Memories of Fischer vs Petrosian 1971
The Unstoppable Force vs the Unmovable Object
The finals of the 1971 Candidates Matches between the 28 year old American genius Bobby Fischer and the 42 year old Armenian genius Tigran Petrosian is already a legend of history.
Taking place between Thursday, September 30 (game 1) and Tuesday, October 26 (game 9) in Buenos Aires at the Teatro Municipal San Martin, the match was followed by the entire chess world. It was billed as ”The unstoppable force vs the immovable object”.
And what a spectacle it was! Hundreds of journalists from all over the world converged on Buenos Aires. Thousands of chess fans crowded the streets directly outside the teatro , all fully aware that something historic was taking place.
The first game started with a great surprise as Fischer found himself against the wall with the White pieces, Petrosian’s team having found a strong innovation against one of Fischer’s favourite lines.
At one point Fischer’s face went red, and he thought some twenty minutes before replying…all the while Petrosian was walking the stage as a lion around his prey. But in the end Fischer won! The fans were ecstatic!
The Obelisk,today a symbol of Buenos Aires, was built in 1936. It stands a brisk 5-minutes walk from where Fischer and Petrosian played, and just 15-seconds from where Alekhine and Capablanca played in 1927!
The rounds began at 5pm in the Martin Coronado auditorium of the theatre. Grandmasters Pilnik and Najdorf explained the moves to the audience in the reception, using a large demonstration board.
Fischer won the first game (extending his unbroken winning streak to 20 consecutive games against grandmasters); Petrosian won the second. Then followed 3 straight draws. The score stood at 2.5 points each.
Then Fischer did his magic: he won the next 4 games in a row! Never before had the ex-world champion lost that many games consecutively! Bobby Fischer became the first American challenger for the World Chess Championship!
This is a present day photo of the Teatro Municipal San Martin from the street. The modern theatre contains 3 main rooms, the largest with a capacity of more than a thousand people. Fischer and Petrosian played their match on the second floor of the theatre.
Tigran Petrosian (World Champion from 1963 to 1969) deep in thought
And you might also be interested in this…Capablanca’s “official” excuse for losing to Alekhine!