Mumbai remembers Bobby Fischer

by Sagar Shah
10/5/2015 – The 19th of September was a special day: ChessBase India invited all players in Mumbai to celebrate the greatest chess player that ever lived – Bobby Fischer. The movie Pawn Sacrifice premiered in the city, and in spite of very short notice a number of chess players gathered to watch it together – and then follow one of our most popular biographical DVDs.

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Mumbai remembers Bobby Fischer

Mumbai is one of the most populated cities in the world and is located on the western coast of India.

Pawn Sacrifice, the movie on Fischer’s life had just been released. Watching the movie alone in the theatre would not have been so interesting. So, I and my wife Amruta formulated the following plan:

  1. Meet at R-city Mall, Ghatkopar at 9 a.m. for the movie Pawn Sacrifice, which will begin at 9.15 a.m. The cost of the ticket was Rs 70 (just one Euro!)

  2. After the movie ends at around 11.30 a.m. all the players would go to my (Sagar’s) place where they would sit in front of the 42 inch television in the living room and watch the ChessBase DVD Master Class Vol. 1 on Bobby Fischer. The plan was to watch the DVD till 6 p.m. in the evening.

The above plan was decided just one day prior, that is on the 18th September, and a Facebook event was created in order to organize the entire thing.

Even though the city boasts of a population of 18.4 million people,
at 8.30 a.m. the Mumbai roads leading to the mall were empty ...

... and so was the R-city mall

But ChessBase is everywhere!

These kids came right on time, shunning their sleep to see the great Bobby!

My father (on the right) took out time from his hectic September end schedule to watch the movie. Mrs Parul (my aunt) came all the way from South Mumbai to not only watch the movie but to enjoy the company of ten-year-olds like Piya Saxena (middle).

Soon we were a large gang of chess enthusiasts ranging from 10-65 years!

From left to right - Jainam Gala, Sanjeev Mishra, Divyanshu Sheth, Devarsh Shah, Malay Thakkar, Hetvi Pethad, Dhairya Ghelani, Dhairya's father, Rahul Ved, Hetvi's mother, Parulben, Piya Saxena and her grandmother. Two organizers sitting below - Amruta Mokal and Sagar Shah

We had almost two rows to ourselves in the theatre!

Pawn Sacrifice was very interesting – well worth watching for any chess fan. You can find a few inaccuracies in the movie, but in general Toby Maguire has a done a wonderful job in the role of Bobby Fischer.

Some of the parents were worried whether it was wise to let their children see how paranoid Fischer became due to chess. But I think the little ones should see the movie to understand what has to be avoided by them in the future. According to me, what you will go back with is Fischer's dedication and determination towards the game of chess, and his single minded aim of becoming the World Champion rather than his paranoia and delusion. Let me not spill the beans any further; just know that I heartily recommend this movie. You can read a review by one of the most brilliant economists in the world, Ken Rogoff, who also happens to be a grandmaster.

Mumbaikars with the movie poster

If you can't play like him you can pose like him!

Next on the agenda was the ChessBase DVD - Master Class Vol. 1 on Bobby Fischer. There were three GMs: Rogozenco, Marin and Mueller, and one IM Reeh who taught you all about Fischer's style of play.

Master Class Vol. 1: Bobby Fischer

By Dorian Rogozenco, Dr. Karsten Müller, Mihail Marin, Oliver Reeh

Languages: English, German
ISBN: 978-3-86681-371-7
Delivery: Download, Post
Level: Any
€29.90 or €25.13 without VAT (for Customers outside the EU); $28.39 (without VAT)

No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Robert James Fischer. But what were the secrets to his sensational ability, and what enabled him to take on the Soviet school of chess alone – and win? On this DVD, a team of experts presents you every facet of the chess legend, and shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion. Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur. His congenial video analysis of Fischer’s legendary endgames can only be found on this DVD! To top it off - you too can unleash tactical combinations like Fischer! German Bundesliga player Oliver Reeh has compiled the World Champion’s best combinations – and now it’s your move. You too can try to find Fischer’s stunning brilliancies by entering your solution on the board and receive video feedback in the new ChessBase media format!

• Video running time: approx 5 hours (English)
• Interactive training including video feedback
• Collection of every Fischer game, tables, backround knowledge, short biography
• “Fischer powerbook”– the World Champion’s repertoire as an opening tree
• Tactic training: 100 Fischer games with training questions.

Order Master Class on Bobby Fischer in the ChessBase Shop

After the movie was over at around 11.30 a.m. everyone had their lunch and came to my place. We all huddled around in the living room and at 1 p.m. started the DVD.

The DVD played on a 42 inch flatscreen. Everyone was completely engrossed in Fischer's style of play

GM Dorian Rogozenco dealt with Fischer’s openings: we learnt about his treatment of the Ruy Lopez, his affection for the light squared bishop, always playing the Bc4 move in the Sicilian, sac-sac-mate on the h-file in the Dragon, Fischer's favourite Najdorf, King's Indian and Benoni.

In between I would share some bits of my own knowledge. For example when Rogozenco went directly to the eleventh move of the Ruy Lopez, I stopped the DVD and explained the different subtleties until that point.

Next up were the tactical problems posed by IM Oliver Reeh. I hope you recognize the famous position shown over here. Hint: this is the game which made everyone understand what a huge talent 13-year-old Fischer was!

We solved all of the fourteen tactical positions from Fischer's games. There was the Game of the Century against Donald Byrne, and also the Rf6!! blockade against Benko, and not to forget Reshevsky's king drag with Bxf7 followed by Ne6! Solving these problems took us quite some time as everyone was contributing with their answers and discussing them was a lot of fun. But it meant that the other two parts of the DVD had to be left unfinished.

We were unable to complete Mihail Marin’s section on strategy, but anyone who is well versed with the
Romanian grandmaster’s analysis knows that there is some high quality material sitting in those four clips.

Karsten Mueller discusses many different endgames in his section and also solves the famous riddle
whether the move Bxh2?! in the first Spassky-Fischer game in 1972 was really losing or not.

Edward Zwick’s movie was excellent, but I would say ChessBase’s DVD on Fischer was even better. Seeing both of them in a day, like we tried to do, is the best way to remember and pay our homage to the legend called Fischer!

On a parting note there was one combination of Fischer which everyone loved. It did not happen in his game but he mentions it in the notes in his famous book, “My 60 memorable games”.

Variation from Fischer-Gligoric 1966

White to play and win

[Event "Havana ol (Men) fin-A"] [Site "Havana"] [Date "1966.??.??"] [Round "8"] [White "Fischer, Robert James"] [Black "Gligoric, Svetozar"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C69"] [Annotator "Sagar Shah"] [PlyCount "37"] [EventDate "1966.10.25"] [EventType "team"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "CUB"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1998.11.10"] [WhiteTeam "US of America"] [BlackTeam "Yugoslavia"] [WhiteTeamCountry "USA"] [BlackTeamCountry "YUG"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Bxc6 dxc6 5. O-O f6 6. d4 Bg4 7. c3 exd4 8. cxd4 Qd7 9. h3 Be6 10. Nc3 O-O-O 11. Bf4 g5 {This is a variation given in My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer.} ({The game continued in the following manner.} 11... Ne7 12. Rc1 Ng6 13. Bg3 Bd6 14. Na4 Bxg3 15. fxg3 Kb8 16. Nc5 Qd6 17. Qa4 Ka7 18. Nxa6 Bxh3 19. e5 Nxe5 20. dxe5 fxe5 21. Nc5+ Kb8 22. gxh3 e4 23. Nxe4 Qe7 24. Rc3 b5 25. Qc2) 12. Bg3 h5 13. d5 cxd5 14. Rc1 dxe4 {[#]} 15. Na4 $3 {This move did come into the minds of the players, but it is important to see the follow up.} (15. Nb5 axb5 16. Rxc7+ Qxc7 17. Bxc7 Rxd1 $19 ) (15. Nxe4 Qxd1 16. Rxc7+ Kb8 17. Rd7+ Ka7 18. Rdxd1 Rxd1 19. Rxd1 Bxa2 $13 { is not at all clear.}) (15. Qc2 $5 exf3 (15... Qd3 16. Qa4 $40) (15... Qc6 $5 { might be the best.}) 16. Na4 Qc6 $1 {The only move, but sufficient to hold the balance.} 17. Qe4 $3 {Taking the queen loses, but I will not spill the beans here because this variation is very similar to what happens in the main line.}) (15. Nd5 {was the first move that came to everyone's mind. But it loses quite easily to Bxd5.} Bxd5 16. Rxc7+ Qxc7 17. Bxc7 Kxc7 $19 {Black is just winning.} ) 15... Qxd1 (15... Kb8 16. Rxc7 {transposes to the main line.}) 16. Rxc7+ Kb8 17. Rc8+ $3 {This move is not so easy to see.} Ka7 (17... Kxc8 18. Nb6# {is a nice mate.}) 18. Bb8+ Ka8 19. Nb6# {How can someone not fall in love with a variation like this!} 1-0

Many of us worked on this DVD till 6 p.m. in the evening. Even though we couldn't finish it entirely, everyone went back home with a feeling of having learnt about not only Fischer but also the game of chess. It was truly a memorable day and one which I will cherish for a long time to come. 25 chess players from different places of Mumbai came together to enjoy the game of chess – that's the power of Bobby Fischer!

Here is what some of the participants of the event had to say:

Shubham Kumtekar: Honestly, it was fun! A lot of people from Mumbai's chess community coming together to watch the movie and then, indulging in a training session of sorts - what more could you ask from a day! Indeed, a day well spent remembering the great Bobby. Thanks a lot Sagar and Amruta for organizing this excellent event!

Sanjeev Mishra: I agree with Shubham. You don't get a training session with an IM every day. Movie was good but the DVD was even better. Learnt a lot.

Jainam Gala: The movie was great and so are Fischer's brilliancies. A day full of chess to honour him. #19thSept.

Ketan Patil: The movie is awesome. I used to think that five to six hours of chess every day is more than enough. But after seeing Fischer's dedication, five to six hours seemed nothing. It really inspires us to work harder on chess. I think you Sagar Shah were correct in saying that if someone wants to be like Fischer, he needs to be a chess fanatic like Fischer. The DVD class after the movie helped us to understand Fischer in more depth. It was like a cherry on cake. Thanks a lot.

Tejas Jayade: I honestly loved the event. Thank you Sagar for taking this initiative.
Many tips, many ideas, a movie, a DVD session and one game! All in all, a perfect chess day.

ChessBase India website is coming soon. Until then get all updates from its Facebook page.

Pictures by Amruta Mokal

Previous ChessBase stories on Pawn Sacrifice

Pawn Sacrifice - movie of the 1972 match
6/11/2015 – Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky are coming to a theater near you in a film based on the life of the recluse genius and his epic 1972 showdown for the world title. Whatever one may think of it, the all-star cast leaves nothing to be desired, with Edward Zwick, director of The Last Samurai, and Tobey Maguire who championed the project for ten years.

Watch Fischer enact his mental chess match
8/20/2015 – Pawn Sacrifice, the 2015 American biographical thriller film directed by Edward Zwick and starring Tobey Maguire (whom we remember as Spiderman, or more fondly from Seabiscuit) as Bobby Fischer, is set to be released in the US on September 18, 2015. Huffington Post has posted an exclusive featurette, to which we have added some clips from the past. Happy viewing.

Rogoff on the Fischer movie "Pawn Sacrifice"
9/18/2015 – Harvard professor Kenneth Rogoff is a world famous economist – and a chess grandmaster. He thinks that in the Hollywood movie actor Toby Maguire portrays Fischer with remarkable authenticity "indeed, pitch-perfect for those of us who met Bobby in his prime" (as Rogoff did). In his review Ken speculates how Fischer would not be Fischer in today's world.

Recent general news reports on "Pawn Sacrifice" (about 94,000)


Topics Fischer, India

Sagar Shah is an International Master from India with two GM norms. He is also a chartered accountant and would like to become the first CA+GM of India. He loves to cover chess tournaments, as that helps him understand and improve at the game he loves so much. He is the co-founder of the ChessBase India website.
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chessbibliophile chessbibliophile 10/9/2015 01:15
The film does not do justice to Fischer’s contemporaries and opponents, especially, Boris Spassky who is reduced to a caricature.
Wem420 Wem420 10/7/2015 05:00
Loved the movie
sxb103 sxb103 10/5/2015 09:23
"Some of the parents were worried whether it was wise to let their children see how paranoid Fischer became due to chess."
He was not paranoid due to chess. He was mentally ill and chess helped him keep his life together. Once he became World Champion that was the beginning of the end.
Ianjo Ianjo 10/5/2015 06:28
Again, someone repeating that Rogoff is a "brilliant" economist...When are we going to see anybody make a critique?
luishon luishon 10/5/2015 02:30
back in time south Chihuahua in a small town we had 2 chess clubs
Bobby Fischer and Mikhail Tal,
I was in Tal's territory but Fischer was the one that make me learn how to play chess
but as today Tal has a special corner in my hart
as I've seen them die in poverty and it breaks my soul
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