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.)
Entries in Bobby Fischer (23)
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.
Spektrowski's blog on Chess.com includes a treasure trove of material he has translated from old Soviet sources, and the latest one to catch my eye covers the Candidates match between Bobby Fischer and Mark Taimanov played in 1971. Mikhail Tal provided the regular annotations to the games, and there are theoretical articles by Yakov Estrin and comments by Viktor Korchnoi, Boris Spassky and others on the match. It's a treat for lovers of chess history.
(Modified to have a more clever title.)
The documentary film Chess: A State of Mind came out in 1986 and was written by British IM William Hartston. This (almost) 30-minute piece offers a recap of the world championship from Paul Morphy (not an official champion) through the beginning of the Garry Kasparov era. It goes from Morphy through Boris Spassky pretty quickly, and then takes its time with Bobby Fischer and Anatoly Karpov. Viktor Korchnoi gets a lot of air time in the Karpov segment, and both Korchnoi and Spassky have a bit of fun at Karpov's expense.
Young whippersnappers should watch for the history lesson, and oldsters should watch for the nostalgia.
Garry Kasparov went to Bobby Fischer's graveyard on what would have been the latter's 71st birthday and attended a small memorial at the church there. More here, with a video and transcript of his remarks during an accompanying on-site interview.
This claim, which is also the headline of this article (HT: Jaideep Unudurti), initially struck me as utter poppycock. The 1972 match between world champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union and Bobby Fischer of the U.S.A. involved the world's two super-powers, nations that were not only significant in their own right but as the representatives of two very different and radically opposed political systems. India is an up-and-coming (and extremely populous) nation and Norway is a beautiful and prosperous country, but neither plays the sort of role that the USSR or the USA did.
What about the players? Viswanathan Anand strikes me as a more impressive version of Boris Spassky. Both are gentleman and fantastic players in their own right, both were world junior champions and both took a bit longer to become champion than their immense talent and great early results led people to expect. Anand's results and longevity are greater than Spassky's, though on the other hand Spassky's dominance from 1965 to 1970 may represent a longer stretch at the top than Anand's.*
As for Bobby Fischer and Magnus Carlsen, both were dominant players. The distance between Fischer and world #2 Spassky was colossal - 125 points! Carlsen is "only" 69 points higher-rated than world #2 Levon Aronian and 95 points higher than Anand. ("Ouch!" for the champion in any case.) On the other hand, Carlsen has achieved this match and his dominance at an earlier age than Fischer did. Still, Fischer was a far more charismatic and enigmatic figure than Carlsen. Carlsen comes across as a normal, well-adjusted individual, and I suspect that what non-chessplaying people remember most about Carlsen after seeing some program about him is that he is called the "Mozart of chess". (That label was bestowed on him in 2004 by Lubosh Kavalek, and is to me even more cringeworthy** than Hans Kmoch's calling Fischer's 1956 win over Donald Byrne the "Game of the Century".) Further, while Carlsen has received strong coaching every step of the way, Fischer was largely (not entirely) a self-made player. Both are fantastic players with staggering amounts of talent and drive, who made the most of their gifts, but in terms of their "notoriety quotients" Carlsen barely registers as a blip compared to Fischer. (That's not necessarily a bad thing!)
So, as I said, I was inclined to dismiss the organizer's remark as near-nonsense, as a bit of self-serving and self-congratulatory propaganda, and wasn't going to post. But I recognize that my thoughts about this are very likely influenced to some degree by the fact that I live in (what was) Fischer's country, the United States of America. So I ask my European and South Asian friends and readers, especially those who go back to the Fischer era or at least know those who lived through it, to tell me how things seem in your neck of the woods. Could it really be that the upcoming Anand-Carlsen match is making a bigger splash than Spassky-Fischer in 1972 - particularly in the broader culture?
* (Yes, I'm aware that Spassky was world champion from 1969-1972.)
** Kavalek came up with that moniker to meet a deadline, Carlsen himself apparently didn't and maybe still doesn't care for it very much, and the game that inspired Kavalek (Carlsen-Ernst, Wijk aan Zee 2004) was already worked out by Carlsen beforehand, if I remember correctly.
It will be a while yet, but there's apparently a movie in the works which will star Tobey Maguire, centering on Bobby Fischer's famous and infamous 1972 world championship match against Boris Spassky. More here.
HT: Ross Hytnen
After his fourth-place finish in the 1962 Candidates tournament in Curacao, Bobby Fischer subsequently complained that the "Russians" (the Soviets) had "fixed" the competition against him by agreeing to draw amongst themselves. That may not seem like a brilliant strategy (let alone cheating), but over the course of a 28-round tournament the energy the players saved by doing this - energy that would be spent in preparation, play, and if necessary, adjournments. Considering the way top players complain about being out of energy at the end of a nine-round event nowadays, there is something to be said for the complaint, even if it's unlikely that Fischer would have won in any case. A more serious charge, and one which is less often repeated when Fischer's article is mentioned, is that the "Russians" would discuss his games while they were in progress, and would continue to do so when Fischer's opponent would join them!
But why bring this up now? It's 51 years after the event, and Fischer is dead while the USSR no longer exists. The answer is that a reader (Ross Hytnen) wrote in with a link to the famous article alluded to in the previous paragraph. Most U.S. readers middle-aged and up have heard of Fischer's famous article entitled "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess", but how many of us have read it? It's of historical interest and written in Fischer's characteristically punchy style, so it's worth a few minutes of your time to read if you haven't already.