Looks at Books: Frank Brady’s Masterpiece
By Al Lawrence   
February 1, 2011
Image
Cover photo courtesy of publisher
No mere retread of his classic Profiles of a Prodigy, Dr. Frank Brady’s Endgame reveals previously unknown material about Fischer.


Frank Brady, ENDGAME: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall—from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, 2011, The Crown Publishing Group, 416 pp., $25.95 from uscfsales.com (catalog number BOO20RH)

Our “Searching for Bobby Fischer” seems never to stop, even with his death. He’s still the best-known chess player of all time. (If in doubt, ask strangers at random if they know the name of a famous chess player.) Books, plays and even songs have been written about him. In his endgame, nations moved him like a chess piece into their own version of Zugzwang, tucking him away in the island nation of Iceland, the site of his previous glory—his 1972 Cold War world championship victory over Boris Spassky.

Popular perception of Fischer has run the gamut. Bobby has been America’s golden-boy hero—some say the greatest chess player who ever lived, the lone capitalistic ranger destined to “tear down that wall” of Soviet chess hegemony. He’s been a villain—a traitor and a racist ranter, calling in to Philippine Bombo Radyo to exalt the 9/11 tragedy in the aftermath of his hometown’s saddest hour. And, more often, he’s been simply petty—begrudging even the gentle John Collins, his ever-generous teacher, a crust from the small loaf that was chess in America.

But what was Bobby Fischer really like? There’s now a comprehensive and meticulously researched new book by a longtime associate of Fischer who answers this question about as thoroughly as it can be done. Dr. Frank Brady, who in 1964 (with an update after Bobby’s 1972 title match) authored the justifiably famous biography of the young Fischer, Profile of a Prodigy, has written a new book, Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall—from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness. It tells the story of Fischer’s life from his childhood to the exhumation of his body from the volcanic ash in the tiny Icelandic village of Selfoss, when court officials needed a DNA sample to help settle claims against his multi-million-dollar estate, two and a half years after Bobby died without leaving a will.

No mere updating of his previous book on Fischer, Endgame repeats only a tiny fraction of the older bio, and is the product of Brady’s marshalling and combing through an enormous amount of newly available material, and of his traveling to Reykjavik after Bobby’s death to interview Fischer associates—from shop- keepers and restaurant owners to his closest confidants. Brady, a critically acclaimed biographer, has produced what is a rare triumph in the chess world, a page-turner that should fascinate both serious chess players and non-players.

Perhaps only Bobby’s tempestuous and grand-scale life offers the kind of material necessary to make a chess player’s biography interesting to such a cross-section of readers. Certainly, there’s no shortage of intrigue and drama. The book opens with Bobby screaming “I can’t breathe!”—his head covered under a tightly tied black hood. The scene is his violent 2004 arrest—which he resisted by punching, kicking, and even biting—at Narita Airport, outside of Tokyo. Brady describes the outcome:

Two Japanese security guards were holding him down on the floor of the brightly lit cell, one sitting on his back and pinning his arms to his sides, the other holding his legs—Lilliputians atop the fallen Gulliver.

Moments later, beaten and chained in a cell, Fischer carefully transfers a tooth-chip from his bleeding mouth to his pocket for safekeeping.

I’d always suspected that U.S. Treasury officials had finally run down their long-prodigal son, twelve years after issuing a warrant for his arrest for violating economic sanctions, as a reaction to Fischer’s hate-filled and well publicized remarks on 9/11. And I had assumed U.S. officials were able to have him detained for traveling with an expired passport. But Brady’s research confirms only the former. Bizarrely, Bobby, who had been under indictment in the U.S. since 1992 and hadn’t paid taxes since 1977, was able to renew his passport at the American consulate in Zurich during his dozen years on the run.

Brady soon flashes back to Bobby’s childhood, and following the up-and-down and tortuously twisted path of Fischer’s life, paints a complete portrait. Along the way, he challenges some well-circulated beliefs. His rendering of Regina Fischer, Bobby’s mother, is particularly intimate, and the enduring relationship between mother and son runs counter to their often-reported rift. Regina herself possessed an impressive intellect, earning, in her fifties, both a medical degree and a Ph.D. in hematology. She was a Bohemian do-gooder, committed to peace and humane causes and constantly dogged by FBI agents, who suspected her of being a communist. In her daughter’s words, mom was “a professional protestor.” She was a single parent always on the verge of poverty, actually homeless in Chicago at the birth of her second child and only son. In describing her love and concern for Bobby, Brady goes a long way toward dispelling the myth of the champ as an abandoned little latchkey kid. And later, during Bobby’s post-championship “Wilderness Years,” her social security checks, which she arranged for him to receive, were all that stood between Bobby and utter destitution.

The book’s you-are-there quality comes in large part from the fact that Brady was indeed so often there, involved in directing both the 1963-64 U.S. Championship, in which Bobby scored his famous 11-0 sweep, as well as Fischer’s participation by telex in the 1965 Capablanca Memorial, where the rest of the competitors played face-to-face in Havana, while Fischer hunched over a board at the New York City’s Marshall Chess Club through games extended several hours by the transmission process. Brady shared walks, talks and dinners with the young chess champion, experiencing first-hand both Bobby’s comradeship and pique.

Brady is uniquely qualified to comment on Ralph Ginzburg’s famous 1962 Harper’s interview of 18-year-old Bobby, “Portrait of a Genius As a Young Chess Master,” a touchstone of Fischer mythology since its publication. Fischer came across as a particularly unlikeable and prejudiced young man. Among other things, he was quoted as saying that all women players were “like beginners,” and there were “too many Jews in chess.” Brady, who went on to work with Ginzburg and got to know him well, discounts his methods as characteristically sensational, conjecturing that the interviewer led the inexperienced Bobby into many of the controversial statements. And when, shortly after the interview, Brady asked to listen to the tapes, Ginzburg, usually a pack-rat of his own source material, conveniently claimed that he had already erased them.

On another celebrated topic, Bobby’s early detestation of communists and “commie cheaters,” earlier writers and other Fischer confidants have speculated that this attitude stemmed from the attention Regina drew, as a suspected “Red,” from the FBI in her son’s formative years, and her embarrassing meddling. (She once wore a sandwich sign in front of the White House, protesting the lack of support for her son.) But Brady has a different take, citing 14-year-old Bobby’s trip to Moscow in 1957. Before the journey, Brady explains that the American prodigy had “immense respect” for the Russian grandmasters as the world’s pre-eminent professionals. But during this pre-Portoroz-Interzonal visit, Bobby became typically over-demanding and then infuriated when all of his extravagant wishes (playing world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, for example) were not granted. Bobby’s letters home reflect a drastic reversal in his attitude toward the Russians, turning into a scorn which stuck with him through the rest of his days.

Many of us have heard the story of Bobby saying that “Chess is better [than sex].” But Brady shows that there was indeed romantic love, as well as an apparently unfulfilled desire to propagate, in Fischer’s life. It is true that we’re uncomfortable seeing Bobby pursuing a number of strikingly May-December romances. But in his last years, he shared a relationship with Miyoko Watai, a woman of his own generation.

Some of the brushstrokes are painful to look at. In his last years, Fischer was essentially a solitaire (he had banished even Icelandic supporters who had saved him from certain jail), plainly dressed figure with a shaggy white beard, his teeth falling out as a result of his decision years before to have all of his fillings removed. Ultimately, he died because he had stubbornly refused the recommended medical treatment for a long-diagnosed illness. But Brady’s portrait also reveals a Fischer who knew and returned love, and, despite his lifelong habit of excommunicating his most devoted followers, had at least a few sympathetic supporters with him until the very end.

Brady’s subtitle meaningfully ends with the phrase “Edge of Madness.” His new book convinces me that Fischer was not truly insane—in a way a disappointment, because I wanted a certifiable excuse for Fischer’s worst behavior. But, after all, the portrait here is of a flesh-and-blood, real-life genius. And in real life, none us gets all the answers we want—nor all the excuses we need.

Frank Brady’s masterpiece. A must-read for anyone interested in chess, as well as a fascinating read for anyone interested in the life of a tortured genius. No games or diagrams. Includes photos, many never before published, and an index.


Profiling Brady


Dr. Frank Brady is both a brilliant chronicler of U.S. chess history and a first-hand witness to arguably the most fascinating decades of American chess. A denizen of Greenwich Village when the likes of Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and John Cage made it a center of “Bohemian” culture, Brady was friendly with Bobby Fischer, frequently sharing dinners and long talks with the world-champion-on-the-rise, and Brady knew just about everyone else on our mid-century chess scene.

Brady served as both the business manager of USCF and the editor of Chess Life, which he upgraded from a newspaper to a glossy monthly magazine. But in 1961, he wanted to continue to cover Fischer’s side of the infamous scheduling dispute of the match with Sammy Reshevsky—and therefore risked unsettling the sponsorship of Jacqueline Piatigorsky, née Rothschild. The resulting disagreement with then-USCF-president Fred Cramer led to Brady’s leaving.

After his USCF career, Brady published and edited his own magazine, Chess World, for three brilliant—but financially unsustainable—issues. In 1964, he wrote one of the best-selling chess books of all time, Profile of a Prodigy, a biography of Fischer through 1964, later updated in 1972, after the Fischer-Spassky match. Brady went on to serve as editorial director of Hammond Publishing. After that, he helped publish Avant-Garde magazine, a defiantly cutting-edge monthly that, once again, had more influence than financial success. He traveled and taught abroad, reported on-site for ABC’s Wide World of Sports and Public Broadcasting Service during the 1972 world championship match in Reykjavik, and wrote biographies of Hugh Hefner, Aristotle Onassis, Barbra Streisand, Orson Welles, and publisher and power-broker Paul Block. Eventually Brady went back to school, earning his Ph.D. Dr. Brady has recently stepped down as chairman of the Department of Mass Communications, Journalism, Television and Film at St. John’s University, New York, where he continues to serve as a full professor.

At the release of Brady’s latest book, Endgame: Bobby Fischer’s Remarkable Rise and Fall—from America’s Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness, I sat down with him at the historical chess crossroads of New York City, and the site of so many of young Fischer’s triumphs, the Marshall Chess Club, of which Brady is president. His basso profundo tolled clearly above the sound of club members scurrying to set up for an evening tournament.


AL: Your new book, Endgame, is certainly the definitive bio of Bobby Fischer, and you do considerable debunking of some of the old rumors and even published canards from other books on the champ. Do you have some “favorite falsehoods” you’ve put to rest?

FB: First off, people don’t know or don’t believe that Fischer became an intellectual. From Reykjavik to Reykjavik—he started reading after he had won the world championship and kept it up straight until he died. He was a voracious reader. He read everything.
Another one—and some of this stuff I didn’t know until I did my new research; some of it may even contradict what

I had written in Profile of a Prodigy, the biography of the young Bobby—Fischer and his mother loved each other. There was no great falling out. Just the opposite. They exchanged gifts, they exchanged telegrams. He really wanted her to move back to the United States so that he could be with her. On his deathbed he did ask for a photograph of her. Of course he had arguments with his mother as a teenager. [laughing] It’s normal. I know I did!

In the 1950s, you began to direct tournaments. Shortly after that, you left a job in advertising to be USCF business manager Kenneth Harkness’ full time assistant to earn a third of your previous salary. So you’ve clearly always loved chess! Any regrets you’d care to share?

None whatsoever! Chess is what made me in many ways and gave me an opportunity. When Ken Harkness hired me, I felt like I had died and gone to heaven.

But your own mother suggested you needed to see a psychiatrist when she heard about the pay cut you accepted!

Yes! [laughing]  She said “You’re crazy!” and said she’d pay for the psychiatrist! I said “Mom, it’s what I love. I want to do it.”

Are there events you can pick out as highlights of your life in chess?

Directing the U.S. Championship when Bobby won all of his games—the “picket fence” [so-called because of the string of “1s” on the tournament chart]. Being awarded the title of international arbiter. Covering the Fischer-Spassky match. Becoming president of the Marshall Chess Club.

Those would make anyone’s chess highlight reel. How much of Endgame is in the previously published Profile of a Prodigy?

Much less than 10%.

Then you rewrote nearly everything in light of new information?

With the exception of the chapter [for the 1972 revision of Prodigy] on the world championship in Reykjavik 1972. I got there early and stayed late. I was there literally for three months.

Yes—Bobby, getting on the plane to leave, called you “the last man in Reykjavik.” I’d have a desk plate made.

[laughing] Yes, truly I couldn’t find much new to say about that period of time. I had practically moved into the lobby of the Hotel Loftleidir interviewing everyone I could. But even in that chapter there is some new information about the Soviet investigation of Bobby’s chair, the banquet and what Shelby Lyman was doing in New York.

What new archives and other sources covering Bobby’s life did you access for the first time for Endgame?

Of course I got the 750-page archive [on Bobby’s mother Regina] from the FBI. I went to Iceland and interviewed dozens of people who knew Bobby when he lived there.

You write that the FBI investigation of Regina Fischer was spearheaded by J. Edgar Hoover himself. And you even quote directly from that file.

I also got—and I don’t think too many people have gotten this—Bobby’s own FBI archive. It is very small. Gerhardt Fischer [Regina’s husband] had an FBI file too. If you write to the FBI and ask for his file … they say they don’t have it, but … [they do].

You don’t find the evidence convincing that Paul Nemenyi, the Hungarian physicist who worked on the Manhattan atom-bomb project, was Fischer’s biological father. So—you’re not persuaded by the Philadelphia Inquirer’s investigation?

I don’t find the evidence conclusive. Regina was interviewed by a social worker and told him that she went to Mexico City for an assignation with Gerhardt in June of 1942, and that he was the father.

[Counting up to nine on my fingers] So that gestational math works out. Yes, I recall that Peter Nicholas and Clea Benson made a big point that FBI files show Gerhardt Fischer absent from the U.S. during the necessary timing.

Clea and Peter are wonderful researchers. I wrote to the State Department to see if Regina traveled out of the country in 1942, and they had no record of that. But I also went to the Mexican Embassy and was told that back then someone could simply walk across the border without a passport. I crossed into Mexico years ago and no one asked me anything. So she could have gone to Mexico to meet her husband Gerhardt without documentation.

Back to archives that provided new information for this book. Were there others?

Yes. The Jack Collins archive … maintained by the University of Indiana. I got an inventory and then paid for photocopies of what I thought may be interesting.

You did a tremendous amount of research for Endgame. But a researcher’s mining doesn’t strike gold with every shovelful.

No! For example, they [University of Indiana] had an entire diary of Ethel Collins in Reykjavik, day-by-day, a hundred pages or more. It turned out I didn’t use one word! It was all, like, we went to such-and-such restaurant and caught a glimpse of Bobby, and so on. It broke my heart. I thought I’d get some important stuff out of that! [laughing]

Were there even more archives you examined for this new book?

Yes, Russell Targ, Bobbys brother- in-law, donated Regina Fischer’s archives to the Marshall Chess Foundation. The problem with it … was that some of it was covered with black mold. I could read it only one hour at a time, even with a mask. But it was fascinating. And, oh, I don’t want to call it an archive—it sounds too pretentious—but I have been collecting material on Fischer over all the years … and used that as well.

It seems Fischer’s first teacher, Carmine Nigro, opened the doors of the chess world for Bobby. Did you know Nigro?

Oh, yes. He taught Bobby, brought him to Washington Square Park. He never charged him anything, and even taught him how to play the accordion.

His next teacher, Jack Collins, also waived fees and treated Bobby like family. The New York City clubs also waived any fees, at a time when they didn’t even admit other children his age. As a youngster, Bobby met with considerable kindness from the New York City chess community.

Yes and no. Certainly generous of Collins. They were together almost every night. Collins was very, very courteous and generous. But there was always the question of the American Chess Foundation, who had the big donors. They were paying Reshevsky $200 a month and getting him plum exhibitions and backing him. And [Julius] Rosenwald [then co-owner of Sears and Roebuck] sent him to college and paid for all that. And Bobby was getting zilch.

Why didn’t they back Fischer the same way?

They wanted Bobby to behave, to dress well, be nice, speak well and smile—and Bobby wasn’t doing it. So Reshevsky was their boy.

It seems Nigro is singular in Bobby’s circle because Fischer didn’t later belittle him, as he did Collins and everyone else. In your book, you quote Bobby as saying “Nigro may not have been the world’s greatest player, but he was a great teacher.”

Nigro only taught Bobby for five years and in 1956 moved down to Florida. But right, Bobby never denigrated him. Years later, after Bobby became world champion, Regina got back in touch with him to thank him.

Of the USCF officials, who was the most important person paving the way for Fischer to get to Reykjavik?

Ed Edmondson [USCF executive director] was the man. He did everything for Bobby. But then Bobby got angry with him because Bobby didn’t get everything he wanted. Bobby always wanted more—always wanted more.

Edmondson wasn’t allowed by Fischer to come to the post-match celebration at City Hall in Manhattan.

Nor was he allowed to come to Reykjavik!

Fischer didn’t like his friends writing about him. You related that you showed Bobby Profile of a Prodigy and the only thing he didn’t like was that you said he was Jewish. But were there really ill feelings about that?

I think there were! He didn’t like people who wrote about him, but even more, he didn’t like people who made money off of his name.

You tell the story of Bobby refusing to write an introduction for John Collins’ 1975 book My Seven Chess Prodigies, which would have gotten John a badly needed advance from his publisher.

It’s heartbreaking. I’ve read the letter from Collins to Bobby. In a very polite way, Collins begged Bobby to write an introduction. Bobby just never answered, and that was the end of that.

After all his reading and all the kindness he received—and his success—, isn’t Fischer’s often spiteful behavior hard to explain?

Bobby was disturbed. He was a complicated character, a complicated person. I think he did not like to get too close to people. There’s a quote—when I heard it, I said “Wow! That explains Bobby.” Bobby said, “I am always on the attack.” Not necessarily just on the chessboard. Almost like a lifetime of chess where you have to be always on the attack. … That’s the way he was in everything. So he would attack people, in effect. He’d attack them in conversations, in social situations. Obviously that’s a highly neurotic, disturbed person who has to do that. He couldn’t relax. He couldn’t trust anyone. He always thought they were trying to get something from him. The poor woman in Reykjavik, after a year of serving him Thai food, asked him please to pose for a photograph with him—and he said no! Because—what?—she would sell that photo for ten dollars? So what?

And Fischer didn’t seem to live much differently with or without money. With millions in the bank, he took a tiny
apartment in Reykjavik, and walked or rode the bus.   

Extremely frugal. Although I understand he did pick up checks for people. Susan Polgar told me that he was always a gentleman about that kind of thing when they went out. I don’t have any explanation other than, you know, “Nobody’s going to make a dollar off me.”

The elephant-in-the-interview is Bobby’s anti-American and racist radio rant after the 9/11 terrorist attack.

I was horrified! St. John’s, where I teach, is close to ground zero, and we lost people in the attack. We could smell the rubble burning. When Bobby made those statements, I was furious with him. I went ballistic. I asked “Why should we honor him?” Then, in time—it was a little bit like, should we listen to Wagner or look at Gauguin’s work? So the point is Bobby was certainly one of the greatest players of all time. So let’s honor that, and it’s okay to honor that.

Your new book is a page-turner with a compelling you-are-there quality for both chess players and non-chess players. How did you manage that?

I wanted to capture the man and, to the extent that one can, write a true biography rather than just “another chess book”—so that, although I think chess players will find it of interest, it’s possible that an average reader … will find it of interest as well. So I had to be very careful—it killed me sometimes! I wanted to be able to say “this is the combination he played to defeat Saidy,” but I felt the average player would already have that available. And the non-chess-playing reader is probably not interested in the [moves of] the combination. So I walked a fine line there, trying to make it interesting to both populations.

Well, in my book, Dr. Brady, you succeeded brilliantly. Thank you for sharing so much with Chess Life readers.

Thank you, Al.

Fischer versus Euwe: An Excerpt from Endgame

Chess Life introduces to the world a lost Fischer game.
Reprinted from ENDGAME: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall—from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady. Copyright © 2011. Published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

It was his fourteenth birthday, a typically windswept March afternoon, bone dry and cold, and as Bobby worked his way along Central Park South toward the Manhattan Chess Club, to the most important match of his burgeoning career, he was shivering from the wind, not from fear. It was a good feeling to get inside the well-heated club.

His opponent, Dr. Max Euwe, from Holland, was waiting. Fifty-six years old, conservatively dressed, and well over six feet tall, he appeared a giant next to Bobby. Aside from the four decades that separated their ages, they were a study in opposites. Euwe, a doctor of philosophy and a professor of mathematics at the Amsterdam Lyceum, was a former World Champion, having defeated his predecessor in 1935 with a studied and logical approach to the game. He was an even-tempered, soft-spoken, and mature grandmaster who represented the old guard, and over a lifetime of tournament warfare he’d played many of the game’s legendary figures. His gentle demeanor aside, he thrived on combat, and improbably, given his academic and chess prowess, he’d once been the European heavyweight amateur boxing champion. Bobby, in contrast, was nervous and volatile, the chess arriviste of Brooklyn, a colt of a player, and as it was beginning to develop, the spearhead of the coming generation of American players. He was pleased that he’d won the U.S. Junior Championship the previous summer, but above all, he’d begun to have increased confidence in himself after his celebrated “Game of the Century.” In just six months that game had established him as more than just a curiosity: He was now a new star in the international chess galaxy. As much as Bobby wanted to play Euwe, the renowned doctor was just as intrigued by the prospect of playing the prodigy.

Bobby greeted Dr. Euwe with a polite handshake and a gentle smile. Billed as a “friendly” contest—no titles were at issue—the two-game exhibition match was sponsored by the Manhattan Chess Club to give Bobby an opportunity to play against a world-class master. The stakes were pitifully small: $100 overall, $65 to the winner, and $35 for the loser.

Sitting at the chess table, the professor and the teenager created an almost comic tableau. Euwe’s long legs could barely fit underneath, and he sat obliquely, somewhat casually, as if he wasn’t truly a part of the action. In contrast, Bobby—all seriousness—had to sit upright to reach the pieces, his elbows just finding their way to the top of the board. A small crowd, hardly an audience, gathered around to follow the moves.

Euwe, in grandmasterly fashion, thoroughly outplayed Bobby until they reached the twentieth move, at which point Bobby, realizing that his position was hopeless, toppled his king in resignation. Feeling humiliated, Bobby burst out of the club in tears and ran to the subway. For his part, Euwe didn’t evince much pride in his swift victory, since he felt that Bobby “was only a boy.” He then quickly added, “But a promising one!”

The next day Bobby was back promptly at 2:30 p.m. for the second and final game of the match. This time he had the slight advantage of playing with the white pieces, which allowed him to employ his favorite opening strategy. Since he’d lost the day before, he was determined not to lose again. After an exchange of pieces, he emerged with a pawn ahead in an endgame that looked as though it would lead to a draw. When Bobby offered to trade rooks, Euwe responded by offering him a draw on the forty-first move.

Bobby pondered for a long while and, with no apparent winning chances left, reluctantly agreed.

To wrest a draw from a former World Champion was neither small cheese nor minor chess, but Bobby was unhappy since he’d lost the match, 1½-½. Oddly, in the more than fifty years since, although virtually all of Bobby’s games have been analyzed and published—good games and bad; wins, draws, and losses—the complete score of the Fischer-Euwe draw has not only gone unpublished, but the game itself has gone unheralded in the chess press.

Until now that is. GM Lev Alburt annotates this ‘new’ game for Chess Life, the first time the full game score, uncovered by Frank Brady during his Endgame research, has been printed (the game is not in the book). Brady tells Chess Life:

I found Bobby's personal score sheets of his match with Euwe stuffed at the bottom of a box that Regina Fischer had kept for years, and that eventually went to Bobby's sister Joan. Now, more than a half-century later, this game—a true Fischer relic—can be seen. That a 14-year-old could draw with a former world champion is testament to Bobby's growing talent at that time.


The first score sheet (Bobby's loss to Euwe) was severely creased and damaged, but the score sheet of his draw was in fairly good condition, as indicated in the accompanying illustration.

In important matches and tournaments, Hans Kmoch, the venerated manager of the Manhattan Chess Club, would always fill in the names of the players on the score sheet, the date, what game or round it was, and the name of the event—in this case “EXH,” meaning “exhibition.”


EuweFischer.jpg



Open Ruy Lopez (C83)
Robert Fischer
Max Euwe
March 10, 1957
Notes by GM Lev Alburt


1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 Nxe4 6. d4 b5 7. Bb3 d5 8. dxe5 Be6 9. c3 Be7 10. Nbd2 0-0 11. Qe2 Nc5 12. Nd4 Nxb3 13. N2xb3

An in-between 13. Nxc6 is met in-kind: 13. ... Nxc1.

13. ... Qd7 14. Nxc6 Qxc6 15. Be3
FischerEuwe.jpg
Euwe was well familiar with this position. 23 years earlier, against Mikhail Botvinnik (Leningrad, 1934) he played 15. ... Bf5; White achieved a better game after 16. Rfd1 Rfd8 17. f3 Bf8 18. Qf2. Later, a tempo-saving improvement for Black was found: 16. ... Qg6! 17. f3 (not 17. Rxd5 Be4) 17. ...  c6, but even this may not suffice for full equality.

A touch of modern theory: 15. ... f6!, with equality, is Black’s best, according to GM Roman Dzindzichashvili.

Euwe chose another, already well tried, move.

15. ... Qc4  16. Qd2

In an earlier published game among masters, 16. Qc2 was played here. Fischer, however, goes for a more complete control over dark squares.

16. ... c5

Reacting to White’s threat of 17. Nd4 and 18. b3 (note how 16. Qd2, protecting the c3-pawn, created that threat).

17. Na5 Qh4 18. Nc6 Rfe8 19. g3!

A worthy finale to the white knight’s tour-de-force. White wins a pawn, while the damage to his king’s pawn cover is manageable.

19. ... Qh5 20. Nxe7+ Rxe7 21. Bxc5 Rc7
FischerEuwe2.jpg
22. Bd4

Too cautious. After the forceful 22. Bd6 (no, the white king will do just fine without the bishop’s help) 22. ... Rc4 23. b3 Rg4 (or 23. ... Rh4 24. f3) 24. a4!, White’s advantage is bigger than in the game. Also very strong was the flexible 22. Qe3.

22. ... Bg4 23. f4 Rc6 24. a4

Fischer creates counterplay, and a diversion, on the queenside. Note how the character of play somewhat resem-bles the Marshall Gambit—except that in the Marshall many endings are drawish, while here they would clearly favor White.

24. ... bxa4 25. Rxa4 Rh6 26. Qf2

Stronger was 26. Be3, threatening f4-f5. After 26. ... Bf5 27. Rd4 Be4 28. c4 White is clearly better; 26. ... Be2 27. Rf2 Bb5 preserves Black’s remaining pawns, but takes the sting from his kingside attacks.

Still, Fischer’s move preserves his edge.

26. ... Bf5 27. Rfa1 Rc8
FischerEuwe3.jpg
28. Rb4

Not 28. Rxa6 Rxa6 29. Rxa6 Qd1+ 30. Qf1 Qxf1+ 31. Kxf1 Bd3+, and the rook is lost.

28. ... Rg6 29. Rb6

Exchanging one aggressive piece.

29. ... Rxb6 30. Bxb6 Qg4 31. Bd4

An ambitious 31. Qf1, going for the second pawn (as before, 31. Rxa6 loses to Qd1+) is met by 31. ... Rb8. Now if 32. Rxa6, Bc8 wins material. If 32. Qxa6, then 32. ... Be4, and the white queen is overburdened.

31. ... h5

A typical pawn assault, with a side benefit of proving a nice luft for the black king.

32. Rf1 Bd3 33. Re1 Rc6 34. Re3 Be4
FischerEuwe4.jpg
35. Qe2

White misses a chance to better place his kingside pawns, thus securing his king’s safety, and an edge: 35. Qf1 followed by 36. h3, and then 37. Kh2.

35. ... Qf5 36. Kf2

White’s king starts his “long march” into an uncertain future.

36. ... h4 37. Ke1 hxg3 38. hxg3 Rh6 39. Kd2 Bb1 40. Rf3! Rh1 41. Rf1, Draw agreed.
FischerEuwe5.jpg

Could Euwe get more, for instance by 39. ... a5, or 39. ... Rh1, isn’t clear.

Perhaps Euwe was happy with the draw (after all, he won the match) and also felt that Bobby, who played very well and indeed was better through most of the game, deserved this one draw.

In a final position, White should hold, for instance, 41. ... Bd3 42. Qxd3 Qxd3+ 43. Kxd3 Rxf1

analysisFischerEuwe.jpg
Analysis after 43. ... Rxf1

with 44. Ke2! and 45. b4.