Jul 222013

bridestones 2There is a chapter in Christian Hesse’s excellent tome “The Joys of Chess” which is entitled “The conqueror of the conqueror of Fischer” in which he sets out a method for calculating something called a ‘Fischer Score’ whereby every chess player is given a number based on how many victories they are away from beating Bobby Fischer. It’s a sort of ‘6 degrees of separation’ theory.

You can create a ‘Fischer Score’ based on the following terms:

  • Bobby Fischer himself has the Fischer number of 0
  • Anyone who defeated Fischer at least once gets the Fischer number 1
  • Anyone who defeated anyone who defeated Fischer gets the number 2
  • Anyone who can’t trace a line of victories between themselves and someone who beat Fischer gets a Fischer number of infinite ∞

This is all fairly frivolous of course and it’s a fun game to play to see who might have the lowest Fischer number. However, for most of us that would take a fair degree of research to figure out the best player you’ve ever beaten and then workout the best player they’ve ever beaten etc.

It must say something about the status of Bobby Fischer that chess players want to measure themselves against him

It must say something about the legendary status of Bobby Fischer that all chess players seem to want to measure themselves against him (and ponies want to rub noses with him!)

However, with a little bit of tweaking of this basic idea Calderdale players have a very good local point of entry to a surprisingly low Fischer number (of sorts!) The key is to change the basic principle from someone who beat Fischer to someone who drew with Fischer and now, suddenly, Pete Leonard becomes your gateway to a ‘Fischer Score’ of 3! Why? Well, remember that, back in the 70’s our colleague Mr Leonard secured an excellent and surprisingly turgid draw with the Magician of Riga himself, Mikhail Tal. That being the case, and being certain that Tal himself both beat and drew with Fischer, then Pete has a Fischer score of 2 and anyone who’s drawn with or beaten Pete has a Fischer score of 3.

On this basis the latest Hebden Bridge player to bag himself a single digit ‘Fischer Score’ (of 3) is Dave Shapland who beat Pete last Monday night (Andy Leatherbarrow joined this elite group earlier in the tournament and Nick Sykes and Matthew Parsons did so earlier this season). Rather more significantly, this win also moved Dave on to a score for the competition of 3/5 which puts him into a clear second place. It also gives him an impressive 3/3 with White with just Matthew Parsons left to play with these pieces.

As you’ll see from the game and commentary in the viewer below, Dave had prepared something very specific for his game with Pete as he chose not to essay his habitual 1.e4 in favour of 1.d4 and 2.c4. He did this just to have a crack at Pete’s favourite Grunfeld Defence. Or, more precisely, he did it so that he could deploy the so-called ‘Anti-Grunfeld’ where White plays 3.f3!? The name of the variation might suggest that this line prevents or discourages Black from entering the Grunfeld. This isn’t the case. What it really does is change the nature of the opening should Black decide to opt for the Grunfeld with 3…d5 instead of transposing into a King’s Indian with 3…d6 or a Benoni with 3…c5. The ‘Anti-Grunfeld’ has been a popular guest at the highest echelons of the game recently, Vishy Anand even deployed it against Boris Gelfand during last year’s World Championship match.

In this instance, Dave didn’t get the advantage he’d expected from his sly choice because Pete decided to go for an offbeat (and almost certainly dubious) continuation when he captured on d5 with his queen and then after 5.e4 moved her majesty to a5. No doubt there were improvements available for both players but Dave got much the better of the opening and ended up bagging the exchange for a pawn before the game was 20 moves old. Dave probably should have gone on to convert his advantage in prosaic fashion but he over-elaborated after that and allowed Pete’s resilient and stubborn defence to pay dividends. Pete won back the exchange but Dave’s space advantage persisted and he kept on applying pressure to Black’s position.

On they went into an endgame that looked drawish but Dave still had the initiative and finally Pete made some inaccurate moves allowing Dave to create weaknesses to target in a rook and pawn ending. After the time control the standard of play dwindled significantly but Pete missed chances and made more mistakes until eventually Dave was forcing home his h-pawn or winning Pete’s rook.

Meanwhile, tournament leader Matthew Parsons was once again demonstrating his superiority over the entire field as he dispatched Andy Leatherbarrow with no more effort than he would take to swat a fly. This is not to suggest that Andy played poorly. In fact it is hard to identify where he went wrong! Nevertheless Matthew identified a critical weakness (the dark squares) in Andy’s position and exploited it very creatively and single-mindedly until the pressure was too much and Andy’s position simply collapsed. This was another very impressive performance from Matthew who looks increasingly likely to score 100% in this competition.

Both games can be played through in the viewer below and the tournament cross table can be found on the dedicated Bridestones page.

Can any readers work out their Fischer number? (Or perhaps a Kramnik or Anand or even a Carlsen number.) Leave a comment at the end of this post if you can and lets’ see if we can gather some members’ scores together!

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  One Response to “Bridestones Challenge Creates Another ‘Fischer Score’”

  1. The Fischer system you refer to is a variant of Erdos numbers – named after the Hungarian mathematician who was one of the most prolific authors of papers in mathematics … he was a fascinating guy who travelled around the world to work with mathematicians at all hours of the day and night – often waking up his hosts with the query “Is your mind open” … undoubtedly enthused with the aid of coffee and amphetamines !

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