Shelby Lyman on Chess: A Record for Precocity

Hint and Explanation: Find a Double Threat

Bobby Fischer was astonishing, if only because of his precocity.

In 1958, at the age of 15, he becoming the U.S. champion, signaling an end to the chess dynasty of Sammy Reshevsky, who had dominated American chess for a couple of decades.

Later that year, he became the youngest ever to be awarded the grandmaster title. That record endured for 33 years.

Garry Kasparov later described his American predecessor as being a decade ahead of his time.

Bobby showed his talents early against Russian and Soviet players at the Central Chess Club — at the time the best in the world — during a Moscow trip in 1958 shortly after winning the American title from Reshevsky. One of his opponents was the future grandmaster Vladimir Alatortsev who, according to the Russian historians Vladimir and Isaac Linder, “saw a tall, angular 15-year-old who in blitz games crushed almost everyone who crossed his path.”

Losing all three games he played with the teenager, Alatortsev “was astonished by the play of the young American Robert Fischer, his fantastic self-confidence, amazing chess erudition and simply brilliant play.”

Later, he told his wife and others in admiration: “This is a future world champion.”

Alatortsev’s predictions materialized when Bobby steamrolled Soviet players in a series of tournaments and matches culminating in a one-sided victory in 1972 against the Soviet world champion Boris Spassky in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Below is a win by Michael Adams against Peter Svidler from the fifth Classic KO tournament in London, England.

Adams Svidler

1. e4 c5

2. Nf3 d6

3. d4 cxd4

4. Nxd4 Nf6

5. Nc3 a6

6. Be3 e5

7. Nf3 Qc7

8. a4 Be6

9. Be2 h6

10. O-O N(b)d7

11. h3 Be7

12. Nh2 O-O

13. Ng4 Qc6

14. Qd3 R(f)c8

15. R(f)d1 R(a)b8

16. a5 Nc5

17. Nxf6ch Bxf6

18. Qxd6 Qxd6

19. Rxd6 Be7

20. Rd2 Bg5

21. Bxg5 hxg5

22. Bg4 b5

23. axb6 Rxb6

24. Nd5 Rb7

25. f3 R(c)b8

26. b4 Black resigns

Solution to Beginner’s Corner: 1. Qe1! (threatens both 2. Qxa5 and 2. Qc3! followed by mate at g7 or h8).