20 December 2008

Questions of Style and of Theory

Continuing with Fischer - Gligoric, CT 1959, Kasparov made some revealing remarks in his lecture on the game (see Kasparov Live! on Fischer - Gligoric). At the beginning of his exposition he said, '[The game] shows you that the result of the game and the power of the name [Fischer], the legendary player who won the game, could also influence commentators.' It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that most of us don't have sufficient chess knowledge to find the weak points in Fischer's moves or in his notes. We'll have to rely on Garry for that!

A few seconds later he commented on Fischer's note to 8...Na5 (see the first Fischer - Gligoric post for the game score). Fischer wrote, 'Releasing the central tension this way is wrong. Correct is 8...Nxd4 9.Qxd4 Bg7, but after 10.Bg5! White still keeps control.' After quoting Fischer, Kasparov made a hand motion indicating that he thought 'White still keeps control' was dubious, then continued, 'For a player of Fischer's style, that's not a very good comment, because he needs to be a little more concrete. There were a number of games played later that proved that Black equalized and one of the games I quote is Renet - Korchnoi in 1995.'

There are a couple of points worth pursuing in Kasparov's criticism. The first is to understand what he meant by 'a player of Fischer's style'. What does the 13th World Champion consider to be the 11th's 'style'? The second is to discover what happened in 'games played later' that contradicted Fischer's judgment. I'm afraid that the question of style will take more digging than I can do for a single blog post. The question of subsequent theory is easier.

In Predecessors IV, Kasparov accused White of 'timid' play in Renet - Korchnoi, when Black equalized quickly. Can we really expect that Fischer would have continued timidly? A more convincing continuation against 10.Bg5! was from a different game quoted by Kasparov (de Firmian - Makarychev, Oslo 1984), where Black used the (now) well known tactic of sacrificing the Rook for the Knight on c3.

I don't believe that the Dragon exchange sacrifice was known in 1959, when Fischer - Gligoric was played. I'm also not sure that it was known when My 60 Memorable Games was written. Wanting to get to the truth of this, I posted the question to Chess.com -- Origin of the Dragon Sacrifice? -- hoping that one of the chess mavens there can point to a likely stem game. • To be continued...

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