For sale: rare Fischer handwritten chess notes

by ChessBase
9/12/2012 – The 1970 blitz tournament in Herceg Novi was one of the strongest of all time, with four World Champions competing. It was won by Robert Fischer, with 19/22 points, 4½ ahead of the field. Interestingly Fischer annotated his games, and his notes are now up for sale in an auction (36 pages, current bid £220). We have reconstructed the first game from images of the pages. Will you help do the rest?

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Bobby Fischer Handwritten Chess Notes

From the historic 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament

Lot 98 of the PFC Auctions sale consists of 20 sheets of paper (8” x 11.75”) containing 36 pages of handwritten chess notes by American Grandmaster Bobby Fischer. The notes detail eight matches from the April 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament held in what was then Yugoslavia. With three photocopied pages replacing three missing original pages. There is some slight tearing to the edges of the pages which does not affect the text. Several pages feature small marks and areas of paper loss (corners only) which is to be expected of documents of this kind. Overall in fine condition.

Fischer won the 1970 Herceg Novi tournament with a score of 19, beating Mikhail Tal by 4½ points. He went on to become the World Champion in 1972. The notes detail matches between Fischer and Viktor Korchnoi, David Bronstein, Vasily Smyslov, Predrag Ostojic, Vlastimil Hort, Samuel Reshevsky and Tigran Pertosian. Fischer has recorded each move in all eight games as well as detailed notes analysing his opponents’ moves.

The Herceg Novi blitz event is widely considered to be one of the most significant speed tournaments of the 20th century, with four World Champions competing. This is an extremely rare set of notes from the World Champion and winner of the historic tournament.

Despite being widely regarded as one of the greatest chess grandmasters of all time, Bobby Fischer items rarely appear on the market. In June 2009, Fischer’s personal chess library was sold for $61,000 to Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield, whose charitable foundation helped to fund The Chess Club and Scholastic Center. The original World Chess Championship chess set used by Fischer and Boris Spassky at their legendary match in Iceland in 1972, signed by both men, sold for $76,275 in 2011.

The notes come from the collection of Slobodan Bodo Stojnic, a friend of Fischer, who organised the tournament. An accompanying letter of provenance from Stojnic’s son states that Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Svetozar Gligoric and other professional chess players were regular visitors to Stojnic’s home in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The accompanying letter of provenance reads, in full:

“To whom it may concern,

These are 36 original handwritten pages and three photocopied pages of Bobby Fischer’s analysis of several chess matches held in Herceg Novi in Yugoslavia in 1970. I found these notes amongst my father’s belongings after he passed.

My late father Slobodan Bodo Stojnic was managing director of the company that organized the tournament and paid the prizes. The company (original name: Zavod za Izdavanje Udzbenika SR BiH) published school books and a couple of chess books. Bobby Fisher, Mihail Talj, Tigran Petrosian, Bronstein, Gligoric and others were regular visitors in our home.

One time, in our home in Sarajevo, there were four of us in the dining room; Bobby Fischer, Tigran Petrosian, my father and me. Tigran was pretty much deaf and he wore a hearing aid, a huge one for today’s standards. Tigran and Bobby started a blitz match. In the middle of the match, when the board was still full, Bobby went to the kitchen for a glass of water, and Tigran took the opportunity to steal one of Bobby’s pawns. I then witnessed something unbelievable: on the way back, when Bobby was more than two meters away from the chess board, he noticed that the pawn was missing!

After that, my father asked Bobby to put his signature on the wall of my sister's bedroom. There was a square, maybe 10 x 10cm with wallpaper removed. The signatures of Petrosian, Tal, Bronstein and others were already there. Although there was enough space in the lower part of the square, Bobby refused to sign below the others, he said "I am the best and I can sign only above the others". I then had to take off a few centimetres of wallpaper from the top of the square, and Bobby put his signature there. Unfortunately, this wall was destroyed during the war in Bosnia.

A book containing all matches from Hercegnovi tournament was published and if I remember correctly, Bobby was paid two million Yugoslav Dinars for his part.

I confirm these pages are genuine as written by Bobby Fischer.”

Sample pages from the Fischer notes

You can view all the pages using the links given below. Please note: pages 1, 2, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 are missing and pages 31, 44 and 45 are photocopies of the original notes.

We have entered pages 3-6 with Fischer's notes in ChessBase for you to play through. It gives us an impression of the level of his comments and some insight into what was going through his mind during the game. Perhaps other readers could similarly input the comments from the other games.

[Event "Herceg Novi Blitz"] [Site "?"] [Date "1970.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Korchnoi, Viktor"] [Black "Fischer, Robert"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E97"] [Annotator "Fischer,Robert"] [PlyCount "62"] [SourceDate "2012.09.12"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 g6 3. Nc3 Bg7 4. e4 d6 5. Be2 O-O 6. Nf3 e5 7. O-O Nc6 8. d5 Ne7 9. Nd2 {This move apparently is considered best by the Russian.} ({In the "turnir mira" 1970 Petrosian essayed} 9. b4 Nh5 10. Nd2 $5 Nf4 11. a4 {but without great success against Gligoric.}) 9... c5 {I think this is a logical move. Black takes a tempo from his kingside attack to slow down White's queenside initiative, which usually comes quite quickly with b4, c5, etc.} 10. a3 Ne8 11. b4 b6 12. Rb1 f5 $1 {Having made all the necessary precautions on the queenside Black is now ready to attack on the king's flank.} 13. f3 f4 14. a4 g5 15. a5 Rf6 $1 16. bxc5 $2 {This is as Korchnoi pointed out afterwards a terrible mistake because now it is impossible for White to get any initiative on the queenside.} bxc5 17. Nb3 Rg6 18. Bd2 Nf6 ({Or} 18... h5 $1) 19. Kh1 g4 ( {Maybe more exact was} 19... h5) 20. fxg4 {Forced because of the threat of} ( 20. -- g3 {and then White cannot play} 21. h3 {because of} Bxh3 {etc.}) 20... Nxg4 21. Rf3 $2 (21. Bf3 $1 {was better with a more tenatious defence.}) 21... Rh6 22. h3 Ng6 23. Kg1 Nf6 24. Be1 Nh8 $3 {This attacking maneuvre is decisive. } 25. Rd3 Nf7 26. Bf3 (26. h4 $5 {held out a little longer.}) 26... Ng5 27. Qe2 Rg6 28. Kf1 ({Or} 28. Kh2 Qd7 {threatening} 29. -- Nxh3 {etc.}) 28... Nxh3 $1 29. gxh3 Bxh3+ 30. Kf2 Ng4+ ({At this moment my hand hovered over White's pawn on e4 - but at the last second I realised that} 30... Nxe4+ $4 {is answered by} 31. Qxe4 $1 {and White wins.}) 31. Bxg4 Bxg4 {and here Korchnoi thought about a minute and a half and not seeing a defence to the double threat of 32...Be2 and 32...Qh4+ resigned. It is interesting to note however that Korchnoi played 9.Nd2 again against Udovcic in the "turnir mira", so apparently he has an improvement in mind.} 0-1

Here are the raw moves of the 22 games Fischer played at the 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament. They will be useful when entering his comments.

The PFC Auctions sale of Bobby Fischer's handwritten chess notes will last until September 27 at 20:00h GMT. Bidding allowed for registered users only. The current bid (Sept 12, 2012) is £220.00. A Buyers Premium (20% up to £30,000 of hammer price) will be added to each winning bid. You can contact PFC Auctions here if you have any questions about this lot or the bidding process.

Address: PFC Auctions, 5 Strand House, The Strand, St. Peter Port, Guernsey GY11LJ
Telephone: +44 (0) 117 933 9500 – Email:

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