Fischer - Geller

GM Robert J. ("Bobby") Fischer (2783) - GM Efwim Geller (2674) 

 "Solidarity Tournament" 
 Skopje, YUG; (Round # 2),  08.1967 


The famous clash between these two great players ... from the International Tournament in Skopje, YUG; 1967.  


I found this game in at least 10 different books, including many on Fischer or his games; and books by Geller, Mednis,    
and many, many others. (It is also in virtually every book on the Sozin Sicilian that I have)


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1.e4 c52.Nf3 d63.d4 cxd44.Nxd4 Nf65.Nc3 Nc6{Diagram?} 
So far, a standard Sicilian. 

Fischer now uses his favorite anti-Sicilian weapon, the Sozin Variation.  

6.Bc4 e67.Be3!? Be7!?8.Bb3!? 0-09.Qe2!?, ('!')  {Diagram?} 
The extremely sharp Velimirovic Attack. (This system usually involves castling on opposite 
sides ... and then both parties launch a 'go-for-broke' attack on the other sides King.) 

     [ The main line of the (classical) Sozin is:  9.0-0 a6; 10.f4 Nxd4;  
        11.Bxd4 b5; "<=>" {Diagram?} with good play for Black. 
        [ See MCO-14; ... or any good book on this opening. ]  ]   

9...Qa5!?; {Diagram?} 
A little unusual by modern standards, but it is hardly bad. 

This game was played when no one had any experience in these lines. 
(Especially with the ...Qa5 lines.) 

     [ The (modern) main line is: >=  9...a6; 10.0-0-0 Qc7; {Diagram?} 
        with a playable game for Black. [ See any good opening book. ] ]  

10.0-0-0 Nxd4; {Diagram?} 
It makes sense for Black to swap in this position. 
(He lacks space - his pieces are a little bunched up.) 

11.Bxd4, {Diagram?} 
A standard re-capture here. 

     [ Interesting would have been for White to play:  
       11.Rxd4!?, {Diag?} with the idea of P@g2-g4 next. ]  

11...Bd7; {Diagram?} 
Black must develop ... sooner or later. 

     [ Probably not as accurate is: 11...a6!?; 12.Qe3!, "/\"  {Diagram?} 
       when the first player has definite pressure on the dark squares. ]  

12.Kb1, {Diagram?} 
Basically, a waiting move. In the meantime, White's King is just a tiny bit safer. 

     [ According to modern theory, the main line today is: (">/=") 12.Rhg1!?, {D?} 
        The idea here is to prepare Pawn@g2-to-g4-to-g5, etc. 
        (Starting White's King-side hostilities.) ]  

12...Bc6!?, ('?!') {Diagram?}  
A re-deployment by Black. (Thinking about ...d5?) 

Geller gave this move an entire question mark. 
(I strongly feel this is going overboard.) 

     [ HOWEVER!!! ... MUCH better - and more thematic - would have 
       been for Black to play: >= 12...Rfc8!; {Diagram?} 
       with a very solid position for Black here. - GM E. Geller. ]  


Several annotators give White's next an exclam, but g4 and Rg1 also look promising as well. 
13.f4!? Rad8!?; {Diagram?}  
It is obvious that Geller wanted to strengthen his central squares. 

     [ Maybe - >=  13...Rac8!?; {Diagram?} was a tad better here? ] 


Now play becomes VERY sharp ... and also very forcing. 
(14.f5, may have been a small improvement over the game. 
---> This was pointed out by P. Trifunovich in the post-mortem to this game.) 
14.Rhf1!? b5!15.f5!, {Diagram?} 
Maybe worthy of a double-exclam, as Fischer gave it - White proceeds with his attack; 
although his Knight on c3 is about to be 'bumped' ... but will have no good flight squares. 

     [ Also OK is: 15.a3!?, {Diagram?} which theory and practice has clearly 
        demonstrated is playable - even good - for White.   


       MOST  opening books say the move: 15.e5!?(Maybe - '!') {Diagram?} 
       is much better. They base their conclusions on the contest:  
         Jovcic - Radiocic; Yugoslavia, 1969.    [ Look in Informant # 8. ] 

       (This game is quoted in ECO, and dozens of other opening books as well. 
        For example: see the book, "The Sicilian Sozin," by T.D. Harding, G.S. Botterill, 
        and C. Kottnauer. Copyright 1974, published by Chess Digest, TX.)

       But my analysis indicates there are several major improvements for Black's 
       defense in this line. ]  


Many have applauded Geller's next move. 
(Just maybe for having the courage to try it against someone like Bobby?) 
Geller himself gave this move an exclam. 

     [ 15...e5 ]  

  16.fxe6!?(Maybe - '?!')  {Diagram?}  
Fischer gave this an exclam  ... (but) I am not convinced. 

  (December 03, 2003: Actually Fischer missed a win here. See my letter to GM Larry Evans,    
   page 12, of the December 2003 issue of  'Chess Life'  ...  as concerns this game.)    

     [ After the continuation of: </= 16.g4!? bxc3; 17.Bxc3 Qc7; "-/+{Diagram?} 
       White has insufficient compensation. (According to many annotators.) 

        Perhaps: 16.Nd5!?, {Diagram?} was playable? ]  


White continues with his onslaught. (But Black is not afraid.)  
16...bxc3; (!)  17.exf7+!?, {Diagram?} 
This looks forced, but White actually had several reasonable moves in this position. 

     [ 17.Bxc3!?; or 17.Bxf6!?; or 17.e5!? ]  

17...Kh8; {Diagram?}  
This looks forced to me.  

     [  Not: 17...Rxf7?; 18.Bxf7+ Kxf7; 19.Qc4+, ("+/") {Diagram?} 
        and White has a killer attack. ]   

Fischer gave his next move an exclam here. 

The play continues as White plows straight ahead, trying to whip up some kind of attack. 
18.Rf5! Qb4!; (Maybe - '!!')  {Diagram?} 
Geller finds a fantastic defense. 

     [ 18...Qc7!? ]  

19.Qf1! Nxe4!; {Diagram?}  
The best line for Black  ... 
despite the fact that Fischer said Black had to play ...Ng4 in this position. 

     [ Not nearly as convincing was: </=  19...Ng4!?; ('?') 20.Bxc3!, "/\" {Diagram?} 
        and White's attack gains considerable momentum in this line. ]  

  20.a3!?(Maybe - '?!/?')  {See the diagram just below.}   
This looks like a very reasonable move for White ... but now Geller can win brilliantly. 

It is almost an impossibility to believe it here, but this could be ... 

   The actual position in the game after White plays 20.a3.  (fis-gel_sk67rp.gif, 61 KB)

    (Inverted diagram - as seen from Black's side of the board.)


     [ MUCH better was:  >/=  20.Qf4!!, {Diagram?} 
       which leads to an extremely strong (winning?) attack for White. 
       - GM Bobby Fischer

       (See the book: "My 60 Memorable Games.") ]  

20...Qb7!?; (Probably - '!') {Diagram?} 
The best square for the Queen, Black has tremendous pressure against the e4-square. 

     [ Maybe  20...Qb8!?; "/+" ]  

21.Qf4!?, {Diagram?} 
Fischer continues with his attack, but now he comes up just 1 tempo short in all the key lines. 

     [ 21.Rh5!?, - GM E. Mednis. ]  

Now Geller finds an extremely sharp and original way of defending against Fischer's 
seemingly winning attack.  
21...Ba4!!; (Maybe - '!!!')  22.Qg4 Bf6!23.Rxf6!? Bxb3!; ("-/+")  WHITE RESIGNS! (0-1)  
Black's threat is ...Ba2+; followed by a mate. And if White plays Pawn takes Bishop on b3, 
Black simply plays NxR/f6, with an easily won game. 

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 fascinated chess players for years. 
(Dozens of writers have taken a stab at annotating it.) 

 Copyright () A.J. Goldsby I.  Copyright (c) A.J.G; 2003. 

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This page was first posted: Thursday; May 22nd, 2003.  This page was last updated on 05/15/06

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