Reports | September 19, 2012 11:42

Auction: Fischer's handwritten annotations to 1970 blitz games

Auction: Bobby Fischer's handwritten annotations to 1970 blitz games

A number of rare handwritten annotations by Bobby Fischer from the historic 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament are currently auctioned at PFC Auctions. Fischer wrote down his games on paper, and added comments. He won the famous blitz tournament convincingly, scoring 19/22 points (4.5 points ahead of the rest).

The item for auction has the following accompanying text (first two hyperlinks added by us):

Exceptionally Rare Handwritten Chess Notes by Grandmaster Bobby Fischer (1943-2008) from the Historic 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament

20 sheets of paper (8” x 11.75”) containing 36 pages of handwritten chess notes by American Grandmaster Bobby Fischer. The notes detail 8 games from the April 1970 Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament held in what was then Yugoslavia. With 3 photocopied pages replacing 3 missing original pages.

There is some slight tearing to the edges of the pages which does not affect the text. Several pages feature small marks and areas of paper loss (corners only) which is to be expected of documents of this kind. Overall in fine condition.

Fischer won the 1970 Herceg Novi tournament with a score of 19, beating Mikhail Tal by 4½ points. He went on to become the World Champion in 1972.

The notes detail blitz games between Fischer and Viktor Korchnoi, David Bronstein, Vasily Smyslov, Predrag Ostojic, Vlastimil Hort, Samuel Reshevsky and Tigran Pertosyan. Fischer has recorded each move in all 8 games as well as detailed notes analysing his opponents’ moves.

The notes come from the collection of Slobodan Bodo Stojnic, a friend of Fischer, who organised the tournament.

An accompanying letter of provenance from Stojnic’s son states that Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosyan, Svetozar Gligoric and other professional chess players were regular visitors to Stojnic’s home in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Despite being widely regarded as one of the greatest chess grandmasters of all time, Bobby Fischer items rarely appear on the market. In June 2009, Fischer’s personal chess library was sold for $61,000 to Rex and Jeanne Sinquefield whose charitable foundation helped to fund The Chess Club and Scholastic Center.

The original World Chess Championship chess set used by Fischer and Boris Spassky at their legendary game in Iceland in 1972, signed by both men, sold for $76,275 in 2011.

The Herceg Novi blitz event is widely considered to be one of the most significant speed tournaments of the 20th century, with four World Champions competing. This is an extremely rare set of notes from the World Champion and winner of the historic tournament.

The accompanying letter of provenance reads, in full:

“To whom it may concern,

These are 36 original handwritten pages and 3 photocopied pages of Bobby Fischer’s analysis of several chess games held in Herceg Novi in Yugoslavia in 1970. I found these notes amongst my Father’s belongings after he passed.

My late father Slobodan Bodo Stojnic was managing director of the company that organized the tournament and paid the prizes. The company (original name: ZAVOD ZA IZDAVANJE UDZBENIKA SR BiH) published school books and a couple of chess books. Bobby Fisher, Mihail Talj, Tigran Petrosyan, Bronstein, Gligoric and others were regular visitors in our home.

One time, in our home in Sarajevo, there were four of us in the dining room; Bobby Fischer, Tigran Petrosyan, my father and me. Tigran was pretty much deaf and he wore a hearing aid, a huge one for today’s standards. Tigran and Bobby started a blitz match. In the middle of the match, when the board was still full, Bobby went to the kitchen for a glass of water, and Tigran took the opportunity to steal one of Bobby’s pawns. I then witnessed something unbelievable: on the way back, when Bobby was more than two meters away from the chess board, he noticed that the pawn was missing!

After that, my father asked Bobby to put his signature on the wall of my sister's bedroom. There was a square, maybe 10 x 10cm with wallpaper removed. The signatures of Petrosian, Tal, Bronstein and others were already there. Although there was enough space in the lower part of the square, Bobby refused to sign BELOW the others, he said "I AM THE BEST AND I CAN SIGN ONLY ABOVE THE OTHERS". I then had to take off a few centimetres of wallpaper from the top of the square, and Bobby put his signature there. Unfortunately, this wall was destroyed during the war in Bosnia.
A book containing all matches from Hercegnovi tournament was published and if I remember correctly, Bobby was paid 2 million Yugoslav Dinars for his part.

I confirm these pages are genuine as written by Bobby Fischer.”

Please note: Pages 1, 2, 35, 36, 37, 38 and 39 are missing and pages 31, 44 and 45 are photocopies of the original notes.

Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 3
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 4
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 5
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 6
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 7
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 8
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 9
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 10
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 11
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 12
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 13
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 14
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 15
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 16
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 17
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 18
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 19
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 20
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 21
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 22

Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 23
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 24
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 25
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 26
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 27
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 28
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 29
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 30
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 31
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 32
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 33
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 34
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 40
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 41
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 42
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 43
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 44
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 45
Bobby Fischer Chess Notes - Page 46

Fischer's notes to his black game against Kortchnoi. See all pages above (hyperlinks)

The PFC Auctions sale of Fischer's annotations will last until September 27th, 19:00h GMT +1. Bidding is allowed for registered users only. The current bid (September 18th, 2012) is £1,628.00. Full info here.

The Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament of 1970 was arguably the strongest blitz chess tournament of the 20th century. Four world champions competed in the tournament: Vassily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian and Bobby Fischer, who finished 4.5 points ahead of runner-up Tal.

Herceg Novi Blitz 1970 | Final standings

Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Total
1. Fischer x 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 19
2. Tal 0 x 2 1 0 2 ½ 2 2 2 14½
3. Korchnoi 1 0 x ½ 0 2 2 2 1 2 2 14
4. Petrosian 0 1 x 1 1 1 1 2 2 13½
5. Bronstein ½ 2 2 1 x ½ ½ 1 ½ 2 13
6. Hort ½ 0 0 1 x 1 2 2 1 1 2 12
7. Matulovic 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 x ½ 2 2 1 10½
8. Smyslov 0 0 1 1 0 x ½ 1 1 2
9. Reshevsky ½ 0 1 1 0 0 x ½ 1
10. Uhlmann ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 x 0 2 8
11. Ivkov 0 0 0 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 2 x 2
12. Ostojic 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 x 2

Fischer's games from this event

PGN file

Peter Doggers's picture
Author: Peter Doggers

Founder and editor-in-chief of ChessVibes.com, Peter is responsible for most of the chess news and tournament reports. Often visiting top events, he also provides photos and videos for the site. He's a 1.e4 player himself, likes Thai food and the Stones.

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Comments

redivivo's picture

"The Herceg Novi Blitz Tournament of 1970 was probably the strongest bitz chess tournament ever held"

Maybe at the time, but many of those guys played blitz rarely, and I'd say for example the World Blitz Championship 2009 was much stronger even if it "only" had three undisputed World Champions. The event was so strong that a top blitz player like Aronian didn't even finish in the top ten, and other great blitz players like Dominguez, Gelfand and Ivanchuk scored big minus results. Carlsen won scoring +20 ahead of Anand with +14, while Kramnik and Karjakin shared third with +7.

Peter Doggers's picture

Yeah that wasn't very accurate – I've changed the sentence.

pundit's picture

"many of those guys played blitz rarely" is not necessarily determinative of strength in blitz. For instance Tal was an avid blitz player while Fischer did not think it was good for his chess. That didn't stop Fischer from being a better blitz player than Tal.
And how good was Tal in blitz? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWuO6ozOmZA

redivivo's picture

""many of those guys played blitz rarely" is not necessarily determinative of strength in blitz"

But half the field consists of Ostojic, Ivkov, Uhlmann, Reshevsky, Matulovic and Hort. Apart from that Smyslov was an ex-World Champion, but is it that certain that he must have been a stronger blitz player than Carlsen and Aronian?

I think some of last year's blitz events were much stronger. Just look at the World Blitz 2009 with 22 participants, where great blitz players like Aronian, Ivanchuk, Dominguez and Gelfand none of them reached a plus score after the 42 rounds.

For example Hort scored a plus in Herceg Novi. I haven't heard of him ever playing another blitz tournament, and I don't think blitz players like Aronian and Ivanchuk would have failed to reach a plus score in Herceg Novi. That they failed to do that in the World Blitz 2009 is just one of many signs how strong the latter event was.

Thomas's picture

Were the World Blitz championships won by Ivanchuk and Aronian (obviously with plus scores) much weaker than the one in 2009, the only one won by Carlsen? Blitz is, even more than classical chess, also a matter of form. BTW I wonder how often current world top players play "serious blitz" (game scores kept, prestige and significant prize money at stake).

As to Herceg Novi: In the 1971 rating list (the very first one) Hort was #13, Uhlmann #21, Ivkov #28, Reshevsky #32, Matulovic #47
http://www.schachchronik.de/rangliste/1971
The 2009 World Blitz Championship also had some relatively weak participants (Bareev, Polgar, Naiditsch, Tkachiev). Ostojic may have been the local wildcard in Herceg Novi, the 2009 event had local wildcard Kosteniuk.
"Your" event may still have been stronger, but "much stronger" seems questionable.

redivivo's picture

Well, the 2009 event had both Anand and Aronian, which the other events didn't. Not that much of a difference, but if it's Carlsen's winning in 2009 that is the annoying thing then by all means one could pick even the Hoogoveen blitz 1999, with six of the seven strongest players in the world according to Chessmetrics and Kasparov, Anand, Ivanchuk and Kramnik finishing in the top four, or the Brussels blitz 1987 with Kasparov, Karpov, Korchnoi, Tal, Timman, Ljubojevic, Short etc etc, also that one with Kasparov first.

I think today's players are much better at blitz than the players 40-50 years ago though, guys like Nakamura and Carlsen may not be World Champions in classical chess as Smyslov was, but they have played many thousands blitz games and there are many blitz events they have participated in.

I haven't looked at more than two-three of Fischer's games in Herceg Novi, but one of then was against the "weakie" Ostojic. The latter missed the winning line as white and later lost on time in when the position was familj equal. Not impressive stuff, but I suppose there are better games. Still find it strange that the event has before the World Championship afterwards, see for exempel the Wikipedia article Fast chess, but at Wikipedia anything is possible I guess. Fischer played in all three opponents ranked in the top ten according to Chessmetrics, and the World Champion himself wasn't present, and no on of course called it the World Championship back in the day.

KingTal's picture

I remember that Fischer - Bronstein blitz game was illustrated in some of Bronsteins chess books.

After 39...c6 Fischer misses a mate in 5, although he was winning anyway even before c6.

dave's picture

Yes, I saw this on Chessbase couple of days ago. Especially, they included notes for Korchnoi-Fischer game, it was interesting!

Daniel's picture

This was a good game.

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