Thursday, June 2, 2016


Garry Kasparov played a huge number of fantastic games in his active career but maybe the series he published about himself and the former worldchampions will become his most important heritage. It hits me how often contemporary literature refers to these books. It looks like every serious chessplayer read the books.

The most recent one of the series which I read covered, as the title already reveals, Fischer. However Kasparov doesn't only talk about the 11th worldchampion. Reshevsky, Larsen and Najdorf are also getting their chapter which I liked very much. Unfortunately this meant that only half of the book remained for Fischer. On top Kasparov spends a considerable amount of space on Fischers weird behavior off the board which further shrinks the technical part of chess. I counted in total only 59 games of Fischer (some of them only partly).

About maybe the greatest player ever, I expected much more stuff. Was it Kasparovs ego that forbids him to praise Fischer? He surely would never admit that Fischer was stronger. After having finished the book I felt that I didn't get the right picture about Fischers strength. Besides it is not the first time that I search a supplementary book of a former-woldchampion after reading My Great Predecessors. I have read about Tal also the excellent book The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal.

About Fischer many books appeared but which one is the most appropriate for me? Naturally it depends what you want to find in a book. The book The Career and Complete Games of Fischer by Karsten Muller is doubtless the most complete collection of Fischer's games with more than 700. However the analytical part isn't very appealing as I see little difference with a database. The book My 60 memorable games door Robert Fischer is technically much better but has a big disadvantage that it stops in 1967. We all know that his best years were just after. An addition or follow-up never happened. Fischer was not anymore interested.

Being slightly lost, I consulted the biggest Fischer-expert in Belgium: Robert Schuermans. I explained him that I was searching a book with a large collection of Fischers games spanning his career but also well analyzed. Old analysis supported by contemporary engines are considered a plus. Anecdotes and side information improve the readability so should neither be neglected. Robert thought for a while but had to disappoint me. The book I wanted, must still be written. A real pity so I asked him which book he liked the most about Fischer. This time Robert didn't hesitate as "My 60 memorable games" is the uncontested number 1 for him.

So I bought this book in de denksportkampioen. I wasn't disappointed. The book is not only very enjoyable to read but it also includes many excellent analysis of the worldchampion himself. This is rare as in that era there were no engines playing decent chess. As Fischer played almost exclusively 1.e4, I became curious of any overlaps with my repertoire. Besides I don't follow any fashion and often play some old lines.

In 5 a 6 games I was lucky to discover Fischer's opinion about openings I also play. The book discuss the game of 62 against Keres which was part of my article old wine in new skins. The most intriguing game from theoretical perspective was for me his Sicilian game of 61 against Reshevsky. The last time I played the classical Sicilian Dragon with Be3 already dates from 1999 when I suffered a scornful defeat against Marcel Van Herck.
[Event "Zilveren Toren Deurne - Kask"] [Date "1999"] [White "Brabo"] [Black "Van Herck, M."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B74"] [WhiteElo "2270"] [BlackElo "2269"] [PlyCount "80"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be2 g6 7. Be3 Bg7 8. O-O O-O 9. Nb3 Be6 10. f4 Qc8 11. Kh1 Rd8 12. Bg1 d5 13. e5 Ne4 14. Bd3 f6 15. exf6 exf6 16. Nb5 {(Here I improve my game played against Lagast for the interclub Roeselare - Bredene 1997. At that time I evaluated the position slightly better for white but now I need to revise this as black is ok.)} f5 17. c3 Bf7 18. N5d4 $146 { (I still found a4 in the database with equality. Till here I only consumed 5 minutes while my opponent had spent already 1 hour and a quarter.)} Qc7 $5 19. Bc2 $5 {(I adopt the same plan as my game against Lagast. I transfer the bishop to b3 to put pressure against d5.)} Re8 20. Qd3 Rac8 21. Rad1 $5 a6 22. Bb1 $5 {(Weird but I already get the feeling that black has conquered the initiative. I want to play a3 so Ba2 becomes possible. For now it is impossible to move the knight from b3.)} Bh6 $1 23. Qf3 $5 {(G3 is recommended by Rebel10 but I did not dare to play such move as black only has to play later d4 and Bd5 which almost mates me.)} Nd6 $1 24. Be3 $5 {(Rebel10 shows Nxc6 but that would allow to fortify blacks only weakness.)} Nc4 25. Bc1 Bg7 $1 {(The bishop did its job so returns to the main-diagonal.)} 26. Nxc6 $5 {(Played after a long reflection as this admits my opening failed. Maybe Rfe1 is better but if black exchanges everything and puts the knight back on e4 then white is paralyzed. Probably I should have proposed a draw here as Marcel would have likely accepted. With less time on the clock remaining mistakes are more likely.)} bxc6 27. Nc5 $5 {(Maybe it was better to exchange a pair of rooks on the e-file but I did not want to permit c5.)} a5 $5 28. b3 $5 {(I am annoyed by the knight but chasing it just creates a new weakness on c3. Bd3 to exchange the rooks is the alternative.)} Qe7 29. Nd3 $6 {(Here Na4 is probably stronger and white has no problems with c3. Although a knight on the rim does not look great.)} (29. Na4 Nd6 30. Ba3 Qc7 31. c4 $132 {(And white survives the pressure.)}) 29... Nd6 30. Nf2 $6 {(Too passive as now it really becomes difficult for white. Better was Bb2 but even then black is better.)} Qe2 $5 {(To keep the queens on the board and play c5 is also clearly better for black.)} 31. Qd3 $5 {(Nh3 is recommended by both of my engines but a knight on the rim is not my cup of tea.)} Qxd3 $5 { (Nb5 already wins a pawn but black wants to play it more positional.)} 32. Rxd3 Ne4 $5 {(C5 is shown by Rebel10 with the strong threat of d4.)} 33. Nd1 $5 {(The computer wants to take on e4 and relieve the pressure of the queenside but I do not like to give black such passed pawn and let him activate his bad bishop.)} a4 $5 {(Black destroys the queenside, also possible was c5 with a clear advantage for black.)} 34. b4 $2 {(White can not hold anymore the position. Also bxa4 and Bc2 give black a large advantage.)} ( 34. bxa4 d4 35. Rxd4 Nxc3 36. Rb4 Nxb1 37. Rxb1 Bc4 38. Rg1 Bd4 39. Rb4 Bxg1 40. Kxg1 Bxa2 $17) (34. Bc2 axb3 35. axb3 Ra8 36. Re3 Ra2 $17) 34... d4 $1 { (Quite amazing how black played the middlegame so well with little time. In the meanwhile I was also getting low in time.)} 35. Rxd4 $6 {(With not much time left I find nothing better but also Rdf3 or cxd4 should lose.)} Bxd4 $6 {(This wins but Nxc3 is a bit more convincing.)} 36. cxd4 Rcd8 37. Bc2 Rxd4 38. Bxa4 Ra8 $6 {(Bxa3 was somewhat stronger but this should also win easily.)} 39. Bxc6 Rxa2 40. Be3 $5 {(Taking the bishop on e4 would give black a strong passed pawn.)} Rxb4 {(Black was slightly surprised that I resigned here already but the position is easily won for black as his rooks are too active.)} 0-1
I didn't find any improvements for white so I replaced Be3 by Bg5. Fischer however claims in his book that white can create chances without playing 0-0. His analysis looked very convincing so I became interested to find out what our current top-engines tell us about that idea. To revive an old opening, can be useful in practice.
[Event "New York/Los Angeles m"] [Site "Los Angeles"] [Date "1961.07.18"] [Round "2"] [White "Fischer, Robert James"] [Black "Reshevsky, Samuel Herman"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B72"] [PlyCount "75"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 g6 5. Nc3 Bg7 6. Be3 Nf6 7. Be2 O-O 8. f4 d6 9. Nb3 Be6 10. g4 {(0-0 would transpose to my game against Marcel Van Herck. Fischer however evaluates blacks last move as an inaccuracy and believes white has some chances to find an advantage with g4.)} d5 { (My engines recommend Rc8 and white has troubles to keep the balance. This is also confirmed by my online openingbook.)} (10... Rc8 11. O-O (11. g5 Nd7 12. h4 (12. Qd2 Nc5 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Kf2 Nb4 16. Rhc1 Bxc3 17. bxc3 Nxa2 $15 {[%eval -47,31] }) 12... Nc5 13. Nxc5 dxc5 14. Qxd8 Rfxd8 15. Kf2 Nd4 16. Rad1 Kf8 $11 {[%eval -18,26]}) (11. f5 Bd7 12. fxg6 (12. g5 Nxe4 13. Nxe4 Bxf5 14. Bd3 Bxb2 15. Rb1 Bg7 16. O-O b6 17. Qe2 Qd7 $11 {[%eval -28,27]}) 12... fxg6 13. g5 Nh5 14. Qd5 Kh8 15. Qd2 Bxc3 16. bxc3 Ne5 $15 {[%eval -60,27]}) (11. h4 Nb4 12. O-O Bxg4 13. Bxg4 Nxg4 14. Qxg4 Nxc2 15. Rae1 Nxe1 16. Rxe1 Rc4 $17 {[%eval -82,27]}) 11... Na5 12. f5 (12. e5 Ne8 13. Bxa7 Nc4 14. Qd4 Qc7 15. f5 Bxe5 16. Qf2 gxf5 17. gxf5 Bxc3 $15 {[%eval -32,26]}) 12... Bc4 13. Bxa7 (13. Bd3 d5 14. Nxa5 Qxa5 15. e5 d4 16. exf6 Bxf6 17. fxg6 dxe3 18. Qe2 Bxd3 $15 {[%eval -31,27]}) 13... Nd7 14. Kh1 Bxc3 15. bxc3 Bxe2 16. Qxe2 $15 {[%eval -43,28]}) 11. f5 Bc8 12. exd5 Nb4 13. Bf3 gxf5 14. a3 fxg4 15. Bg2 Na6 16. Qd3 e6 17. O-O-O Nxd5 18. h3 g3 19. Rhg1 Qd6 20. Bxd5 exd5 21. Nxd5 Kh8 22. Bf4 Qg6 23. Qd2 Bxh3 24. Rxg3 Bg4 25. Rh1 Rfe8 26. Ne3 Qe4 27. Qh2 Be6 28. Rxg7 Kxg7 29. Qh6 Kg8 30. Rg1 Qg6 31. Rxg6 fxg6 32. Nd4 Rad8 33. Be5 Rd7 34. Nxe6 Rxe6 35. Ng4 Rf7 36. Qg5 Rf1 37. Kd2 h5 38. Qd8 1-0
It was no big surprise to discover the engines didn't approve Fischers idea. The score of white in the online openingbook already hinted this. Fischer neither repeated the idea.

Such excursions once again confirm the gigantic gap in openings between the past and modern chess of today. The large part of the openings which were popular decades ago, have been reduced to footnotes in the theory which can only be used as a surprise on masterlevel. So from pure theoretical perspective you better read new books. Anyway these books I read primarily for the historical aspect.

Till today Fischer is a recurring topic in debates. An ultimate collection of his best games well analyzed and bundled in a new book doesn't sound to me useless. For sure we need to start with the 60 memorable games which Fischer chose. Fischer died in 2008 in Reykjavik so likely it is today easier juridical to reuse his work as base. Who (preferable a very strong player) dares as this will be a very big job while there is no guarantee about the return? No Kasparov already had his chance.


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