Efim Geller vs Bobby Fischer
Geller vs Fischer, Curazao 1962. Image via

Efim Geller vs Bobby Fischer

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In my article “Efim Geller, Killer on the Chessboard,” I discussed Geller’s pioneering work with the King’s Indian Defense. (Mikhail Botvinnik said, “Before Geller we did not understand the King’s Indian Defense.”)

I discussed how he held his own against the best of the best, and that Geller had a plus record against all but one of the six world champions he crossed swords with (Botvinnik, Fischer, Petrosian, Smyslov, Tal, and Spassky, who was the only world champion that had a plus score against him).

Geller was a fantastic opening theoretician and, as a result, he was a master of many openings, with the Sicilian (on both sides!) being his main money-earner.

efim geller

Geller via Wikipedia

Here’s what Geller said in his book, Application of Chess Theory: “From time to time, like many other players, I glance through my own games of earlier years and return to positions and variations which have gone out of practice. I attempt to restore them, to find new ideas and plans. In this search much has to be deemed exhausted, but much remains and is worked out more precisely and in more detail. In a well-known scheme nuances are found, and fast intuition is reinforced by knowledge.”

I also want to share what Geller said in this variation:

“Today, instead of 10.f5 I would possibly choose 10.Kh1, not revealing my cards and maintaining the tension in the center, and would also wonder whether or not to advance the pawn to f4 a move earlier, before castling. After all, in the game Black could have answered 9.f4 not only with 9...Qc7, but also more flexibly—9...Rc8, avoiding determining immediately the position of the queen. Is all this of any significance? I think it is, since by no means always does it reduce to a simply transposition of moves.”

Geller has played a zillion Sicilians from both sides of the board. So, instead of overwhelming you with hundreds of Sicilian pages, I’ll show you how Geller played the Sicilian by posting all of his decisive games against Fischer.

After beating Fischer with the white pieces in the Najdorf Sicilian, Geller (in their next game) beat Fischer with the black side of the Sicilian!

Those first two games were in 1962, when Fischer was young. But the next game, in 1967 when Fischer was near his prime, should have been a Fischer brilliancy. But Fischer drowned in tactics, and it turned out to be a disaster with Geller winning in just 23 moves.

When it came to positions with massive tactical chaos, Geller’s nerves were better than Fischer’s. In chess, there is always someone whose style drives you crazy. Players like Geller and Tal were those kinds of players.

Here’s another such game. Fischer won the Monte Carlo tournament. Smyslov was second and Geller third. Fischer’s only loss was to...yep, you guessed it. Geller!

For the Fischer fans (like me!), here is Bobby's only win against Geller in the Sicilian Defense:


FIRST, A PUBLIC SERVICE: Whenever I give puzzles, quite a few people don’t realize that they can press the question mark at the bottom left of the board and see various notes. Another bit of puzzle confusion is alternative moves. Yes, there are many situations where there is more than one really good move (or even multiple ways to mate!). When this occurs they think that I missed it. No, I didn’t. The problem is that the software will only allow one “best” move. Fortunately, I will usually have mentioned the moves you were screaming about in the notes!

OK, have a good time! And DO read the instructive notes.





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