Repertoire - (2023)

Evolution of Bobby Fischer’s opening repertoire

Bobby Fischer’s opening repertoire can be divided into three general periods:

the early years: from 1955 to 1962.
(Games 1 to 409).

Middle years: 1964 – 1969
(Games 410-574).

The road to the World Championships: 1970-1972.
(Games 575-690).

After each of the first two periods, Bobby took time off, only to return to the rivalry of a much stronger player, as evidenced by changes in his debut repertoire. A sample of games is given at the end of most listings. However, be sure to use the main index for a full review. [Game numbers are in bold and in brackets].

Early years: 1955-1962
(Games 1-409)

Fisher as white

From the very beginning of his career Fischer was devoted to 1.e4.

vs. the defense of Alekhine
The only examples of such protection during this period show that Bobby played in a solid version 5.ed6, avoiding possible surprises against the attack of the “Four Pawns”. [295, 401]

vs. the defense of Caro Cann
During this period, Fischer played the variation “Two Knights” almost exclusively. (1.e4 c6 2.Nc3 d5 3.Nf3) He persistently used this setup, which usually leads to a closed center and long maneuvers. This can be seen as a young player’s method where one system must always be played against a certain defense. Bobby plays most effectively against Addison (U.S. Open Cleveland, 1957). In 1960, Bobby switched to a sharper Panov attack (1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.ed5 cd5 4.c4). Few of the players challenged Fischer in this line in connection with his decisive victory over Euwe at the 1960 Leipzig Olympics. In 1961 he tried the classic 3.Nc3 against Petrosian in Bled, winning the game without a clear advantage in the debut. [65, 85, 142, 186, 197, 202, 203, 211, 217, 219, 221, 226, 250, 253, 286]

vs. French defense
When encountering the French defense, Fisher almost always invited Winawer with 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3. After further moves 3…Bb4 4.e5 c5 5.a3 Bc3 6.bc3, we come to a theoretically critical position. [112, 171, 257, 284, 291, 298, 353, 383, 399]

vs. the defense of Petrov
There were only two meetings against Petrov’s defense during that period: against Bissier (US Championship, 1959) and against Germany (Stockholm Interzonal). Bobby played 3.Ne5 against Bissier and 3.d4 against Germany, winning both games. [224, 343]

versus Pierce’s defense
Fischer almost always used a direct Austrian attack (characterized by 4.f4) or the Birn system (4.Bg5). [72, 116, 228, 326, 358]

(Video) Bobby Fischer beats a Grandmaster in 10 moves! (But Reshevsky plays on)

The game “Four Knights
This discovery (1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Nc3 Nf6) occurred only once during this period. Bobby drew this early experiment at the 1955 US Junior Championship against Ames. [4]

onslaught by the King of India
Bobby once said about an Indian attack of the king: “It used to be my favorite. Indeed, throughout his career, he used this discovery. The discovery is characterized by a white installation 1.Nf3 2.g3 3.Bg2 4.d3 5.O-O and 6.e4. Bobby often played this formation against Caro Cannes, the French defense and sometimes even the Sicilian (see basic index of game numbers).

Rui Lopez
Rai Lopez was a powerful weapon for Bobby throughout his career. The strategic game in all directions from the beginning was suitable for Bobby’s talents. In this early period Fisher was so skilled in the main lines that many of his opponents chose irregular settings when defending Ruy (see the main index of game numbers).

against a Sicilian
This early period is marked by the search for attacking formations against all major lines in Sicily. It was during this period that Bobby finally decided on the White attack system similar to Sozin 6.Bc4. After this system started to work, Bobby was prepared practically for all open Sicilian variations of Black, and began to introduce theoretical novelties, which popularized this system (see the basic index of game numbers).

Fisher as black

against the debut in Queenside (1.d4, 1.c4, etc.).

Indian defense of the king
This modern, active defense found its place in Fisher’s repertoire when he was only 12 years old at the 1955 U.S. Junior Championships. During this period Bobby played with the Royal Indian almost exclusively against the debut of not 1.e4. The Royal Indian was characterized by flexible figure skating and hiking, which allowed Bobby to play for victory and create dynamically unbalanced positions right from his debut (see the main index of game numbers).

Grunfeld defense
Grunfeld Fischer’s defense of this period is one of his most famous games, including the “Game of the Century” against D. Birn and Botvinnik at the Varna Olympics. [35, 270, 390, 397, 402, 406]

royal gambit
Fisher sometimes took this solid but mostly passive line to avoid ready-made variations against his usual hypermodern protection. In these games, he demonstrated that he is very capable of playing a solid, classic type of game. [133, 218, 242, 245, 306, 308, 321, 327, 331, 346, 352, 373, 377, 380, 381]

vs. 1.e4
The history of Fisher’s adoption of the Sicilian Defence is, in fact, a study in Nydorf’s variation, as it was almost the only variation of a Sicilian he had ever played. Against 6.f4 (after 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cd4 4.Nd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6), he usually played 6…e5, followed by early …b5. Against 6.Be2 he again played 6…e5 with the idea of an early Queenside game, which is so thematically characteristic of Sicily. Against 6.g3, 6…e5 was still a recipe. Finally, against the currently popular game 6.Bg5 he played early …h6, and then …g5 (Gothenberg variant), which leads to an extremely complex tactical game (see the basic index of game numbers).

Middle years: 1963-1969
(Games 410-574)

Fisher as white

vs. the defense of Alekhine
Bobby met with the “Defense of Alekhine” only once during this period, drawing with “Chiokalteya” at the Capablanca Memorial, 1965. [437]

vs. the defense of Caro Cann
Fisher continued with the variation “Two Knights”, but also tried Panov’s attack and the variation “Exchange”. [526, 550, 552, 559, 564]

(Video) Svitlana's Smart Moves - The Classics by Bobby Fischer

vs. French defense
During this period, Fischer had unequal results against the French defense. He stayed true to 3.Nc3, inviting a variation of Winawer, but many of his opponents chose less critical variations, such as MacCutcheon and Burn. [414, 445, 464, 497, 504, 542]

versus Pierce’s defense
During this period Fischer played only the Austrian attack, winning all six games. [420, 433, 453, 456, 556, 562]

Paradise Lopez
Fischer began to meet the world’s strongest players with Rue Lopez, scoring well against all defenders. His opponents continued to avoid long, closed variations, trying new move orders and Marshal Attack (see the main index of game numbers).

against the Defence of Two Knights
The only example of the Two Knights during this period of Fisher’s career is his games against Bishkek and Radoic, both from the New York State Open in 1963. Fischer won both games, reviving the old Steinitz line, characterized by 9.Nh3. [422, 423]

vs. Sicilian Defence
Against the constantly popular Sicilian, Fisher was challenged by a variety of black systems. Against the Chevenigen and Nydorf lines, he often used his 6.Bc4 pet, earning many brilliant victories. Against the Dragon, he invariably played a sharp Yugoslav attack, which is undoubtedly the most serious attempt to save the initiative (see the main index of game numbers).

Fisher as black

vs. Queenside

Against the Englishman Bobby mixed his reliable royal Indian formation with systems using early …c5. [428, 434, 452, 465, 498, 505, 507, 528, 545, 565, 569, 574]

king’s protection
The Indian King has remained Fisher’s main weapon against all discoveries not 1.e4, and he demonstrates more knowledge about the orders of moves and often takes the initiative at an early stage of the game (see the main index of game numbers).

Grunfeld defense
Fisher increased the number of Grunfields he played by adopting this alternative to his regular Royal Indian. Bobby claims that Black gets a great game against the White Center in the exchange option, while other, less sharp lines do not give Black any problems. [418, 419, 426, 442, 473, 521]

Nimzo-Indian Defence
Fisher sometimes played Nimzo-Indian, especially when confronted with a royal Indian specialist. One of his favorite settings included an “expanded” bishop queen’s fianchetto to a6. [455, 457, 461, 463, 476]

royal gambit
Although Fischer is now famous for his game of hyper modern defense, he also played two royal gambits in the role of black, winning both matches. [417,573]

(Video) The Secrets of Winning with 1.e4 (Opening strategy explained)

vs. 1.e4
During this period, Fischer continued to play almost exclusively on the Nydorf version of the Sicilian defense. Against the most popular variant 6.Bg5 he played both a solid …Be7, and an ultra-sharp variant …Qb6 with a poisoned pawn. [439, 514, 520, 543, 551, 557, 567]

On the way to the World Championships: 1970-1972
(Games 575 – 690)

Fisher as white

vs. the defense of Caro Cann
During this period, Bobby almost completely abandoned the variation “Two Knights” and returned to his early favorite – “Attack of the King of the Indians” with 2.d3. Also of interest is his adoption of the ancient line 1.e4 c6 2.d4 d5 3.ed5 cd5 4.Bd3 against the Persian [575] in the USSR match against the rest of the world. Fischer 11.a4! was an important improvement in this discovery. [575, 577, 582, 617, 624, 626]

vs. French defense
Bobby stayed with 3.Nc3, still inviting Wynaver. He successfully experimented with 4.a3 against Ulman in Zagreb in 1970, but lost to Kovacevic with this move later in the same tournament. [584, 586, 599, 616, 655, 663, 669]

vs. the defense of Petrov
Fisher wrote the classic essay 3.Ne5 twice during this period, defeating Georgiu and drawing with Petrosyan. [598, 665]

versus Pierce’s defense
Bobby continued the Austrian attack, but added a new turn with the early expansion of h3, g4 Kingside, defeating Udovic with this plan. [590, 686]

vs. Sicilian Defence
Fisher stayed with the Yugoslav attack against the Dragon and Sozin against other major systems, but several times against the popular Taimanov’s movement order (1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cd4 4.Nd4 e6) he chose a solid 5.Nb5. [592, 650, 654, 661]

Paradise Lopez
Bobby continued to score well against all the defenders of Rui Lopez, and also expanded his arsenal with the option Exchange, 4.Bc6 (see the main index of game numbers).

Fisher as white does not play 1.e4
During this period Fisher expanded his repertoire, playing from time to time as an Englishman (1.c4), Nimzovich/Larsen Attack (1.b3) and the Royal Gambit, usually by shifting from Englishman to Englishman. [596, 629, 636, 646, 648, 675, 677, 681, 683]

Fisher as black

vs. 1.e4

Alekhine defense
During this period Fisher took Alekhine’s defense six times (3 victories, 3 draws), usually fianchetting his king-bishop to strike at the center of White. [593, 639, 641, 645, 682, 688]

(Video) Opening Repertoire: French Defense 3.Bd3 | Surprise Weapon for White

Sicilian defence
Throughout Fischer’s mature period of life he remained faithful to his favorite Nydorf variation, expanding with regularity the well-known theory. Against the closed Sicilian he introduced the theoretical idea …Bg4 with the subsequent capture of Nf3 white, thus eliminating one of the strongest attacking white figures (see the basic index of game numbers).

against the Queen’s pawn.

vs. Englishmen
Bobby continued the flexible Indian defense of the king and from time to time he tried a symmetrical variation (…c5), but still fianchised the king-bishop. [576, 600, 606, 611, 627, 631, 633]

Fisher added to his royal Indian repertoire a Benoni modem (2 …c5), playing very aggressively and scoring well against his unsuspecting opponents [635, 643, 647, 672].

Grunfeld defense
Fisher kept this protection for the summit meetings. Grunfeld’s tendency to increase tension, when Black shoots from a direct volley into the center of White, creates the conditions for decisive chess, which so delightfully approaches the uncompromising Fischer style. [578, 608, 621, 637, 653, 662]

king’s protection
Always the first line of Fisher against the system 1.d4, he introduced innovations in this period with a double facet, as well as 5…c5 against Samish attack (see the main index for game numbers).

Nimzo-Indian defense
Bobby successfully played this discovery on the way to the world championship, as well as in his match with Spassky. [610, 625, 670]

against the Queen’s Gambit.
Fisher showed flexibility, playing against the Indian specialists of King’s, and added to his ever-expanding repertoire half-tarrash. [602, 678]

The games mentioned on this page will be added soon – they are not indexed in the PGN file found on the main page or included in the period. They will be in a separate PGN file, hopefully, more complete than the existing database! 🙂

Repertoire - (1)

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