Fischer's Endgame Masterpiece
Today, we will look at the precision with which Bobby Fischer won an endgame against Acevedo. His play is marked by accomplishing his plans while not giving the opponent a chance to breathe. The endgame is probably not among the most known ones that he played but still is infused with crystal clear ideas. In 1970, the year that this game was played, Fischer was almost at the top of his form – only two years later winning the World Championship.
Let us start by evaluating the position:
Black is much better due to more space, his rook occupying the open file, and better pieces. The pawn on e4 secures the space advantage for black and more importantly white cannot undermine it – so it is a permanent advantage for black. Black has the central pawns on the light squares and potentially can have all the kingside pawns on the light squares as well. It makes the light-squared bishop a limited one, thus it is favorable for black to exchange it. White on the other hand has trouble with the dark-squared bishop due to all his pawns being placed on dark squares. Exchanging the light-squared bishops would be a disaster for white because all the weakened light squares would no longer have protection. Black dominates the a-file and is ready to enter the 2nd rank. The knight on f2 cannot enter the game easily, while the knight on d6 has good prospects on the queenside. These factors define the black advantage. However! it is not a decisive one yet, and one still has to put a lot of work in to convert it.
In the first game I chose the winning black side. The position turned out to be harder to play than it looks and more than one time I not only let the advantage slip but gave white a solid edge. The idea of trading the light-squared bishop is a logical and correct one. The opening of the c- file turned out to be a suspicious decision, since I couldn’t keep control over it and white took it over. The game also showed what a power the black queen is when it is in white’s camp.
The following ideas are relevant:
- Trading light-squared bishops favors black because his pawns are on the light squares and the bishop is limited by them.
- White can cover the entrance squares a1 and a3 as well as c3 by transferring the bishop to b2.
- White’s position is bad, so changing the pawn structure or creating dynamic play should favor white. With 30.c4 white created enough counterplay to get an equal position.
- Black should have prevented the c4 move by playing c4 himself. It is good to keep the bishop on b2 lacked behind the pawns.
The next game turned out to be shorter than we expected. It is black who blundered after white put some tough problems before him. I had an idea of not trading the light-squared bishops right away for white so the only way is to play c4. With the c4 move I managed to open the d-file and take it over with Rd1 move. The pace of events in the game was too fast for my opponent to keep pace with. It disoriented him and he made a mistake that cost him the game. An important psychological advice: when you are better and your opponent tries to complicate matters stay calm and take extra time to adjust to the new positions that arise.
The ideas we can extract from this short game are:
- It is better for white not to trade the bishops right away but try to preserve it with the c4-move.
- Opening an extra line should benefit white because he has a rook to occupy it, while black’s rook is already controlling the a–file.
- Black should not be afraid to trade the last pawns on the queenside because he still has space advantage and an advantage due to the bad placement of white's knight.
You have seen two games that showed how the game could have developed, but now it is time to see the masterpiece created by Fischer. His plan started the same way as my two games but then he was extremely precise at executing it and finding a continuation that allowed white no counterplay. He also found a plan to bring his king over to finish the game after the initial plan.
For the next week we will look into an endgame from the recently concluded Moscow Open tournament. White to move.