(This is the game in question.) Is it because it was played by a 13-year-old Bobby Fischer? Would it have been different if it were played by a much older player? Who labeled it the "game of the century" and did this game between Tal and Smyslov (1959) miss being the "game of the century" by 3 years?

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    I just want to add that the match between Fischer and Spassky in 1972 is dubbed the "match of the century".
    – AWE
    Commented Jul 3, 2012 at 5:12

2 Answers 2


The "Game of the Century" was a term coined by Hans Kmoch in Chess Review. In short it was a bit of sensationalism. While Fischer did show a talent for combinations and an impressive sacrifice, the real importance of the game was the story of a leading chess master vs a phenomenal prodigy about to begin his historic rise.

Still, it's helpful to note what David Levy said: "In my opinion, however, the game, attractive though it is, can in no way be held in such high exaltation. It was merely the fact that the combination was created by a thirteen-old boy that brought the game so much publicity. Had it been played in the Barnet League between two sixty-year-old men it is doubtful whether it would have been considered worthy of publication".

As for the game between Tal and Smyslov, the similarities in age are easy to spot, but the chess playing doesn't really compare.

The full game and commentary can be found over at Wikipedia.

  • 3
    Except a sixty year old man in the Barnet league probably could not have found and executed the combination. Hyperbole aside, it was a great sacrifice and a 13 year old upended a fine player.
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 3:02
  • It’s perhaps worth noting that Fischer didn’t even think the game worthy of inclusion in “My 60 Sixty Memorable Games”.
    – Stephen
    Commented Mar 14, 2021 at 21:08

I just wanted to add, Jerry aka ChessNetwork, a USCF Master, did an analysis of this game. It is worth watching.

When this game was played, it was the best game of chess ever by a 13 year old. The combination of defeating a master in a beautiful way, being the one using the black pieces, and being only 13 years old is what gave this game so much attention.

  • 1
    Donald Byrne was an IM. His brother, Robert, was the GM. /nitpick
    – Tony Ennis
    Commented Jun 20, 2012 at 12:23

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