A Fischer Defence

If you ask chess players what was Fischer’s defence against 1.d4, most would say the King’s Indian Defence (KID). A few would also say the Gruenfeld as well (remember the “Game of the Century” they might yell out).

But Fischer also had a third option, one which he used for surprise and special occasions. That defence is known as the Benoni and is characterized as 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5. Black intends to strike on the queenside and is willing to sacrifice a pawn to gain a powerful attacking position from that side of the board.

Some games from the Great One.

GM Pomar-GM Fischer
Havana Ol.
Cuba, 1966
[Note: Fischer had to play all his games in this event by telephone due to US restrictions on trade and travel to Cuba. Consequently, all his games took longer to finish than most of the others.]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Be2 Bg7 8.f4 O-O 9.Nf3 Re8 10.Nd2 c4 11.Bf3 Nbd7 12.O-O b5 13.Kh1 a6 14.a4 Rb8 15.axb5 axb5 16.e5 dxe5 17.Nde4 Nxe4 18.Nxe4 Nf6 19.d6 Be6 20.Nc5 e4 21.Nxe4 Nxe4 22.Bxe4 Qb6 23.f5 gxf5 24.Bc2 Qd4 25.Qh5 Qg4 26.Qxg4 fxg4 27.Bg5 Bxb2 28.Rad1 b4 29.d7 Red8 30.Ba4 b3 31.Rfe1 Kg7 32.Bxd8 Rxd8 33.Rd6 Bf6 34.Red1 Bg5 35.Rb6 h6 36.Rc6 Ra8 37.Bb5 Bxd7 38.h4 Bxc6 39.Bxc6 c3 40.hxg5 c2 41.gxh6+ Kh8 0-1

Miguel Cuellar-GM Fischer
Sousse Izt.
Tunisia, 1967
[Hans Kmoch, “Games from Recent Events”, Chess Review, Jan. 1968.]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.e4 g6 7.Nf3 Bg7 8.Bg5
(Recent experiences with this move are discouraging.) 8…h6 9.Bf4 g5 10.Bc1 (Understandably, White dislikes both trading the Bishop for Knight by 10.Bg3 Nh5 or 10.Be3 Ng4 and 10.Bd2 interfering with his intended Nd2. So the Bishop has, if one may put it so, achieved a but less than nothing.) 10…O-O 11.Nd2 Nbd7 12.Be2 Ne5 13.Nf1 (Apparently hoping to exploit the hole on f5, White again loses time. He ought to castle instead.) 13…b5 (An excellent pawn sacrifice. Here Fischer shows his extra sense for grasping any attacking possibility.) 14.Bxb5 (Declining the sacrifice by 14.Ng3 is no better because of 14…Qa5! 15.O-O and Black has either 15…b4 16.Nb1 c4 17.Nd2 c3 18.bxc3 bxc3 etc., or 15…Bd7 followed possibly by 16.a4 b4 17.Nb1 c4 18.Nd2 Rfc8 19.Qc2 Qc5 etc.) 14…Qa5 15.Ng3 (Black wins on 15.Bd3 Nxd3+ 16.Qxd3 Nxe4 17.Qxe4 Bxc3+ 18.Bd2 Bxd2+ 19.Nxd2 Ba6.) 15…c4 16.O-O Rb8 17.Qa4 Qxa4 18.Bxa4 Nd3 (The swap of Queens has changed the situation, but little. Black has a strong initiative for his Pawn.) 19.Bb5 (A better defense is 19.Rb1 Then 19…Ng4 threatens 20…Bxc3 but is met by 20.Bc2.) 19…Ng4 20.Nge2 Nxc1 21.Raxc1 Ne5 22.b3 cxb3 23.axb3 a6 24.Ba4 Nd3 25.Rc2 f5 26.Ng3 (White makes matters worse: 26.exf5 Bxf5 27.Rd2 is necessary.) 26…f4! 27.Nge2 f3 28.Ng3 fxg2 29.Kxg2 Bg4! (Now Black has positional advantages which must win one way or another.)

30.Nf5 (White loses a piece: but the plausible 30.f3 also loses quickly because of 30…Bxf3+! and 31.Kh3 31…Nf4# or 31.Rxf3 Ne1+ or 31.Kg1 Bd4+ etc. 30.Nd1 may hold out longer but not really for long.) 30…Nf4+ 31.Kg3 (There is no difference after 31.Kg1 but 31.Kh1 allows mate in two.) 31…Bxf5 32.exf5 Bxc3 33.Kf3 (Or 33.Rxc3 Ne2+, and the damage amounts to a full Rook.) 33…Be5 34.Ke4 Rb4+ 35.Rc4 Rfb8 36.f6 Kf7 37.Kf5 Rxc4 38.bxc4 Ne2 39.Re1 Nd4+ 40.Kg4 h5+ 41.Kh3 Kxf6 0-1

Damjanovic-GM Fischer
Buenos Aires, 1970
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nc6 5.Nc3 g6 6.e4 d6 7.Be2 Nxd4 8.Qxd4 Bg7 9.Be3 O-O 10.Qd2 Be6 11.f3 Rc8 12.Nd5 Nd7 13.O-O Nc5 14.Rac1 a5 15.b3 Bxd5 16.cxd5 Qb6 17.Rc4 Qa7 18.Rc2 Bh6 19.f4 Rc7 20.g3 b6 21.Rfc1 Bg7 22.Bb5 Qa8 23.Qe2 e5 24.dxe6 fxe6 25.Rd1 Rd8 26.Bd4 Bxd4+ 27.Rxd4 e5 28.fxe5 dxe5 29.Rxd8+ Qxd8 30.Bc4+ Kg7 31.Bd5 Nd7 32.Qf2 Rxc2 33.Qxc2 b5 34.Kg2 b4 35.Qc6 Nf6 36.Kf3 Qd7 37.Qxd7+ Nxd7 38.Ke3 Kf6 39.Kd3 Nb6 40.Bc6 Ke7 41.h4 h6 42.Ke3 Nc8 43.Kd3 Nd6 44.Ke3 Kd8 45.Kd3 Kc7 46.Ba4 Kb6 47.Ke3 Kc5 48.Bd7 Kb6 49.Ba4 Kc7 50.Kd3 Kd8 51.Bc6 Ke7 52.Ke3 Ke6 53.Kf3 Kf6 54.g4 g5 55.h5 Ke7 56.Ke3 Kd8 57.Kd3 Kc7 58.Ba4 Kb6 59.Bd7 Kc5 60.Ba4 Nc8 61.Be8 Ne7 62.Ke3 Ng8 63.Bd7 Nf6 64.Bf5 Kb5 65.Kd3 a4 66.bxa4+ Kxa4 67.Kc4 Ka3 68.Kc5 Kxa2 69.Kxb4 Kb2 70.Kc5 Kc3 71.Kd6 Kd4 72.Ke6 Nxe4 73.Kf7 Nf2 74.Kg6 e4 75.Kxh6 e3 76.Kg7 e2 77.h6 e1=Q 0-1

GM Reshevsky-GM Fischer
Palma de Mallorca, 1970
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.Nf3 cxd4 4.Nxd4 e6 5.Nc3 Bb4 6.e3 Ne4 7.Qc2 Nxc3 8.bxc3 Be7 9.Be2 O-O 10.O-O a6 11.f4 d6 12.f5 exf5 13.Nxf5 Bxf5 14.Qxf5 Nd7 15.Bf3 Qc7 16.Rb1 Rab8 17.Bd5 Nf6 18.Ba3 Rfe8 19.Qd3 Nxd5 20.cxd5 b5 21.e4 Bf8 22.Rb4 Re5 23.c4 Rbe8 24.cxb5 axb5 25.Kh1 Qe7 26.Qxb5 Rxe4 27.Rxe4 Qxe4 28.Qd7 Qf4 29.Kg1 Qd4+ 30.Kh1 Qf2 0-1

GM Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch.
Reykjavík, Iceland, 1972
Game #3
[This was the first time ever that Fischer beat Spassky in a game. Immediately following this victory Fischer went on a rampage to win the title.]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 c5 4.d5 exd5 5.cxd5 d6 6.Nc3 g6 7.Nd2 Nbd7 8.e4 Bg7 9.Be2 0-0 10.0-0 Re8 11.Qc2 Nh5!?
(A seemingly antipositional move allows White to shatter Black’s kingside pawn structure, but Fischer’s attack proves to be unstoppable as Spassky could not find all the right moves.)

12.Bxh5 gxh5

[It is difficult to state what is the best move for White here. One try is 13.h3 h4 14.a4, placing some pressure on the wings.

Vladimir Burmakin (2493)-Sergey Kravtsov (2406), Russian Cup, Tula, 2001 continued with 14.a4 Kh8!? 15.f4 f5 16.Nf3 fxe4 17.Ng5 Bd4+ 18.Kh1 Qf6 19.f5 e3 20.Nce4 Rxe4 21.Nxe4 Qh6 22.Ra3 Nb6 23.Rxe3 Bxe3 24.Qc3+ Qg7 25.f6 Qf8 26.Qxe3 Nxd5 27.Qd3 Nb4 28.Qxd6 Qxd6 29.Nxd6 Bd7 30.Bh6 1-0


Aleksey Ivlev (2259)-Daniil Yuffa (2527), Russia Blitz Ch., Sochi, Oct. 2 2017 continued instead with 13.Nf3 (On the whole, this looks like a better move than 13.h3 as above.) 13…Ne5 14.Nxe5 Bxe5 15.Ne2 h4 16.Bf4 Bxf4 17.Nxf4 Qg5 18.g3 h3 19.f3 Bd7 20.Rae1 h5 21.Kh1 Re7 -/+ 22.Nd3 Rae8 23.e5 Bf5 24.f4 Qg6 25.Re3 dxe5 26.fxe5 Bxd3 27.Qxd3 Qxd3 28.Rxd3 Rxe5 29.d6 Re2 30.Rd5 Rf2 31.Rg1 0-1.]

13.Nc4 Ne5 14.Ne3 Qh4 15.Bd2 (15.Ne2!? was possible – Zaitsev) 15…Ng4 16.Nxg4 hxg4 17.Bf4 Qf6 18.g3 Bd7 19.a4 b6 20.Rfe1 a6 21.Re2 b5 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 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+! 0–1

GM Boris Spassky-GM Fischer
World Ch.?*
Sveti Stefan & Belgrade
Yugoslavia, Oct. 10 1992
Game 16
[* – This event is not universally recognized as World Championship by FIDE, the USCF and most other international and national chess organizations. To be fair, this event would be best characterized as an exhibition match. For more information, consult the various Inside Chess issues that covered this event in greater detail. Now on to the game!]
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 d6 4.Nc3 g6 5.e4 Bg7 6.Bg5 h6 7.Bh4 g5 8.Bg3 Qa5 9.Bd3 Nxe4 10.Bxe4 Bxc3+ 11.bxc3 Qxc3+ 12.Kf1 f5 13.Rc1 Qf6 14.h4 g4 15.Bd3 f4 16.Ne2 fxg3 17.Nxg3 Rf8 18.Rc2 Nd7 19.Qxg4 Ne5 20.Qe4 Bd7 21.Kg1 O-O-O 22.Bf1 Rg8 23.f4 Nxc4 24.Nh5 Qf7 25.Qxc4 Qxh5 26.Rb2 Rg3 27.Be2 Qf7 28.Bf3 Rdg8 29.Qb3 b6 30.Qe3 Qf6 31.Re2 Bb5 32.Rd2 e5 33.dxe6 Bc6 34.Kf1 Bxf3 0-1

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