by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
In this game, Fischer (playing Black) demonstrates noteworthy innovation and improvisation. Byrne (playing White), after a standard opening, makes a seemingly minor mistake on move 11, losing tempo by moving the same piece twice. Fischer pounces, with brilliant sacrificial play, culminating in an incredible queen sacrifice on move 17. Byrne captures the queen, but Fischer gets far too much material for it – a rook, two bishops, and a pawn. At the end, Fischer’s pieces coordinate to force checkmate, while Byrne’s queen sits, helpless, at the other end of the board.
Bobby Fischer’s Breakthrough: The Game of the Century
When someone says a chapter of a story is “putting the pieces in place,” it’s usually meant to point out some emotional shortcoming. Putting the pieces in place is seen as perfunctory, a perhaps necessary prelude to the actual drama to come, lacking in any real emotional investment (and maybe even drawing our attention to the invisible hand guiding circumstances into position). But I think that attitude is entirely shortsighted, privileging the fallout of events more than the setup, and ignoring that the “pieces” and “places” are the raw materials for drama, so how and why they’re there are essential story elements. It’s the kind of attitude that would make Bobby Fischer’s famous “Game of the Century” is only thrilling in its final moments, as he finally forced Byrne’s king into checkmate, but any chess fan can tell you that the ending was set up 21 moves earlier, which in turn may have been set up six moves earlier still, reminding us that the simple act of moving pieces on the board is what drives the drama in a game of chess. Obviously, Saga isn’t a game, and the characters aren’t chess pieces (royalty notwithstanding), but it’s just a thrilling to watch them scoot into attack position — even when we can’t see the attack coming. Continue reading →