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Historic "never seen before" chess games with Bobby Fischer discovered in Fallbrook

Jack Kovic

Special to the Village News

Chess enthusiasts are excited after witnessing the discovery of two never published chess games featuring the late Bobby Fischer, one of our history's greatest chess players. The two games, discovered by Don Thomas of Fallbrook, shed new light on Fischer's playing style over a decade after his 1972 World Champion match.

The games were played on Nov. 29, 1987, at the Marriott Marina Hotel in Newport Beach, California. In the late 1980s, Fischer was on hiatus from the rigors of professional chess. On this day, he played a casual game with his friend, Michael Roman-Sayyah. Sayyah was not a professional chess player. During that time frame, he ran a small chess organization.

It can only be speculated, but it is thought that Sayyah may have been attempting to get Fischer interested in working with his chess organization, and the games were simply an icebreaker to the business meeting.

In 1987, any serious chess player would have been thrilled to play Fischer. The most clever move Sayyah made that day was to record the games.

The games were recently analyzed by John Knott, co-author of the book Blindfold Chess (McFarland 2009). Knott concluded that Sayyah's chess abilities were that of a keen amateur. Since Fischer and Sayyah were socializing rather than officially competing, it is assumed that these games do not represent either player's top performance.

As a side note, Sayyah revealed to Thomas that one of the games was played by both Fischer and himself in a blindfold style. Blindfold chess, also known as sans voir, is played without looking at the chess board. In this case, both players verbally recited moves, remembering each move to the end. Knott's analysis of the games reveals that given one of the games was played blindfold, it was the second game.

Thomas recalls Sayyah showcasing his game notations at a chess club they both belonged to in Marietta, Georgia, a few years after the games took place. Thomas had no idea in those days that these documents would be so intriguing today.

Fischer and Sayyah have since passed, and these games give them new life. Their game record sat in Don's storage for many years. The documents were discovered after Thomas' wife Fran suggested that he do some spring cleaning in his office. The serendipitous discovery of the Fischer-Sayyah games inspired Thomas to get back into promoting chess.

What makes the games between Fischer and Sayyah special is that neither has been included in any collection of Fischer's previously known games. They reveal new insights into his approach to the game.

According to experts who have analyzed the documents, Fischer's play in the blindfold game was aggressive and precise. He showed abilities that had made him a world champion, despite his 15-year absence from the formal games.

Since Fischer is assumed to have been at ease during these particular games, we see a hint of mischievous taunting in his moves. It reminds one of how killer whales play with seals for several minutes before eating the poor pups.

Fischer, who died in 2008, is considered one of the greatest chess players in chess history. He was known for his fierce competitive spirit and unconventional playing style. Fischer was the youngest player to win the U.S. Championship at age 14. He became the World Chess Champion in 1972 after defeating Boris Spassky in a highly publicized match in Reykjavik, Iceland.

The discovery of Fisher-Sayyah's long-lost games is a rare and exciting opportunity for chess fans to see Fischer in action in two games that have never been seen before. The games are expected to be analyzed and studied in depth by other chess experts and enthusiasts, providing new insights into Fischer's approach to the game at that time.

These games are a testament to Fischer's enduring legacy as one of the greatest chess players of all time and a reminder of the importance of preserving and exploring the history of this beloved game. The discovery of these previously unknown games reminds us that there is always more to learn about chess and the players who have made it great. It is a testament to the popularity and fascination of this ancient game that continues to captivate players and fans everywhere.

Thomas plays chess at the Fallbrook Senior Center chess club Tuesdays from 9-11 a.m. and online at with his good friend, Jim McRay – the Fallbrook Library chess organizer. Finding these history-making chess games has also inspired Thomas to encourage others to develop a love for chess.

In April, Thomas plans to bring several chess boards to the Saturday Farmer's Market in Fallbrook. Each week throughout the summer, visitors can network with other chess enthusiasts and play some casual chess games at his chess tent. Those who stop by the chess tent can enter a raffle to win a free chess board.

The two games in chess notation:

Game 1: White--Fischer, Black--Sayyah

1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d3 c6 4. Bb3 d5 5. Qe2 dxe4 6. Bg5 Bb4+ 7. c3 exd3 8. Qxe5+ Be7 9. Bxf6 Gxf6 10. Qh5 O-O 11. Nd2 Na6 12. O-O-O Nc5 13. Ngf3 Qa5 14. Qh6 Nxb3+ 15. axb3 Bf5 16. g4 Be6 17. Nd4 Qa2 18. f4 c5 19. Nxe6 fxe6 20. g5 Qa1+ 21. Nb1 Rf7 22. Rhg1 Kh8 23. Rxd3 Qa2 24. g6 Rg7 25. Rd7 Qxb3 26. Rxe7 Rxe7 27. gxh7 Rf7 28 Qg6 Sayyah resigns. Mate in 2 moves

Game 2: White--Sayyah, Black—Fischer (Both playing blindfold style)

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Bc4 Nxe4 4. O-O d5 5. Nxe5 dxc4 6. Re1 Nxf2 7. Qf3 Nh3+ 8. Kh1 Qe7 9. d4 Nc6 10. c3 N xe5 11. Rxe5 Be6 12. Qxb7 Rd8 13. Qc6+ Rd7 14. Qa8+ Qd8 15. Qxd8+ Kxd8 16. gxh3 Bd6 17. Bg5+ Kc8 18. Ra5 Re8 19. Nd2 f6 20. Be3 c6 21. Re1 Bd5+ 22. Kg1 Rde7 23. Nf1 Kb7 24. Ra4 f5 25. Kf2 Kb6 26. Bd2 Rxe1 27. Bxe1 f4 28. Bd2 a5 29. h4 Kb5 30. b3 cxb3 31. axb3 Bxb3 32. Ra1 a4 33. Rb1 Kc4 34. Kf3 Kd3 35. Ra1 h4 36. Kg2 Re2+ 37. Kg1 Bd5 38. c4 Bf3 Sayyah resigns.

I had a chess computer finish this game a few times and Fisher's game was always the winner. Most above average players would not see the checkmate at this juncture.


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