Fischer – Spassky 1972 – Game 8 – 1-0 – Mirror Man

Game 8 - Mirror Man

After the beautiful display in "Game 6", Fischer once again tries his hand at 1. c4 - taking Spassky out of his well research replies to 1. e4, which would be the expected choice for Bobby.

Spassky goes in for a known line which is a tough nut to crack - the Symmetrical English - black copies white's opening, hoping to sustain only a minimal disadvantage which may turn into a draw or at least an equal game.

The Game

After a hard fought exciting draw in game 7, 1. c4 c5 must have felt like a sure draw but Fischer capitalises on a slip or two and steers a winning exchange up game to the full point in short order.
Mirror Fox

Mirror Image - A wily fox knows not to trust everything in the mirror

[Event "Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match 1972"] [Site "Reykjavik"] [Date "1972.07.27"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "8"] [Result "1-0"] [White "Fischer, Robert James"] [Black "Spassky, Boris"] [ECO "A39"] 1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. g3 g6 5. Bg2 Bg7 6. O-O O-O 7. d4 {Fischer breaks the symmetry in the time-honoured way!} cxd4 (7...d5?! 8. dxc5! (8. cxd5 {can hold complete equality, it seems} cxd4?! 9. Nxd4 Nxd5 10. Nxd5 Nxd4 11. Bg5 Bg4 12. Nxe7 Kh8 13. Ng6 hxg6 14. Bxd8 Nxe2 15. Kh1 Nxg3 16. hxg3) 8...dxc4 9. Qa4 {breaks the symmetry with an edge, since} 9...Qa5 {can be easily met with} 10. Qxa5) 8. Nxd4 Nxd4 9. Qxd4 d6 10. Bg5 Be6 11. Qf4 Qa5 12. Rac1 Rab8 13. b3 {battle lines are drawn - black wants to undermine white's pawn majority on the queenside with the a and b pawns/white has more space and will try to squeeze out an advantage} Rfc8 14. Qd2 a6 15. Be3 b5 {committing the exchange for the break up of the queenside} (15...Rc7 {was the machine-like alternative}) 16. Ba7 bxc4 17. Bxb8 Rxb8 18. bxc4 Bxc4 {black has a bishop pair and extra d pawn for the exchanged rook - Fischer soon trades queens to emphasise his advantage} 19. Rfd1 Nd7 20. Nd5 Qxd2 21. Nxe7+ Kf8 22. Rxd2 Kxe7 23. Rxc4 Rb1+ 24. Bf1 Nc5 25. Kg2 a5 26. e4 Ba1 27. f4 f6 28. Re2 Ke6 29. Rec2 Bb2 30. Be2 h5 31. Rd2 Ba3 32. f5+ gxf5 33. exf5+ Ke5 34. Rcd4 Kxf5 35. Rd5+ Ke6 36. Rxd6+ Ke7 37. Rc6 1-0

What can we learn from this game?

Mirror Dancer

Obsession with mirrored - symmetry is not healthy in chess

  • Symmetry is not equality
  • Exchanges are risky
  • Important to break up defences

Symmetry is not equality

Many of the earliest chess positions saw black striving for equality by playing in the mirror image of white - of course if it were that easy we could all draw against the GMs!

Important to know when to steer from the symmetry into more rich play - Fischer's d4 is the standard approach in this English opening.

After 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 Nxe4?! 4. Qe2 Qe7 black cannot blindly follow 5. Qxe4 with 5...Qxe5?? so must accept the loss of a pawn with 5...d6 6. d4 dxe5 7. dxe5

Exchanges are risky

In the game, Spassky went in for an exchange sacrifice - this meant white wasted time to win material whilst black got the desired break-up of the white queen-side pawns.

Of course the strategy is sensible enough but the compensation in the form of the two bishops and additional (non-passed) d pawn wasn't enough compensation for the rook given and white made short work of the rest.

Important to break up defences

Despite being an exchange down, Spassky made it tough for Fischer to smash through.

We saw some great ideas from Bobby to really make those rooks count:

  • 27. f4 creating space for his king to breathe
  • the pawn split up with 32. f5+
With this break-up, black was left with isolated, weak pawns which the white rooks would soon pick off! This made the score 5-3.

All Games from the 1972 World Championship

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

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