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Boris Spassky vs Robert Byrne
Spassky - Byrne Candidates Quarterfinal (1974), San Juan PUR, rd 4, Jan-21
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Amsterdam Variation (B93)  ·  1-0

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-16-05  calman543: What happens after 29...Nxe4 ?
Jul-16-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: After a quick scan following 30.Qxe4, I don't see any forcing continuation-it's just that Black is a clear exchange down with a feeble bishop and worse pawns and it's only a matter of time before his game comes undone.
Jul-16-05  Kangaroo: After <29. Ne4 Nxe4 30. Qxe4> White has an exchange and Robert E Byrne felt that Boris Spassky would finish the game showing his brilliant technical skills. Black simply agreed to resign immediately.
Sep-21-07  Owl: The game says its round 5 but isnt suppose to be round 4 because Spassky drawed Byrne in Round 5 and and won round 4 against byrne --am I right about this?? This is the game from the quaterfinals candiates match in 1974
Sep-22-07  gregorivus: nice game
Aug-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: In this round 4 game, Byrne resigned with barely 5 minutes left on the clock.

- Times-Picayune 22 Jan 1974 p. 12

Aug-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: They wrote on chess in Nawlins?
Aug-01-18  JJL: It is interesting that the logical 22 .... Qc5+ 23. Kh1 Qxb5 is met by 24. Qf5 and Black loses the f7 Pawn.

This exchange sacrifice seems desperate but I don’t see anything better.

Aug-01-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: I recall following this match in the NY Times, rooting for Byrne and hoping that Spassky would not be able to win, but after this game it was real clear, Byrne had no chance in the match especially after this loss. 6. f4 ought to get played more often IMHO.
Dec-25-18  DonChalce: knight exchange->the white queen attacks the black king and silently shuts down the pawn progression and the black queen influence->the black king goes on the 7th rank->the rook aproaches the king side. yeah white is winning
Jun-01-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <JJL: It is interesting that the logical 22 .... Qc5+ 23. Kh1 Qxb5 is met by 24. Qf5 and Black loses the f7 Pawn.>

Well, in this line black can cover Pf7 with 24...Qc4, as 25.Qxd7 is not possible due to hanging Rook on f1. But 22...Qc5+ loses instantly due to 23.Be3 Rxf1+ 24.Bxf1 +- with extra piece for white. For me it is hard to figure out what Byrne had in mind, when he played 19...Nxe4??

Jun-01-20  SChesshevsky: <... what Byrne had in mind, when he played 19...Nxe4??>

Maybe Byrne missed 26. Qa8+ and was expecting something like 26. Qd3 Qxb2 with slim but possible draw hopes.

Looks like after 26. Qa8+, Robert threw in the towel with Bf8 rather than suffer with Kh7.

Jun-01-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <Maybe Byrne missed 26. Qa8+ and was expecting something like 26. Qd3 Qxb2 with slim but possible draw hopes.>

It looks quite hopeless too. But what was purpose of 19...Nxe4? Any reasonable move seems to be better.

Jun-01-20  SChesshevsky: <What was the purpose of 19...Nxe4?>

Guessing that at 19 Bxb5, Bryne felt he was worse. Mainly worried about something probably related to Bxd7 and Bxh6 which looks to eventually open up the king.

19...Nxe4 stops any immediate direct king side threats but it does cost the exchange. His thinking while position will be bad may be defendable as long as white has no outside passed pawn.

That's why 26. Qd3 Qxb2 idea is important. But after Qa8+ and b3, the passed pawn remains.

Think 19...Nxe4 simply Byrne's decision to go for a certainly worse but maybe defendable endgame after ...Qxb2 than face potentially even worse action with open kingside around move 20 or so.

Jun-02-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: Byrne would not have played that move if he'd had access to Magnus' database and learning programme...
Jun-02-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <SChesshevsky> I see. But then he clearly misevaluated the position, as Bxh6 is by far not so dangerous for black. 19...Nc5! 20.Bxh6 Ra1+ gives him excellent counter-play, for example 21.Rf1 Rxf1+ 22.Qxf1 Bxh6 23.Qxf6 Be3+ 24.Kh1 Nxe4 25.Nxe4 Bxe4 26.c3 Qa5 27.Qf1 d5 (diagram)


click for larger view

I don't think that black is going to lose this position despite of white being a Pawn up,

Jun-02-20
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Also 19...Qc5+!? 20.Be3 Qb4 or 20.Kh1 Nxe4! 21.Bxd7 (or 21.Nxe4 Bxe4 22.Qxe4 Ra1 23.Rf1 Qxb5) 21...Ra1 22.Qf1 (22.Rf1? Nxc3 23.bxc3 Ba6) 22...Nf6 23.Bb5 Qc8! (diagram) was playable.


click for larger view

Despite of extra piece white position is so paralysed that he cannot avoid material losses. For example, 24.Bd3 Ng4 25.Qe1 e4 26.Bxe4 Bxe4 27.Qxe4 Rxc1+ 28.Ng1 Ne5 etc. or 24.Ne2 Qxc2 25.Nhg1 Ng4 26.Rf3 Bxf3 27.Qxf3 Nf6 etc. Outcome here is definitely better than the text continuation after 19...Nxe4(?).

Jun-02-20  SChesshevsky: <Honza Cervenka:.. But then he clearly misevaluated the position, as Bxh6 is by far not so dangerous for black...>

Yeah, he obviously misevaluated the position. Shown by going down so quickly after 26 Qa8+. But the question was why 19...Nxe4?

The start is his assessment at 19. Bxb5. He's down a pawn with white's extra a passer. Also weakness on d6 and busted up kside with tricks on the h-pawn. Whites e pawn weak and may have back rank issues and pieces less coordinated. Guessing Byrne probably discounted his back rank advantage, probably wrongly, given there are numerous ways to nullify it at least initially. So he probably figures he's worse and that's going to dictate his view on best plan.

I'm sure he checked out many possible ideas at 19. Bxb5. Likely main ones as you suggested. He's probably not going to be too keen on 19...Nc5 as that plays right into what might be his kside worry. 20. Bxh6 Ra1 21. Nd1 then something takes e4 22. Bxg7 Kxg7 and the king is open plus still a pawn down but now with two passed pawns. Is it tenable? Yeah, sure. But seems he did not want it against Spassky.

His first inclination was probably 19...Qc5+ probably expecting 20. Be3 rather than Kh1. Then the question is what he thought about 20...Qb4. Did he feel something like 21. Bxd7 Nxd7 22. Nf2 Qxb2 23. Nfd1 Ra1 24. Kf2 was bad? Did he just dislike ending up with both his Q & R away from the kside? Don't know but he must've disliked something.

Not saying 19...Nxe4 was the correct plan but GM's always seem to have some logical principled or concrete ideas behind what they play. My guess that Byrne's was based on trying to hold on after 26. Qd3 Qxb2 then with the B holding d6 either exchange N's or try some sort of blockade. Maybe I'm wrong, but then what other plan could he have had?

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