Lessons from Bobby Fischer

  His book, My 60 Memorable Games, was one of the first adult books on chess I bought, and while it was far too hard for me at the time (and still is, I fear) there is much to be mined in its pages. Each time I come back to it I learn something new, and I have selected some positions below which have taught me something in each phase of the game.

 


Lessons in the Opening


Fischer,Robert J - Celle,O (Davis sim) [C51] opening attack, 1964

In an old-style opening Fischer gives a terrific display of attacking power against an uncastled King - just the sort of thing you want to see at a simultaneous display.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Bc5 4. b4

  Evans' Gambit, an old favourite.

4... Bxb4 5. c3 Be7 6. d4 d6 7. dxe5 Nxe5 8. Nxe5 dxe5 9. Qh5 g6 10. Qxe5 Nf6 11. Ba3 Rf8 12. O-O Ng4 13. Qg3 Bxa3 14. Nxa3 Qe7!

  White has a lead in development, but how can he take advantage of it?

t+l+jT-+
XxX-Dx+x
-+-+-+x+
+-+-+-+-
-+b+p+s+
N-P-+-Q-
p+-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

15. Bb5+! c6 (x d6) 16. Nc4 Qe6

t+l+jT-+
Xx+-+x+x
-+x+d+x+
+b+-+-+-
-+n+p+s+
+-P-+-Q-
p+-+-PpP
R-+-+rK-

17. Rad1!

[17. Qc7 Qd7 18. Nd6+ Ke7 19. Nxc8+ Raxc8 20. Qxd7+ Kxd7]

17... cxb5 18. Qc7 Bd7 19. Nd6+ Ke7 20. Nf5+!

"Material is not what counts now, but open lines"

20... gxf5 21. exf5 Rac8 22. Rxd7+ Qxd7 23. f6+ Nxf6 24. Re1+ Ne4 25. Rxe4+ Kf6 26. Qxd7 Rfd8 27. Qg4 1-0

 


Petrosian,Tigran - Fischer,Robert (Buenos Aires m [A06] opening, 1971

Many years ago Reti described "Americanism" in the chess of Pillsbury and others, a sort of full-blooded practical-minded style - and in Fischer's play it is easy to see a parallel.

1. Nf3 c5 2. b3 d5 3. Bb2 f6

tSlDjLsT
Xx+-X-Xx
-+-+-X-+
+-Xx+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+p+-+n+-
pBpPpPpP
Rn+qKb+r
Now that's what I call a move. Having been reared on Chernev's adulation of Capablanca, I got the idea that you should play in the opening only the most natural and harmonious of moves. Now here is Fischer, in the Candidate's Final to qualify to play Spassky, and he is declaring his intention to refute his opponent's opening using three Pawn moves as Black.

  This game had a terrible effect on me, I often still can't resist trying to refute my opponent's odd moves immediately. Although Petrosian fumbles at the end you can see how Fischer's grip on the game never relaxes.

4. c4 d4! 5. d3 e5 6. e3 Ne7 7. Be2 Nec6! 8. Nbd2 Be7 9. O-O O-O 10. e4 a6 11. Ne1 b5 12. Bg4 Bxg4 13. Qxg4 Qc8 14. Qe2 Nd7 15. Nc2 Rb8 16. Rfc1 Qe8 17. Ba3 Bd6 18. Ne1 g6 19. cxb5 axb5 20. Bb2 Nb6 21. Nef3 Ra8 22. a3 Na5 23. Qd1 Qf7 24. a4 bxa4 25. bxa4 c4 26. dxc4 Nbxc4 27. Nxc4 Nxc4 28. Qe2 Nxb2 29. Qxb2 Rfb8 30. Qa2 Bb4 31. Qxf7+ Kxf7 32. Rc7+ Ke6 33. g4 Bc3 34. Ra2 Rc8 35. Rxc8 Rxc8 36. a5 Ra8 37. a6 Ra7 38. Kf1 g5 39. Ke2 Kd6 40. Kd3 Kc5 41. Ng1 Kb5 42. Ne2 Ba5 43. Rb2+ Kxa6 44. Rb1 Rc7 45. Rb2 Be1 46. f3 Ka5 47. Rc2 Rb7 48. Ra2+ Kb5 49. Rb2+ Bb4 50. Ra2 Rc7 51. Ra1 Rc8 52. Ra7 Ba5 53. Rd7 Bb6 54. Rd5+ Bc5 55. Nc1 Ka4 56. Rd7 Bb4 57. Ne2 Kb3 58. Rb7 Ra8 59. Rxh7 Ra1 60. Nxd4+ exd4 61. Kxd4 Rd1+ 62. Ke3 Bc5+ 63. Ke2 Rh1 64. h4 Kc4 65. h5 Rh2+ 66. Ke1 Kd3 0-1


Middlegame


Fischer,Robert - Robatsch,Karl (Varna ol final R) [B01] middlegame attack 1, 1962

In one of his games, Fischer describes having the attack on the fianchettoed Black King's position down to a science: open the h-file, "sac, sac, ...mate!"

  Once you see it done, you can imitate it with effect. It is less usual for these straightforward attacks to be successful at master level, but among club players my money is on the player with a plan they understand.

1. e4 d5 2. exd5 Qxd5 3. Nc3 Qd8!? 4. d4 g6!?

  Two !?s sometimes add up to a ?, sometimes a !

  Robatsch's ideas have a hard reception here.

5. Bf4! Bg7 6. Qd2! Nf6 7. O-O-O c6

tSlDj+-T
Xx+-XxLx
-+x+-Sx+
+-+-+-+-
-+-P-B-+
+-N-+-+-
pPpQ-PpP
+-Kr+bNr

8. Bh6 O-O? 9. h4 Qa5 10. h5! gxh5

"Horrible, but Black must keep the h-file closed"

11. Bd3 Nbd7 12. Nge2 Rd8 13. g4! Nf8 14. gxh5 Ne6 15. Rdg1 Kh8 16. Bxg7+ Nxg7 17. Qh6 Rg8 18. Rg5 Qd8 19. Rhg1 Nf5?

[19... Qf8 20. d5! Bd7 21. d6 Nf5 22. Qxf8 Rgxf8

[22... Raxf8 23. Bxf5 Rxg5 24. Rxg5 h6 25. dxe7 Rb8 26. Rg3 Bxf5 27. Rf3]

23. Bxf5 h6 24. dxe7 Rfb8 25. Rg7 Bxf5 26. Rxf7]

20. Bxf5 1-0

 


Fischer,R - Stein,L (Sousse izt) [C92] middlegame attack, 1967

A far more complex attacking game. Lasker once said that no-one can hope to master chess who does not take on the Ruy Lopez in all its manifestations; Fischer's games feature many striking successes in a surprising variety of lines, from the Exchange to the Steinitz, and as below, what we now call the Zaitsev, played by the then Soviet Champion.

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6 8. c3 O-O 9. h3

t+lD-Tj+
+-X-LxXx
x+sX-S-+
+x+-X-+-
-+-+p+-+
+bP-+n+p
pP-P-Pp+
RnBqR-K-

9... Bb7

[9... Na5 10. Bc2 c5 Tchigorin]

[9... Nb8 10. d4 Breyer]

10. d4 Na5

  Heading for d7, the long way round

[10... Nb8 11. dxe5 dxe5 12. Qxd8 and now 12... Bxd8 is best, but awkward]

11. Bc2 Nc4 12. b3 Nb6 13. Nbd2 Nbd7

t+-D-Tj+
+lXsLxXx
x+-X-S-+
+x+-X-+-
-+-Pp+-+
+pP-+n+p
p+bN-Pp+
R-BqR-K-
Made it! But it has taken a lot of time.

14. b4! exd4

  going for counterplay, rather than hanging on to e5

15. cxd4 a5 16. bxa5 c5 17. e5! dxe5 18. dxe5 Nd5 19. Ne4 Nb4! 20. Bb1 Rxa5 21. Qe2!

-+-D-Tj+
+l+sLxXx
-+-+-+-+
TxX-P-+-
-S-+n+-+
+-+-+n+p
p+-+qPp+
RbB-R-K-

21... Nb6?

  A piece possibly better reserved for defending the King.

[21... Re8]

22. Nfg5!

"The threats are beginning to jell."

22... Bxe4!

[22... h6 23. Nh7!! Kxh7

[23... Re8 24. Nhf6+ Bxf6 25. Nxf6+ Qxf6

[25... gxf6 26. Qg4+ Kf8 27. Bxh6+ Ke7 28. e6 Kd6 29. Qg3+ Kc6 30. Be4+ N4d5 31. exf7 Rh8 32. Bxd5+ Nxd5+- ]

26. exf6 Rxe2 27. Rxe2]

24. Nxc5+ Kg8 25. Nxb7]

23. Qxe4 g6 24. Qh4 h5 25. Qg3 Nc4 26. Nf3?

[26. e6]

26... Kg7 27. Qf4 Rh8 28. e6! f5 29. Bxf5! Qf8

-+-+-D-T
+-+-L-J-
-+-+p+x+
TxX-+b+x
-Ss+-Q-+
+-+-+n+p
p+-+-Pp+
R-B-R-K-

30. Be4?

[30. Nh4! Littlewood 30... Bxh4 31. Qxh4 Qxf5

[31... gxf5 32. Qg5+ Kh7 33. e7 Qe8 34. Re6]

[31... Qf6 32. Qg3]

32. Qe7+ Kg8 33. Qd8+ Kg7 34. Qc7+ Kg8 35. e7]

30... Qxf4 31. Bxf4 Re8?

[31... Rxa2 32. Rxa2

[32. Rad1 Ra7]

32... Nxa2 33. Ne5 g5 34. Bg3 with some initiative but no win yet]

32. Rad1 Ra6 33. Rd7

[33. Bb7!]

33... Rxe6 34. Ng5 Rf6

[34... Ra6 35. Bb1 Kf6 36. Ne4+ Kf7 37. Nxc5]

35. Bf3 Rxf4 36. Ne6+ Kf6 37. Nxf4 Ne5 38. Rb7 Bd6 39. Kf1

-+-+t+-+
+r+-+-+-
-+-L-Jx+
+xX-S-+x
-S-+-N-+
+-+-+b+p
p+-+-Pp+
+-+-Rk+-
winning

39... Nc2 40. Re4 Nd4 41. Rb6 Rd8 42. Nd5+ Kf5 43. Ne3+ (sealed) 43... Ke6 44. Be2! Kd7 45. Bxb5+ Nxb5 46. Rxb5 Kc6 47. a4 Bc7 48. Ke2 g5 49. g3 Ra8 50. Rb2 Rf8 51. f4 gxf4 52. gxf4 Nf7 53. Re6+ Nd6 54. f5 Ra8 55. Rd2! Rxa4 56. f6 1-0

 


Endgame


Gligoric,Svetozar - Fischer,Robert (Yugoslavia ct ) [B99] endgame, 1959

This was an interesting game for me. I'd got the hang of Pawn weakness and while I knew that having a weakness didn't mean you should resign, I think it's fair to say I was much more impressed with Pawns than pieces!

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Bg5 e6 7. f4 Be7 8. Qf3 Qc7 9. O-O-O Nbd7 10. g4 b5 11. Bxf6 gxf6 12. f5 Ne5 13. Qh3 O-O

t+l+-Tj+
+-D-Lx+x
x+-XxX-+
+x+-Sp+-
-+-Np+p+
+-N-+-+q
pPp+-+-P
+-Kr+b+r
"Black's "ugly" defence is based on sound positional considerations: once he can consolidate, there is strong potential in the two Bishops coupled with the beautifully posted Knight and compact Pawn mass. These assets, in the long run, hopefully should outweigh the temporary weakness of his King and the immobile target on e6. "

14. Nce2 Kh8 15. Nf4 Rg8 16. Rg1 d5 17. fxe6 dxe4 18. Nd5 Qc5 19. Nxe7 Qxe7 20. Nf5 Qxe6 21. Qh6 Bd7 22. Rd6 Nxg4 23. Rxg4 Qxf5 24. Rxg8+?

[24. Rf4]

24... Rxg8?

[24... Kxg8]

25. Rxf6 Qd5 26. Rd6 Qf5 27. Rf6 Qg5+ 28. Qxg5 Rxg5 29. Rxf7 Bg4 30. Kd2 Bf3 31. Ke3 Rg1 32. Bh3 Re1+ 33. Kf4 Bd1

-+-+-+-J
+-+-+r+x
x+-+-+-+
+x+-+-+-
-+-+xK-+
+-+-+-+b
pPp+-+-P
+-+lT-+-
"Playing, as Dr.Tarrasch wryly put it, "for the loss". Nowadays I would know better than to try to squeeze a win out of such a simplified position. "

34. Ke5!

  Inviting Fischer to overextend.

[34. Re7 Bxc2 35. Bf5= ]

34... e3 35. Bf5 Rg1 36. Rxh7+ Kg8 37. Rc7 Bg4?

[37... e2 38. Kf6 Kh8 39. Rh7+ Kg8 40. Rc7 Kh8= ]

38. Bxg4 Rxg4 39. Rc3 e2 40. Re3

-+-+-+j+
+-+-+-+-
x+-+-+-+
+x+-K-+-
-+-+-+t+
+-+-R-+-
pPp+x+-P
+-+-+-+-
"Fortunately, Black can still hold the draw"

40... Rg2

[40... Rg7? 41. Kd4]

41. Kd4 e1=Q!

[41... Rxh2 42. Kd3+- ]

42. Rxe1 Rxc2 43. Rb1

-+-+-+j+
+-+-+-+-
x+-+-+-+
+x+-+-+-
-+-K-+-+
+-+-+-+-
pPt+-+-P
+r+-+-+-

43... Kf7!

[43... Rxh2 44. Kc5]

44. a3 Ke6 45. b3 Rxh2 46. Kc5 Kd7 47. Kb6 Ra2 48. Kxa6 Rxa3+ 49. Kb7 Kd6 50. Kb6 Kd7 51. b4 Rh3 52. Rc1

-+-+-+-+
+-+j+-+-
-K-+-+-+
+x+-+-+-
-P-+-+-+
+-+-+-+t
-+-+-+-+
+-R-+-+-

52... Rh8?

"After the game, Olafsson scolded me: "How can you play an ending like this so fast?" (I'd only been taking a few seconds a move for the last dozen moves or so.) "Because there's no danger. It's a dead draw," I replied. "

[52... Rh5 53. Rc5 Rxc5 54. Kxc5

[54. bxc5?? b4-+ ]

54... Kc7 55. Kxb5 Kb7

-+-+-+-+
+j+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+k+-+-+-
-P-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-+-+-+-
with the opposition, a book draw and easy to hold]

53. Kxb5?

"As Olafsson showed me, White can win with 53. Rc7+! It's hard to believe. I stayed up all night analysing, finally convincing myself and, incidentally, learning a lot about Rook and Pawn endings in the process."

  (Gligoric failed to point it out in his notes to the Bled tournament book.)

[53. Rc7+! This helps keep the Black King away, so the White King can control the Queening square. If the Black Rook checks, White will interpose the Rook. 53... Kd6

[53... Kd8 54. Rc5 Kd7 55. Kb7! Kd6 56. Rxb5]

54. Rc6+ Kd7

[54... Kd5 55. Kxb5 Rb8+ 56. Rb6]

55. Kxb5 Rb8+ 56. Rb6 Rh8 57. Rb7+ Kc8 58. Ka6 Rh6+ 59. Ka7+- ]

53... Rb8+ 54. Ka4 Ra8+ 55. Kb3 Rc8 56. Rxc8 Kxc8 57. Kc4 Kb8!

-J-+-+-+
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-Pk+-+-+
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holding the "distant opposition"

[57... Kb7 58. Kb5 Kc7 59. Ka6 Kb8 60. Kb6 Ka8 61. Kc7 Ka7 62. b5 Ka8 63. Kb6 Kb8 64. Ka6 Ka8

[64... Kc7 65. Ka7]

65. b6 Kb8 66. b7

  If you can play to the seventh without check, it's a win, because the King is on the queening square, and has to move off.

66... Kc7 67. Ka7 Kc6 68. b8=Q]

  [now 57... Kb8! 58. Kc5

[58. Kd5 Kb7]

  58... Kc7 59. Kb5 Kb7]

1/2-1/2

 


Fischer,R - Euwe,M (Leipzig ol) [B13] endgame, 1960

1. e4 c6 2. d4 d5 3. exd5 cxd5 4. c4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Nf3 Bg4 7. cxd5 Nxd5 8. Qb3 Bxf3 9. gxf3 e6 10. Qxb7 Nxd4 11. Bb5+ Nxb5 12. Qc6+ Ke7 13. Qxb5 Nxc3 14. bxc3 Qd7

t+-+-L-T
X-+dJxXx
-+-+x+-+
+q+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-P-+p+-
p+-+-P-P
R-B-K-+r

15. Rb1!

"...Horrible as White's Pawn structure may be, Black can't exploit it because he'll be unable to develop his King's-side normally. It's the little quirks like this that could make life difficult for a chess machine."

15... Rd8?

[15... Qxb5 16. Rxb5 Kd6 17. Rb7 f6 18. Ke2 Kc6 19. Rf7 a5 20. Be3 +/-]

16. Be3 Qxb5 17. Rxb5 Rd7 18. Ke2 f6 19. Rd1! Rxd1 20. Kxd1

-+-+-L-T
X-+-J-Xx
-+-+xX-+
+r+-+-+-
-+-+-+-+
+-P-Bp+-
p+-+-P-P
+-+k+-+-

20... Kd7 21. Rb8 Kc6 22. Bxa7 g5 23. a4 Bg7 24. Rb6+ Kd5 25. Rb7 Bf8 26. Rb8 Bg7 27. Rb5+ Kc6 28. Rb6+ Kd5 29. a5 f5 30. Bb8

-B-+-+-T
+-+-+-Lx
-R-+x+-+
P-+j+xX-
-+-+-+-+
+-P-+p+-
-+-+-P-P
+-+k+-+-

30... Rc8 31. a6 Rxc3 32. Rb5+ Kc4

[32... Kc6 33. Ra5 Bd4 34. Be5?

[34. Ke2]

34... Rc4!= ]

33. Rb7 Bd4

-B-+-+-+
+r+-+-+x
p+-+x+-+
+-+-+xX-
-+jL-+-+
+-T-+p+-
-+-+-P-P
+-+k+-+-

34. Rc7+ Kd3 35. Rxc3+ Kxc3

-B-+-+-+
+-+-+-+x
p+-+x+-+
+-+-+xX-
-+-L-+-+
+-J-+p+-
-+-+-P-P
+-+k+-+-

36. Be5 1-0

Chess Quotes

"There are two classes of men; those who are content to yield to circumstances and who play whist; those who aim to control circumstances, and who play chess."
— Mortimer COLLINS.