.>

Dude, could you for once stick to facts instead of your uninformed opinion?

Fischer was the world number 1 for half his career. If you don't know that it just means you are ignorant, not that your post is correct.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Jim....Winning a won position is an important skill in itself. If it weren't my winning percentage might be 60% instead of 30%.>

Don't I know it.

Jan-20-18  Moszkowski012273: Really not a resignable position...
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