Fischer - Spassky 1992

Fischer - Spassky 1992

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member BCG1 asked:

In Andrew Soltis’ book BOBBY FISCHER REDISCOVERED, page 278, he states (regarding the rematch in 1992 with Spassky), “In fact the match games were of a fairly high quality particularly when compared with Kasparov’s championship matches of 1993, 1995 and 2000, for example.” Kasparov has ridiculed the quality of play in this match while Soltis who featured the 1st and 11th Svefi Stefan games in his book felt otherwise. Your opinion?

Dear BCG1:

The K vs. K match games were, overall, of higher quality. Nevertheless, that’s to be expected when you compare two all time greats (K vs. K) in their prime to two other all time greats (Fischer and Spassky) who, aside from being much older, came back after years of inactivity (Fischer was out of chess for 20 years!).

For example, in the 1992 Fischer - Spassky rematch the first game was absolutely brilliant and was of exceptional quality. After it was played, people began to whisper that the old/prime Fischer was back (though this dream was pretty much impossible, us Fischer fans somehow hoped that Bobby was superhuman).

Fischer - Spassky, S.Stefan/Belgrade (m1) 1992

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3 Nb8 10.d4 Nbd7 11.Nbd2 Bb7 12.Bc2 Re8 13.Nf1 Bf8 14.Ng3 g6 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bd2 Bg7 17.a4 c5 18.d5 c4 19.b4! Nh7 20.Be3 h5 21.Qd2 Rf8 22.Ra3 Ndf6 23.Rea1 Qd7 24.R1a2 Rfc8 25.Qc1 Bf8 26.Qa1 Qe8 27.Nf1 Be7 28.N1d2 Kg7 29.Nb1 Nxe4 30.Bxe4 f5 31.Bc2 Bxd5 32.axb5 axb5 33.Ra7 Kf6 34.Nbd2 Rxa7 35.Rxa7 Ra8 36.g4! hxg4 37.hxg4 Rxa7 38.Qxa7 f4 39.Bxf4! exf4 40.Nh4!! Bf7 41.Qd4+ Ke6 42.Nf5! Bf8 43.Qxf4 Kd7 44.Nd4 Qe1+ 45.Kg2 Bd5+ 46.Be4 Bxe4+ 47.Nxe4 Be7 48.Nxb5 Nf8 49.Nbxd6 Ne6 50.Qe5, 1-0.

Game two was also an amazing demonstration of Fischer’s enormous strength UNTIL he tossed away a winning endgame and drew. Since Fischer’s technique was (in his prime years) second to none, this flub laid the truth on the table – old age and lack of practice so far hadn’t robbed him of all his strength (as far as could be seen at this point), but it did rob him of his stamina.

Spassky - Fischer, S.Stefan/Belgrade (m2) 1992

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f3 c5 6.dxc5 dxc5 7.Qxd8+ Kxd8 8.Be3 Nfd7 9.Nge2 b6 10.0-0-0 Na6 11.g3 Nc7 12.f4 e6 13.Bh3 Ke7 14.Rhf1 h6 15.e5 Bb7 16.g4 Rad8 17.Ng3 f6 18.Nce4 fxe5 19.f5 Bxe4 20.Nxe4 gxf5 21.gxf5 Nf6 22.Rg1 Rxd1+ 23.Kxd1 Bf8 24.Nxf6 Kxf6 25.Rf1 exf5 26.Rxf5+ Kg7 27.Rxe5 Bd6 28.Re4 Bxh2 29.Ke2 h5 30.Re7+ Kf6 31.Rd7 Be5 32.b3 h4 33.Kf3 Rg8 34.Bg4 h3 35.Rh7 h2 36.Bf4 Rf8 37.Bxe5+ Kg6+ 38.Ke4 Kxh7 39.Bxh2 Re8+ 40.Kf5 Ne6 41.Kf6 Nd4 42.Bd6 Re4 43.Bd7 Re2 44.a4 Rb2 45.Bb8 a5 46.Ba7 Rxb3 47.Ke5 Nf3+ 48.Kd6 Nd2 49.Be6 Rb4 50.Kc6 Nb3?? (50…Nxc4 was winning) 51.Bd5 Rxa4 52.Bxb6 Ra1 53.Bxc5 a4 54.Bb4 a3 55.c5 Nd4+ 56.Kd7 Rd1 57.Bxa3 Nc2 58.c6 Rxd5+ 59.Bd6, 1/2-1/2.

After this, Fischer’s play was very shaky and it was clear that he was trying to get the cobwebs brushed away.

Game three was a rather pathetic display in which Spassky outplayed Fischer with the Black pieces and had good chances to win, though he botched it and let Bobby get away with a draw.

Fischer lost like a lamb in games four and five. In game six, he played badly again and came very close to losing.

Bobby righted the ship with wins in games 7, 8, and 9 and after that he pretty much controlled the match. After Fischer’s three wins, the fight was close, with Fischer finally claiming victory (after an exhausting 30 games, the final score was 17.5 – 12.5, with Fischer winning 10 games to Spassky’s five wins). Most of the games were very hard fought. However, both players made serious mistakes (often mixed with moments of genius), which prompted Kasparov to belittle the match’s quality.

Game eleven was a real highlight:

Fischer - Spassky, S.Stefan/Belgrade (m11) 1992

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 g6 4.Bxc6 bxc6 5.0-0 Bg7 6.Re1 e5 7.b4!?

Fischer the gambiteer!

7…cxb4 8.a3 c5 9.axb4 cxb4 10.d4 exd4 11.Bb2 d6 12.Nxd4 Qd7 13.Nd2 Bb7 14.Nc4 Nh6 15.Nf5 Bxb2 16.Ncxd6+ Kf8 17.Nxh6 f6 18.Ndf7 Qxd1 19.Raxd1 Ke7 20.Nxh8 Rxh8 21.Nf5+!! gxf5 22.exf5+ Be5 23.f4 Rc8 24.fxe5 Rxc2 25.e6 Bc6 26.Rc1 Rxc1 27.Rxc1 Kd6 28.Rd1+ Ke5 29.e7 a5 30.Rc1! Bd7 31.Rc5+ Kd4 32.Rxa5 b3 33.Ra7 Be8 34.Rb7 Kc3 35.Kf2 b2 36.Ke3 Bf7 37.g4 Kc2 38.Kd4 b1=Q 39.Rxb1 Kxb1 40.Kc5 Kc2 41.Kd6, 1-0.

member Keltos asked:

What would you recommend for someone  (1300 - 1500) who wants to study endgames?

I am reading THE FINAL COUNTDOWN by Hajenus & van Riemsdijk and I found it very exiting. What’s your opinion of this book?

Dear Keltos:

You’re bringing up a few different things. One can study endgames with the goal of learning all the key endgames that are right for your rating group (my SILMAN’S COMPLETE ENDGAME COURSE offers this, while Seirawan’s WINNING CHESS ENDINGS is another very good endgame primer), one can study endgame tactics, one can study endgames by one famous player, one can leap into a detailed study of all endgames (my book only takes you to around 2100 or 2200, and recommends that you do this stage by stage).

If you want more detailed works, you should check out:





A couple of old but very fun easy to read endgame books are:



If you are after a more thinking man’s approach to the endgame:

The classic ENDGAME STRATEGY by Shereshevsky is highly recommended.

CHESS ENDGAME LESSONS (books 1 & 2) by Benko are great, but very hard to find.

TECHNIQUE FOR THE TOURNAMENT PLAYER by Dvoretsky and Yusupov is excellent, but advanced.

If you want to study specific areas of the endgame:

Any from the old (but wonderful) Averbakh series are great (ROOK v. MINOR PIECE ENDINGS, PAWN ENDINGS, QUEEN AND PAWN ENDINGS, BISHOP ENDINGS, QUEEN v. ROOK/MINOR PIECE ENDINGS, KNIGHT ENDINGS, etc.), and John Emms’ the SURVIVAL GUIDE TO ROOK ENDINGS is also high on every list.

Finally we come to THE FINAL COUNTDOWN by Hajenius and Van Riemskijk. I love the title, but I think it was a bad marketing ploy since most people likely thought it was an end of the world thriller. In reality, it’s all about King and pawn endgames. For the most part it’s quite advanced, and the many tiny numbers and symbols on various squares (key squares) can be quite daunting. However, it’s a delight to read and is one of my favorite books.

Long, long ago I was in the middle of the Canadian nowhere lecturing at a very nice yearly event they held at that time. They put me in a bungalow with a few grandmasters and one day, while I was sitting on the couch reading THE FINAL COUNTDOWN, one grandmaster asked why I would waste time on such a complex book. He felt that it was completely unpractical and thus useless, while I argued that it had many practical lessons, and was also very entertaining. A fight ensued and, after throwing the inert grandmaster’s body into the snow, I went back into the warm bungalow and continued reading my book. (Okay, I made up the fight thing, but it did cross my mind as he loudly berated a great piece of work).

Arnolds Kozlovskis asked:

My rating is 1864. I have been playing four years and I’m 15 years old.

I train two hours per day, six days per week. Unfortunately, I don’t go to tournaments that often. When should I expect to become a master level player?

Dear Arnolds Kozlovskis:

Well, you’re certainly putting in some good work, though chess obsessed youngsters in my time put in 6 or more hours a day – chess was their whole life (which doesn’t make it healthy, of course).

At 1864 you are already quite a strong player. Congratulations. I would guess that if you continue studying (though I have no idea what you are studying … tactics, positional ideas, whole games, endgames, puzzles, chess history, etc. So much depends on HOW and WHAT you are studying!), you will reach the Expert level (2000 – 2199) in a year or two. But one thing bothers me: you aren’t playing much. The fact is face-to-face battles are immeasurably useful. You learn to tame your nerves, you learn to stay calm and not rush your moves, and you learn from painful experience what you lack and what you excel in. In fact, losses/experience are the most instructive things in chess.

If you really want to make master, you need to play more. If that’s not possible due to location or whatever else, then try games on the internet (with long time controls), or correspondence chess. Remember: don’t look at losses as something bad, use them as critically important tools that will, in time, take you to the next level. Good luck!

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