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Boris Spassky vs Robert James Fischer
"Crime and Punishment" (game of the day Feb-03-2017)
Spassky - Fischer World Championship Match (1972), Reykjavik ISL, rd 11, Aug-06
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Poisoned Pawn Variation (B97)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 11 OF 11 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-01-18  ZonszeinP: Kindness I've learnt
..is everything in life
Mar-05-18  PJs Studio: Back in ‘72 a player prepaired for the white side of the Poisoned Pawn could drive black nuts. Add to that Spassky’s arsenal of assistant GM’s... easy win for team CCCP.

If Fischer didn’t prep other openings for the match (and just play the KID and Najdorf) he probably would’ve been pushed off the other side of the board.

Apr-17-18  Howard: 22...Qd1 would have been preferable to what Fischer played, wouldn't it?!

Retreating the queen all the way back to home base might have been a bit awkward, but at least she would have survived!

Apr-18-18  sombreronegro: 15...d5 was a horrible move , especially because he was forced into it.
Apr-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <sombreronegro: 15...d5 was a horrible move , especially because he was forced into it.>

Get back to me when you change the world of chess.

Apr-18-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: This is the Only real game Boris beat Bobby in in their 72 match.

Bobby was so far ahead back then.

May-05-18  Justin796: Wow bobby fischer was overrated....if Bobby didnt play mind games and force them to play in the back room he would have gotten crushed.
Aug-28-18  Howard: Rather than trudge through all these postings, I'll just ask:

Has anyone pointed out that according to Kasparov, 14...Qb2! would have been better than Fischer's choice.

Sep-22-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Howard:

Has anyone pointed out that according to Kasparov, 14...Qb2! would have been better than Fischer's choice.>

Computer considers Fischer's move better:

=0.00 (32 ply) 14...Qb4 15.Qe3 Ne7 16.a3 Qa4 17.Nc3 Qc6 18.Na5 Qc5 19.Qxc5 dxc5 20.Nxb7 Nc6 21.Rab1 Nd4 22.Rb6 Nxe2 23.Nxe2 Bb5 24.Re1 Rc8 25.Nc3 Rc6 26.Rxc6 Bxc6 27.Na5 Kd7 28.Rb1 Kc7 29.Nxc6 Kxc6 30.Na4 c4 31.Rb6+ Kc7 32.Rxa6 Kb7 33.Rb6+ Kc7 34.Ra6

+0.38 (31 ply) 14...Qb2 15.a4 d5 16.exd5 Nb4 17.d6 Nxc2 18.Nc3 Qxb3 19.Rab1 Qa3 20.Ne4 Bg7 21.Rxb7 O-O 22.Rxd7 Ne3 23.Qc1 Qxa4 24.Qxe3 Qxd7 25.Qg3 Qd8 26.f5 Rc8 27.Bxa6 Rc6 28.Bd3 e5 29.Rd1 Rxd6 30.Nxd6 Qxd6 31.Be2 Qb4 32.Qe3 Kh7 33.Bxh5 Kg8

Jun-21-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <I can't say that Fischer had clear handwriting - he was a versatile player. In fact I would rather call it a cumulative style. In his better days he combined Smyslov's accuracy with Spassky's universalism and Alekhine's energy... His rationalism was his only weak spot, he was not that good at irrational and unsound positions. Here Spassky prevailed. Fischer had a clear blueprint for his play. Spassky's victory over him in the 11th game of the match was remarkable. He virtually tore Fischer apart in the Poisoned Pawn variation. It was not a matter of opening preparation, this kind of chess was simply difficult for Fischer. Of course, these are nuances, an attempt to find a weak link and demonstrate what kind of person he was. But Fischer admitted this weak spot himself and was trying to avoid those positions.>

- Vladimir Kramnik

Apr-23-20  asiduodiego: What I love about this game is thas it's a good example of the dangers of the posioned pawn. Notice how Bobby's dark-squared Bishop is sitting at home almost the entire game. Most of the time, Bobby was trying to create counter-play in the Kingside, or struggiing to give his Queen some escape squares. Usually, the player who is not able to develop all his pieces, is the one who loses.

I am curious about the "obvious" retreat 22 ... Qd8. It saves the Queen, but it's clear by that point that Black is now in bail-out mode. If we trade immediatly, White is now just better, but this morning I was wondering if 23 Rfe1 is a better continuation. After all, I don't have to capture the Knight immediatly. I haven't done extensive analysis on the line, but it seems that, in every case, Black's center is crushed and White ends up completely winning.

Apr-23-20  asiduodiego: Nevermind. I guess the obvious line is just the easiest way to win.

After 22 ... Qd8, then 23 cxd6 fxg4 24 dxe6 Bxe6 (if 24 ... fxe6?? 25 Qg6#) 25 Rfe1 and the Bishop is pinned. It seems the only way to not lose material right away with f5, is the horrible 25 ... Ke7. Then, after 26 Nb5+ Kc8 (where else?. Advancing the King is just suicidal) 27 Nxe6 fxe6 28 Rac1+ Kg8 29 Rxe6, and Black is pushed against the wall, two pawns down and the King is a sitting duck: Black's position has completely collapsed.

Apr-30-20  Mini Morphy: Think About 19 Knight g3 check!!
with the idea runner check, queen check, game over.
May-27-20  asiduodiego: Using chess.com I checked the analysis of this game, and I noticed some details, I think are very important in the discussion about this game.

1. The myth of 14 Nb1, being a "super move" over-analyzed by the "soviet machine" is bunk. The move is good, but the computer says the position is completely equal. It's not a magic move by any means. Fischer's position started to went wrong after 15 ... d5!?, when 15 ... f5 or 15... Ne7 were the correct moves in this position.

2. I think this game proves the idea that Fischer played his weakest chess in unclear and double-edged positions. This middle-game is just crazy, and it seems that Fischer is constantly struggling to find an idea to continue the game, and after a couple of dubious moves, he ends against the sword and the wall.

3. It is a tribute to Spassky's brilliance that the computer says that he played this game without any mistakes or dubious moves.

Dec-04-20  Petrosianic: <1. The myth of 14 Nb1, being a "super move" over-analyzed by the "soviet machine" is bunk. The move is good, but the computer says the position is completely equal. It's not a magic move by any means. Fischer's position started to went wrong after 15 ... d5!?, when 15 ... f5 or 15... Ne7 were the correct moves in this position.>

Mednis discovered that over 40 years ago. Nothing new under the sun here. It's an unclear, possibly dubious move that works because Fischer had an off day.

<2. I think this game proves the idea that Fischer played his weakest chess in unclear and double-edged positions.>

Again, nothing new. Observed by Mednis also, and illustrated maybe best in the three straight losses to Geller from unclear positions.

<3. It is a tribute to Spassky's brilliance that the computer says that he played this game without any mistakes or dubious moves.>

I have no idea what this even means. If the good moves Spassky played in this match are a tribute to his brilliance, what are his mistakes a tribute to?

Dec-04-20  Petrosianic: This is one of those games that really confused the heck on people trying to learn the game. Once upon a time, readers were told that 14. Nb1 was a winning maneuver, too good to have been found over the board. But unless it wins by force, which it doesn't, it seems to violate all the principles people were learning, by undeveloping an already developed piece.

For Gligoric, 14. Nb1 was one of only two moves in the whole match that he gave two exclams, and he gushed about it a lot without really explaining why it was good.

Reshevsky gave it one exclam, saying <"White wants to advance his queen bishop pawn, in order to get a strong bind in the center; in addition, it serves to endanger Black's queen by reducing the squares available to it.">, which is basically correct. White is creating an unclear position with lots of threats to the queen. The point about the c pawn is good, and also one Gligoric didn't make.

Another head scratching moment for the beginner in this game is the sequence 24. a4 h3 25. axb5. Why does Fischer just let his Queen be taken!? If he's going to stay in the game at all, why not at least play Qxf1+, and get a Rook for it? Gligoric lets the move pass without comment. Reshevsky gives the confusing comment, "If 24...Q-K7 25. QR-K1, QxRch; 26. RxQ, and White wins more material." Really? It looks like he wins less material than he does if Black just lets his Queen be taken. Two moves later, Reshevsky says "Why did Fischer continue with a queen down? Nobody had the answer!" Are you SURE 24...h3 was better than Qxf1?

Even now, it's hard to explain 24...h3 as anything but a coffeehouse attempt to create some kind of unimaginable tactic for Spassky to fall into. Maybe he was hoping that after 26...Rh3, Spassky wouldn't see that his queen was attacked, and continue with 27. cxd6 Rxc3. In this match, I wouldn't have been surprised. Or maybe it was some kind of bravado thing. "Take my Queen! It didn't hurt a bit!" That would have been fine if somebody had explained it.

Dec-04-20  Petrosianic: There's a Game of the Month from, I think 1977, showing that some of the people who praised 14. Nb1 the loudest did NOT play it with they themselves later had the opportunity. Some of them avoided 8. Nb3 altogether, preferring 8. Rb1, which I still think is better.
Dec-04-20  SChesshevsky: <Petrosianic: ...one of those games that really confused the heck on people trying to learn the game...>

Might be because of the non-concrete nature in how Fischer was busted.

Objectively, 14. Nb1 probably isn't the greatest. But it is subjectively stunning. The basic foundation of the poisoned pawn is that the black queen is always going to be safe on the a-file until opportunities open up for escape or good activation. Usually on a dark square. In the meantime it's assumed white is going to be aggressive to compensate for the pawn and lack of black development. But this will also result in white making either material or positional concessions.

The beauty of 14. Nb1 is that it immediately chips at blacks foundation. Pretty clear Fischer thrown off by even the idea of serious threats against the queen. Spassky's real brilliance seems the follow up. Rather than aggressively trying to take advantage of development or space, he just builds. Turns out it is black who has to make the probably very uncomfortable concession with 15...d5. In assistance to a vulnerable feeling queen.

By the time it gets to 24...h3, Fischer's head is spinning. His whole poisoned pawn world has been turned upside down. Plus he likely feels angry and humiliated for missing or underestimating the issues from a simple 14. Nb1. Who knows what he's thinking or even seeing at the board?

Think it's no coincidence Fischer didn't bother to try to resuscitate the poisoned pawn after this shock.

Dec-04-20  Petrosianic: <SChesshevsky> <Objectively, 14. Nb1 probably isn't the greatest. But it is subjectively stunning.>

When I was a beginner just starting to learn the game, that was NOT obvious to me. I really had no appreciation at the time of the psychological value of moves. I don't think people begin to understand that until they've actually played a game under tournament conditions themselves, and I had been interested in chess for a couple of years before I ever played a tournament game.

Fischer-Spassky was, literally, one of the very first things I looked at when I first started playing the game, and I now think it wasn't the best way to start. It seems reasonable to think that you can learn the most from watching the best players play, but oddly enough, that's not quite true. Better to watch people who are just a little better than you, who will make some of the same mistakes you make, but also find moves that you wouldn't find.

But you're quite right about the non-concrete way that Fischer was busted. Again, I had absolutely no appreciation of this when I was just starting out, and the Fischer-Spassky commentators I read didn't explain it well because they seemed to think people already knew about that stuff.

People think of the Poisoned Pawn as Fischer's pet line, and it was... sort of. Spassky was the first really top line opponent he played it against. Before that, Fischer had played it only against lesser lights. You're right, Fischer was thrown at the idea of serious threats against the Queen. He couldn't cope with it in the space of that single game.

After this game, Fischer started playing more conservatively. He still tried to win, but started shifting his openings, and started making Spassky come to him, rather than going straight after Spassky.

<By the time it gets to 24...h3, Fischer's head is spinning. His whole poisoned pawn world has been turned upside down. Plus he likely feels angry and humiliated for missing or underestimating the issues from a simple 14. Nb1.>

Yes, I think you're absolutely correct. Letting his queen be taken was probably a gesture of defiance. But no annotators explained this kind of thing very well. The beginner thinks of chess as almost entirely a kind of mathematical exercise, with right and wrong answers that can always be concretely determined. It's not quite like that. But you have to figure that out on your own.

Dec-05-20  JohnTal: Think About 19 Knight g3 check!!
with the idea runner check, queen check, game over.

Nope, Spassky simply grabs the piece with 19 hg. ...hg+, 20 Bh3 without having to move his K.

Dec-06-20  asiduodiego: <Petrosianic> <I have no idea what this even means. If the good moves Spassky played in this match are a tribute to his brilliance, what are his mistakes a tribute to?>

I meant in this game in particular. In the other games, of course he made mistakes, (otherwise, he would have won, dah), but in this game, he got an slight edge, pressed on, and didn't lose it for the rest of the game. In my opinion, being good at chess is not a thing of never ever making mistakes, but knowing how to win when you have the chance.

And I'm not pretending that the things I said were "new" or anything. I was just reading all the fuzz about "Nb1" being a kind of "super move over-analyzed by the soviet machine" people were talking, and I just put the position in the computer and it said: "A good move, but the position is equal". Probably it was unnerving for Fischer, but it wasn't a critical position of the game.

Dec-06-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: I recall Larsen was at ringside and saw this game live. The more he thougt about Nb1 the more he liked it.
Dec-06-20  Petrosianic: <asiduodiego>: <I meant in this game in particular.>

Oh, yes. Well, Spassky is certainly brilliant in this game. In Game 14, he had another great chance to win, though, and threw it away with 27...f6??, so, let's say that in this match, Spassky's brilliance was there, but occasional.

<And I'm not pretending that the things I said were "new" or anything.>

Oh, okay, I was just thrown by the wording, I guess.

Dec-06-20  asiduodiego: <Petrosianic> <In Game 14, he had another great chance to win, though, and threw it away with 27...f6??, so, let's say that in this match, Spassky's brilliance was there, but occasional.> Indeed, that was an ugly one. All I can say about that one is: "Change the order of the moves before you move it".
Aug-07-21  Albion 1959: For Fischer to give back the pawn on move 15 with d5, shows that his opening strategy was flawed. The poison pawn was one of his pet lines. Spassky clearly refuted Fischer's opening. Fischer had a number of opportunities to get the queen back to safely, for example - move 14 Qa4 move 15 Ne7 instead of d5? move 18 Qb6 and finally move 22 Qd8 instead of Qb5.
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