Annotated Game#2: Thomason-Bobby Fischer


Fischer was 12 years old when he played in the Junior Championship, in 1955. It is an exciting, short game. A little background to the King's Indian Defence: Black allows White to occupy the center with his pawns. Black then tries to challenge White at the center by playing moves like e5 or c5 supported by a dark-squared Bishop on g7 and/or Knight on d7. 

1.d4 White opens with his Queen pawn. Opening for the Bishop, the Queen, and the Knight. 

1... Nf6 Black develops a piece towards the center. He prevents White from immediately playing e4. e4 would have enabled White to have a 'classical' pawn center. White can still play e4 in a couple of moves, but he has to prepare for it.
2.c4 White takes a different route to 'controlling' the center. c4 enables him to 'control' b5 and d5. He could have played Nc3 to prepare for e4, but Nc3 could have blocked the path for the pawn. Thus he plays the pawn first. This moves also opens the another way for the Queen to get out into the game if need be. 

2... g6 In the spirit of the x-Indian openings, Black avoids direct confrontation in the center. That will come later. He prepares a way to develop his Bishop and tuck the King away to safety, before he challenges White in the Center. 

3.Nc3 White develops a piece towards the center. supports the 'control' of b5 and d5 by the c4-pawn. He is ready to play e4 next move, tightening the hold on the center. 

3... Bg7 Black develops a piece. This Bishop move clears the way for him to castle. If the Knight moves, the Bishop "attacks" everything in the a1-h8 diagonal. 

4.e4 White puts a stranglehold on the center. He can play e5 next move, thus forcing Black to play his Knight for the second time before other pieces have moved. This is usually disadvantageous in the opening. With this move, White opens for his light-squared Bishop, the two knights can go to e2, the Queen can go out through the d1-h5 diagonal, and the King, if given a Check that cannot be stopped on the e1-a5 diagonal, He can go to e2. 

4... d6 Black decides to delay castling and prevent white from advancing his e-pawn to e5. White can play e5, but it would be bad for him because of the exchanges that would follow: 5. e5 dxe5 6. dxe5 Qxd1+ 7.Nxd1 Ne4 or Ng4 and Black seems to stand better 

5.Nf3 White plays a developing move, Knight towards the center. Also playable was 5. f4. He is also preparing to clear the squares between his King and his Rook so that he can castle. 

5... O-O Black's King is safely tucked away. Castling also makes bringing the Rook into play a lot easier. 

6.Bd3 White brings his Bishop to d3. Some people play it to e2 to fight off a possible pin by Black's c8-Bishop. Playing the Bishop here allows it to attack Black on the Kingside much easier than on e2. You are looking at the possibility of White castling Queenside, advancing his Kingside pawns to open up Black's position, advancing the pawn on e5 to open the way for the Bishop etc. These are just things you would consider when playing a position like this. Black on the other hand could advance his Queenside pawns to open up White that way. 

6... Bg4 Black develops a piece, pins the Knight on f3. If White moves his Queen away to unpin the Knight, Black can exchange the Bishop for the Knight to give White doubled-pawns. Doubled-pawns are generally considered a disadvantage because the backward pawn cannot move without moving the lead-pawn first. However, the exchange would have to be seriously considered as it gives white a semi-open file from which he can attack Black's position with his Rooks. 

7.O-O White decided to castle Kingside and prevent an all out attack on different flanks. He protects his King and also brings the Rook into play. 

7... Nc6 Fischer develops his last minor piece. Usually people counter on the center here, or they play the Knight to d7 so that they can play c5 or e5. This move allows white to push the d-pawn to d5, and force the Knight to move again. This is one of those times when there is an exception to the rule. Fischer allows this because it would resolve the impasse in the center. He is threatening to play Nxd4. White cannot capture back without exposing his Queen to danger. If white advances the pawn to d5, Black can still play the Knight to d4 or e5, attacking the pinned Knight on f3 twice. 

8.Be3 d5 would have been 'bad' because it opens up the diagonal for the Black Bishop on g7, it would also allow the double attack on the Knight as previously stated, it would force the retreat of the Bishop from d3 to e2, which would beg the question: "why did he play it there in the first place?". White also developed his last Minor Piece. In addition, his Q-Rook can come into play. 

8... Nd7 This Knight move opens the way for the Bishop on g7. So why didn't Fischer play his Knight to d7 earlier? He answers that question here. He wanted to keep that spot open for the Knight on f6. I should just point out that had he played the b8-Knight to d7, the Knight on f6 could have gone to e8. That is also playable. The Bishop on g7 and the Knight on c6 now attack the d4 pawn which in defended by just one piece, the Bishop on e3.


9.Be2 Black brings back the Bishop, first to un-pin the Knight on f3, second to enable the Queen to protect the pawn on d4. After a certain point in the opening, it does not really matter that you are moving your piece for the second time. Actually, the pawn is defended three times, the Knight on f3 should be added to the list. DID YOU NOTICE THAT UP TO THIS POINT, ALL THE PIECES HAD MOVED JUST ONE TIME? (Fischer started it with his 8th move). It is a great lesson to be learnt. Try to bring out as many of your pieces as you need to in the opening. Make sure they work in coordination with each other. 

9... Bxf3 Fischer eliminates one of the defenders of the pawn, moves the White Bishop away from the defense of the c4-pawn (when it captures the Black Bishop). Notice that Fischer waited to capture the Knight. He pinned it and did other things, until it was necessary to capture the Knight. 

10.Bxf3 White has to take back with the Bishop, otherwise he would have doubled-pawns, as previously explained. The Bishop in this position can be attacked by a Knight on d4 or e5, so it would have to retreat again. 

10... e5 On the 10th move, Black challenges in the center with one of his own pawns. This move also opens the way for the Queen to get to the Kingside... along the d8-h4 diagonal. 

11.d5 Exchanging on d5 would not be in White's best interest. You would be looking at an open diagonal for the Bishop on g7, the c6-Knight would come to e5 attacking the Bishop and the pawn on c4, if the Bishop comes to e2, the Knight on d7 could go to b6 attacking the c4-pawn... 

11... Ne7 The Knight retreats, but in such a way that it prepares for another attacking move. Can you guess what it is? 

12.Be2 The Bishop retreats, supporting the pawn on c4, but most importantly, opening the way for countering Fischer's next move. 

12... f5 This achieves multiple objectives. It opens the file so that Black's Rook can come into play, if White takes the pawn on f5, Black can take back with the Knight, attacking the Bishop on e3, at the same time opening the way for the Queen to come into play.


13.f4 I am not sure about this move. I know he is countering Fischer's move with his own, but should he? May be he should have played Bg5, pinning the Knight and then exchanging the Bishop. Or 13. f3, so that he can retreat the Bishop if attacked by the pawn advance to f4. and play c5 supported by the Bishop. I would keep the center locked so that the Bishop on g7 does not come into play easily. 

13... h6 Fischer prevents Bg5 and also creates an opening for the King to get out of the way. He may be planning to bring the Rook over to g8. 

14.Bd3 The bishop is looking at the pawn on g6, if and when the pawn on e4 is exchanged with that on f5. He also gets out of the way for the Queen to get into play via the d1-h5 diagonal. HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT THE QUEENS HAVE NOT BEEN TOUCHED YET? 

14... Kh7 The king moves inside to support the pawn on g6. For some reason, I had a feeling that this was a little dangerous. If you take out the pawns on e4 and f5, you are looking at possibilities of Qh5, or f5 and the exchange of f4-f5-fxg6. Just thoughts/fears because I am human, Fischer is not! 

15.Qe2 I am not sure. What this move is accomplishing. Of course the Rooks unite, but... was it necessary at this time? I would have played g4, force the exchange. May be move the King over to h1 and bring my Rooks to g1 and f1. No way in the world would I let the diagonal open for the Bishop. The Black pawn on e5 would have to sit there... but f4 didn't help things. White may be protecting the pawn on b2 with this move, in case the diagonal is open and the Knight moves. May be... 

15... fxe4 Fischer is now opening up the place. 

16.Nxe4 To take with the Bishop or the Knight? that was a toughie. Taking with Knight seems to prevent a lot of bad things from happening. For example, if had taken with the Bishop, the Nc5 would have been a pain to deal with. The Bishop could capture the Knight on c3 (after e5xf4) giving White doubled pawns; the Knight move seems to prevent those things. Are those things necessarily bad? I don't think so. If I was playing White, I would go for those exchanges as the simplification would make my position more playable. In retrospect, I feel that White should have played Rb1 instead of Qe2. 

16... Nf5 Attacking the Bishop; opening up for the Queen. It appears the Bishop has to move because of moves like Nxe3, followed by exf4, RxR (if White captures on f4 with a Rook instead of a Queen), and Bxb2. If Rb1, followed by Rb7, Nb6 would trap the Rook. Thoughts..


17.Bd2 Now the Bishop is blocking the Queens way protecting the pawn. Of course, after exf4, the Bishop can take on f4, opening the way again. 

17... exf4 Opens the way for the Bishop on g7. Finally, after 17 moves, move 3, Bg7 looks good! That is the spirit of the Indian Openings. You deal about the potential of pieces coming into action with dreadful force. 

18.Bxf4 As previously explained, he has to take with the Bishop. 

18... Ne5 Fischer does not go for the pawn. He wants to exchange his Knights with one of the Bishops which can become dangerous at any time. In addition, why force the White Rook to come into play if he doesn't have to. I would have taken the pawn, and then on Rb1, play Bd4 check, and then b6. It would have taken longer to win that game! 

19.Bc2 White likes his Bishop pair! It is dangerous to hang onto your vices. I think he should have taken the Knight, followed by Rb1, Qd2 or something. 

19... Nd4 Fischer has other thoughts about that Bishop-pair! THINK FOR A LITTLE BIT HERE BEFORE LOOKING AT THE NEXT COUPLE OF MOVES... What would you do if you were Black? What if you were White? and on and on... 

20.Qd2 Was it possible to protect the move the Queen away from attack and at the same time protect the c4-pawn and the Bishop? I guess not. What was the least evil thing to do? I don't think Qd2 was; may be Qd1 followed by Rb1. What do you think? 

20... Nxc4 Of course. If you can grab a pawn and do it while attacking somebody's Queen, why not?

21.Qf2 What's wrong with this move? YOUR TURN TO think... (I know, it is a little late in the game to be thinking. The game is lost...) - But you need to find the next move before Fischer plays it! 

21... Rxf4 Excellent move! Hopefully, you are NOT thinking that if Thomason takes the Rook, Fischer will take the Bishop! 

22.Qxf4 Where else could the Queen go?! 

22... Ne2+ Did you see this one? How about the next move? The Knight forks the King and the Queen. 

23.Kh1 Only "good" move, otherwise, if Kf2, then the Rook cannot take the Knight (assuming White still wanted to play!) 

23... Nxf4 Game over! What a game by a 12 year old!

I think we should commend both players for a nice game... Hope you enjoyed it! Smile FeEl FrEe To AdD YoUr ThOuGhTs, AnAlYsIs, etc. I am not using a computer, so I may have missed a ton of things.

 Let me know if there are some things that you would like to see change in the diagramming and/or layout of the content/stuff. I am still trying to get feedback on what readers like. See one of the earlier posts here. I will try out one of the other 3 options in the next annotated game.- CHESSIQ