I watched this video - Game of the Century - Bobby Fischer vs Donald Byrne in which the 13-year-old Bobby Fischer defeated Donald Byrne in an epic match.

But I didn't really understand what happened at 12:40. The narrator says "now Bryne can capture the Knight with (1) the queen or (2) the pawn." Then he gives a sort of brief explanation on why Bryne chose to capture with the pawn, but I didn't understand. Here is an image of the position (White to move - Fischer was Black):

enter image description here

What would be a more in-depth explanation of why recapturing with the queen is a bad idea?

  • 2
    Could you bring up a picture or board so we don't have to hunt down the position to analyze? – user8213 Sep 11 '15 at 0:21
  • I am very sorry!! Downvotes were totally deserved. I won't ever make such mistakes again. – Pedro A Sep 11 '15 at 9:35

Since your link doesn't work, and we have no diagram of the position, I will assume that you refer to the position below:

[Title "White to move"]
[fen "r2q1rk1/pp2ppbp/2p2np1/6B1/3PP1b1/Q1n2N2/PP3PPP/3RKB1R w - - 0 1"]

What would be a more in-depth explanation of why capturing with the queen is a bad idea?

If White retakes with the Queen he loses a piece, and stays in horrible position that is 100% lost. Below is the illustration:

[Title "Capturing with the queen loses a piece in all lines"]
[fen "r2q1rk1/pp2ppbp/2p2np1/6B1/3PP1b1/Q1n2N2/PP3PPP/3RKB1R w - - 0 1"]

1.Qxc3 Nxe4 2.Qe3 (2.Qd3? Bxf3 3.gxf3 (3.Qxf3 Nxg5-+) 3...Nxg5-+) 2...Bxf3 3.gxf3 (3.Qxf3? Nxg5-+) 3...Qa5+! 4.Rd2 {Or any other move, it really doesn't matter, Black stays with extra piece with Nxg5} Nxg5 5.b4 Qd5-+

To conclude:

In order to defend the bishop on g5 from the knight fork (after retaking black knight on c3 with the queen), White must keep the queen on the c1-h6 diagonal. This is sufficiently well demonstrated in the above diagram.

Black wins by exchanging the bishop on g4 for white knight on f3 to loosen the defense of the white bishop on g5 after which he wins that piece with the queen's double attack via Qa5+.

The resulting position is just plain horrible for White, and practically 100% lost. Only drunk person would be able to squander such advantage with Black ( and they must be really really drunk). Even though at that time White was renowned GM, I think that a solid candidate master would win as Black easily in that position. That is why White decided to take with the pawn.

  • Awesome! Thank you very much for this great answer. Also thank you for the effort on finding out what I was talking about, while I gave a broken link and no images. Excellent answer, you deserve a lot more than just an "accept as correct" but unfortunately I can't give you anything else now :) – Pedro A Sep 11 '15 at 9:37
  • @Hamsteriffic: I am glad I could help. It really was not much of an effort for me, because I knew exactly what position you asked for, based on your description. As for points and awards, not a slightest problem, I do not answer questions to earn points and privileges, but to genuinely help people. Best regards until next time. – AlwaysLearningNewStuff Sep 11 '15 at 14:13

In general, it's preferable to recapture with the weakest piece available. If nothing else, this means that you lose the least material in the event of a sequence of recaptures on the same square.

In this particular case, putting the more powerful piece in that position would open up the possibility of Black forking two pieces on the next move. By using the pawn instead, it is only a fork of a piece and a pawn, and it's relatively easy to keep the piece alive and sacrifice only the pawn - upon which the Queen is still available to recapture the piece, winning the exchange.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.