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Friday, June 4, 2021

A Fischer Miniature

     Skopje 1967 was the first in a series of international tournaments and featured a field of twelve Yugoslav masters plus six foreign players. It held some excitement because Fischer, who had just recently come out of hiding, was using it as a warm-up for the Sousse Interzonal later in the year where he famously walked out while leading. 
     At Skopje Fischer lost his second round game to Geller, but after nine rounds he had succeeded in reaching a tie for first with Kholmov. At that point, being the obnoxious snot face that he was, Fischer announced he would withdraw from the tournament unless the chess sets were changed and spectators were not allowed for the remaining rounds. The organizers would not meet the second demand so Fischer forfeited his tenth round game against Yugoslav master Milorad Knezevic. 
     The gracious Knezevic didn't want to accept a free point and allowed the game to be rescheduled for the next rest day; it ended up drawn. After that, Fischer went on to win the tournament. 
     In spite of his threat to withdraw and his unreasonable demand to ban spectators, Fischer's request to replace the sets seems reasonable. In the photo of him playing against Ilievski if you look closely you can see the sets would be considered non-standard by by most players. Also note this is a rare instance of Fischer playing without being in a suit.

Sets initially used at Skopje 1967

     The following miniature game is a gem that features sharp tactical play by Fischer. His opponent was Hungarian IM (in 1999, Honorary GM) Peter Dely (July 6, 1934-December 29, 2012, 78 years old). He was Hungarian Champion in 1969.

Robert Fischer - Peter Dely

Result: 1-0

Site: Skopje YUG

Date: 1967.08.10

Sicilian: Sozin Attack

[...] 1.e4 c5 2.♘f3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.♘xd4 ♘f6 5.♘c3 ♘c6 6.♗c4 The Fischer-Sozin Attack which largely became popular after Fischer's tremendous successes with it. The B is developed to a square where it impacts the a2-g8 diagonal, especially the square f7. 6...e6 This move blunts the c4-bishop and neutralizes potential threats to f7. It also grips d5 and black sets up a.hedgehog-like P-structure with the d6- and e6-Pawns. This type of P-structure may appear passive, but it can be quite robust. 7.♗b3 This move is largely prophylactic in nature and was a Fischer favorite. On b3 the B is less exposed to attack if black pushes at some point ...a6 and ...b5 or plays ...Qc7 or ...Rc8. Today 7.Be3 is usually played.
7.♗e3 ♗e7 8.♕e2 a6 9.O-O-O ♕c7 10.♗b3 O-O and white has a choice between either 11.Rhg1 or 11. g4
7...a6 Equally popular is 7...Be7 8.f4 An alternative was 8O-O, but nowadays both moves have been replaced with 8.Be3 which yields somewhat better results. 8...♕a5 This is not a very good place for the Q because it is too exposed and in reality it does not accomplish anything here after white castles short.
8...♘xd4 9.♕xd4 ♕c7 10.♗e3 ♗e7 11.O-O O-O 12.♔h1 b5 with a sharp position. Minasian,A (2580)-Akopian,V (2620)/Yerevan 1996
8...♗e7 This move seems the mosr reliable. 9.♗e3 ♕c7 10.O-O b5 11.f5 ♘xd4 12.♗xd4 e5 13.♗f2 ♗b7 14.a3 O-O 15.♕f3 ♖ac8 16.♖fe1 h6 17.h3 ♗c6 18.♕d3 Draw agreed. Ivanchuk,V (2720)-Anand,V (2690)/Linares 1992
9.♕d3 Worked out well for white, but only because of black's sub-standard play. 9...♘d7 10.♗e3 ♘c5 11.♕d2 ♘xd4 12.♕xd4 ♘xb3 13.cxb3 ♗d7 14.O-O White is better. Cherin,D (2301)-Mestrovic,Z (2366)/Nova Gorica SLO 2006
9...♘xd4 This trades off a well placed piece, but has the disadvantage of allowing white to replace the N with his Q.
9...♕h5 Offering to trade Qs would backfire after 10.♕xh5 ♘xh5 11.♘xc6 bxc6 12.e5 with the obvious threat of trapping the N with g4. Black can, of course, avoid that, but positionally white stands better here.
9...d5 This jab at the center is black's best try and he should be about equal whether white plays 10.Be3, 10.Nxc6 or 10.Ba4, all reasonable moves.
10.♕xd4 In spite of his less than stellar opening play black would not be to badly off after 10...Be7 and 11...O-O. Instead, he makes a serious error in judgment. 10...d5 Black make a violation of fundamental principles by undertaking active operations before he has developed and castled. Also, it appears that Dely has forgotten who his opponent is by hoping white will let his Q to be pinned by allowing ...Bc5 11.♗e3 Developing and at the same time preventing ...Bc5. Dely is facing a difficult decision...with white threatening exd5 what should he play? 11...♘xe4 Not this!
11...dxe4 is unsatisfactory. 12.♘xe4 ♘xe4 13.♕xe4 ♗c5 14.♗a4+ ♔e7 (14...♗d7 15.♗xd7+ ♔xd7 16.♕xb7+ wins) 15.♗xc5+ ♕xc5+ 16.♔h1 g6 17.f5 gxf5 18.♕h4+ f6 19.b4 ♕b6 20.♖ae1 ♗d7 21.♖xf5 ♖hf8 22.♗xd7 ♔xd7 23.♕xh7+ and white is winning.
11...♘g4 This wily move works if white gets careless and plays 12.exd5 which is met by 12...♘xe3 wins a piece because of the threat of ...Bc5
11...♘g4 is correctly met with 12.♕b6 ♕xb6 13.♗xb6 dxe4 14.♘xe4 ♗e7 15.♖fd1 and white stands better, but there is no forced win.
12.♘xe4 Obviously the N cannot be allowed to remain on its outpost and at the same time this move opens the d-file. 12...dxe4 13.f5 A nice move opening up lines for attack. 13...♕b4 Hoping to trade Qs.
13...exf5 is met by 14.♗a4+ b5 15.♕e5+ ♗e7 16.♗b3 and it's impossible to come up with a saving move for black.
14.fxe6 (14.♕xb4 ♗xb4 15.fxe6 ♗xe6 16.♗xe6 fxe6 and black has equalized.) 14...♗xe6
14...♕xd4 won't save black because after 15.exf7+ ♔d8 16.♗xd4 ♔c7 17.♖ae1 ♗d7 18.♖xe4 his position remains hopeless.
14...fxe6 The consequences of this move are equally horrible. 15.♕e5 ♕b5 16.♕f4 ♕h5 17.♖ad1 ♗e7 18.♕xe4 There is no satisfactory answer to the threat of Ba4+
15.♗xe6 fxe6 A superficial glance at the position may give the impression that black has managed to survive the worst, but Fischer finds a crusher. 16.♖xf8+ ♕xf8 17.♕a4+ It's only this move that forces the win.
17.♕a4+ b5 18.♕xe4 ♖d8 19.♕c6+ ♖d7 20.♖d1 ♕e7 21.♗b6 Essential to control d8. Black is out of moves. 21...e5 22.♕c8+ ♔f7 23.♕xd7 and wins
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