Bobby Fischer's Breakthrough: The Game of the Century

| 18 | Amazing Games

Robert Fischer was an excellant chess player no doubt, but do you think that he was recognized or appreaciated ever since he startied playing chess at the tender age of 6? For those of you who do, the answer is no. Bobby Fischer was but a 'promising player' until a certain match in New York City catapulted him to an international level. In the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament, on October 17, 1956, 13-year-old Bobby Fischer was facing Donald Byrne, a player only a few months away from a Grandmaster title and a multiple-times winner of the US Open Championship. Nobody expected Fischer, a rather insignificant 13-year-old boy, to take the game to over 38 moves, and then win...

In this game, Fischer (playing Black) demonstrates noteworthy innovation and improvisation. Byrne (playing White), after a standard opening, makes a seemingly minor mistake on move 11, losing tempo by moving the same piece twice. Fischer pounces, with brilliant sacrificial play, culminating in an incredible queen sacrifice on move 17. Byrne captures the queen, but Fischer gets far too much material for it – a rook, two bishops, and a pawn. At the end, Fischer's pieces coordinate to force checkmate, while Byrne's queen sits, helpless, at the other end of the board.

Some of the greatest contributers to chess, including two Grandmasters, John Nunn, John Emms and Graham Burgess, and  stated three important lessons to learn from The Game of the Century:

  • Do not waste time moving the same piece twice, develop your other pieces first
  • If a King is left in the center of the board, then there is a high chance of sacrifical moves being effective, because central files are still open
  • Even at age 13, Bobby Fischer was a formidable opponent

Following this match was Fischer's meteoric rise to success. Soon After, he won the US Championship and later other prestegious global tournaments. There is some dispute over the name "The Game of the Century", as people say that it is rather hyperbolic, and  there are several better games. People, I think, are forgetting that Fischer was 13.