15 May 2007

How to Explain Letelier - Fischer 1960?

Working on my latest 'Every Move Explained' article -- 1960 Leipzig - Letelier vs. Fischer -- I ran into a move I can't explain. The position, from game 21 of Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games, is shown in the following diagram.

White played 9.cxd6 and Fischer commented, 'White tries to compensate for his lack of development by continuing to snatch material. Instead he should be seeking to return the Pawn in the least damaging way (by keeping the lines closed). Better is 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Be2'

The game continued 9...exd6 10.Ne4. Here Fischer wrote that if 10.Nf3, he again intended 10...Bg4. My problem is that I don't see why 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Be2 (as suggested by Fischer) is better than 9.cxd6 exd6 (as played) 10.Nf3 Bg4 11.Be2. If anything, it looks worse.

Liepzig 1960
Olympiad Prelim

Fischer, Robert J.

Letelier, Rene
(After 8...Nb8-c6)
[FEN "r1bqnrk1/pp2ppbp/2np2p1/2P1P3/2P2P2/2N1B3/PP4PP/R2QKBNR w KQ - 0 9"]

After 9.Nf3 Bg4 10.Be2, Black has 10...dxe5. After 9.cxd6 exd6 10.Nf3 Bg4 11.Be2, the move 11...dxe5 doesn't work as well because of 12.Bc5. In other words, Letelier's move 9.cxd6 looks better than Fischer's suggestion because it frees c5 for the Bishop to attack the immobile Rook. I'm not saying that White can save the game after 10.Nf3 -- Black has other moves than 11...dxe5, although even they don't look better to me -- but it's still a fight.

In addition to 10.Nf3, White has 10.Nb5. This also looks better than 10.Ne4 as played by Letelier, but Fischer didn't mention this possibility either. What am I missing?

To play through the complete game see...

Rene Letelier Martner vs Robert James Fischer, Liepzig Olympiad Prelim 1960

...on Chessgames.com.

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