7

I recently came across a very interesting rook and pawn endgame from one of the games between Fischer and Geller from the Curacao Candidates Tournament in 1962. More precisely, I am talking about the endgame from this game, appearing after 33. Rc4 (see the diagram below).

It looks like a draw (to me, at least). Fischer himself was of the opinion, that the endgame is holdable, since after the game was adjourned after the 42. move, he allegedly said something like

"I'll draw that game with my eyes shut!"

However, Geller managed to win the game.

This endgame is unfortunately out of reach of my chess understanding, but I would like to remedy that. This brings me to my question:

Is there a detailed expert analysis of this endgame in chess literature (or on chess websites)?

The endgame is rather long and technical. Therefore, I am primarily asking for a reference with detailed end extensive expert analysis, rather than a personal opinion or basic analysis. Of course, explanation of general ideas governing the way this endgame unfolded or any comments in that direction are also welcome, but please name a reference where I can learn more about it first. Thank you!


[FEN ""]
[StartPly "65"]
[StartFlipped "1"]
[Event "Curacao Candidates"]
[Site "Willemstad CUW"]
[Date "1962.05.16"]
[EventDate "1962.05.02"]
[Round "9"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Robert James Fischer"]
[Black "Efim Geller"]
[ECO "B88"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "136"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 e6
7. Bb3 Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. Be3 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 b5 11. e5 dxe5
12. fxe5 Nd7 13. O-O Bc5 14. Bxc5 Nxc5 15. Qxd8 Rxd8 16. Nxb5
Ba6 17. Bc4 Rab8 18. a4 Nxa4 19. Nd6 Bxc4 20. Nxc4 Nxb2
21. Nd6 Rd7 22. Rfb1 Rc7 23. h3 Rb6 24. c4 h6 25. Nb5 Rc5
26. Rxb2 a6 27. Rf2 axb5 28. Ra7 Rxe5 29. Rfxf7 Rg5 30. Rfb7
Rxb7 31. Rxb7 bxc4 32. Rc7 Rf5 33. Rxc4 Kf7 34. g4 Rf3 35. Kg2
Rd3 36. Rc7+ Kf6 37. h4 Ra3 38. Rb7 Rc3 39. g5+ hxg5 40. hxg5+
Kg6 41. Re7 Re3 42. Kf2 Re5 43. Kf3 Rf5+ 44. Ke3 e5 45. Ke4
Rxg5 46. Re8 Rg1 47. Kf3 Rf1+ 48. Kg3 Rf5 49. Rb8 Kg5 50. Re8
Kf6 51. Rf8+ Ke6 52. Re8+ Kf6 53. Rf8+ Ke6 54. Re8+ Kd5
55. Ra8 Rf7 56. Kg4 Re7 57. Ra5+ Ke6 58. Ra6+ Kf7 59. Kf3 Re6
60. Ra8 e4+ 61. Ke3 g5 62. Ra1 Kg6 63. Rb1 Re5 64. Kd4 Kf6
65. Re1 Ra5 66. Rxe4 Kf5 67. Re8 Kg4 68. Ke3 Kg3 0-1

  • My experience an intuition says that black has good winning chances. It is no surprise that Geller won. – yobamamama Jan 12 at 1:54
4

Geller himself analyzed this endgame in The Application of Chess Theory. I'm not sure if it's quite as in-depth as you're looking for but I've reproduced the post-move-33 annotations here.


[FEN ""]
[StartPly "65"]
[StartFlipped "1"]
[Event "Curacao Candidates"]
[Site "Willemstad CUW"]
[Date "1962.05.16"]
[EventDate "1962.05.02"]
[Round "9"]
[Result "0-1"]
[White "Robert James Fischer"]
[Black "Efim Geller"]
[ECO "B88"]
[WhiteElo "?"]
[BlackElo "?"]
[PlyCount "136"]

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 Nc6 6. Bc4 e6
7. Bb3 Be7 8. f4 O-O 9. Be3 Nxd4 10. Bxd4 b5 11. e5 dxe5
12. fxe5 Nd7 13. O-O Bc5 14. Bxc5 Nxc5 15. Qxd8 Rxd8 16. Nxb5
Ba6 17. Bc4 Rab8 18. a4 Nxa4 19. Nd6 Bxc4 20. Nxc4 Nxb2
21. Nd6 Rd7 22. Rfb1 Rc7 23. h3 Rb6 24. c4 h6 25. Nb5 Rc5
26. Rxb2 a6 27. Rf2 axb5 28. Ra7 Rxe5 29. Rfxf7 Rg5 30. Rfb7
Rxb7 31. Rxb7 bxc4 32. Rc7 Rf5 33. Rxc4 Kf7 34. g4 (34. g3) {An inaccuracy. Of course, the white king has come into play, but for this 34. g3 was more appropriate, retaining the possibility in certain cases of continuing h3-h4 and Kg2-h3-g4. But now the white king is cut off along the third rank, and the white pawns are insufficiently defended} Rf3 35. Kg2
Rd3 36. Rc7+ Kf6 37. h4 Ra3 38. Rb7 Rc3 {Both sides have been making waiting moves before the time control, but White suddenly changes the character of the position} 39. g5+ hxg5 40. hxg5+
Kg6 41. Re7 Re3 42. Kf2? (42. Kh2!! Re5 (42... Kxg5 43. Rxg7 Kf6 44. Rg1 Rf3 45. Kg2 Rf5 46. Re1) 43. Kh3){This last move before the adjournment loses by force. White could still have drawn with 42. Kf2!!, so as to answer 42... Re5 with 43. Kh3, not allowing the black rook to take the g5 pawn with check or to leave the e-file with check. And in the event of 42... Kxg5 43. Rxg7+ Kf6 44. Rg1 Rf3 45. Kg2 Rf5 46. Re1 a theoretically drawn position would have been reached} Re5 {By this sealed move Black wins a second pawn, and with it the game} 43. Kf3 Rf5+ 44. Ke3 (44. Ke4 Rf7! (44... e5?? 45. Rxg7) 45. Rxe6 Kxg5) {In the event of 44. Ke4 Black of course would not have continued 44... e5?? 45. Rxg7+, but 44... Rf7! 45. Rxe6+ Kxg5, and since here White's king is cut off on the so-called "long" side of the board, he is lost. Something similar also occurs in the game} e5 45. Ke4
Rxg5 46. Re8 Rg1 47. Kf3 (47. Re6+ Kf7 48. Rxe5 Re1+ 49. Kf5 Rxe5+ 50. Kxe5 Kg6! 51. Kf4 Kh5) {The e-pawn is immune, since the pawn ending in the variation is lost} Rf1+ 48. Kg3 Rf5 49. Rb8 (49. Kg4 Rf4 50. Kg3 Kf5 51. Rf8+ Ke4 52. Rg8 Rf3+ 53. Kg2 (53. Kg4 Rf1) Rf7 {and Black completes his regrouping}) Kg5 50. Re8
Kf6 51. Rf8+ Ke6 52. Re8+ Kf6 53. Rf8+ Ke6 54. Re8+ Kd5 {Before the second control Black gains time on the clock by repeating moves}
55. Ra8 Rf7 56. Kg4 Re7 {The control is passed, the rook is ideally placed, and Black has merely to escape from the checks and advance his pawns} 57. Ra5+ Ke6 58. Ra6+ Kf7 59. Kf3 Re6
60. Ra8 e4+ 61. Ke3 g5 {All the conditions have been fulfilled, and the win is not far off} 62. Ra1 Kg6 63. Rb1 Re5 64. Kd4 Kf6
65. Re1 (65. Rf1 Ke6 66. Ke3 (66. Re1 g4 67. Rg1 e3) Rf5 67. Ra1 Rf4 68. Ra5 Kf6 {and the king breaks through at h4}) Ra5! {A typical plan. Black gives up one of his pawns to break through with his king and obtain a theoretically won position} 66. Rxe4 Kf5! {Here the pawn ending would have been drawn} 67. Re8 Kg4 68. Ke3 Kg3 {White resigned in view of the following plan, which is typical} (69. Ke2 g4 70. Rg8 Rf5 71. Rg7 Kh3 72. Rg8 g3 73. Rg7 Kh2 74. Rh7 Kg1 75. Rg7 g2 76. Ra7 (76. Rh7 Re5 77. Kd3 Kf2 78. Rf7 Kg3 79. Rg7 Kf3 80. Rf7 Kg4 81. Rg7 Rg5-+) Rh5 77. Kf3 Kh1)  0-1

| improve this answer | |
  • After 40.hxg5+ we're in existing endgame tablebase territory. Anyone have access to those 7-piecers? – Jeff Y May 13 '16 at 13:28
  • @Glorfindel thank you for fixing the moves. – Cleveland May 13 '16 at 13:54
  • 1
    @JeffY I do have Lomonosov tablebase access (there's a free Android app for it) and Geller's thoughts about move 42, at least, seem to be correct: the position is drawn after 42. Kh2 and won for Black after 42. Kf2. – Cleveland May 13 '16 at 13:57

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