D. Byrne - R.J. Fischer  









  Donald Byrne  (2530) - R.J. ("Bobby") Fischer  (2460)   
  [D97] 
  Rosenwald Memorial Tournament, 
New York City, New York;  (USA)   1956  


Easily one of the prettiest games ever played. 
(Brilliancy prize winner and "The Game of The Century.")  

Reinfeld calls it the greatest game by a chess prodigy ever! 

I place this game firmly in the list of,  "The Ten Best Games of Chess Ever Played." 
(Other GM's have also expressed this opinion.) 

***

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1. Nf3
Tricky. We start off as a Reti. 

I think D. Byrne was looking to use transposition as a weapon here. 

[ The normal move order to reach a Grunfeld is: 
 1.d4
Nf6; 2.c4 g6; 3.Nc3 d5; etc. ]. 

 

1...Nf62. c4 g63. Nc3 Bg74. d4 0-05. Bf4!?, (Maybe - '!') 
A very potent line today, but in those days the theory of 
the Grunfeld was in its infancy. 

[ The move 5.e4,  leads instead to a King's Indian Defense. ].  

5...d5
; ('!')  Transposing to the Grunfeld. 

6. Qb3!?
, (Very interesting.) 
White is playing a variant of, "The Russian System." 
(Many annotators have awarded this move an exclam.) 

[ 6.cxd5!? Nxd5; 7.Nxd5 Qxd5; 8.Bxc7 Nc6!; 9.e3 Bf5!
(Black has good "compensation" for the material.) 

The 'Main' "book line" here is the move: 6.e3!? ].  

 

6...dxc4!
Producing a favorable version of the Boleslavsky-Hort Variation. 

[ The move: 6...c6!?; produces a completely different type of game, 
as it gives White the option of fixing the Pawn Structure with 
'Pawn takes Pawn.' (P-at-c4xP-at-d5.) ].  

 

7. Qxc4 c6!?; (Maybe - '!') 
This is a good move and enters a slightly better than normal variation 
of the "Boleslavsky-Hort Variation."  

8. e4 Nbd7!?
; (Maybe - '!')  
Fischer is setting a trap, according to Chernev. 
Many annotators criticized this move, citing 9. e5, as now giving 
White a large advantage. But all the annotators that said this ... 
missed a tactic. 

9. Rd1!?, (Maybe - '!') 
Very nice, centralizing the Rook. 

(But it was probably better ... and a little safer ... to play Be2 instead.) 

9.e5 Nd5! (Or 9...Nb6?!; 10.exf6 Nxc4; 11.fxg7 Kxg7; 12.Bxc4, "+/=" 
 
Or 9...Nh5?; 10.Be3, "+/" )   10.Nxd5!? cxd5; 11.Qxd5?!,   (11.Qb3 Nb6
 12.Be2
h6; 13.0-0 Be6; "~"
   11...Nxe5!;  The tactic many Masters missed. 
12.Qxd8
Nxf3+!; 13.gxf3 Rxd8; "/+" (Maybe "-/+") Black should probably win. 
(He will annex the d-pawn, and White's Pawn Structure is still a mess.) ].  

9...Nb6
; (Maybe - '!') 
Black wins a tempo off the White Queen to develop his QB. 

10. Qc5!?
, (Interesting.) 
White clamps down on the Black Q-side and pressures key dark squares. 

Several GM's - including Soltis - give this move an exclam. 

Fred Reinfeld gives it a question mark! 

[ Safer was: 10.Qb3 Be6; 11.Qc2, "+/=" (Maybe "=") ].  

 

10...Bg4!11. Bg5?!, (Plausible, but <maybe> the losing move.) 
A very aggressive move meant to clamp down on the dark squares 
and intimidate Black enough to prevent him from seriously considering 
the Pawn Advance, ... Pawn @ e7 to e5. 

But it back-fires on Byrne. 

***

(Many Masters have given this move a question mark. But I am 
sure that judgment is MUCH too harsh! Donald Byrne was playing 
very aggressively, surely going for the win. 

Besides, most MASTERS ... do NOT play Fischer's next move, 
unless they are already familiar with this game. I know; I have probably 
tested this position on HUNDREDS of different players!). 

***

"Very plausible: the idea is that 11...Nbd7?; would lose Black's KP." 
  - Fred Reinfeld. 

"Fischer's reply to this move must have given Byrne the 
  shock of his young life!" - Irving Chernev

[ With the simple and safe: 11.Be2!, "+/=" White would still keep 
 a small advantage. ].

11...Na4!!
  (Maybe - '!!!' or even '!!!!')   
I consider this to be perhaps the most brilliant and amazing move 
ever made on the chessboard. 

It is incredible ... and a very original concept. 

It has the added value of looking like the most crass and basest of blunders. 

12. Qa3!, (Maybe forced.)  
Probably the best, ... all things considered. 

[ If White plays 12. NxN, the main line will go: 12.Nxa4?! Nxe4; 13.Qxe7 Qa5+
14.b4
, Forced.   ( 14.Nc3?? Nxc3; 15.bxc3?! Rfe8; "-/+" wins White's Queen. ). 
14...Qxa4; 15.Qxe4 Rfe8; 16.Be7, Forced.   (16.Ne5?? Qxd1# ).   16...Bxf3!
17.gxf3
Bf8!  (17...Bf6??; 18.Bxf6! Rxe4+; 19.fxe4 Qxb4+; 20.Ke2 Re8;  
 21.f3, "+/=").   18.Be2 Rxe7; 19.Qb1 Rae8; 20.Rd2 Qb5; 21.Qb2! Bh6
22.Rc2
Qd3!; 23.Rg1 Bg7; "/+"  (Maybe "-/+".) ].  

 

12...Nxc313. bxc3 Nxe4!; (Really - '!!') 
Another shot. 

Fischer is willing to sacrifice an exchange to open the e-file.

14.Bxe7,  
Practically the only good move for White. 

[ 14.Qxe7? Qxe7; 15.Bxe7 Rfe8; "/+" (Maybe "-/+") and Black wins. ].  

14...Qb6!
,  
Again the best. 
(And in keeping with the thematic idea of pressurizing the dark squares.) 

[ In the early days, before they got so strong, computers would always play: 
14...Qd7!?;  even after thinking for several hours! ].

 

15. Bc4!,  
GM Rowson says this is the best, and gives this move an exclam. 

"Active defense," says GM J. Rowson

[ 15.Bxf8!? Bxf8; 16.Qb3 Nxc3!; Black has "comp." ].  

 

15...Nxc3!
Again the sharpest and best. 

[ 15...Rfe8!? ].  

 

16. Bc5, (Maybe - '!') 
Again, probably the best. 
(And practically forced.) 

[ 16.Bxf8?! Bxf8; (With both an initiative and a strong attack.) 
 17.Qxc3?? Bb4; "-/+" ]. 

 

16...Rfe8+17. Kf1, Definitely forced.  

[ 17.Kd2?? Ne4+; 18.Kc2 Nxc5; "/+" (Maybe "-/+") ].  

 

Now what? 
(Many Masters who were actually watching this game felt Black was lost here!) 
17...Be6!!;  (Maybe - '!!!')  
The shot heard ... " 'round the world!! "  
(GM R. Fine liked this move so much he gave it FOUR (4) ... exclamation points.!!) 

Many great and well known Grand-Masters, such as M. Botvinnik, R. Fine, 
S. Flohr, (and many others); have called this, 
"One of the most magnificent moves ever played on a chessboard." 

[ Not 17...Nb5?!; 18.Bxf7+! Kxf7; 19.Qb3+!?,  ("+/-")  which wins for White. 
 ( Even better may be: 19.Ng5+! Kg8; 20.Qb3+ Kh8; 21.Nf7+ Kg8
 22.Nh6+
Kh8; 23.Qg8+ Rxg8; 24.Nf7#.  The famous, "Smothered Mate!" )  ].  

 

18. Bxb6
White has nothing better than to take the Queen. 

[ 18.Bxe6? Qb5+; 19.Kg1,   (19.Ke1 Qe2# )  19...Ne2+; 20.Kf1 Ng3+
21.Kg1
Qf1+! ; 22.Rxf1 Ne2#.  This time ... BLACK  gets a smothered mate!!! 
Or 18.Qxc3?! Qxc5!; "-/+" ].  

 

Black now grabs a little material ... and makes sure his Knight on c3 
will be guarded by his Bishop on g7 - by eliminating the White Pawn 
on d4; and he does it all ... WITH CHECK!!!
18...Bxc4+!
19. Kg1 Ne2+!20. Kf1 Nxd4+21. Kg1 Ne2+;  
22. Kf1 Nc3+23. Kg1 axb6!;  
A nice "in-between move." 

24. Qb4
, (Box?) 
Practically the only square for the White Queen. 

 

[ 24.Qc1?? Ne2+; 25.Kf1 Nxc1+; ("-/+");  

Or 24.Qb2?? Ne2+; 25.Kf1 Bxb2; "-/+" 

Or  24.Qd6!? Rad8!; 25.Qxd8!? Ne2+; 26.Kf1 Nd4+; 27.Kg1 Rxd8
      28.Nxd4
Bxd4; "/+" (Probably "-/+") Black should win easily. 
      (He has 2 Bishops and 2 Pawns for the Rook!) ].  

 

24...Ra4!;  
One more shot. 

Black guards his Bishop and hits the Queen. 
The Queen has no good squares, so White goes ahead and grabs a pawn. 

[ 24...Rxa2!?; 25.Qxc4, "~" ].  

 

25. Qxb6 Nxd1;  
Black now has a Rook, Two (2) Bishops, and a Pawn for the Queen. 

Additionally White's pieces are very uncoordinated, his back rank insecure; 
and White drops more buttons in an effort to activate his pieces. 

The rest of the game turns into a humorous, "Hunt For Red October." 
(The hunt for the White King.).  

26. h3 Rxa2
Gobble. 

27. Kh2 Nxf2;  
Gobble, gobble. 

(Pac-Man chess!) 
Fischer was probably enjoying himself here. 

 

28. Re1 Rxe129. Qd8+ Bf830. Nxe1 Bd5!31. Nf3 Ne4;  

32. Qb8 b533. h4 h5!34. Ne5 Kg735. Kg1 Bc5+;  

36. Kf1 Ng3+;  
Fischer does not find the quickest mate here. 

Either he was pressed for time, or he was intent on setting up 
a problem-like mate for this wonderful masterpiece. 

[ Quicker was: 36...Rf2+; 37.Ke1,   (37.Kg1?! Rf4+; 38.Kh2 Rxh4#).  
37...Bb4+; 38.Kd1 Bb3+; 39.Kc1 Ba3+; 40.Kb1 Rf1#. ].  

 

37. Ke1 Bb4+38. Kd1 Bb3+39. Kc1 Ne2+40. Kb1 Nc3+;  

41. Kc1 Rc2#  (Check-Mate!!)  0 - 1 

 I consider this to be the 6th greatest chess game ever played. 

Copyright (c), A.J. Goldsby. 2001.


One of the greatest games of chess ever played. (PERIOD!) 

To me, this easily compares ...  - favorably! -   ... to a great painting, or 
a magnificent concerto; by any of the Masters ... of any other art form!!! 

GM Hans Kmoch - who at the time this game was played - was 
considered THE most pre-eminent chess writer and authority in the world! 
Kmoch - right after this game was played - dubbed this game: 

"THE GAME OF THE CENTURY!!!" 


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  (But there is only 1 diagram, so you  have  to use a chess board & set!)  


This is a MUCH shortened copy of the game than the version that exits in my database. 
(I had to shorten it for publication. The other version was simply 
too difficult to convert to an HTML [re-play] document.) 

The original "ChessBase" file contains a look at the opening of this game, 
 "The Reti Opening."
  This would be an asset to have, if you wanted to study this opening. 

If you would like a copy of this game, please contact me. 


   Copyright, () A.J. Goldsby I.  A.J. Goldsby, 1985 - 2013. 

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2014.  All rights reserved. 

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