Bobby Fischer - The Most Famous of them all
Chiefly, Donald Byrne will be forever immortalised as the loser of this match, which is rather unfair but it is an amazing moment for young Bobby!
Forthwith, Fischer gained momentum until eventually gaining the world championship in 1972.
Ultimately, Donald Byrne and his brother Robert Byrne continued their chess careers and reached GM level but never escalated to the same heights as the virtuoso Bobby!
An amazing game against GM Byrne - Bobby was only 13 years old!Notably, Fischer recalls in a TV interview when he was around 11, he just "got good". The famous game of the century was in the 8th round of the 1956 Third Rosenwald Trophy in New York.
In this case, to finish 9th out of 12 in a local New York tournament doesn't sound too impressive but there are a few things to remember about this now famous tournament.
To demonstrate the calibre of the young Brooklyn lad, the event attracted a good calibre of players who at various stages in their career hovered around the 2500 ELO mark - Samuel Reshevsky, Arthur Bisguier, Edmar Mednis and Donald Byrne were all there. These were not standard US amateurs. Though Fischer would go on to record many notable wins against these giants of US chess in his adult career, facing these formidable opponents at 13 years of age shows just how good the young Bobby Fischer really was.
By 1958, Fischer was US champion - this was shown off in the gameshow "I've got a secret" where a young Bobby shows his article "Teen-ager's strategy defeats all comers!!" - amazingly the panel had no idea who he was!
Poor Donald Byrne is confined to the annals of chess history with one entry - this game which he lost.
The opening involves some solid development from both players up to move 11 where Bf4-g5 is a microscopic error moving the same piece twice in the opening. We saw the dangers of opening delays in our opening sacrifices article!
Against a lesser player, such a minute inaccuracy would scarcely raise an eyebrow.
During the annotation, it's worth keeping an eye out for 11...Na4, the famous queen sacrifice on 17...Be6 and the mating sequence is also very memorable.
Hans Kmoch - noted chess writer who'd reported on Alekhine, Botvinnik et al called this "the Game of the Century" - the name sticks to this day:
What can we learn from this game?
- Deep calculation will win you many games
- Feeling the subtleties of the position is more important than material
- Weaving a mating net can be an unstoppable route to win
Deep Calculation will win many gamesDespite the undoubtedly brilliant technique employed by Fischer, 17...Be6 is often cited as "the move" of the game of the century, which actually takes a lot away from the superb depth of calculation from Fischer.
Amid the sea of potential "normal moves", hardly any player would even think to look for 11...Na4!! - why would you - putting a knight en prise for no immediate material gain. In fact, it even leads to a position with dead even material but small pawn weakness - now that's GM level chess!
Understand the position, don't always worry about materialWithout delay, playing 13...Nxe4 and 14...Qb6 says "go on, take f8 - I'll have a powerful bishop on the dark squares for a passive rook" - amazing insight, especially for a 13-year-old!
In short, throughout the game, Fischer uses textbook chess understanding to utilise all tactical resources to completely take the initiative in what looked at first to be a very level game.
A good mating net will catch you a kingTo summarise, the final mating sequence is almost a symphony of minor pieces. After 36. Kf1, a player of Donald Byrne's standard would have known his number was up but the finish is really pleasing. The final position is so good we want to show it again:
What do you think?A simply superlative game of chess - this really had everything, don't you think?