ETCETERA / Chess: David Norwood criticises Bobby Fischer, praises Boris Spassky and argues for devaluation of the rook.

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White: Boris Spassky

Black: Bobby Fischer

Fourth match game, 1992.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. 0-0 a6 7. dxc5

A very Spassky-esque decision, playing for a dull position to force some concession if a draw is to be avoided. On past record, Fischer is never content with a quick draw.

7 . . . Qxd1 8. Rxd1 Bxc5 9. b3 Nbd7 10. Bb2 b6

An early b5 is met by a4 undermining the pawns.

11. Nc3 Bb7 12. Rac1 Be7 13. Nd4 Rc8 14. f3 b5 15. Be2 Bc5 16. Kf1 Ke7

It is clear that Black can make a draw any time he wants to.

17. e4 g5 18. Nb1

In view of what happens, 18 . . . Bd6]? looks the best chance to try to play for a win.

18 . . . g4 19. Ba3 b4? (See diagram) 20. Rxc5] Nxc5 21. Bxb4

People over-estimate the value of the rook. We are taught that a rook is worth five points to a bishop's three, but eight or nine times out of ten, a bishop and two pawns are worth more than a rook, and two bishops are almost always better than rook and pawn. In the present position White is totally in control. His knights will dominate the board from d4 and c4, and Black's rooks have no entry squares. The bishop and pawn are worth more than a rook.

21 . . . Rhd8 22. Na3 gxf3 23. gxf3 Nfd7 24. Nc4 Ba8 25. Kf2 Rg8 26. h4]

A confident move, denying Black's rook the use of g5.

26 . . . Rc7 27. Nc2 Rb8

Fischer's dithering with this rook on d8, g8 and b8 is a measure of his inability to find a plan.

28. Ba3 h5?

This just provides White with something to hit.

29. Rg1] Kf6 30. Ke3 a5 31. Rg5 a4

Without making any concessions, White has gained a winning position. 31 . . . a4 is a desperate try to loosen the position.

32. b4 Nb7 33. b5 Nbc5 34. Nd4 e5

White was threatening 35. b6, winning a piece.

35. Nxe5] Nxe5 36. Rf5+ Kg7 37. Rxe5 Nxe4 38. Bd3]

38. fxe4? Rc3+ would have let Black escape, but this is a killer. After 38 . . . Nf6, White has Bd6.

38 . . . Rc3 39. Bb4] Rxd3+ 40. Kxd3 Nf6 41. Bd6 Rc8

A pawn down, with his pieces inactive, Black is hopelessly lost.

42. Rg5+ Kh7 43. Be5 Ne8 44. Rxh5+ Kg6 45. Rg5+ Kh7 46. Bf4 f6 47. Rf5 Kg6 48. b6 Rd8 49. Ra5 Bxf3 50. h5+] resigns.

Black loses a piece after 50 . . . Bxh5 51. b7 or 50 . . . Kf7 51. Ra7+ and 52. b7. A poor game by Fischer, but fine play from Spassky.

(Graphic omitted)