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Wolfgang Unzicker vs Robert James Fischer
Buenos Aires (1960), Buenos Aires ARG, rd 11, Jul-07
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Traditional Line (B98)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-07-07  Gilmoy: <17..Qxe5> 18.hxg4. White's Q is protected: Qxg3 19.Nxg3.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <perfidious: In How to Beat Bobby Fischer, Edmar Mednis also notes that Fischer intended to play ....h6 and touched the pawn, only to then realise the disaster which would ensue, so was left having to play ....h5, which also came to grief in short order.>

Here is the excerpt from “How to Beat Bobby Fischer” by Edmar Mednis, Dover Publications, Inc., 1998 [republication of the book originally published by Quadrangle/The New York Times Book Company, ca. 1974], at page 111:

“An unbelievable move and yet all commentators have tried to explain it in normal chess terms. Here’s what actually happened: Bobby had touched the KRP to move it to KR3 [12. ... h6]. With shock he noted that White can reply 13 BxKRP [13. Bxh6]. Thus there was no choice but to push the KRP two squares. 12. … P-KR4 [...h5]?? Is horrible, but 12. … P-KR3 [... h6]??? would be even worse.”

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Sosonko, in his book Smart Chip from St. Petersburg, says that Fischer thought he was playing with a pawn next to the board, then realized that it was his h-pawn, which he had to move.
Nov-04-07  Calli: Fischer wrote about this game in Chess Life, July 1963:

"In this position, at Buenos Aires, 1960, Unzicker played against me 12. Qg3. I hope that none of my readers will make the move that I did in reply: 12...h5 . I touched the pawn, intending 12...h6 – and noticed, just in time, that White could play Bxh6. So I had to play the meaningless ...h5, which weakened my king-side and I eventually lost." [notation converted]

Fischer and Unzicker, thus, agree on what happened. Fischer was honest and called the touch move on himself.

Nov-04-07  ughaibu: Is h6 any better? Doesn't white take the knight followed by e5 and Ne4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Yeah, Fischer is more likely to have known what happened in his own game than Sosonko, who was not there.
Nov-05-07  whiteshark: Here is what Unzicker said:

<Im 12. Zug - ich traute meinen Augen nicht - fasste Fischer, der am Zuge war, seinen h-Bauern fest an, offensichtlich, um ihn zu ziehen. Nach wenigen Sekunden ließ er ihn wieder los. In diesem Augenblick zeigte Fischer vorbildliche Fairness. Da er den Bauern angefasst hatte, zog er ihn, der Regel gemäß, auch, obwohl es der Verlustzug für ihn war. Ich hatte nicht beabsichtigt, zu protestieren, falls er einen Zug mit einer anderen Figur gemacht hätte. Ich hätte ihm einen Verstoß gegen die Regel "berührt-geführt" kaum nachweisen können und außerdem widerstrebt es mir in hohem Maße, mich wegen derartiger Vorfälle an die Turnierleitung zu wenden. Fischer hat diese Partie eben auch durch seine Fairness verloren, und mir selbst hat dieser Gewinnpunkt nie Freude bereitet,> erinnerte sich Unzicker.

All main points are in <Swindler>'s above statement from May-24-04

Source: Obituary:

Apr-07-08  grasser: I think blunders should be forgiven. I won a game against Jude Acers in a simulback in the 70's. He dropped a Queen. A mistake of the finger does not mean I beat him. A waste of both our time.
Apr-08-08  Petrosianic: <I think blunders should be forgiven. I won a game against Jude Acers in a simulback in the 70's. He dropped a Queen. A mistake of the finger does not mean I beat him. A waste of both our time.>

Acers plays hundreds of games a year for $5 a game. He probably wins a lot of games on silly blunders. Do you think he thinks that those weren't really wins? I guarantee you he does, they are, and so is your win against him a real one.

You might as well say that fumbles don't count in football, and give the ball back every time somebody drops it.

The only way to make blunders "not count" would be to give players a set number of takebacks per game (maybe 3, like timeouts). At any point when it's your move, you can take back two half moves, up to three times in a game.

People might do something like that as a training exercise, but it won't ever become a standard tournament rule.

Apr-08-08  Marcellus: one Fischer diferent!!!eheheh, 12...h5 was an error of game!
Apr-09-08  Petrosianic: <eheheh, 12...h5 was an error of game!>

It wasn't. Read up to Peligroso Patzer's post to see what really happened.

May-31-08  Salaskan: The ending is genius. White sacrifices a knight to leave black completely entangled. He can only wait until he is checkmated, e.g. 22...Kh6 23. Rf1 Qh2 (23...e5 24. Qh4+ Kg6 25. Rg3+ Bg4 26. Rxg4#) (23...Qe7 24. Qh4+ Kg6 25. Rg3#) 24. Rg3 Qxg3 (24...Rg8 25. Qh4#) 1-0

As for the touch-move rule, I think it's silly, because when you touch a piece and then see you've made a mistake, moving the piece only results in a game that is not decided by skill but by luck. The worst that can happen by touching a piece and then putting it back is that your opponent gets slightly distracted, but that shouldn't be a reason to force someone to move that piece and often (as in this game) lose. You don't instantly forfeit the game when you accidentally let go of your glass of water your opponent gets distracted because it breaks, either.

Nov-03-08  emayev: i disagree with salaskan, if player A is allowed to pick up a peice and then analyze, it makes it harder for player B to analyze the board.
Dec-28-08  Brown: Better yet, players should be allowed to touch a piece and feint a couple of times as to which square it may land, release it and do it with a couple of other pieces before deciding to move.

On a serious note, a pet peeve for me is when a player takes his opponents piece first before moving the piece that will be doing the taking. I think it should absolutely be against the rules, especially if the piece can be taken by more than one move.

Feb-27-09  BISHOP TAL: I was reading the petrosainic grasser coversation below, A simulation game and a real game are totaly different grasser did u tell him u wanted to play on.I would have, not unless there was a a good purse if I win, would I let it end there I mean he could drop queens left and right get his payoff right,not that he did it on purpose,im just sayin u pay to play a GM drive there etc.You want a game,see some good moves a dropped queen and thats the end id think hed want to give you more for your money and your would want to get more.Anyways even if you beat a GM fair and square in a simulation its nothing like 1 on 1.How does that work when you win do get somthing I never been but ide like to somtime.
Aug-28-09  WhiteRook48: Nxe5??
Jan-29-10  jrbleau: I lost due to a fingerfehler just yesterday (that's why I consulted this famous game today). Not sure how to explain it, but my queen figured prominently in the mess of calculations I was doing and I grabbed it rather than the knight that I was intending the move. When I saw the queen between my fingers, I was flabbergasted. Infuriated, too. This lost a piece, but I composed myself and made my opponent sweat out his win in another 40 moves. I agree with those who claim that such losses aren't attributable to defects in one's understanding of chess per se.

Note to "Averageguy": touching the ball in soccer/football is not a foul unless it is intentional. If the ref didn't see it and neither line judge raised their flag, forget about calling their attention to it.

Feb-03-10  jerseybob: I'm sure touch-move was created to meet gross abuses, just as time controls were. It's here for a good reason. On the game itself, Fischer actually had an interesting position just before the fatal blunder. In his July '63 CL article, he gives some interesting analysis(which I don't have in front of me)which seems to validate the line, although possibly new discoveries have been made since then. In that age-old problem for Najdorf players - how to meet 6.Bg5 - I see in this game an intriguing idea: that black can sometimes castle kingside and get away with it. And he might have, if he'd played 12..e5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<At my tournament games I've seen the following from my opponents: ... reaching for a piece and clumsily touching another piece (usually a king or queen) with their wrist or arm.>>

The rules might vary from nation to nation, but it's my understanding that you can't actually claim 'touch move' unless the opponent touched the pawn/piece with the intention of moving it. Accidentally knudging a chessman with your wrist or thumb as you are reaching for another intended man doesn't count as a violation. The rule was intended to govern klutzes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<The rule was intended to govern klutzes.>>

Shucks! I meant that the rule *wasn't* intended to govern klutzes.

Oct-16-11  Chessfugitive: In this exact position, where the white pieces are on a king hunt, all kingside pawn moves made without intention of creating a blockade, are illogical. g6 is completely illogical, h6 is completely illogical. h5 is almost completely illogical. It's hard to believe h5 was an oversight/honest blunder.
May-14-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Unzicker vs Fischer, 1960.
Your score: 32 (par = 18)


Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Bad hands cost Bob a game. I was suspicious of this right away-Fischer blown out in 22 moves?
Apr-16-17  The Kings Domain: The game that showed Fischer's sense of principle which a player like Kasparov could only dream of.
Aug-30-17  Petrosianic: <HeMateMe: Bad hands cost Bob a game. I was suspicious of this right away-Fischer blown out in 22 moves?>

Just the opposite. It was GOOD hands that kept him from letting go of the pawn when he played h6, and hanging onto it long enough to change the move to h5 instead.

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