Aleksei Suetin analyzes Bobby Fischer's games prior to the Spassky match. Part 3. Conclusion

Aleksei Suetin analyzes Bobby Fischer's games prior to the Spassky match. Part 3. Conclusion


Continues from Part 2.


Favoured Techniques

Fischer's play very rarely features "irrational" strategic plans in the middlegame, with quick violation of symmetry and balance. But he's always ready to accept such a challenge and never avoids the double-edged, risky situations, especially when creating counterplay. And in these sharp situation, Fischer, as many other players, has his own favoured techniques.

For instance, he likes to move his White pawn to g4.

In the game Fischer - Bertok (Zagreb 1970), White failed to obtain any positional advantage in the opening, and so they decided to attack the opponent's castled King, even at the price of compromising their own King's position.

And in the game against Udovcic (Zagreb 1970), White started their g2-g4 attack as early as at the move 7!

A good subject for both concrete analysis and study of Fischer's style would be his first game against Larsen. Undoubtedly, it was Fischer's best creative achievement in this short match. But here, we are interested in those moments where Fischer showed his style of solution of double-edged, moreover - "irrational" problems of modern strategy. Here's one of such moments.

In the previous section, we have already covered Fischer's characteristic tactical style in defence. In such situations, he sometimes begins walking on the edge almost purposely, especially against the less experienced opponents.

One of distinctive features of Fischer's style is his love towards the opponents' pawns. He never passes up an opportunity to grab a pawn, even if it entails a big or even unreasonable risk. Let's look at the game Kurajca - Fischer (Zagreb 1970).

Sometimes Fischer almost lures his partner into attacking his King, of course, always looking for counterplay.

In the second game against Larsen (White), after 9. Bg5, Fischer chose a double-edged plan. As though taunting his partner, he weakened the future castling position.

Black have two extra pawns that guarantee them an easy win. After several more moves, White resigned. The catastrophe was caused by Larsen's stubborn willingness to defy some inviolable chess laws. But what interests us the most here is Fischer's active defence techniques in a double-edged kingside game, into which he'd lured his partner already in the opening.

A similar picture was seen in the sixth game of the same match.

These examples show how tactically cunning Fischer can be in difficult situation.

And still, the defence of double-edged positions can be considered one of Fischer's main weaknesses (especially if his King is involved).

Sometimes, underestimating the opponent's kingside threats leads to trouble.

Fischer's Losses

In any outstanding player's biography, any loss is an extraordinary event. Long ago, there was even a specialized brochure dedicated to Capablanca 31 loss...

All four of Fischer's losses in the period we cover have one thing in common. Each time, his King got under a crushing attack.

In the games against Kovacevic and Larsen (Palma de Mallorca 1970) Fischer got into a strategically difficult situation during the transition into middlegame, even though he played White in both cases.

Even the most persistent analysts were at a loss as to why Fischer lost to Larsen.

The game against Spassky (Siegen 1970) is really set apart from others. There was a very important moment after White's 27th move.

In the second game of the Petrosian - Fischer match (Buenos Aires, 1971), which began with a sharp Gruenfeld variant, a little-studied position occurred in the opening.

Historical Parallels

Let's sum it all up. What are the main distinctive features of the American grandmaster's style? He's got great technique, is able to exploit even the smallest positional advantage, has a honed tactical skills and is very practical. Fischer's weaknesses are few and far between: he's trying too straightforward solutions for the complicated problems of modern openings, he's somewhat mechanistic in some of the more "delicate" strategical issues, and sometimes he underestimates the opponent's direct attack on his King.

Being a chess player of a very wide creative range, Fischer nevertheless firmly stands on the classical position.

The value of classical style, classical understanding of chess, which had been with us since Morphy and Steinitz, of course, was never denied by any outstanding modern players. And still, especially after the 1950s, we can see the emergence of new "neo-romantic" style, whose main proponents are, for instance, Mikhail Tal, Viktor Korchnoi and Bent Larsen. They have juxtaposed the old logical positional playing with "irrational" style - the style that allows for both serious strategical and tactical risk. The representatives of new style have wielded their weapon against the strict positional school with its clear distinction between "best" and "worst" moves, "right" and "wrong" plans. Using their advantage in tactics and combinations, the "neo-romantics" have sometimes destroyed even the strongest positional bastions with fantastic bravery.

And so, we got an entire new "genre": the games which are full of small mistakes and errors from the classical point of view, but united by a common idea, an original game plan. This style attracted huge popularity in the 1950s and 1960s.

Still, the achievements of the incumbent world champion, Boris Spassky, and his predecessor Tigran Petrosian, have steered the wheel towards the classical style again. Both of those distinguished players (especially, of course, Petrosian) and many others are drawn to positional style.

Getting back to analyzing Fischer's body of work, we can say that he strives to play in a purely classical style, which is, of course, based on modern concrete framework. In this sense, Spassky's playing is more complex and diverse. The most telling fact is Fischer's obvious preference for clear plans, avoidance (if possible) of all irrational. His playing ideal is exploiting the opponent's mistakes with maximum precision and make less mistakes himself, and this also flies in the face of creative attitudes of neo-romanticism, with its "small-mistake" games.

Fischer is always fighting fiercely against any opponent, but he never willingly goes against the principles of the ancient game, he's always at peace with chess itself.

So, we have a fully-formed representative of the strict classical school, who, at the same time, has a lot of energy and wields a brilliant tactical skill.

These features make Fischer quite similar to Morphy.

Let us look at a game played more than a hundred years ago.

The period of 1968 - 1971 was characterized by a steady rise of Fischer's creativity. The main reason for that is the rare combination of an unusually businesslike, sober, even cold approach to the playing during the game with fanatical devotion to chess in general.

Which games of this later period can be named among Fischer's best achievements? In my opinion, these are the games with Matanovic (Vinkovci 1968), Gligoric and Udovcic (Zagreb 1970), Panno and Schweber (Buenos Aires 1970), Smyslov, Hort, Taimanov (Palma de Mallorca 1970), Taimanov (4th match game), Larsen (1st match game), Petrosian (7th match game). Of course, this compilation is very subjective. The reader, depending on their tastes, can compile a completely different collection out of Fischer's 86 wins...

Fischer's ascension towards the chess Olympus was long and hard. And now, the decisive stage awaits us. The world champion and the candidate prepare for the last battle for the chess crown.

How would it go about?

How would it end?

We can only make one reasonable prediction: the chess world will see an epic fight.

The reader has seen 60 games annotated by Fischer himself. They show both his unusually strong playing and the undeniable truth that there is nothing "unfathomable" or "preternatural" in this playing. Nothing that could stop other players to successfully oppose Fischer at the chess board.

But this would not be easy.