Malcolm Pein on…Bobby Fischer’s Dominance

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Today’s Daily Telegraph column sends us back in time by half a century, with a reminder of the extent Bobby Fischer’s dominance over the rest of the chess world.

Malcolm presents a game showing Fischer on excellent form against his own favourite defense: the Sicilian Najdorf. Fischer had a lot of success with 6 Bc4 – the Sozin Attack.

The early sacrifice of a piece was by no means speculative (which was never Fischer’s style). White’s initiative becomes serious very quickly and you are invited to test your strength on the second of the two diagrams.

Malcolm Pein on…Bobby Fischer’s Dominance

This month marks 50 years since Bobby Fischer triumphed at the Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca to qualify for the Candidates and ultimately, a title match against Boris Spassky in 1972. The qualifying process was arduous. Fischer still had to win three matches over fellow Candidates to gain the right to challenge. He defeated Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen 6-0, feats unprecedented and since unequalled, before overcoming Tigran Petrosian in 1971.

Fischer dominated the Interzonal, finishing on 18.5/23, 3.5 points ahead of Bent Larsen, Efim Geller and Robert Huebner, with Mark Taimanov and Wolfgang Uhlmann also reaching the Candidates. The tournament was a 24-player all-play-all and lasted a month. The biggest event nowadays is Wijk aan Zee with 14 players. Having missed the US championship, Fischer was not qualified for the Interzonal and Pal Benko gave up his spot to enable him to play. The Interzonal was Fischer’s last tournament, thereafter he played only matches.

R. Fischer – J. Rubinetti

Sicilian Sozin

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Bc4 a6 7.Bb3 b5 8.0–0 Bb7 9.Re1 Nbd7 10.Bg5 h6 11.Bh4 Nc5

Bobby Fischer Interzonal

12.Bd5!! exd5 (Black had no choice. If 12…Qc7 13.Bxb7 Qxb7 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.b4 Nd7 16.Qh5 threatens Nxe6; 12…Be7 13.Nc6 Qc7 14.Nxe7 Qxe7 15.Bxb7 Nxb7 16.Nd5 Qd8 17.e5 dxe5 18.Nxf6+ gxf6 19.Qf3 wins) 13.exd5+ Kd7 (13…Be7 14.Bxf6 gxf6 15.Nf5) 14.b4 Na4 15.Nxa4 bxa4 16.c4 Kc8 17.Qxa4 (The computer reckons Fischer had a stronger move 17.Bxf6 Qxf6 18.b5 Be7 19.Qg4+ and 17.Bxf6 Qxf6 18.Nc6 was also good) 17…Qd7 18.Qb3 g5 19.Bg3 Nh5 (Black had to try 19…h5 20.Qf3 Rh6 21.Nf5 Rg6) 20.c5 dxc5 21.bxc5 Qxd5 (21…Bxd5 22.Qb6 wins after 22…Bg7 23.Nf5 or 22…Be7 23.Nf5 Re8 24.Rxe7) 22.Re8+ Kd7 23.Qa4+ Bc6

Test Your Strength

Bobby Fischer's Dominance

White to play and win

Highlight the space below this line to reveal the answer.

24.Nxc6 1-0 If 24…Qxc6 25.Rd1+; 24…Rxe8 25.Nb4+; 24….Kxe8 25.Re1+ Be7 26.Nxe7+

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