Just how skillful are top grandmasters(GMs)? One answer is: they are nearly impossible to defeat. They can and do play dozens of games against other GMs and seldom lose. In this year’s Pearl Spring Chess Tournament, one of history’s strongest events ever, six superGMs competed. The tournament, held in Nanjing, China, included the world’s highest-rated player Magnus Carlsen, World Champion Vishwanathan Anand, and former champion Veselin Topalov. Nevertheless, Wang Yue, the last-place finisher was only defeated four times in ten rounds.

Looking at this another way, even the best don’t win against GMs very often. Carlsen, the undefeated winner in China, managed only 4 victories. The mighty Garry Kasparov drew nearly 70% of the time in his 8 title defenses. He won his pre-retirement 2005 Linares tournament winning only 5 of 12 games, defeating none of his three closest competitors.

Believe it or not! Then there was Bobby Fischer. In the 1963-4 U.S. Championship, he won all eleven games. It was quipped that 2nd place Larry Evans, 3½ points behind, won the tournament while Fischer won the exhibition. On another streak later, Bobby outclassed everyone at the Interzonal by 3½ points, finishing off with 8 straight wins. Afterwards, in the Candidate match playoffs, he continued by winning six games in a row against Russian Mark Taimanov. His next foe, Bent Larsen of Denmark, brashly declared that no such thing would happen to him. He was wrong; it did; six-zip!

In the final match against former World Champion Tigran Petrosian, Fischer did score a lopsided victory, but his streak finally ended at 20 straight GM victories. Like Immanuel Lasker’s record 27 years as World Champion, his feat is likely to remain unchallenged.

Inside Fischer’s mind: “Don’t even mention losing to me. I can’t stand to think of it.” “There is no one alive I can’t beat.” “There are tough players and nice guys, and I’m a tough player.” “I give 98 percent of my mental energy to chess. Others give only 2 percent.” “All I want to do, ever, is just play chess.” — Bobby Fischer

A golden state: Looking for a place to play in Southern California? Want to keep up on current (or even past happenings) or upcoming chess events? One main answer is the excellent site http://www.scchess.westernchess.com. Chess links are provided for local news, detailed results, and numerous articles of interest. Add it to your favorites and check it regularly.

Position No. 6137: How can White win?

Position No. 6136: White wins by:

34. Bh3 Rd6 (34…Re7 35. Nxc6 wins) 35. Rc8+ Be8 36. Rxb8.

Game of the week

U.S. Championship

December 30, 1963

Bobby Fischer – Pal Benko

One of Fischer’s most brilliant games in his 11-0 march to the title.

1.e4 g6(A) 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6(B) 4.f4(C) Nf6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Bd3 Bg4 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Qxf3 Nc6 9.Be3 e5 10.dxe5 dxe5 11.f5(D) gxf5 12.Qxf5 Nd4 13.Qf2 Ne8 14.O-O Nd6 15.Qg3(E) Kh8 16.Qg4 c6 17.Qh5 Qe8?(F) 18.Bxd4 exd4 19.Rf6!! Kg8(G) 20.e5 h6 21.Ne2 1-0

A)the Modern Defense B)transposing to the Pirc Defense) C) The Austrian Attack aiming to cramp black in the center and start a kingside assault D) Intending to continue with g4 and g5 E) to sneak his queen up to h5 F) Black hopes to defend with …f5 discovering an attack on the white queen with defensive trades. A jolting sacrifice at f6 will end black’s hopes. G) Taking the rook is met by e5 and mate soon after.