Bobby Fischer – the man with the clean-cut strategic style

8/22/2007 – Many of us think of Bobby Fischer's chess as especially sharp. Yet our Playchess trainer Dennis Monokroussos prefers to classify him as more of a "positional" player, closer to Capablanca, Smyslov or Karpov than Alekhine, Tal or Kasparov. This he proves with a game from 1968 in his Thursday night lecture.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Many of us think of Bobby Fischer's chess as especially sharp, and that's not surprising given the dynamic opening lines he played – 6.Bc4 vs. the Najdorf, the Poisoned Pawn Variation, the King's Indian Defense, and so on. Yet I would classify him as more of a "positional" player, closer to Capablanca, Smyslov or Karpov than Alekhine, Tal or Kasparov. Fischer won more than his fair share of tactical slugfests, but it was well known in his heyday that he preferred clean-cut, strategic solutions to the problems on the board.

Accordingly – and to take a rest from the insane games we've seen the last few weeks – we'll examine a couple of his games focusing on the problem of the d5 square in the Najdorf Sicilian. In one of the games, his brilliancy prize win over Julio Bolbochan from the 1962 Stockholm Interzonal, he exploits the square brilliantly. With the White pieces, he manages to get a great knight on d5 against a lousy bishop on e7, and is able to combine pawn-winning threats on the queenside with a crushing attack on the kingside.

In the other game, he has Black against Milan Matulovic, from the 1968 tournament in Vinkovci. Once again d5 is beckoning, but Matulovic isn't as successful as Fischer was. Once again Fischer gets a good knight vs. bad bishop, and he's able to use this advantage to grind his opponent into the dust (though without the attacking fireworks of the previous game).

Both are very well-played by Fischer, entertaining, instructive, and comprehensible, too. One of the great things about his chess is that you get the feeling you could have won that game, too. This might be a slight illusion, but I think there's a truth in it. Many of his best games have a very clear logic to them, and that's something we can learn from and adopt in our games as well.

So I do hope you'll join me tonight at 9 p.m. ET – see you then!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EDT, which translates to 01:00h GMT, 02:00 Paris/Berlin, 11:00h Sydney (on Friday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).


Dennis Monokroussos is 40, lives in South Bend, IN, and is an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.

He is fairly inactive as a player right now, spending most of his non-philosophy time being a husband and teaching chess. At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S., but quit for about eight years starting in his early 20s. His highest rating was 2434 USCF, but he has now fallen to the low-mid 2300s – "too much blitz, too little tournament chess", he says.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for seven years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.


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