Classic Game – Fischer – Spassky WCh 1972 – Game 3 – Benoni

Game 3 - Son of sorrow!

Standing Start

The game is annotated in detail below:

Due to a blunder in game 1 - Super Blooper and a forfeit in game 2 by not turning up, Fischer went into this third game 0-2 down. To be willing to go all out for the win shows Fischer's belief in his ability.

The Game

As stated in the Film "Bobby Fischer against the world", the Benoni, known as the son of sorrow (from the Hebrew "Ben oni") is a provocative opening, aimed at quickly going for significant imbalances.

White gets a space advantage with a stronghold on d5 and lots of space for his pieces to develop.

Black has lots of potential to open the game up in his favour and will often exploit the power of his bishop on g7. The knight f6-h5!? manoeuvre was this game's real novelty!

Son of sorrow

A lonely brave fighter goes in for a provocative opening 2-0 down

[Event "Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match"] [Site "Reykjavik ISL"] [Date "1972.07.16"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "3"] [Result "0-1"] [White "Spassky, Boris V"] [Black "Fischer, Robert James"] [ECO "A61"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "82"] 1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 c5 4. d5 exd5 5. cxd5 d6 6. Nc3 g6 7. Nd2 {white is reorganising his pieces to strengthen the e4-d5 hold} Nbd7 8. e4 Bg7 9. Be2 O-O 10. O-O Re8 11. Qc2 Nh5 {this really is a novelty - voluntarily allowing his pawns to be shattered - in exchange, black has the bishop pair and white cannot easily win h5 which can then be used to upset the white's king cover!} 12. Bxh5 gxh5 13. Nc4 Ne5 14. Ne3 (14. Ne5 Be5 15. f4?! Bd4 {and all the levers belong to black}) Qh4 {Black aims all his pieces to the kingside - the basic plans will be to liberate his queenside with pawns on a6 and b5 and aim his pieces towards the kingside pawns} 15. Bd2 Ng4 16. Nxg4 {now the pawn weakness is gone} hxg4 17. Bf4 {white's centre is strong but there is no lever - often an e5 break is helpful but black's development is complete and he owns the e5 square. Whilst white isn't under serious fire, he has no weaknesses to hit in the black camp, especially since the long range Be2 is now gone!} Qf6 18. g3 Bd7 19. a4 b6 20. Rfe1 a6 21. Re2 b5 {often once black has his development complete and he can get b5 in, he is doing really well!} 22. Rae1 Qg6 23. b3 Re7 24. Qd3 Rb8 25. axb5 axb5 26. b4 c4 27. Qd2 Rbe8 28. Re3 h5 29. R3e2 Kh7 30. Re3 Kg8 31. R3e2 Bxc3{time to crystallise the advantage and win a pawn on e4} 32. Qxc3 Rxe4 33. Rxe4 Rxe4 34. Rxe4 Qxe4 35. Bh6 Qg6 36. Bc1 Qb1 37. Kf1 Bf5 38. Ke2 Qe4+ 39. Qe3 Qc2+ 40. Qd2 Qb3 41. Qd4 Bd3+ {white now resigned due to:} 42. Kd2 (42. Ke3 Qd1 {and any attempts to save the bishop lead to mate:} 43. Bb2 Qf3 44. Kd2 Qe2 45. Kc1 Qe1 {or 45...Qc2#}) Qc2 43. Ke3 Qc1

What can we learn from this game?

Colour brain

Utter creativity is needed to really tip the balance at the top level

  • If you're all out for the win, you have to take chances
  • Just because it's not classical, doesn't mean it's not good
  • Building up the pressure

To play for a win, you need to take risks

Fischer was 2-0 down and had to play something to show Spassky he was up for a fight. Up until this game, Fischer had a negative score against Boris son had to throw down the gauntlet.

The Benoni leads to unclear positions where both sides can go wrong easily. Sharp play is the order of the day - a great choice for an important game.

Non-standard moves can work!

Fischer's 11...Nh5 was out there and leads to shattered pawns which ordinarily would create a weakness. However, a weakness is only so, if it is able to be exploited. As Fischer quickly got his Queen to h4 and Knight to g4, this weakness disappeared and Spassky was then on the back-foot.

Build up your advantage before crystallising!

As in Game 5, the wall , Fischer developed all his pieces and pawns to their optimal squares before going into a better ending.

31...Bxc3 was played at the right moment. Despite going into an opposite coloured bishop ending, Fischer's activity was too much and the resulting position ends with Spassky losing in all lines.

This made the score 1-2 and Fischer was back in the game!

All Games from the 1972 World Championship

Re-live the drama of Reykjavik! The entire 1972 game collection is available here.