The question of the week is has there been any chess player who had a perfect score in a major tournament?
The answer is yes, but not too often. One man who has done it a few times before was the legendary Bobby Fischer. In 1963, Bobby Fischer, around the age of 20 at the time, scored a perfect 7-0 at the New York State Open. That was just a minor tournament. However, in the same year, Bobby scored an unprecedented 11-0 in the U.S. Championship, the most prestigious national event, a mark which has never been equaled.
In 1971, Bobby did the unthinkable again. He defeated a powerful Soviet Grandmaster Mark Taimanov in the World Championship candidates quarterfinal match in Vancouver by the score of 6-0! He followed that up by beating Danish legendary Grandmaster Bent Larsen, one of the greatest non-Soviet players, in the World Championship candidates semifinal match in Denver by the same 6-0 score!
I do not think that I will see this kind of dominance again in my lifetime. What he did may never be duplicated.
Here is one of great games by Bobby in the historic 1963 U.S. Championship.
Bobby Fischer – Pal Benko
U.S. Championship, New York Dec. 30, 1963
This is one of the classic victories of the legendary Bobby Fischer from the 1963 U.S. Championship where he scored an incredible 11–0. Around the time of this game, Grandmaster Benko was ranked as one of the top ten players in the world.
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 These opening moves are referred to as the Pirc defense.
4.f4 With this move White gains more space and is considered the most ambitious way to counter the Pirc.
4…Nf6 5.Nf3 0–0 6.Bd3 A year earlier Fischer tried 6.Be2 but Black gained a good game after 6…c5. Therefore, he tried to improve on it in this game.
6…Bg4?! Black jut pinned White’s Knight. However. if the pin is not sustainable then such a move does not make much sense. The better options according the opening theory are: 6…Nc6 or 6…Na6.
7.h3 This is a good response. It forces the Black Bishop to either trade (as Black continued in the game) or retreat.
7…Bxf3 Black could not maintain the pin by 7…Bh5, as then 8.g4 would trap the Bishop on h5.
8.Qxf3 Nc6 Black now attacks White’s d4 Pawn.
9.Be3 This is a natural developing move which at the same time also protects the attacked d4 Pawn.
9…e5 Otherwise White was going to play e4-e5 himself.
10.dxe5 dxe5 11.f5 This is a very strong move to cut Black’s Bishop out of play. Now White’s plan is to play g2-g4-g5.
11…gxf5 12.Qxf5 12.exf5 would have been a mistake as Black would get very active after 12…e4!
12…Nd4 13.Qf2 Capturing the Pawn on e5 with 13.Qxe5 instead would be an error due to Black’s discovery attack by 13…Ng4!
13…Ne8 Black is trying to regroup the Knight to d6 and then play f7-f5.
14. 0–0 Castling to the other side was also a reasonable option.
14…Nd6 Black is following up his plan, to prepare the Pawn advance f7-f5.
15.Qg3 This is good looking attacking move which creates a pin over Black’s Bishop and threatens with 16.Bh6. However, 15.Rad1 may have been even better.
15…Kh8 A better try would be to continue with the plan 15…f5.
16.Qg4 Now the f7-f5 advance is stopped.
16…c6 17.Qh5 White is slowly but surely inching closer and closer to Black’s King. White’s plan is to trade on d4 next, and then open up the light squared Bishop’s diagonal with e4-e5.
17…Qe8? This was the losing move. Fischer recommended instead 17…Ne6.
18.Bxd4 exd4 Now not the natural 19.e5 when Black would be still ok after 19…f5! Fischer has something else in mind.
19.Rf6! A truly impressive move which made it to countless combination books in the past half a century. The idea of the move is simple: to prevent Black’s f7-f5 defense after White’s e Pawn advances!
19…Kg8 If Black captures the Rook by 19…Bxf6 then after 20.e5 the checkmate is unavoidable. Also after 19…dxc3 the problem would be the same 20.e5 and if, 20…h6 21.Rxh6+! Kg8 22.Rh8+! Bxh8 23.Qh7 checkmate.
20.e5 h6 Here there are numerous ways which lead to win but the simplest is as Fischer continued 21.Ne2!
Here Black resigned as the situation is hopeless. The Knight is hanging on d6. If it moves away, White responds with 22.Qf5 with a checkmate threat on h7. If 21…Bxf6, then 22.Qh6 and it is game over.
This is a truly brilliant game by the 20–year old Fischer.