GM Robert J. Fischer - GM Efwim Geller

 "Worker's Solidarity Tournament." 
  Skopje, Yugoslavia; 1967.  

   Click  HERE  to see this game in java-script replay format.   

  See my letter, (The "Best Question" in Larry Evans' column.); in the DECEMBER issue   
   (Dec. 2003; page # 12);  of  'Chess Life'  magazine ... as concerns this game   

This is a wonderful game that was played between these two contestants in 1967.  

I have been aware of this game for a long, long time ... probably since before I was a teen-ager.

I would sooner - 
# 1.)  Rip up the original 'Declaration of Independence'  ... ... ... 
# 2.)  Take a can of spray-paint to the Mona Lisa  ... ... ... 
# 3.)  Or take a flame-thrower to the Sistine Chapel  ... ... ... 
than I would trivialize any game of chess played by Bobby Fischer!!! 
Even worse ... would be to do a poor analysis job ... especially on such a historically important game. 
(Very important to chess players, anyway.) 


This is a game that has been analyzed and annotated by dang near everybody. Its in virtually every book about Fischer or the ones that analyze his games. Plus it is in many other books as well, especially a lot of opening books. (See the bibliography at the end of the game.) 

I have been (actively) working on annotating this game for  OVER SIX YEARS!!! 
(I started in approximately 1996 or '97.) Of course it has not been a continuous effort.

There were many reasons that working on this game took so long. The first was it was not something I could dedicate all my time to. The second reason was VERY important ... at least to me. I felt I knew or understood little about the  "Velimirovic Attack,"  the opening that was used in this particular game. (I have since spent a period of around two years working on this opening, sometimes 2-4 hours a day.) I wanted to be able to say I at least had a basic grasp of the ideas and principles of this whole line. I now think I do. (Click  herehere, or here  to see some examples. The first link given here is quite in depth and contains a fairly decent opening survey.) The third reason that this game took so long is that I took 100 or so Fischer games and decided to study them fairly deeply. (I worked 2-3 months on just one game alone!) This project took OVER 4 years to complete. Of course another reason was I wasted a lot of time playing chess on the Internet, and I also spent a great deal of time on other projects, like getting my (All-time)  ... ... ... "Best Games"  page fleshed out ... and getting my personal list of the ten best games of all time finished ... and DEEPLY annotated. (Click  here  to see some of that work.) 
---> There were other reasons this project was delayed, but I shall not go into them here. 

Another curious thing that happened for me during my development of this game was that I had lost my original notes of this game. They were scrawled in the margins of a book that I had, well ... gotten away from me - many years earlier, but somehow I ... almost miraculously ... regained them. (I will cover this in my introductory notes to the game.)

Virtually every annotator has taken a whack at this game. Gligoric, Bronstein, Fischer, Geller, Botvinnik & Flohr, etc. 
 (The list is almost a "Who's Who" of the greats of chess.) 

  Click  HERE  to see an explanation  of some of the more common symbols that I use while annotating a game. 


    This is mostly a text-based page, with only a few diagrams. Therefore, you will probably need a chess board. 

GM Robert J. ("Bobby") Fischer (2783) - GM Yefwim Geller (2674) 
"The Worker's Solidarity Tournament"
Skopje YUG;   (Round #2 )
August, 1967 

[A.J. Goldsby I]


Many consider this to be one of one of Geller's finest victories. In truth, it is a flawed game ... 
but I think it is no less enjoyable nor exciting because it is not perfect. 
(From Skopje, YUG; 1967.) 

This is also a classic game ...  for a wide variety of reasons. It has been reprinted numerous 
times. And Bobby Fischer did an absolutely superb job of annotating this contest in his 
classic book. ("My 60 Memorable Games.") 


The ratings are dead-on accurate, and come from Jeff Sonas's web site
(NOTE: The ratings are not the official FIDE ratings for that period in time.)

This game has a VERY funny story behind it, at least for me. I had analyzed this game as a 
youngster, but did not have access to my original notes, as they were written in the margin of 
copy of Bobby's book - which I had lost track of over the years. Then after I had been 
working on this game for a while, I walked into a used bookstore {in 2001 or 2002} and found 
a very beat-up copy of Fischer's classic. I did not know it had been mine ... someone had used 
white-out (or paint) to cover my name. I purchased it and took it home. {They only wanted like 
a buck-fifty.} Naturally I was delighted to find my old notes still in the margins! 


One of the most interesting games in chess. Dozens of chess authors have written about this game ... 
and most have gotten it dead wrong. (This includes Bobby Fischer himself.) 
(See Fischer's now classic book, "My Sixty {60} Memorable Games.")  

But despite the game's flaws, it continues to intrigue us  - - - 
perhaps as a shining example of the power of the fascination of a struggle of nearly infinite complexity.  

 1.e4 c5;  2.Nf3 d6;  3.d4 cxd4;  4.Nxd4 Nf6;  5.Nc3 Nc6;  {Diagram?}   
Geller chooses a very solid line. MCO - possibly for the want of a better name - 
calls this the "Classical Sicilian."  

     [ The move of: 5...a6!?{Diagram?}   
       brings about the Najdorf Variation, one of Fischer's favorite openings. ]  


Fischer now uses his favorite  ...  "anti-Sicilian" weapon  ...  "The Sozin Sicilian."   
 6.Bc4!?{See the diagram ... just below.}    
This is Fischer's favorite weapon versus the Sicilian. 
(Students of the game should consult opening books here,  and also carefully study the game, 
 Fischer-Spassky / Game No. Four, {# 4} / WCS Match / Reykjavik, Iceland; 1972.)    



fisch-geller_skop67-pos1.gif, 39 KB



Prior to Fischer's adoption of this system, most masters regarded this whole line as somewhat questionable.   
Fischer - almost single-handedly - fashioned the Sozin into a very respectable and feared opening weapon 
for White.  

     [ Also good is:  6.Bg5,  {Diagram?}  
        which leads to the opening system known as: 
        "The Richter-Rauzer Attack."  ]    


Both players continue by sensibly developing their pieces ... they are also simply following a "book" line.   
 6...e6;  7.Be3!? Be7!?;  
Modern theory says that ...a6; here is slightly more accurate.  

This is a sort of "safety-first" move, and can still transpose to all the main lines from here. However, 
GM Mikhail Golubev says that it is more accurate to play the immediate Qe2 if one intends to play 
the opening system used in this game.   

     [ Sharper is:  8.Qe2, "+/="  ]   


 8...0-0;  9.Qe2!?,   {See the diagram - just below.}       
This initiates the ultra-sharp system known as: "The Velimirovic Attack."  



fisch-geller_skop67-pos2.gif, 39 KB



Basically - in this system - both players castle on opposite sides of the board ... 
and then try to cut each other to ribbons!!! 
(Attack, attack, attack!)  

     [ The main line of the Sozin is reached after the following moves:  
        9.0-0 a610.f4 Nxd411.Bxd4, "+/="  11...b5;  ("<=>")   {Diagram?}   
        White is probably solidly better, but Black has good play and his position 
        has never been refuted by opening theory.  

        See  MCO-14  ... (Page # 333.);  or any good book on this particular 
        opening system. ]   


 9...Qa5!?;  (hmmm)   {See the diagram ... just below.}   
Some annotators and pundits - Geller included! - greatly criticized this play ...  
 but it looks no worse than many of the main lines that Black plays today.  
 {NOTE:  Some books call this move inferior, but I think it is playable.}  



fisch-geller_skop67-pos3.gif, 39 KB



I think it is also important to try and remember that these opening lines and systems were virtually in their  
<chessical>  infancy  at the time that this game was played!  ('Book' knowledge did NOT extend much 
past move ten!)  

     [ According to MODERN theory, it is more accurate for Black to try and play the following continuation:   
       (>/=)  9...a610.0-0-0, "+/="  10...Qc7;  "~"  with an elastic defensive position.  
        {See any good reference book here.}  [ See  (also)  MCO-14;  beginning on page # 330. ]  ]    


 10.0-0-0 Nxd4;  
Black is a little cramped in this position ... so it makes good sense to try and swap a few pieces in this position.  

     [ Or 10...a6!?11.Kb1!,  "+/="  and White is clearly better in this position.   
        (Black will eventually have  to trade pieces here, anyway.)   


       Bobby Fischer  gives a line that begins with the moves:    
       (</=)  "="  10...Bd7!?('?!')  11.Ndb5!, "+/="  and White obtains strong pressure.  
       (hits the d6-square)


White now re-captures with the Bishop ... 
but the taking back with the Rook was probably completely playable as well.  

 11.Bxd4 Bd7;  {See the diagram ... just below.}    
Black must develop his Q-side sometime in this game.  



fisch-geller_skop67-pos4.gif, 39 KB



This was another move that the "experts" and pundits heaped criticism on  ...  and just about all of them 
failed miserably in their analysis. (Other than the little line below, I won't go there!)  

     [ It was too late to try:   </=  11...a6?!;   in this position, as after  12.Qe3!,  
        Black's Queen is embarrassed.  (White is solidly better ... "+/=") ]   


White's next move is very safe and solid ... and brings the White King to a slightly safer square.   
(The idea of K/c1-b1 is a very common one in these lines of the Sicilian.)    
 12.Kb1!?,  (Maybe - '!')   
One annotator looked very deeply at f4 for White in this position - and his line(s) contained at least 
FIVE really bad inaccuracies and mistakes!   

     [  Interesting was: 12.Rhg1!?,  "--->"  (with attack)  {Diagram?}   
         with very good play for White.   

         See the contest:  GM Leonid Yudasin (2615) - GM John Fedorowicz (2565);   
         {men's} (FIDE) Team Championships / Olympiad / Novi Sad, Yugoslavia; 1990.   
         {White won a sharp game.}  ]   


 12...Bc6!?;  (dubious?)  (hmmm)   
Black plays a move designed to bring the piece to a better square, and also keep most of his options  
open here. (Geller gave this move a whole question mark ... but that is WAY too harsh!)  

     [ Taking the file was probably best for Black here, viz:  >/=  12...Rfc8!;  {Diagram?}    
        and although White might still be a little better, Black's position is probably solid 
        enough that he should survive.   

       White could now play:  13.f2-f4!,  with good play for both sides.  

       J. Franzen - W. Stern; / 14th Corres. World Champ. / corr.9499, 1994. ]    


White's next move is aggressive and signals his intention to attack.   
 13.f4 Rad8;  (center?)   
Black aims for the ...d6-d5; break in the middle of the board ... but this does not quite ring true.   

     [ Maybe 13...Rac8!?;  instead? ]  


 14.Rhf1,  ('!?')   
Bobby does a lot of useful things with this move, including activating (developing) White's last 
unmoved unit. But did Bobby have something better here?  

Several annotators - like Mednis - give this move an exclam, but the Yugoslav GM, Petar Trifunovic  
analyzed the immediate f4-f5! as possibly being a fairly substantial improvement for White.  

     [ Or 14.Qe1!? a6?; 15.Nd5!, "+/-" ]   


Black's next move is best ... and practically forced. 
(If GM Geller does not get his counter-play rolling soon, he will be squashed like a bug.)  
 14...b5!;  15.f5!,  (Maybe - '!!')  {See the diagram - - just below here.}   
White attempts to get Black to weaken his Pawn structure by forcing Black to play ...e6-e5.  
{The main strategy here.}  

The move is also a prelude to an extremely vicious attack.   



fisch-geller_skop67-pos5.gif, 40 KB



Some have praised this move. Others have roundly condemned it.   
The only question I have, is  ...  WHO THE HECK IS RIGHT???    

[ Several annotators have said that that instead White should play the (very strong) thrust e4-e5! here. ]  

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** 
   '?' - Llubos Kenosevic.  
   (An editor for a Yugoslav chess magazine.)  

   '?!' - R.G. Wade & K.J. O'Connell.  
   (In their book of Fischer's games.)  

   '!?'  - {Former}  World Champion GM Tigran Petrosian 
    (Informant; Issue # 04, Game # 484.)  

   '!!' - {Former}  World Champion, GM Robert J. Fischer.   
    {In the book, "My 60 Memorable Games."}  

   '!' - GM Efwim Geller.  
    (In his book.)  

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** 

After giving his move (f5) TWO exclams, Fischer says: "The die is cast."  
(He goes on to note that he did not want to waste time with a tempo-loss like a3 ...  
 to safeguard his Knight-at-c3.)   

     [ Several annotators have stated that the move: 15.e5, "+/="  ('!')  {Diag?}    
        was vastly better.  

        '!' - Harding, Botterill, & Kottnauer.  

       Several theoretical books ... and dozens of magazines have stated quite 
       authoritatively that e4-e5 was much better than f5, but most of their analysis 
       just plain stinks!  

       {In my long version of this game, I deeply analyze all of the various alternatives 
        for White here. But I will just skip that now!}  ]   


 15...b4!?;  (Probably - '!')   
Black expands on the Q-side and also boots the White Knight.  

     [ Or </=  15...e5!?; 16.Bf2, "+/="  but White is clearly on top in this particular position. ]   


 16.fxe6!?,  (Maybe - '?!')  {Diagram?}    
Bobby Fischer awards this move an exclam here - as did several other annotators - 
but it seems they have missed something here.  

[ See my letter in GM Larry Evan's column in the December, 2003 issue of 'Chess Life'   ... 
  {magazine}  (Page # 12?)for more details. ]     


     [ Apparently ... both in the game, and in his later analysis, Fischer  ... 
        {and everyone else!} missed a very clear win for White. Viz:   

       >/=  16.Bxf6!! Bxf6[];  
       This move is practically forced for Black here ...  
       certainly taking with the pawn was VERY ugly.  

           ( </= 16...bxc3??; 17.Bxe7, "+/-" )      

       17.fxe6!(Maybe - '!!')   
        This move entails a piece sacrifice by White.   

            ( Less accurate for White would be:     
               </= 17.Qc4!? Qc5!;  and Black is OK. (Maybe - '=/+') )    

       17...bxc3;   {Box?}   {Diagram?}   
       Repeated computer analysis has confirmed that all the various  
       alternatives here for Black are definitely much worse.   

           ( Clearly bad for Black is:     
              </= 17...fxe6?; 18.Bxe6+ Kh8;  19.Rf5!, ''  {Diag?}     
              and White is close to winning. )      

       18.Rxf6!! gxf6[];  
        This is definitely forced here.    

           ( Worse for Black would be:  
              </= 18...cxb2?; 19.exf7+! Kh8;  20.Rfxd6,  ("+/-") {D?}    
              and White is clearly winning. )    

       The rest of the moves really need no comment.   
       19.e7! cxb2!?20.exd8Q Rxd821.Qc4! Qc722.Rf1! Qb7!?;  
        What is better here?   

            ( Not </= 22...Kg7?;  23.Qc3!, & White is winning. ("+/-") )    

       23.Rxf6 Be824.Qd4 Qc725.Rf3!, ''   (Probably "+/-")  {Diag?}   
       with a position that is very (very) much superior for White. ]   



Black may as well take!   (The alternatives are terrible!)    

     [ But definitely NOT:  16...fxe6?; 17.Bxe6+ Kh8; 18.Rf5!, ''  {D?}   
       and White is close to winning. ]   


Now both sides find a very sharp ...  and a forcing line. 
(Neither party can deviate from this path without incurring a serious disadvantage.)  

 17.exf7+ Kh8;  18.Rf5! Qb4!;  (Maybe - '!!')  
An extremely fine resource by Geller. 

Several sources - most of whom were present at this tournament when this game was played - overheard   
Fischer say, (during the analysis after the game); that he had underestimated this move as well!   

     [ The other main move for Black in this position was:  </=  18...Qc7!?;  "~"  
        when Black could be just a little bit better here. ]   


 19.Qf1!,  {threat?}  
Fischer gave this move an exclam, and noted that White now has the possibility of RxN/f6.   

     [ Or  19.Bxc3!? Qb7; "/+"  Black is clearly on top. ]    


 19...Nxe4!;  {See the diagram - just below.}   
"A fighting defense," says Bobby Fischer of this move.  

   '!' - GM Efwim Geller.     



fisch-geller_skop67-pos6.gif, 39 KB



This would be a good spot for a diagram. (Who is better? Why?)  

     [ If now: </=  19...Ng4!?then the move  20.Bxc3, "~"  gives White a ton of play. ]   


  20.a3?!,   (Maybe - '?')  
This looks fairly reasonable, yet it was condemned (later) as  ...  "THE LOSING MOVE!!!"  

Yet the computers see little or no difference between this move and the try of Queen to f4. 
 (As recommended by Fischer.)   


   '?' - Robert G. Wade and Kevin J. O'Connell. 

   '?' - (Former) World Champion, GM Robert J. Fischer.  

   '?' - GM Edmar Mednis.  


     [  The best try for White was:  >/=  20.Qf4!(Maybe - '!!')   {Diag?}  
         according to GM Bobby Fischer.  {But after months of analysis, 
         I never found a win for White.}  ]    


Now Black wraps things up - into one smart package.  
 20...Qb7!;  21.Qf4!? Ba4!!;   
Fischer - later - confessed to having missed this move.  

 '!!' - GM Bobby Fischer  

"I didn't see it! Moreover, the strength of this resource didn't become fully apparent to me ...   
  for another two moves."  - GM Bobby Fischer  ("My 60 Memorable Games.")  

     [ Careless play could still cost Black the game here. I.e.,  
        </=  21...Nd2+?22.Rxd2! cxd2?!23.Bxg7+!! Kxg724.Qg4+! Kh8;   
        It no longer matters here, (what move Black plays).  

        ( Or 24...Kh6?!; 25.Rh5#. )    

        25.Qd4+ Bf626.Qxf6#. ]   


 22.Qg4 Bf6[];  
It should be noted that Fischer awarded this move an exclam,  ('!')  ...  
 ---> but it looks (completely) forced to me!   

     [ But not:  </= 22...Nf6??23.Bxf6! Bxf624.Qxa4,  
        when White may not be any worse in this position. ]   


 23.Rxf6!? Bxb3!;   ("-/+")   
In this position ... with absolutely nothing to play for ... Fischer threw in the towel.   
(Fischer said he was thinking about Rf4, when he saw ...Ba2+. And on PxB/b3, 
 then ...NxR/f6; "is the quietus.")  

     [ After the following moves ...  which look relatively forced:   
        There is nothing better.    

         ( Not  </=  24.bxc3?? Be6+;  
           and Black wins the Queen.      

          **** **** **** **** **** **** **** ****       

           The main alternative was:      
            </= 24.Rg6!? Ba2+!!;  (Surprise!)     
            25.Kxa2 Qxb2#. )      

       24...Nxf625.Bxf6 gxf626.Rd3 Qxb327.Rxc3,  
       This looks forced.    

         ( Not </=  27.Rg3?? Qxb2#. )       

       27...Qxf7;  ("-/+")  {Diagram?}    
       Black is a whole Rook up. ]      


An amazing game ... and perhaps one of the most complex that I have ever attempted to analyze.  

A game that contains mis-plays by BOTH players  ...  but is none-the-less unforgettable!!   
(One of the great games of the whole decade of the 1960's.)   

This is also a game that has greatly fascinated chess players for years. 
(Dozens of writers have taken a stab at annotating it.)  

{My long version of this game  ...  complete with an in-depth look at the opening system ...   
 runs about
seventy-five pages!!! That is why I did not attempt to reproduce that here!}  



 Copyright A.J. Goldsby, 1987 - 2003. 
  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2004.  All rights reserved.  


  0 - 1  



I have seen this game many times in print!! I once saw it in a magazine ... 
that was basically a translation and a reprint of this game when it was 
first printed - in a Yugoslav newspaper shortly after it was played. 
I also am pretty sure it was once annotated in the pages of CL&R
(But I could not find it when I went looking for it.) 

First, I annotated this game from memory - pulling just the raw score from an 
on-line database. Then I looked at the following books, given in the order that  
I consulted them
. These were the principal sources for my annotation job here. 

# 1.)  "The Games of Robert J. Fischer,"  by many authors & annotators.
            Edited by  Robert G. Wade  and  Kevin J. O'Connell.  
            1972, published by Batsford Books. (London, New York.) 
            ISBN #  0-7134-2099-5

# 2.)  "My 60 Memorable Games," by  (GM)  Bobby Fischer. 
            1969, published by Simon & Schuster of New York. 
            [Fischer's analysis is many times better than anyone else's, and has to be seen to be believed.  
             In fact, I will go so far as to say that the aspiring student will  NEVER  truly understand this game ... 
             until he (or she!) has studied this titanic struggle with Fischer's own {original} notes!!!!!]  

# 3.)  "The Application of Chess Theory,"  by GM Yefim Geller. 
1984, published by Cadogan Books. (London/New York)
            {Translated by K. Neat.}  ISBN #  1-85744-067-6
             (Geller's analysis of this game is also superb.) 

# 4.)  "How To Beat Bobby Fischer,"  by (GM) Edmar Mednis. 
            1974, by Quadrangle Books. (New York City, NY; USA) 

# 5.)  "The Sicilian Sozin,by  T.D. HardingG.S. Botterill,  and 
           also C. Kottnauer. (Part of the
CCO series, edited by R.G. Wade.) 
           1974 by the authors, published by 
Chess Digest  of Dallas, TX.  

# 6.)  "The Sicilian Sozin,"  by  GM Mikhail Golubev  (Copyright 2001.)
Printed by Gambit Publications.  (UK)   ISBN: # 1-901983-38-2

# 7.)  I also consulted literally DOZENS of  general opening books.  To name 
          just a few: NCO, ('Nunn's Chess Opening's)' MCO, ('Modern Chess 
          Openings,' The Fourteenth Edition, by Korn and De Firmian.); ECO
          (The Encyclopedia of Chess Openings, by the same guys who publish 
          the INFORMANT. {Yugoslavia}); SCO, BCO, etc. Additionally I must 
          have hundreds of opening books, many of these are on various lines
          of the Sicilian Defense. 

# 8.)  The ChessBase version of this game that was already in my files. 
           (This analysis was in my reference database.)  

# 9.)  The ChessBase CD-ROM on Fischer by GM Robert Hubner.
(Often times the analysis given in this collection is the very last 
            word on many of these games.) 

# 10.)   This game is analyzed in the  INFORMANT  by  GM Tigran Petrosian
             Issue # 04, Game # 484.  



                (Code Initially)  Generated with  ChessBase 8.0   


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Even though this game was not perfect, it is still one of the great games of chess literature. 
And analysts have argued over what the correct lines were for ... ... ... DECADES!!!! (Literally!) 

My goal here was NOT to overwhelm you with variations ... or provide you with a modern and in-depth opening survey. (I have done that elsewhere. Click  here,  here, or here to see what I am talking about.) There are parts of the opening phase of the game that I sort of glossed over. No, my goal here was to find the CRITICAL parts of this game ... and correct the errors that were made in the analysis of this exciting and VERY complex struggle. Hopefully I have done that. 

June 2003: I am still working on this game. When this note is gone, I will be finished. It may take a few more weeks - or even months - before my work is complete. (I wanted to post this page - it kinda obligates me to finish my work.) 


 August, 2004:  I decided to do a shorter version of this game to post here. 

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This page was first posted: Sunday; May 25th, 2003. This page was last updated on 05/17/06

 Copyright  (c)  A.J. Goldsby I 

  Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 1975 - 2005.  

  Copyright () A.J. Goldsby, 2006.  All rights reserved.  

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