Daniel King analyzes Bobby Fischer (part 1)

by Albert Silver
3/21/2017 – If there is one player in chess, whose mystique and fascination know no bounds, it is the legendary Bobby Fischer. Ask GM Daniel King, chess author and video maker extraordinaire, who asked the patrons of his channel what they most wanted to see him look at. The result is a series analyzing games by the former World Champion, Bobby Fischer and starts with a positional masterpiece he played when he was 16.

Bobby Fischer vs Olicio Gadia (Mar del Plata 1960)

The first game in the series features a bout played in 1960 between Bobby Fischer and Olicio Gadia at the Mar del Plata International tournament. Bobby Fischer was 16 years old, and had become a superstar the year before when he had become the youngest grandmaster in history after qualifying the 1959 Candidates tournament.

It was March in the quiet beachside resort town Mar del Plata, which remains quiet throughout the year except for a frenetic two-month period when a monsoon of people fill the city to enjoy its beaches for the summer holidays. Tournaments, expositions, and other activities held throughout the year are what ensure a small but steady economic influx.

Mar del Plata in 1960

The Mar del Plata at the time was a very highly respected tradition of international events, bringing in a few players of international renown, pitted against local talents and some other guests. Fischer had already graced the guest list in 1959, when he had come in 3rd-4th with Ivkov with 10.0/14, a half-point behind Najdorf and Pachman.

The lineup of players at the 1960 Mar del Plata tournament

This year, the guest list was even more prestigious as aside from young Bobby, it included Boris Spassky, David Bronstein, and Fridrik Olafsson. After a second round disaster, when he lost to Spassky (a disaster for someone planning to win the event that is), Fischer went on a terror run in which he scored 12.5/13 to finish tied with Spassky with 13.5/15. He started this fulminating streak in round three when he faced the Brazilian master, and 1959 champion, Olicio Gadia.

 

Game commented by GM Daniel King

On a funny note, Olicio Gadia, two-time Brazilian champion in 1959 and 1962, faced another prodigy a few years later, with equally little success, Henrique Mecking. In 1965, Mecking was about to win his second national title, having won his first at age 12 in 1962, and in the last round faced Olicio Gadia. After a long struggle the time came to adjourn the game, and since Mecking only needed a draw to guarantee the title, Gadia was certain he would not come back to the board if a draw were offered.

Olicio Gadia, Brazilian champion (1959 and 1962) in 1962

“I propose a draw”, Gadia exclaimed. The 15-year-old Mecking immediately replied, “I propose you resign”, much to the laughter of those around. The Brazilian genius, who would one day become world no.3, then showed his opponent how he would win the endgame, leaving Gadia with little to say, and he resigned.

Bobby Fischer vs Boris Spassky (1992, game 1)

Bobby Fischer’s resignation of his title and subsequent withdrawal and disappearance from chess and the world, led to more documentaries, books, articles, and discussions than possibly any other topic in chess history. If the world at large enjoyed Elvis Presley sightings on a regular basis, the same was true of Fischer in the chess world. That the chess player was still alive, yet remained so elusive only made the rumors and legend that much more nail-biting.

The $5 million purse was the largest in history for a chess match

Finally, in 1992, he came out of hiding, and with great fanfare and shock effect, played a match against his former rival, Boris Spassky. It was an opportunity to receive some measure of closure for the chess world, a last hurrah to see him at play in genuine competition, even if he was clearly no longer the same player as at his peak. Still, there he was, and if he had any great opening secrets he had been hoarding over the decades, these too might see the light of day in this match. Spassky himself had to realize what an incredible situation he had been put in, not to mention the fortune on the line, and made sure that if anything went amiss, he could never be blamed. When asked about any issue or detail on the match conditions, he would immediately defer to whatever Bobby wanted.

 

Part one of the game analysis by Daniel King

 

Part two of the game analysis by Daniel King

Be sure to see further videos by Daniel King at his PowerPlayChess Youtube channel.


Born in the US, he grew up in Paris, France, where he completed his Baccalaureat, and after college moved to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He had a peak rating of 2240 FIDE, and was a key designer of Chess Assistant 6. In 2010 he joined the ChessBase family as an editor and writer at ChessBase News. He is also a passionate photographer with work appearing in numerous publications.
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Mr TambourineMan Mr TambourineMan 3/22/2017 10:01
Today Bobby chasing Chuck Berry to teach him Rock N Roll...
jonkm jonkm 3/22/2017 12:06
There have been some good commentaries on the Spassky Fischer return match.

Like other older fans, I somehow felt betrayed by the American prodigy who did so much to rejuvenate the American chess scene only to drop out and disappoint everyone. Then he showed up 20 years later to play a match motivated mainly by profit, displaying the same demanding bizarre personality -- if anything more bizarre. I like the Fischer of "60 Memorable Games" and of the earlier times. The return match was a bit of a joke.
koko48 koko48 3/22/2017 01:59
Fischer's performance rating in the 1992 match was about 2640, which at the time was close to top 10 in the world....I don't think that's bad at all, considering he hadn't played a serious game in 20 years

For all the talk about how much weaker Spassky was in 1992, he at least had still been active during those 20 years...I remember a few American GMs saying how poor Fischer's play was, which I thought was pretty funny because I doubted any of them could beat Spassky by five points
Pieces in Motion Pieces in Motion 3/23/2017 12:18
Good article on one of the greatest and nice commentary and analysis by Daniel King. I'm glad ChessBase has been featuring a lot of the game's history lately.
mikejfitch1 mikejfitch1 3/24/2017 07:13
@ KoKo48....EXCELLENTLY STATED!!!
In the 20 years as a recluse Fischer did create the time increments being used today and also Fischer Random Chess aka Chess960 because as he said chess is dead, but with his version, you were on your on from move 1 not 30 moves before one is out of book???
Amazing accomplishments for someone who so many call crazy???
genem genem 3/24/2017 10:55
Fischer did not play chess from 1972-1991, but he continued to studied chess (albeit probably not endless deeper opening variations).
When GM Yasser Seirawan was in Seattle a couple years ago, he told us a story of how Fischer and he happened to cross paths in Europe. Bobby was very excited to spend time with Seirawan.
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Bobby told Seirawan that he liked a chess book that Seirawan had authored, but that Seirawan should know there were three instances of flawed analysis in it. Seirawan was aware of the three mistakes, and was stunned that Fischer had obviously gone through every subvariation in order to have encountered the three. And Fischer remembered them.
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