My Opponents Make Good Moves Too | Fischer vs Zerquera | Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970)

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The 1970 Interzonal was held in Palma de Mallorca from November 9-December 12, and was the last Interzonal held as a one-section round robin. With the tournament swelling to 24 players and further expansion on the way, future changes were inevitable. The following players vied for six slots in the candidates matches to be held in 1971: William G Addison, Miroslav Filip, Robert James Fischer, Efim Geller, Svetozar Gligoric, Vlastimil Hort, Robert Huebner, Borislav Ivkov, Eleazar Jimenez Zerquera, Bent Larsen, Milan Matulovic, Henrique Mecking, Dragoljub Minic, Renato Naranja, Oscar Panno, Lev Polugaevsky, Lajos Portisch, Samuel Reshevsky, Jorge Alberto Rubinetti, Vasily Smyslov, Duncan Suttles, Mark Taimanov, Wolfgang Uhlmann, Tudev Ujtumen..

Ujtumen from Mongolia, about as outside as an outsider could get, actually held the lead by himself after round 3. However, reality and Robert J. Fischer set in, as the American quickly soared to a dominating position. The other contenders didn’t worry about it too much; after all, you only had to finish in the top six to qualify for the Candidates, and there was even a seventh spot open for a reserve. So they played it safe, while Fischer kept working hard.

At the quarter pole following round 6, Fischer had 5.5 points and a 1.5 point lead on Geller, Gligoric, Larson, Panno, and Ujtumen. But then came a bad stretch: he managed to draw lost positions in round 7 and 8, but Larsen didn’t let him off the hook in round 9. By now the lead had vanished, as Geller joined Fischer at the top with 6.5.

That led to the critical round 12 encounter between the leaders, Geller holding a half-point lead and playing the White pieces. Any normal grandmaster, when Geller offered an early draw, would have accepted to get an easy half-point closer to qualification. Fischer, hungry for a win after five rounds without one, refused.

Geller played inaccurately and lost a pawn, reaching a difficult rook ending. Eventually, a hallucination and a final mistake sealed his fate, and Fischer took the lead. The rest was a matter of technique: Fischer won two more in a row, took a couple of draws for a breather, then started his famous streak with full points in his last seven games.

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Read more about events before 1970 Instrzonal tournament

Robert James Fischer vs Eleazar Jimenez Zerquera
Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970), Palma de Mallorca ESP, rd 15, Nov-29
Spanish Game: Closed. Averbakh Variation (C87)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 d6 7. c3 O-O 8. d4 ed4 9. cd4 d5 10. e5 Ne4 11. Nc3 Nc3 12. bc3 Bf5 13. Bc6 bc6 14. Qa4 c5 15. dc5 Bc5 16. Ba3 Qe7 17. Bc5 Qc5 18. Nd4 Bg6 19. Qc6 Qc6 20. Nc6 Rfe8 21. Nb4 c6 22. Nc6 Rac8 23. Nb4 Rc3 24. Nd5 Ra3 25. f4 h5 26. Ne3 Bd3 27. Rad1 Rb8 28. Rd2 Rb1 29. Kf2 Re1 30. Ke1 Bb1 31. Rd8 Kh7 32. Kf2 Ba2 33. f5 Ra5 34. Re8 Rb5 35. Kf3 a5 36. Kf4 a4 37. Ra8 Rb4 38. Kf3 Bb3 39. h3 Rb5 40. Kf4 Rb4 41. Kf3 Rb5
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