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Robert James Fischer vs Bent Larsen
Second Piatigorsky Cup (1966), Santa Monica, CA USA, rd 6, Jul-25
Spanish Game: Open. St. Petersburg Variation (C82)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-23-05  ughaibu: 28.b3 looks bad to me, wouldn't 28.Rae1 give enough to draw?
Sep-23-05  Udit Narayan: 28.Rae1...Qxb2
Sep-23-05  Hesam7: <iron maiden: If Fischer ever had a meltdown, this is the game. In just eight or nine moves a good position is transformed into a lost one.>

The first half of Santa Monica 1966 was a total disaster for Fischer. I think his score was even negative in the first half.

Premium Chessgames Member
  waddayaplay: Credits to Larsen for winning with black against Fischer. In Euwe vs Eliskases, 1947 white had played 15.Bf4, and eventually won.
May-01-06  Hesam7:

click for larger view

<LARSEN: Perhaps nothing is wrong with Black position except it is difficult! I recalled my game against 16 year old Bobby in the Zurich Tournament of 1959, in which I had to defend a difficult position with two knights against Bobby's beloved pair of bishops for about 70 moves to score a half point.

I was now ready to sacrifice a pawn, for instance: 21. Qf3 Ng5 22. Qxd5 Rad8 23. Bxg5 Qxg5 24. Qc6 Re6 25. Qxc7 Rd2, with good chances. Fischer finds a very interesting maneuver.>

May-01-06  Hesam7: Comments on Larsen's comments:

[1] This is the game Larsen refers to: Fischer vs Larsen, 1959

[2] Fischer's plan in the game is not interesting, it is worse compared with the other available options.

[3] The following position arises after the continuation given by Larsen:

click for larger view

Now White can continue with:

26. Bb3 Qf4 27. Rf1 [27. Qc5? Nd4 28. Bd5 Qxf2 29. Kh1 Nc2 30. Qxf2 Rxf2 31. Rf1 Rxf1 32. Rxf1 Re7 =; 27. Qa7 Re7 (27... Nd4? 28. Qa8+) 28. Qb6 Nd4 29. Qf6 Ne2+ =] 27... Qxe5 28. Qc8 Re8 29. Qxa6 Rxb2 30. Rad1 Kg7 31. Rd7 Re7 32. Rxe7 Nxe7 33. c4 bxc4 34. Qxc4 Qf6 35. Qc5

[4] Larsen's move order is inaccurate it gives Black a chance to equalize (We know White gets an advantage from the above diagram) as follows:

21. Qf3 Ng5 22. Qxd5 Rad8 23. Bxg5 <Rxd5> 24. Bxh4 Nxh4 25. Rad1 Rdxe5 26. Rxe5 Rxe5 27. Kf1 =

May-01-06  Poulsen: I'm sorry <Hesam7>, I don't see, how you can conclude, that white gets a clear advantage from the diagram. Why should black - on 26.Qb3 - attempt 26.-,Qf4?

Have you analyzed the simple 26.-,Nh4?

Then 27.g3,Nf3+ 28.Kg2,Qf5 looks pretty grim for white (just an impression). Maybe whites best is 27.Qb7, but I don't see a clear advantage.

May-01-06  Hesam7: <Poulsen> After:

21. Qf3 Ng5 22. Bxg5 Qxg5 23. Qxd5 Rad8 24. Qc6 Re6 25. Qxc7 Rd2 26. Bb3 Nh4 27. Qb7 Re7 28. Qa8+ Kg7 29. Qe4 Rxb2 30. Rad1

click for larger view

White is a healthy pawn up. I think it is winning. Btw the above move order is the accurate one (compared to Larsen's line).

Jun-14-07  euripides: It's interesting how well the knights and queen cover the 'weak' black squares.
Feb-05-09  Eyal: Interestingly, despite Fischer's loss in this game it was mentioned as an example of how strong he is in the Open Ruy Lopez, in a report on his play composed by Boleslavsky, Polugaevsky, Shamkovich and Vasyukov for the USSR chess federation after the match with Taimanov:

<At the tournament in Santa Monica, Larsen sprang a little known variation upon him, which he could hardly have expected [probably meaning 11...Bf5, which was quite rare at the time compared with f5 or Nxf2]. But Fischer found the best reply and his subsequent loss of the game was due to the wrong plan he adopted in the middlegeme.> (From "Russians versus Fischer")

Seems that Fischer lost his patience at a certain stage and tried to force the game too early; it was more typical of his style to exchange queens - e.g. by 21.Qf3 Ng5 22.Qf4, or later 23.b3 Qxf1+ 24.Kxf1 - trasposing to an endgame in which the bishop pair would give him a pleasant advantage .

Sep-10-10  psmith: <Hesam7> a plan can be both (humanly) interesting (as a plan) *and* (objectively, checkable by computer) worse than other available options. These are not exclusive alternatives.
Feb-01-12  drukenknight: we been discussing this for about 8 years it more likely that ...Ne6 was unexpected and Fischer just got stunned for a moment? What was his clock at at this pt? I have the tournament book here somewhere.
Mar-14-12  Garech: Who in their right mind would a) play g6 after giving up their dark squared bishop against Fischer and b) defeat Fischer with the black pieces in the Ruy Lopez? I have therefore come to the conclusion that Larsen was temporarily insane during his lifetime and happened to play this game at the same time.



Dec-15-14  zydeco: Larsen, as in his annotations to several of the games in this tournament, talks about "being very nervous" during this game. I think of him as being a pretty cool, confident player - especially in his willingness to keep playing in almost any position - but maybe, as with Botvinnik, Larsen's 'good nerves' were really a kind of heightened, adrenaline-riddled energy.

At move 16: Larsen writes, "Solid and good was 16....Nf8. I don't like to weaken the black squares around my king that way [with 16....g6] and I don't know what go into me, but it was something about playing as energetically as possible."

At a guess of what happened, I imagine Fischer might have calculated 31.Rh3 Qxg5 32.Qxh7+ Kf8 33.Qh8# and forgot that the bishop had already been taken. Hard to know.

Maybe Fischer's real mistake was playing the weak move 28.b3, instead of say, 28.Bf6. That gave Larsen a chance to breakthrough on the queenside with 28....b4, which seems to have shaken up Fischer and prompted the subsequent blunder.

Aug-04-16  todicav23: Fischer was in a bad shape in this tournament (at least in the first half of it). Still, this must be one of the worst games he ever player after he became a grandmaster.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Hesam7: <iron maiden: If Fischer ever had a meltdown, this is the game. In just eight or nine moves a good position is transformed into a lost one.>

The first half of Santa Monica 1966 was a total disaster for Fischer. I think his score was even negative in the first half.>

Fischer scored 3.5 from the nine games in the first cycle.

<todicav23....this must be one of the worst games (Fischer) ever player (sic) after he became a grandmaster.>

His position was favourable in the middlegame, but he came unstuck towards the finish.

There were worse games--though naturally not many--during the great man's top-level career.

Aug-05-16  rune ohlsson: No one has mentioned that 28. f3 or even 29. f3 gives White at least equal game.
Aug-05-16  Olavi: Larsen gave both moves in his Selected Games and the latter one in the tournament book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FreeRepublic2: I first found this game in a book of Larsen's games. It contained his annotations. I found it to be quite fascinating.

Unfortunately, 12...Bg4 has not stood the test of time. However, GM Victor Mikhalevski's recent book on the Open Ruy Lopez recommends 11...Bf5 followed by 11...Bg6. So, the idea lives on, albeit in a modified form.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FreeRepublic2: 12...Bg4 took a huge hit in game 14 of the Karpov-Korchnoi WCC match, 1978. That game continued 13h3! Bh4. 13...Bxf3!? 14gxf Nxf2 (or Bfxch) has been suggested. Black gets a rook and two pawns and weakened white king in exchange for two bishops. This has only received a few trials.

As far as I can tell, one can still follow in Larsen's footsteps and play 12...Bg4.

May-07-18  Toribio3: Fischer was outplayed by the great Danish master, Bent Larsen!
May-07-18  Petrosianic: <Toribio3: Fischer was outplayed by the great Danish master, Bent Larsen!>

As long as you're just telling us what's on the scoresheet, you forgot to mention that Larsen was Black, and the game was played in Santa Monica. In Round 6.

May-08-18  Howard: This game was also, incidentally, one of three straight games that Fischer lost during the first half of the tournament. Spassky and Najdorf were the other two whom he lost to.

There was only one other time when Fischer lost three straight. Anyone know when?

May-08-18  Retireborn: 1959 Candidates? ISTR the Keres C-K was one.
May-09-18  Howard: You are correct!

Incidentally, it may have been an exaggeration to state that Fischer was "outplayed" by Larsen, contrary to what Toribio3 stated. Fischer actually had an acceptable position until he blundered horribly in LARSEN's time pressure. In other words,carelessness was what cost Fischer this game---not having been "outplayed".

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