Friday, August 15, 2008

The Game of the Century

Robert James Fischer learned chess at the age of 6, with his sister Joan, from instructions from a chess set. This is the game he played against a US Open Champion when he was 13 years old. He died in January 2008 at the age of 64.

Donald BYRNE vs Robert James FISCHER

Rosenwald Memorial Tournament

New York, 1956.

1 Nf3 Nf6

Jose Raul Capablanca, World Champion from 1921-27, in Chess Fundamentals, “Bring out knights before bringing out bishops.”

2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 Bg7

Emanuel Lasker, World Champion from 1894-1921, in Manual of Chess, “The bishop which aids the center from g7 is there well placed.”

4 d4 O-O

Gary Kasparov, World Champion from 1985-93, in Kasparov Teaches Chess, “Beginners and those with insufficient experience should castle at the earliest opportunity. By remaining in the center, the King may be lured to the very center of the board by sacrifices and then disaster becomes imminent.”

Our junior players should NEVER forget this basic opening rule and should note that even the future World Champion practiced it.

5 Bf4 d5

This pawn move makes the opening a Gruenfeld Defence by transposition where the standard order of moves are 1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 g6 3 Nc3 d5.

After 5 … d5

Reinfeld in The Complete Chess Player, “White generally gets an imposing pawn center; but Black hopes to exert sharp pressure against it – generally by a combination of his fianchettoed Bishop striking along the diagonal and the flank thrust … c5.”

Soltis in Transpo Tricks in Chess narrates, “One of Ernst Gruenfeld’s first games with the opening he created went 1 d4 Nf6 2 Nf3 g6 3 c4 Bg7 4 Nc3 d5 5 cxd5 Nxd5 6 e4 Nxc3 7 bxc3 O-O 8 Be2 c5 9 O-O cxd4 10 cxd4 Nc6 11 Be3 Bg4! with advantage.”

The Gruenfeld was frequently used by Kasparov; vs: Karpov in World Championship Rematch 1986, Karpov in Amsterdam 1988, Karpov in World Championship Match 1990, Beliavsky in Linares 1992, Timman in Amsterdam 1992, Piket in Amsterdam 1995, Kramnik in Chess Classics Giants 1998, Svidler in Wijk aan Zee 1999, and Karpov in New York 2002.

According to Bobby Ang in Inside Philippine Chess, the Gruenfeld was played with success by Bong Villamayor, our 4th GM (vs SuperGM Alexy Dreev in ICC 1998) and Darwin Laylo, our 8th GM, (vs Liang Chong, Asian Junior Championship 1999). Our other GMs are Torre, Balinas, Antonio, Mariano, Paragua, So, and Gonzales.

6 Qb3

Opening theory calls this the Russian Variation perhaps on account of its debut in Ragozin vs Romanovsky in Leningrad Masters Tournament 1932.

Fine in The Ideas Behind the Chess Openings, “Qb3 is the key move for all White attacks in the Gruenfeld Defence.”

But Fischer himself commented on this move in his book My 60 Memorable Games (# 39: Botvinnik vs Fischer), “The main line, but I don’t believe this early development of the Queen can give White anything.”

6 … dxc4 7 Qxc4 c6 8 e4 Nbd7 9 Rd1 Nb6

Steinitz Theory: “In the beginning of the game, ignore the search for combinations, abstain from violent moves, aim for small advantages, accumulate them, and only after having attained these ends search for the combination.”

10 Qc5

Levy in How Fischer Plays Chess, “A curious move, putting the Queen on an exposed square for no apparent reason. Correct was 10 Qb3.”

10 … Bg4 11 Bg5

Capablanca in Chess Fundamentals, “Before development has been completed, no piece should be moved more than once, unless it is essential in order to obtain a material advantage or secure freedom of action.”

International Master Rodolfo Tan Cardoso in MERALCOlympics 2008 Chess Workshop for kids, put it simply as “Don’t move the same piece twice in the Opening.”

Schiller in Learn from Fischer’s Games, “White’s move is effectively an admission that he’s made a mistake. The other bishop should have entered the game.”

11 … Na4!

After 11 … Na4, ‘Here Fischer cleverly offers up his Knight, but if Byrne takes it with Nxa4 Fischer will play Nxe4, and Byrne then suddenly has some terrible choices:

a) 13. Qxe7 Qa5+ 14. b4 Qxa4 15. Qxe4 Rfe8 16. Be7 Bxf3 17. gxf3 Bf8 produces a terrible pin.

b) 13. Bxe7 Nxc5 14. Bxd8 Nxa4 15. Bg5 Bxf3 16. gxf3 Nxb2 gives Fischer an extra pawn and ruins Byrne's pawn structure.

c) 13. Qc1 Qa5+ Nc3 Bxf3 15.gxf3 Nxg5 gives Fischer back his piece and a better position.

12 Qa3 Nxc3 13 bxc3 Nxe4 14 Bxe7 Qb6 15 Bc4

Byrne finally remembered his other Bishop that clears the way for a King-side castling, probably thinking “better late than never”. But why not take the rook; Bxf8?

15 … Nxc3 16 Bc5 Rfe8+

Weeramantry & Eusebi in Best Lessons of a Chess Coach, “To strengthen an attack, bring in a new piece, preferably with a check.”

Reinfeld in The Complete Chess Player, “To leave the King in the center condemns him to exposure to a powerful attack.”

17 Kf1 Be6!!

After 17 … Be6, This stunning resource is the move that made this game famous. Instead of saving his queen, Fischer offers to sacrifice it.”, “Our chess engine Fritz considers only this move from the first second onwards, giving it a +2 pawns score after a 16-ply search.”

18 Bxb6 Bc4+ 19 Kg1 Ne2+

Reinfeld in The Complete Chess Player, “Simultaneous attack on two hostile units or on two points is almost certain to yield profitable results.”

20 Kf1 Nxd4+ 21 Kg1 Ne2+ 22 Kf1 Nc3+ 23 Kg1 axb6 24 Qb4 Ra4!

Lasker in Manual of Chess, “The more space you dominate, the less space for the opponent in which to move his pieces about, the more restricted the number of moves with which he may threaten you or guard himself against your threats.”

25 Qxb6 Nxd1

After 25 … Nxd1, Fischer has gained a rook, two bishops, and a pawn for his sacrificed queen, leaving him ahead the equivalent, roughly, of one minor piece – an easily winning advantage in master play.”

26 h3 Rxa2

Capablanca in Chess Fundamentals,“Rooks are very dangerous when they reach the 7th rank.”

27 Kh2 Nxf2 28 Re1 Rxe1

Nimzovich in My System, “Simplification is desirable if we have superiority in material.”

29 Qd8+ Bf8 30 Nxe1 Bd5 31 Nf3 Ne4 32 Qb8 b5 33 h4 h5 34 Ne5 Kg7 35 Kg1 Bc5+

After 35 … Bc5+

Capablanca in Chess Fundamentals, “The student should note in all these middle game positions that once the opportunity is offered, all the pieces are thrown into action en masse when necessary; and that all the pieces coordinate their action with machine-like precision.”

36 Kf1 Ng3+ 37 Ke1 Bb4+ 38 Kd1 Bb3+ 39 Kc1 Ne2+ 40 Kb1 Nc3+ 41 Kc1 Rc2#

Donald cannot duck the attack on his King.

This game is ranked No. 1 in’s Most Important Chess Games of All Times.

God bless.

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