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Tigran V Petrosian vs Robert James Fischer
Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959), Bled, Zagreb & Belgrade YUG, rd 9, Sep-21
Nimzo-Indian Defense: Normal Line (E40)  ·  1-0



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Given 58 times; par: 51 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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May-16-06  RookFile: Well, take the Karpov vs. Larsen game for example. 1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3.

People mistakenly think white is gaining time in this process. In fact, the impact on time is neutral.

White actually LOST a tempo with the non-developing move 2. exd5, which is answered by the developing 2... Qxd5. Fortunately for him, White has 3. Nc3
which regains the lost tempo. The overall effect on time is neutral.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Folks - all this talk about time being a factor, is simply not correct. Take 5... Bd6 for example. What was the move [Black] played that provoked that? 5. a3, WHICH IS NOT A DEVELOPING MOVE. White played a non-developing move, and black played a non-developing move. The impact on time is neutral. The same thing happens on 7. c5 Be7. Space is a more valid consideration. White gains some space on his queenside with these advances.>

This is too abstract. Everyone knows that a3 and c5 are not developing moves. It's been pointed out repeatedly above. But they are space-gaining moves, and playing them with tempo helps White. Sometimes Black can roll up a b4-c5 chain with ...a5, undermining the c5-pawn, but -- precisely because of Fischer's losses of time with his bishop -- White can answer 8....a5 with 9 Bb2, maintaining his pawn-chain. In other words, Black's loss of time leads to a permanent loss of space.

The alternative counter to b4 and c5 is to play ...e5. This is what I think Black should try to do, but Fischer can't or won't play it immediately, and in a few moves it's impossible.

<All of these same points of time and space apply to Alekhine's defense.


Comparing what Fischer did to Alekhine's defense, in some ways, the defense Fischer used is less outlandish than Alekhine's defense. In the Fischer game, black has a solid central presence (which Fischer later loses in error).>

Actually his center is the one thing he doesn't lose. The analogy to Alekhine's Defense (which is one of the few openings I know a lot about) is misplaced. In the Four Pawns attack e5 and d4 are targets. None of Petrosian's pawns are targets in this game. As noted above, under different circumstances c5 and b4 might have been targets, but under the game's circumstances, they weren't.

Frequently in Alekhine's Defense Black either exchanges e-pawns or trades his c-pawn for White's epawn. Subsequently White winds up with pawns on d4 and c5 and Black winds up with a pawn on d5. Black can play ...Bg4, then ...Bxf3 and ...Bf6, ganging up on the d4 pawn. But in this game White still has a pawn on e3, so there is no play against d4. And undermining the queenside is, as noted above, a non-starter.

To sum up, the ...Bb4, ...d6, ...e7 maneuver hurts Black on the queenside (giving White a permanent advantage in space) and on the kingside (by slowing Black's counterplay) and in the center (because the bishop on e7 hinders the ...e5 counter).

May-16-06  RookFile: We've already given white credit for the space gaining aspects of a3, b4, c5. You have not addressed this point which I made in my original post: <The move provokes 6. c5, which is itself double edged - it gains space but releases the tension against d5.>

There is a negative aspect to a3, b4, c5, beyond your notion that black can play .... a5. That is - white has lessened the central tension. Black's d5 pawn now is rock solid. Therefore, black has a possibility of a future plan involving something like: ... c6, f6, and e5. Or the alternative plan Fischer played in the Saidy game: ...b6, bxc5, and Nc6 with the idea of ...e5. Saidy's play is then correctly geared towards preventing ...e5. (He was able to do this, because Fischer had taken time out earlier to get rid of his bad bishop for white's good bishop.) Note that if black can get ...e5 in, there is a danger of white's c5 pawn falling.

Bottom line: should white play 7. c5?
Yes, it's a good move. But he shouldn't feel any more smug about his prospects than white feels using the 4 pawns attack vs. Alekhine's defense. The line chosen in the Petrosian vs. Fischer game seems like a fertile land of exploration for both sides, and the better player that day will win.

With black, that's all you can hope for.

May-16-06  RookFile: But thinking about what you said, keypusher, I think we're both in agreement, (and Pawn and Two made this point earlier) - that what Fischer needed to do here, and didn't, was pile up control over the e5 square. That's really why he lost this game. He should have fought for control for e5, and tried to get ...e5 itself in at some point.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <But thinking about what you said, keypusher, I think we're both in agreement, (and Pawn and Two made this point earlier) - that what Fischer needed to do here, and didn't, was pile up control over the e5 square.>

This points up one important difference between the Petrosian game and the Saidy game -- in Saidy-Fischer, White's KN is on e2, so he has less control over e5 than Petrosian does. Of course, the most important difference between the games (and I am sure Dr. Saidy would agree) is the identity of Fischer's opponent!

May-16-06  RookFile: Well, that Ne2 to f4 that Saidy played was Botvinnik's approach to this type of position - the idea to hinder ...e5 by applying pressure to d5.

What you notice in playing over the Petrosian vs. Fischer game is, how Petrosian refrained from a lot of exchanges. Petrosian was like a boa constrictor in this game, and didn't give Fischer room to breathe. His play is so unhurried, and yet all of a sudden, he has a total bind on the queenside, Fischer's c8 bishop is useless, and there is nopossibility of black freeing himself.

Saidy wasn't like this. In his game, he seems in a rush to always be 'doing' something. There are too many exchanges, he allows counterplay, and the negative aspects of his bad bishop that Fischer took pains to create earlier become apparent.

Saidy definitely should have played more like Petrosian did here.

May-16-06  madlydeeply: If Fischer was sixteen when he played this game, then he was lacking his vast opening knowledge at this point. Trying this speculative attack against Petrosian, one of the greatest defensive specialists of all time, was either (a) cocky (b) a desperate try to get petrosian out of the book or (c) he wanted to have the greatest defensive test to his idea, and have a serious learning experience. How important was this tournament. Was he still in the money? Was it an interzonal?

Also, when the center is blocked, by which I mean no open files to pile up on an exposed king or other obvious target, then developing moves can be sacrificed for space gaining moves. Also developing tempos can be sacrificed if they inhibit the opponent's development...In John Emms book on the Scotch, he describes Kasparov's bold new moves that revitalized the Scotch game, an open game, putting white's knight on a4 to harrass black's bishop c5, among others...the position dictates the best move in the end...both Fischer games show that the kingside initiative is not enough to compensate for the accelerated Queenside pawnstorm that white achieves. It is interesting, though, that Fischer's KID kingside attacks seemed to work, from a position of even less space, with the central pawn wedge moved one square over to the kingside...questions upon questions...this is why its taken so long to figure this game out!

So, to sum up, developing moves can be sacrificed if (A) the center is blocked..then space gaining moves work (B) if the opponent has targets, you can tie the opponent down, (C) your move harrasses and impedes the opponents development....

May-16-06  RookFile: The type of guy that I see Fischer's play here working well against would be somebody like Szabo. He could be a little impetuous with his attacks. Fischer's play was bad strategy because it was predicated against white overextending himself. Against Petrosian, that's simply not going to happen.
May-16-06  ChessPieceFace: <RookFile, KeyPusher> thanks a lot for your discussion of this game. both of you brought great ideas and theories to the table which i soaked up like the sponge i am. people like you all make the learning process much easier for me. :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Generally speaking, Fischer was a really sound positional player even as a boy. Look how he exploits the two bishops here: E Nash vs Fischer, 1956

But Petrosian was able to show weaknesses in Fischer's positional understanding in this tournament, both in this game and in their Caro-Kann encounters.

Jul-11-06  dabearsrock1010: 5...Bd6? Fischer loves his bishops.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: If he was that fond of his bishops he wouldn't play 3...Bb4 in the first place.
Jul-12-06  RookFile: Fischer played different with black than he did with white. With white, everything was close to the vest - he somewhat conservatively ground you down. With black, he took all kinds of risks for the win.
Nov-01-08  arsen387: damn, isn't this brilliant? Petrosian was a killer in 60s.
Nov-01-08  AnalyzeThis: Yes, a strategic masterpiece.
Dec-13-08  PugnaciousPawn: It would be a good idea if noted who resigned at the conclusion of the games. Perhaps some brief explanatory notes may be helpful as well (e.g., was there time trouble, a mating net set, etc.).
Apr-23-09  WhiteRook48: 5...Bxc3+! was better
Apr-23-09  AnalyzeThis: Yes, 5....Bxc3+ was better. I suspect that Petrosian was ready for that one too.
Jun-22-09  pom nasayao: Fischer can no longer bear the pawn roll at his queenside, which may mean material loss, or queening of one of the pawns.
Jun-22-09  WhiteRook48: so he'd play 3...d5 then?
Aug-03-10  xombie: Petrosian seems to have scored very well against stonewall formations. As things go, this one was just awful for black.
Feb-25-11  lostgalaxy: Oh my how the T Rex imprisoned the black bishop.

Also very thoughtful when he used the rook to counter attack, leaving the queen home to defend.

Nov-02-15  Conrad93: 5...Bd6 is actually well-established theory.
Nov-03-15  TheFocus: Yes, but I would rather play 5...Be7.

Did Fischer ever play this weak move again?

May-13-18  jabinjikanza: Bishop on b8 coasted bob's game
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