The Game Of The Century | Byrne vs Fischer (1956)
Some claim the Game of the Century is the greatest game of all time!

The Game Of The Century | Byrne vs Fischer (1956)

CHESScom
CHESScom
Jul 14, 2018, 12:00 AM |
57 | Amazing Games

The Game of the Century is one of the greatest chess games in all of chess history and likely the greatest game ever played by a junior. The 26-year-old international master Donald Byrne took on the young, 13-year-old Bobby Fischer in what would become one of the most famous chess games ever played.

The Game

  • White: Donald Byrne
  • Black: Bobby Fischer

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7

Throughout Fischer's career he liked to fianchetto his kings bishop in such openings as the King's Indian Defense and the Grunfeld Defense.

4.d4 0-0 5.Bf4 d5

Fischer chooses to play a variation of the Grunfeld Defense.

6.Qb3 dxc4

Since the queen has moved once already, Fischer makes the queen move again where it could be vulnerable to attack.

Byrne-Fischer chess

Position after 6...dxc4

7.Qxc4 c6 8.e4 Nbd7 9.Rd1 Nb6 10.Qc5

Donald Byrne's play with the queen is questionable. 10.Qb3 would give the white queen safer options.

10...Bg4

Fischer pushes to make his development advantage a factor. Black wants to exploit the uncastled king.

11.Bg5? 

11.Be2 getting ready to castle is better - King safety should never be underestimated!

11...Na4!!

A knight sacrifice which is not easy to accept. 12.Nxa4 would be met by 12...Nxe4 with major problems for White. One possible variation that Fisher gave was: 13.Qb4 Nxg5 14.Nxg5 Bxd1 15.Kxd1 Bxd4 16.Qd2 Bxf2 with a winning advantage. 

Byrne-Fischer chess game

Position after 11...Na4!!

12.Qa3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Nxe4! Fischer opens the e-file to access the uncastled king.

14.Bxe7 Qb6 15.Bc4 Byrne resists the temptation to win the f8 rook with good reason. Fischer showed what could have happened in the event that Byrne took the rook to gain an advantage... 15.Bxf8 Bxf8 16.Qb3 Nxc3! 17.Qxb6 (17.Qxc3?? Bb4 pins the queen.) 18.Ra1 Re8+ 19.Kd2 Ne4+ 20.Kc2 Nxf2 21.Rg1 Bf5+

15...Nxc3! 16.Bc5 Rfe8+ Finally the white king in the center has been reached!

17.Kf1 What should Fischer do about his queen being attacked? Try to find the brilliant 17th move that Fischer played giving this game the title "Game of the Century."

Playing moves like the one above makes it easy to see why Bobby Fischer went on to become world champion.

17...Be6!! The move that was heard around the world! Fischer chooses to sacrifice the queen.

Fischer-Byrne

Position after the brilliant 17...Be6!!

18.Bxb6? Byrne takes up the challenge hoping that Fischer overlooked something.

18...Bxc4+ Now the popular "windmill" tactics against the white king will decide the game.

19.Kg1 Ne2+ 20.Kf1 Nxd4+ 21.Kg1 Ne2+ 22.Kf1 Nc3+ 23.Kg1 axb6 regaining some of the sacrificed material.

24.Qb4 Ra4! Fischer's pieces coordinate perfectly creating harmony in Black's position.

25.Qxb6 Nxd1 Let's take stock and see what Fischer has for the sacrificed queen. 

  • 1 rook
  • 2 bishops
  • 1 pawn

This is equal to being ahead one minor piece, which is a decisive advantage at this level of play.

26.h3 Rxa2 27.Kh2 Nxf2 28.Re1 Rxe1 29.Qd8+ Bf8 30.Nxe1 Bd5 31.Nf3 Ne4 32.Qb8 b5 

Fischer's technique of converting a winning game was very high, even when he was just 13 years old!

33.h4 h5 34.Ne5 Kg7 35.Kg1 Bc5+ Fischer begins to weave the mating net around the white king.

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

Game of the Century

The final picturesque mate!

History

The game took place on October 17th, 1956 at the Rosenwald Memorial Tournament in New York City. The tournament was then held at the prestigious Marshall Chess Club, which is still an active chess club to this day. At the time of this game, the young Bobby Fischer was a master-level player starting to make a name for himself in the chess world. In just two years after this game, Bobby Fischer became the world's youngest grandmaster at 15 years old.

This amazing game will be talked about for generations to come! 

Play through the Game of the Century!

Game of the Century (Chess)

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