The Second Piatigorsky Cup took place 50 years ago this month, and was at the time the strongest tournament on U.S. soil since New York 1924. World Champion Tigran Petrosian participated, as did his recently vanquished challenger (and later conquerer) Boris Spassky, and Bobby Fischer too. I take a look back at the event, complete with lots of annotated games, here.
Entries in Bobby Fischer (29)
It's a very interesting idea: trying to figure out what a player's worst win was at a point when they were already a reasonably mature player. Brian Karen offers this horrid game as Fischer's worst, played when Fischer was already a grandmaster, and it certainly looks like a good candidate. To take just two very obvious points, Fischer could have forced instant resignation after White's 21.Rc1?? by playing 21...Qxe3. After missing this, he lost an exchange a few moves later, and even as late as move 39 White in turn could have forced instant resignation with 39.Qd4+. Instead, he resigned two moves later after blundering into mate.
Can you think of alternative candidates for Fischer's worst win, or extend the conversation to include other players' worst losses?
From Brian Karen: First, a Chicago Tribune article on Bobby Fischer as he trained (on the heavy bag) in the Catskills; next, a very long look back by Nikolai Krogius (in translation) as he attempted without much success to get Boris Spassky to train diligently for the match. The latter in particular is highly recommended, even to those who have read plenty on the '72 match already.
Emphasis on mild. The background to the little video is this: Bobby Fischer repeatedly played the Two Knights Variation against the Caro-Kann in the 1959 Candidates Tournament, with a serious lack of success. It got so bad that people who seldom or never played the Caro-Kann did so, as his results and the positions he received with the Two Knights were harmless at best. Fischer lost with it against Tigran Petrosian in round 2, drew with Vassily Smyslov in round 7 and then lost to Paul Keres - not a Caro-Kann practitioner - in round 8 (and then again in round 22).
So by the time of round 13, when Fischer faced Mikhail Tal with white for the first time in the tournament, this happened:
Tal fakes the move 1...c6 before giving the pawn a shove to c5, then offers a priceless smile to Fischer, who remains impassive. Fischer's non-reaction is a pity. Could he not take a joke (very possible), or was his poker face a matter of competitive strategy? As for the joke itself, it almost wasn't one. According to Tibor Karolyi (page 413 of his excellent Mikhail Tal's Best Games 1: The Magic of Youth) Tal seriously considered playing the Caro-Kann in that game. Fortunately for everyone but Fischer, he didn't, enabling us to enjoy his joke, his infectious grin, and the very nice game he went on to win.
(HT: Brian Karen)
Ken Rogoff is a long-retired American grandmaster and famous economist, while "Pawn Sacrifice" is a movie on Bobby Fischer (focusing on his 1972 match with Boris Spassky) starring Tobey Maguire that's coming out in selected theaters now and in wider U.S. distribution next week. Here is his review, or maybe more precisely, here are some of his reflections on Fischer and the 1972 match as occasioned by the film.
HT: John Cole
I'm guessing that upwards of 90% of my readers are familiar with Paul Morphy's "Opera Game" vs. the Count Isouard and the Duke of Brunswick (who may be one person with two titles). If not, you're in for a treat, but even if you know the game by heart you may still enjoy Bobby Fischer's presentation of the game on Yugoslav television. It's not just that it's Fischer doing the presenting, but that there's material you might not have seen before. (His discussion of Steinitz's suggested 5.gxf3 was new to me, and may be new to many of you as well.)
Here's a fresh take on Bobby Fischer and chess in general: it makes one craaaaaaaazy! Hollywood is nothing if not creative, fair and nuanced. (It also makes total sense to have the allegedly 5'9" Toby Maguire play the 6'2" Fischer.) The sad thing is that we'll all probably see the movie.