Endgame riddle: Fischer vs Spassky - Game 10

by Karsten Müller
2/5/2022 – The sharp endgame seen in game 10 of the 1972 match between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky has been analysed countless times. But there are still many open questions and new discoveries to be made. Karsten Müller invites you to help him solve the riddles emerging from this fascinating endgame.

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Endlessly alluring

Boris SpasskyThe “Match of the Century” between World Champion Boris Spassky [pictured] and his challenger Bobby Fischer was due to start in the first days of July 1972 in Reykjavik, Iceland. Spassky, who had the backing of the mighty Soviet chess machine behind him (the title of World Chess Champion had been held by USSR citizens for twenty-four years), had arrived in the Icelandic capital well on time. But his opponent, the maverick US grandmaster Fischer, who was working essentially all on his own, sat in New York, unsatisfied with the conditions.

The Championship was to be a 24-game match in which the reigning champion had draw odds: if the match ended in a 12-12 tie, the title would remain with Spassky. Fischer’s Elo rating was 2785, 125 points higher than Spassky’s (2660). The prize fund was $125,000 – 5/8ths to the winner, 3/8ths to the loser.

After two traumatic games for Fischer at the outset, World Champion Spassky was leading 2-0 in the match. But then Fischer started to play and struck back: in the next eight games he scored 6½ points, chalking up a 6½-3½ lead. Games 8, 9 and 10 were quite spectacular.

Most chess enthusiasts know the outcome of the confrontation. In the end, Fischer became world champion after beating his Soviet rival by a 12½-8½ score.

Relive the match with a fantastic 14-part narration by Frederic Friedel: Part 1 ... Part 14

An old riddle

The sharp endgame seen in the tenth encounter has been analysed countless times. But Alex Fishbein has pointed out that there are still many open questions and new discoveries to be made. One such questions is, which was the last mistake? From which point on was Fischer winning? As this game is so fascinating, I decided to use it as a riddle from beginning to end!


So, which was the last mistake? From which point on was Fischer winning?

Endgames of the World Champions from Fischer to Carlsen

Let endgame expert Dr Karsten Müller show and explain the finesses of the world champions. Although they had different styles each and every one of them played the endgame exceptionally well, so take the opportunity to enjoy and learn from some of the best endgames in the history of chess.


Karsten Müller is considered to be one of the greatest endgame experts in the world. His books on the endgame - among them "Fundamentals of Chess Endings", co-authored with Frank Lamprecht, that helped to improve Magnus Carlsen's endgame knowledge - and his endgame columns for the ChessCafe website and the ChessBase Magazine helped to establish and to confirm this reputation. Karsten's Fritztrainer DVDs on the endgame are bestsellers. The mathematician with a PhD lives in Hamburg, and for more than 25 years he has been scoring points for the Hamburger Schachklub (HSK) in the Bundesliga.


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