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Robert James Fischer vs Donald Ina
"Guess Who's Coming to D Ina" (game of the day Mar-04-2013)
Simul, 51b (1964) (exhibition), Cleveland, OH USA, Mar-18
Polish Opening: General (A00)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Mar-04-13  Abdel Irada: <Shams>: I don't. It may possibly be playable, but I've never encountered it in a game, perhaps because many players feel it violates opening principles by developing the queen prematurely.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Shams> I've only tried 1.b4 a couple of times, but got 1...d5 2.Bb2 Qd6 thrown at me in one game. I tried 3.Nc3?!, which may not be as bad as it looks.
Mar-04-13  TheTamale: For me, the Polish Opening is the pits, even worse than the Grob, but I must say I like 4) b5, certainly more troublesome than the passive 4) a3. Looks like I'm about to go on another Polish tear...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: I wonder ... can we find a way to accept the Polish, even if we cannot love it?

From Fischer's point of view, 1. b4 was a simul special. He wouldn't play it against anyone decent, but it was a way of getting a relatively easy life against much lower graded players. He wouldn't have to worry about them springing a nasty opening surprise against him.

Positionally, 1. b4 has some things going for it. It leaves black a free hand to develop in the centre, which means that white can play a black opening with the extra move b4 in hand. White might end up playing the black side of a french, for example, with part of his queenside expansion already started.

1. b4 also asks some moderately interesting questions of the black Nb8 and c pawn. If black plays the natural Nc6, then b5 is annoying. If c5 then white plays bxc5 and argues that he has swapped a relatively unimportant b pawn for a c pawn that might otherwise have challenged for the centre. And if black avoids both Nc6 and c5 he could be compromising his position.

We're also probing the kingside. Black would like to play Bxb4 but has to be alert for Bxg7 in reply. So black has to take a little care developing his kingside. Okay, so it's not exactly brain surgery but it's something for black to think about.

The b pawn is vulnerable, but we don't need to be too worried about that. Park a rook on b1 and we've got a half open file to play with.

And if black ignores b4, we're going to play a4, b5, c4 and our plans for world domination are at hand.

Does that mean we should all start playing 1. b4? Almost certainly not. It doesn't challenge for the centre and only develops a couple of pieces.

But it probably isn't quite as bad as its reputation suggests.


Mar-04-13  Abdel Irada: Actually, the Polish is quite playable, and can even yield a fast kingside attack against indifferent defense, particularly after 1. ...e6.

The attacking formation with bishops on b2 and d3, queen on c2, knights on f3 and d2, and the king either on the queenside or in the center can be quite dangerous.

Positionally, it is to some extent cognate with the Grob: White exerts pressure against e5 with the fianchetto, and Black can't defend the square with the natural ...Nc6 because b5 is in the offing, and if the knight moves to d4, White hits it with e3, driving it to a worse square since it can't take on b5, and possibly even winning a pawn on e5.

Apropos of 1. ...c5, I used to play blitz against someone who stubbornly opened with that move "if any." Naturally, this made 1. b4 an advantageous choice, particularly since he never played 2. ...e5, meaning I got to keep the extra pawn.

Mar-04-13  Travis Bickle: After Fischer's last move Bobby said "Next"! ; P
Mar-04-13  SugarDom: <After Fischer's last move Bobby said "Next"! ; P>

I thought he said "What's for dessert?".

Premium Chessgames Member
  playground player: Down here at the club level, I find 1.b4 gives me a lot of wins against players who are stronger than I. On the other hand, weaker players don't seem fazed by it at all. But it does take Black out of playing the Sicilian, doesn't it?
Mar-04-13  YouRang: I think we'll be seeing this pun again at Caissar time. :-)
Mar-04-13  kevin86: A novel title:THE POLISH OPENING,b4 AND AFTER.

Fischer makes it look good!

Mar-04-13  waustad: I was 14 years old and Bobby Fischer came to town. I didn't even notice. Until his WC match, most people in the US hardly knew professional chess existed and mainly just "knew the moves." I suppose that's true to some degree again now, though there does seem to be more scholastic chess than there was then.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: With his 70th birthday coming up on Saturday, I think this may not be the last time we see Fischer's name this week.
Mar-04-13  hedgeh0g: 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 gives Black a good game, in my opinion.
Mar-04-13  parisattack: <hedgeh0g: 1.b4 e5 2.Bb2 Bxb4 3.Bxe5 Nf6 gives Black a good game, in my opinion.>

That line I've not had a problem with so far. 1...d5/2...Qd6 and the Birmingham 1. ...c5 have been the most difficult for me. The later I just transpose to a Sicilian wing gambit. Right now I am 21-1-2 in correspondence with the Polish/Sokolsky/Orangutan. A list of books on it at my forum.

Mar-04-13  hedgeh0g: <That line I've not had a problem with so far.>

Neither have I (as Black), although admittedly I've only encountered 1.b4 in blitz/rapid.

Essentially, Black exchanges his centre pawn for White's wing pawn, but gets fast development in return. Could you perhaps provide me with a sample variation after Black's third in that line?

Mar-04-13  parisattack: Black does get quick development in your line and white can get in trouble quickly in the main lines. But if he can get developed, the central majority can come to life in the middle game and even the endgame.

Aside from the mainline with c4, Nf3, e3 I've had good success with 4, Nc3!?, Nc6; 5. Bf6:, Qf6:, 6. Nd5.

Ultimately of course black can equalize in a number of ways in the Polish but I like that white has some control on how to steer the game - positional or tactical. Also, its a bit deeper than it looks so a defender who takes it too lightly can get burnt quickly. I've gotten some terrific Q-side binds in 12-15 moves.

I enjoy the resulting positions and feel very comfortable that I can hold my own against stronger players, also. I've always felt amateurs should play lines they enjoy and feel good about as opposed to trying to find best moves and squeeze a small opening advantage that will promptly disappear with the first middle game inaccuracy.

The best introductory book on it is Lapshun's tome published a few years ago. Levy's is also good - an English translation of Sokolsky's book with some updates. Marek's 'b4' database is awesome, also.

Here's an example of my 'pet' line mentioned above.

[Event "Open invite"]
[Site ""]
[Date "2012.02.26"]
[EndDate "2012.03.11"]
[Round "?"]
[White "ParisAttack"]
[Black "Mike P"]
[WhiteRating "2111"]
[BlackRating "2148"]
[WhiteElo "2111"]
[BlackElo "2148"]
[Result "1-0"]

1. b4 e5 2. Bc1b2 Bf8xb4 3. Bb2xe5 Ng8f6 4. Nb1c3 Nb8c6 5. Be5xf6 Qd8xf6 6. Nc3d5 Qf6e5 7. Nd5xb4 Nc6xb4 8. Ra1b1 a5 9. a3 Nb4c6 10. Ng1f3 Qe5e7 11. Qd1c1 O-O 12. e3 d5 13. Qc1b2 b6 14. Bf1b5 Qe7d6 15. O-O f6 16. c4 Bc8e6 17. d4 Nc6e7 18. cxd5 Be6xd5 19. Nf3d2 f5 20. Rf1c1 Kg8h8 21. Qb2c3 Rf8c8 22. Nd2c4 Qd6g6 23. g3 Qg6e6 24. Nc4e5 Rc8d8 25. Bb5d3 Rd8c8 26. Rb1b5 Rc8f8 27. f3 Ne7g6 28. Bd3c4 Bd5xc4 29. Qc3xc4 Qe6xc4 30. Ne5xc4 Ra8e8 31. Kg1f2 Kh8g8 32. h3 Rf8f6 33. g4 fxg4 34. hxg4 Re8f8 35. f4 Ng6xf4 36. exf4 Rf6xf4 37. Kf2e3 Rf4xg4 38. Nc4e5 Rg4g3 39. Ke3e4 Rg3xa3 40. Rc1xc7 Ra3a1 41. Rb5xb6 Ra1e1 42. Ke4d5 Re1g1 43. Rc7a7 h5 44. Ra7xa5 h4 45. Ra5a3 Rg1h1 46. Rb6g6 Rf8d8 47. Kd5e6 Rd8e8 48. Ke6d7 Re8f8 49. d5 1-0

Mar-04-13  Abdel Irada: One doesn't see long algebraic very often.
Mar-05-13  hedgeh0g: <parisattack> Nice game - thanks for the line!

I must admit, I never really took this opening very seriously, but I suppose it has its merits. Do you have an ICC account? If so, let me know if you're up for some Polish! ;)

Mar-05-13  parisattack: <hedgeh0g:> I'm not on ICC - my poor old brain doesn't think that quickly. I like email chess but of course one has to assume a good portion of your opponents are using an engine.

As I said, I prefer to get an equal middle game that I at least fancy I understand (and like) as opposed to trying to milk a small opening advantage.

If setting problems for your opponents is a goal, the Polish isn't a good choice. But sometimes if you give them enough rope, they will hang themselves. :)

<Abdel Irada:> Nope. But it is the way RedHotPawn compiles PGN files...

Dec-03-14  TheFocus: From a simul in Cleveland, Ohio on March 18, 1964.

Fischer scored +51=0-0.

Aug-28-19  Chesgambit: 30. Bxg5+ open file (not popular tactic) Bobby reading books
Premium Chessgames Member
  Messiah: Weird opening, fine game (Black was resisting fairly well!), fantastic finish, but the pun leaves me dumbfounded: it is especially terrible because I do not get it at all.


Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: <Messiah: Weird opening, fine game (Black was resisting fairly well!), fantastic finish, but the pun leaves me dumbfounded: it is especially terrible because I do not get it at all.


As someone who regularly employs 1.b4 at the club level the opening is not all that strange. But I'm with you regarding the pun. Went over my head.

May-15-22  Z free or die: The pun is simply a word play on a movie title:

I'd recommend the movie, not sure about the pun!


Premium Chessgames Member
  0ZeR0: <Z free or die>

Ah, thanks for the assist.

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