1972 World Chess Championship: Fischer vs. Spassky – Ruy Lopez

1972 World Chess Championship: Fischer vs. Spassky – Ruy Lopez

Hi everyone, this is Jerry. This is a game
from the 1972 World Chess Championship between Bobby Fischer and Boris Spassky. It’s a Round
10 game, Fischer had the white pieces and opened with e4, “best by test” as he would
say. Spassky plays e5, knight f3, knight c6, and bishop to b5. So this indicates the Ruy
Lopez or Spanish game. Pressure on the knight, indirect pressure on the pawn. I’ll just be
showing some alternative variations. There is a lot to know with the Ruy Lopez, there
is a lot of theory on it. I’ll just be touching on some what-ifs. In the game we saw a6, but
what if knight f6? Pressure against e4. We could see white simply castling and black
opting to go for the Berlin Defense, grabbing on e4 and the following sequence of moves
coming about where the end result looking on the black side and black’s deficiencies,
is that the black king is uncastled and has a little messed up pawn structure, but as
compensation has the bishop pair in an open position which is usually an asset. So that’s
a little trade-off that would occur from that position. But we don’t see that, but instead
a6 chases the bishop back to a4. One other quick note, if you try to grab this pawn like
this, queen d4 is played, these two are hit, the pawn will be regained. So that’s why we
see bishop back. And now knight f6, hitting e4. White simply ignores that threat and castles
in this game. Bishop e7 was played. But again what if knight takes pawn? This indicates
the Tarrasch variation. Can this pawn be taken for free without black getting killed? Well,
the answer is no but you have to know how to react to that sort of move. d4 to just
try and open up this position at a moment where white is ahead in development and the
black king has yet to castle. This e-file is really going to come into play in this
sort of variation. b5, bishop b3, and now an important point in this position as black.
You can’t be greedy, you can’t just go ahead and grab pawns like this. That’ll be met with
rook e1 and you are in an uncomfortable pin. How to really meet this threat against your
knight which is unprotected and pinned? d5 can be met sharply with knight c3, and if
you grab my knight, I’m going to grab the pawn, and for those of you who are jujitsu
fans you’ll know that black from this position will be “tapping out” very shortly. These
two knights are hit directly, this rook is hit indirectly all by just one white piece,
and this knight is really just doomed. He’s really caught in a crossfire, hit by both
the bishop and rook. So it’s just bad news for black from this position, not to be recommended
going into this specific variation. However from this point right here instead of taking
the pawn we could see simply d5, a much better response opting to allow the bishop to come
to this e6 square as well as allow this pawn to support this e4 knight. After pawn takes
pawn, just to summarize it very briefly: the material has been restored and it’s just a
much more playable position for sure. We don’t see this, we don’t see the Tarrasch variation
but instead black opts for bishop to e7, more development. And it is at this point that
black is maybe getting ready to really grab that pawn and hang onto it. So only at this
point here does white choose to go ahead and defend this pawn. What’s interesting to note
is that there are other ways to go ahead and watch over e4. You could play d3, watches
over e4, you could play knight c3. Both of these outlined moves that I have in blue watch
this over e4 pawn, so why aren’t they played? In the Ruy Lopez, it’s important for you to
know what sort of plan to implement, what sort of middle game strategy should you try
to undertake. Knowing this thing will allow you to know why rook to e1 is the preferred
move from such a position. Here is what you want to do as white: you want to make a move
like pawn to c3, followed by pawn to d4. You want to establish two pawns in the center
on these two specific squares and “maintain” them on those two squares for as long as you
can. And I emphasize “maintain” for a very important reason which I will get to later.
c3 is played for a couple reasons, again to support this d4 advance as well as provide
a cubbyhole for this bishop on the c2 square. And taking that into account… if that’s
what we want to do, it stands to reason that that’s why we shouldn’t make a move like knight
to c3, because we want to have our pawn here, and we don’t play pawn to d3 because we don’t
want this pawn to play the role of a defensive piece. Its aspirations are to get to d4 where
it is an aggressive piece putting pressure on this e5 pawn. So with that in mind, that’s
why we’re seeing the move rook to e1. One additional benefit of this rook move to e1
is that f1 is vacated so that this sort of knight type of maneuver is possible. It’s
often the case that in this opening the position will close up, and when that occurs, maneuvering
type of moves just in general are more likely to occur. And so you could see the knight
take this sort of journey where it starts on b1 of course and it ends up on g3 with
its ideal square focusing on this f5 point, a soft point in the black position. So those
are some things to be aware of. This is why we are playing rook here because we want to
take into account what white’s plan is going to be and we’re also vacating f1 for our b1
knight. At this point white is actually getting ready to go ahead and chop on c6 and then
on e5 and simply be up pawn. If black castles at this point we could just go ahead and go
for this. And notice how this move here, queen d4 it’s not the same. White has clearly done
some more development prior to grabbing the pawn. There is no queen takes pawn from this
variation the rook is of course watching over it. So after rook to e1, now we see this pawn
to b5 move chasing the bishop to b3. And now black opts to play d6. What’s interesting
to me is why d6 is played here opposed to just castling. Castling will allow black to
at least consider going into the Marshall Attack. For example: if c3 is played here
black could, you know if you are an aggressive player as black you could be making this pawn
to d5 move, giving up pawn in exchange for pressure against the white king. These are
the moves that you would see played: c6, a move like bishop d6, the queen could jet out
to h4 to try and induce some pawn move for white… try to induce some sort of pawn advance
which creates a weakness against a white king who is lacking defensive pieces. More specifically,
look at the queen side, just take a quick glance, none of them have been moved. So white
is lagging in development. So that’s really where a lot of the compensation lies from
such a variation. We’re not seeing this but again that’s just something that kind of interests
me here after bishop b3… why not just simply castle and at least reserve the option to
play d6 or d5. But nevertheless what we see is just d6 here, and now c3 and only then
castle. So keeping in mind what we want to do, we want to play this d4 move, however
we don’t want to play it just yet, and there is a big reason why. If we play d4 right now,
what black can do is play bishop g4. And the word that I was previously emphasizing is
this word “maintained”. Not only do we want to establish two pawns on d4 and e4 but we
want to be able to maintain them there for as long as we can. There is a big reason for
this, and it’s because this pawn on d4 is the one who could really change the pawn structure
whenever it wants. It could capture on e5 or it could push forward. Or let me just back
up… after bishop g4 it could capture on e5 and open up the position, or it could opt
to play d5 and close up the position. Being in that sort of set up where you have the
option to really change the pawn structure… to open the position up, or to close the position
really makes a big deal. Because for as long as you keep black guessing what you’re going
to do, it’s very difficult for black to meet those sorts of ideas. You know, will white
open up the position or is white going to close up the position? We really want to keep
black guessing for as long as we can. But if we play d4 right away like this, bishop
g4 will do what’s referred to as “resolve this tension in the center”. This tension
cannot be maintained because of the pressure that’s now being placed on the white position.
More specifically this knight on f3 is a critical defender of this d4 square, and with this
bishop not only getting ready to take this knight… for example let me just play a nothing
type of move if a3 is played, if bishop takes knight we can’t recapture with the queen because
we’re going to lose on d4, and if we capture like this well notice how we’ve weakened our
own king side structure. So in other words, it’s important to insert this move right here
for white, instead of d4 right away, we want to play h3 to prevent this bishop from coming
here because again, not only do we want to establish pawns here in the center, but we
want to maintain them there for as long as we can. So, knight b8 seems a bit awkward.
That goes into what’s known as the Breyer variation, knight to b8. It’s intention is
to reposition itself on this d7 square, have the knights connected and also it allows for
this c5 advance. So notice for as long as the knight is on c6 this pawn can of course
not move at all. So the knight move allows this pawn on c7 to advance where it could
then meet this, you know challenge this pawn that white is going to be placing on d4 very
soon. One other variation, black and go for knight a5, and bishop here followed by c5.
We could see d4, queen c7. This is another way to go about things. But we are not seeing
that. Instead the Breyer variation, knight b8 followed by knight b to d7 will be in effect.
And only now d4, so finally we’ve made all the prep moves necessary, c3, h3, and only
now d4. Knight b to d7, essentially a developing move right… underdeveloped and now we have
to get it back into play. Knight b to d2 and bishop to b7. Notice how by putting pressure
immediately on this point right here, black is restraining this d2 knight. I was mentioning
earlier that this knight would like to get to f1, maybe g3. But we can’t do that just
yet, that pawn will fall. So by putting pressure on the white center, we stop this sort of
maneuver. Bishop back to c2, lends a supporter of this e4 point and also allows this pawn
to come to b4. White is anticipating that black will be playing c5. So white wants to
get this b-pawn involved in the fight for control of the center. Rook e8 getting ready
to tuck the bishop here where the rook would then add potential pressure against this e4
pawn. b4, bishop back allows again the rook to see this pawn here, and now we see a4.
Again a move like knight to f1 can’t be played because after capture, this pawn is hit three
times and will be won next. So knight to f1 is out. Instead we see pawn to a4, striking
at this pawn. This rook pawn is hitting a knight pawn, and this a-file can potentially
open up on white’s terms. Knight b6 looks to resolve this tension, and Fischer opts
to simply play a5. One other alternative, you know white can go ahead and capture like
this but I think black would be the side that’s in a better position to cope with the tension
that is now going on between these two rooks. Black can simply maybe make a move like queen
d7, and then the rooks would be in direct contact with one another. For example: bishop
b2, queen here. These rooks are in direct contact with one another. The white queen
is interfering with these rooks for the moment. And you may very well see maybe a move like
knight to a4 causing maybe white some problems since it would be hitting this bishop and
pawn right here. You may very well see white having to give this bishop up for the knight.
So that’s why we’re maybe not seeing this pawn exchange right here in this position,
but instead a5. If the knight goes here that’ll just run into the loss of a pawn. So a5 kicks
the knight back to d7. It may seem insignificant but the knight coming to b6, a5, and then
the knight going back to d7. Its main purpose was just to resolve the tension that was going
on between those two pawns. Bishop b2 gets the last minor piece involved, and it looks
a little bit awkwardly placed because it’s just staring at its own pawn. But in anticipation
of this advance here, soon enough this bishop will be able to see the black position a little
bit more clearly. So queen b8 an interesting move. What’s its intention? To watch over
this e5 pawn in a very indirect way. There’s some more work that needs to be done before
the queen is watching over e5 directly. This pawn will have to move, this pawn on d6 will
have to move, but this is the idea that’s in mind with this queen b8 maneuver. Rook
to b1, a little bit of an awkward move. What is its purpose? To watch over this bishop
in anticipation of what black will be wanting to do. What does black want to do in this
position? He wants to get this c7 pawn involved. If black doesn’t make that sort of move, what
more really is there in the position. So what we do see is c5. We have a series of exchanges,
and soon enough this bishop which looked dumb on b2 springs to life. We have a bunch of
exchanges going on on e5. After the queen recaptures, pawn to c4. So what was the purpose
of rook b1? Watch over this bishop so it’s protected and this c4 move could come about.
The queen is now hit. Queen f4, and now the bishop simply grabs this knight. I’m not sure
what else could be played here. If pawn takes pawn, that could run into some trouble with
maybe this sort of pin. The knight is hit once. Maybe there is this pin going on. Right?
How to really meet that threat, and maybe this knight could grab here on the next turn.
So that’s why we’re not seeing that sort of capture go on, pawn takes pawn because of
the pressure that could be placed on this d2 knight. Instead bishop takes knight, queen
takes bishop, and only now pawn takes pawn. And rook on e to d8, a very sharp move looking
to, well first and foremost placing the knight in a pin, but black is now getting ready to
place this queen very deep in the white position where she really radiates, really shows herself
quite well hitting this knight again and also hitting this a5 pawn. So white simply gets
out of that pin right away, and queen c3 hits this knight for a second time. We can play
this nice regrouping type of move, moving to its most natural square a classical square
on f3. And after queen takes pawn we see bishop to b3. This is an interesting move, you know
with this tension between these two pawns you may very well be tempted as white to maybe
just grab this pawn here but Fischer is starting to look at this king here and how this point
on f7, this pawn on f7 is a bit vulnerable. If you could attack it once and maybe a second
time that starts to be an issue and sure enough in this game pressure starts to mount against
this pawn right here on f7. So let’s start out first with bishop b3, places that pawn
in a pin, and after pawn takes pawn we have queen to f4. So this pawn is hit twice, some
calculation was of course needed with this sequence of moves bishop b3, queen f4. What
calculation exactly? Well you have to know how to cope with this move here of course.
Normally if there weren’t any tactics in this position, this c4 move would just slam a door
in this bishop’s face. But we could just capture like this and then the rook is there to just
come to the seventh rank and cause some more problems for black. Queen f4 is played, this
move is out of the question and now we have rook d7 adding a supporter. Knight e5 attacking
the rook and the pawn. So we are just piling up on f7 at this point. The queen comes back
to defend f7 indirectly and place the knight in a pin against the queen. And now we have
rook b to d1. This is a very important point in the game. We can’t just make any rook move.
This rook on e1 is contributing in some way to the position; it’s watching over e4. This
rook, it’s only intention previously was to watch over a bishop that was on b2. It has
finished its duty in doing that, so it’s time to get that rook involved. That’s why we’re
seeing rook b to d1. And after rook to e7, we have a series of exchanges occurring on
f7, and we quickly arrive at an endgame position which is unbalanced. We have these two pawns
which are together. They are connected passed pawns. And we end up having an unbalanced
position where Fischer is able to show some really good technique in bringing the point
home. Bishop takes pawn, rook takes bishop, so a series of exchanges, and at this point
bishop takes pawn here. If king takes knight, we just have rook check and grab the bishop.
So taking on e4 first will allow black to gain additional material prior to grabbing
on f7. So bishop takes, rook takes, king takes and now rook on the seventh giving a check,
and king to f6. So essentially what you want to do as white in this position is restrain
these guys from pressing forward. So ideally the rook came here not to just check, but
it really wants to get to this b7 square. It wants to get behind these pawns to prevent
them from pressing forward. So rook b7, rook check, king h2, bishop d6 check, g3, and now
b4. So finally the threat rook takes b5 was met. And now what do we do with the endgame?
We get our kings involved, king g2. h5, I’m not quite sure what that does. Maybe just
prevents this g4 move from coming about. It’s really difficult to suggest good moves for
black in this position because these white rooks are placed very well. They are really
stopping the black pawns from advancing. Neither move could come about without the loss of
material for black. So just rook b6 really just trying to tie black up as best you can.
The bishop is now pinned so the rook moves there to defend. King f3, king back to get
out of the pin, king e2. This rook is lacking squares. It really could only go to d5 to
still be in direct contact with the bishop, and f4. We have a three versus two majority.
So we have to get these three pawns rolling, so that’s why we’re seeing this advancement
f4. We are going to see g4 as well. In the meantime what can black do? Not a whole lot,
in fact this rook right here doesn’t have any reasonable moves. Any moves would result
in the loss of material. So black has to resort to this sort of pawn move. Black is very close
to just being in zugzwang. I guess there could be a move like bishop back here but really
nothing concrete is coming about with the black moves here. So g6, g4, we have the exchange
of pawns, and now g5 looking to just grab the last of the white pawns. Maybe after something
like this, maybe if black could grab this pawn here at some point. Of course this bishop
is hanging but ideally what black would like to do in this position is really just trade
all of the white pawns and just get into an ending where it’s the rook and bishop versus
the two white rooks. That’s a much more drawable sort of position. So in response to g5, Fischer
wants to maintain those pawns on the board so that’s why we see f5. Bishop to e5 preventing
this rook from maybe making use of e6. In fact there could very well be threats like
rook b7, and if the king comes here that would actually run into mate with rook to e6. So
the bishop to e5 move stops the rook from accessing these squares here. So rook b5 pins
this pawn to the rook which allows this move right here rook takes pawn. And black is pretty
much in a bind right here. The move played was king to f6, allowing rook takes pawn.
But there really wasn’t a way to avoid it. For example if you move this bishop, we could
see rook check, king here. That’s really the only move right? Because if you go here you
get mated and if you go here you get mated. So this is the only move from this position.
And actually what we would see from here is a move like king to d3. Notice how we don’t
have to worry about this discovered check. The bishop can go wherever it wants. We have
all our pieces on light squares. This guy is not going to bother us at all. So the king
can kind of just shift over and alleviate this rook’s duty of watching over this pawn
from advancing. So this king can come to c2 and watch over this pawns advancement. And
in the meantime this rook could eventually come over in this direction and maybe threaten
to come here at some point, maybe get ready to press forward on f6. So things like that
are in the air if black isn’t careful. So considering those sorts of ideas that white
has, black is opting to just allow this sort of capture to occur. So king f6, rook grabs
the pawn and now bishop to d4. Grabbing the rook going into this endgame is simply lost.
Pawn here, rook here, pawn here, and the king is just going to sneak over here and just
grab this pawn next. These two pawns right here are connected. So it’s a big asset in
almost all pawn endings. This ending right here would be no exception. So we don’t see
that sort of exchange after rook pawn, simply bishop d4. White throws in a check here, king
to e5, and now a sharp move right here by Fischer, king to f3 threatening mate. There
is no time to grab this rook because of rook e6. So how to meet that? The rook simply retreats
allowing the king to make use of d5 in the event of a check. And now white offers these
rook exchanges. This is a good strategy… if you are up material, offer some exchanges.
So that’s what we have with this sequence of moves. And once these rooks are on this
position right here, now we have this possibility where the rook can come to g6, getting ready
to grab him and then it’s just going to be bad news for black. So finishing up we have
king d5, the rook grabs the pawn, bishop e5, f6 pins the bishop to the king. And after
king to d4, we have rook to b1. And from this position black resigns, and for good reason.
How to really meet this threat right here where the rook is getting ready to just check
the king and then grab the rook? There is really no convenient way to do it because
this king unfortunately from this position is tied down to having to defend this bishop
here. So if something like this occurs… just showing you one variation if bishop takes
pawn, we could simply see, really just pick your favorite variation, this would be one
of them: rook check, king here. We could just simply grab this pawn and then grab this rook,
and this is going to be a won game. So as it went in this game, after king to d4 and
rook to b1, Spassky ends up resigning. So that’s all for this video. Hope you are able
to take something away from it. Take care, bye.

100 thoughts on “1972 World Chess Championship: Fischer vs. Spassky – Ruy Lopez

  1. thumbs up if you went here after hearing on 48 laws of power how fischer went crying when he got beaten up by spassky!

  2. Awesome video that shows the difference between a humble human player and "super heavy-weight" GMIs … It's always frightening to see how it seems "easy" to play like Fischer … and realize u'll never be able to reach 1/20 of his genius 🙂

  3. Dude seriously i watched about 15 minutes and you just keep talking about opening theory…. zzz wanna sleep;D I came to watch a game not an opening;D

  4. Great, great commentary and analysis, but you've GOT to do something about that damn aspect ratio, assuming you haven't already done so with recent videos. The weird aspect ratio makes it hard to watch the screen. I checked – your squares are definitely not "square." They are approximately 75 pixels by approximately 56 pixels.

  5. bobby tortured by a yellow light

  6. 7:58 isnt d7 played in the first place to open the way for the bishop to pin down the knight? but why not just Bg4 after c3 instead of castle? u have a explanation for this? thanks

  7. Great tutorial! I'm a beginner and have NO game. I feel an urgency in each game to get all my pieces out from behind the pawns so I can use them freely. I sacrifice pawns without a second thought. Your video has helped me reconsider how to use some of these pieces. I play a computer program that is quite aggressive. It sacrifices it's queen if it means capturing MY queen. It's no holds barred, which may be why I'm throwing my pawns into the fire. Any advice for playing against aggressive?

  8. I'm still a fairly weak player, but I remember when I first started playing, I'd grab pawns with pawns any chance I'd get.

  9. 11:53 black plays Re8, white cuts the kingside pawn with his bishop, king takes, and then the white knight jumps to g5+ threatening the queen on e6, but the black king can simply retreat back to the safety of g8 and white ne6 attacks the black queen, but there's no check when the knight is on e6, so i don't get how the black queen is won??

  10. Yes, it's not check, but it doesn't have to be. The Queen is attacked by the Knight and can't move because it is completely boxed in by its own Knight, Rook, Pawn and both Bishops. (Remember, the WS Bishop is still on C8 in this variation, so the Queen can't escape along the back rank.)

  11. Chess lovers to preserve mathces like this. As opined by others in this column, Spassky wasn't the best nor Fisher even, as he refused to defend his title when he was to lock horns with Karpov.

  12. @ 11:52
    “If Re8 instead of Bb7, a TRAP is Bxf7. If KxB then Ng5-e6 wins the black queen! Otherwise BxR.” What if Kg8 or Kg5 after Ne6? how would this result in winning black queen? Sorry I don’t follow.

  13. Often you'll have to overprotect key pawns(like the 2 center ones or the KB pawn), that way you won't get your pieces in a bind where a sac can work on them.

  14. That Jiu-jutsu reference was good. If you have been practicing BJJ, you will realize they are a lot like. Just a little note there. Amazing vid keep up the good work!

  15. What I can't figure out is why the hell anyone would down-vote this video. It was informative, he went through answering the potential questions… did this guy just make a lot of enemies by being good at chess? Is that why Moriarty turned into a bad guy? Garrrrgggghhhh! Someone explain it to me!

  16. You are very good at analyzing the games and offering different strategies that each player could have used. It's very entertaining to watch your commentary. Thanks. ^^

  17. the tactic @ 11:51 only works if black moves the king back to f8. if they move to g8 you've kind of sacked your bishop for nothing.

  18. Question: 6:31 why not knight take, rook take, queen take and black is up material? I must be missing something obvious.

  19. FANTASTIC VIDEO! I don't know if I learned a lot, but I feel like I did. I certainly witnessed supergenius in action, and the narration accompaniment was excellent.

  20. Another fantastic game at highest performance level by Fischer. Also a very good tutorials on Ruy Lopez at beginners level

  21. 1:43 the answer is yes. White will regain the pawn but this variation has become quite popular at the top levels

  22. Why can't Black play 8. ..Bg4 after 8. c3? Why must he castle instead?
    You said that after 8. c3 O-O White should play 9. h3 instead of 9. d4 in order to prevent 9. ..Bg4, because with 9. ..Bg4 Black resolves the center situation.
    Why can't Black resolve the center tension with 8. ..Bg4 and why is not White forced to play 8. h3 instead of 8. c3 that was played in the game to prevent it?

  23. I'm looking for a game that i believe was Bobby's, in which he holds his queen on a4 or h4 i think for almost the interity of the game. It was a long time ago and i can't really remember.

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