Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (92)

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12/3/2012 – The Editor of Chess Notes returns to 'My 61 Memorable Games'. Is it a genuine work by Bobby Fischer or a fake/hoax? The focus this time is on the sole new game in the book, the first battle in the 1992 re-match between Fischer and Spassky. Potential clues abound, but what exactly do the annotations reveal about the authenticity or otherwise of this mysterious 753-page book?

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Chess Explorations (92)

By Edward Winter

About a month ago, a Chess Explorations article discussed the 753-page paperback My 61 Memorable Games ‘by Bobby Fischer’. Since then, our extensive feature article has added many further pages from the book, such as this sample concerning the 61st game (Fischer v Spassky, Sveti Stefan, 1992):

The bottom of page 735 has this:

‘27 Nf1!

Targeting the b5 Pawn of course. There is no shorter path to Black’s demise. And now for an entertaining comment:

“In my opinion, 27 Nd2! with the same idea was also good.”

– (Weinstein, Volume IV, page 486)’

The following page in full:

On the next page, after 31...Bxd5, the book states:

‘I wonder why nobody ever mentioned 31...Nf6 as a serious alternative in any notes I have ever seen on this game? Can’t this Knight ever go after the d5 Pawn?’

The game-score on page 486 of the fourth Kasparov volume has ‘31 Bc2 Bxd5 (31...Nf6!?)’.

Finally in this selection, page 738:

Our earlier Chess Explorations article commented: ‘Too many people have already written about My 61 Memorable Games without having seen it and, in some cases, without even knowing whether or not it existed.’ It is remarkable that, as of today, the English-language Wikipedia page makes do with this singularly unhelpful line concerning a singularly unreliable commentator:

‘Larry Evans originally thought it was possible that it was a pirated version of a genuine Fischer manuscript, but in April 2008 concluded it was a hoax.’

For our part, despite having actually seen the book we would not presume to conclude whether it is a fake/hoax – terms which, in any case, cover a range of possibilities. Between the two extremes – a book 100% written and approved by Fischer and a book in which he had no involvement whatsoever – dozens of hybrid solutions could be imagined, and speculated upon endlessly but pointlessly.

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Edward Winter is the editor of Chess Notes, which was founded in January 1982 as "a forum for aficionados to discuss all matters relating to the Royal Pastime". Since then, over 7,870 items have been published, and the series has resulted in four books by Winter: Chess Explorations (1996), Kings, Commoners and Knaves (1999), A Chess Omnibus (2003) and Chess Facts and Fables (2006). He is also the author of a monograph on Capablanca (1989). In 2011 a paperback edition was issued.

Chess Notes is well known for its historical research, and anyone browsing in its archives will find a wealth of unknown games, accounts of historical mysteries, quotes and quips, and other material of every kind imaginable. Correspondents from around the world contribute items, and they include not only "ordinary readers" but also some eminent historians – and, indeed, some eminent masters. Chess Notes is located at the Chess History Center. Signed copies of Edward Winter's publications are currently available.

Reports about chess: tournaments, championships, portraits, interviews, World Championships, product launches and more.


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