I have written that CC is very different to OTB Chess a lot of times. I have also written that in my opinion today there is no difference between playing Black or White. In this matter some players believe the White side enjoys some sort of advantage, while others see things much more levelled. Many -very many- decades ago, one of the “foundling fathers” of the Hypermodern movement, Gyula Breyer, even stated that after 1. e4, White was in his last throes… In my CC career, which started 27 years ago I have mainly played 1. e4 as White. My second option was 1. d4 and the third 1.c4. Of late I have begun to realise that against 1.e4 Black has started to have nearly no problems except in some lines in the Sicilian. I am speaking of players of a same strength with similar tools. You may say, “yes, but I keep on seeing 1.e4-games with victories for White”. Well, first of all one may consider that in CC it is debatable whether “players of the same strength” are those players with “similar ratings“. You know what I mean. Another point to bear into consideration is the question: if we leave big out mistakes, how are Chess games lost and won?. Accumulation of small advantages, sustained pressure which leads to a final and decisive weakening of the position, etc. This is what handbooks say. Abrahams wrote about this topic in his excellent book “The Chess Mind” Well, what I have noticed of late is how difficult is , “ceteris paribus” , to obtain clear advantages as White with 1. e4. Take nearly any line and you will see that the advance of Chess theory offers good prospects to Black perhaps not in all variations/subvariations, but in enough of them to challenge White attempts to get some sort of advantage in the opening. And I say even more: in many 1.e4 lines, if White wins is not because of the opening but in spite of it… (Please, bear in mind I am speaking of my own experience). In the past, you “knew” that against certain defences, White could get a comfortable game: with the Tarrasch against the French, against the Pirc, against the Caro-Kann, in a lot of Ruy Lopez variations, against different lines in the Sicilian, and so on. But those working for the “Black cause” were very busy looking for lines to rehabilitate their favourite defences while those in the White side seemed much at ease believing nothing could change their standard of life… One may think White could do them… I do not know what is going to happen in the future, but so far whenever I have to start a CC event I carefully devote a lot of time to decide if I am going to play 1. e4 or not. (Please remember “the ceteris paribus condition” = “all things being equal,then…”).
It is easier to play Chess than to explain how Chess is played . I found it even more difficult to explain what is happening in many games, why this move is weaker than that one. Or trying t explain which is the idea under “neutral” exchange of pieces… This is another critical point. Sometimes everybody sees that a Bishop is stronger tan a Knight or a Knight stronger tan a Bishop. But on other occasions, the player has to restore to his intuition and trying to explain it with words is only possible once the game has ended, so, with the benefit of hindsight… It is very clear that in Chess, the sum of the parts is far greater tan the whole itself. Learn to live with that.
(The following post makes number 64 + 1 of the series. In February there will be no posts because I need time to think about Chess and the blog. Nevertheless, I invite the readers to submit ideas, opinions, etc. Sometimes it is better to stop and think than keep on doing things by sheer inertia. Thank you very much for being there and I am looking forward o your ideas and opinions. See you later!)
Many Chess handbooks have been written trying to explain how Chess is/should be played. All of us have read a lot of general precepts like “…the best action against a flank attack is to counter it with an action in the center”, and so on. These are the sort of popular advice like “you should eat/drink less of this or that and more of this or that and you will live a hundred years”. Really?. To how many flank attacks have you succumbed because you do not have a damned d-Pawn to play on the center????. “To play against/with an isolated QP you should…” But then you get the damned isolani and try to follow the advice but the position is not the same as in that book and your opponent finishes you off with a mating attack… “If you have an inferior position you must create as many problems as possible to your opponent; see how Petrosian , Tal and Karpov do it…” (Several beautiful games follow suit). And then you lose one time after another because you fall in one inferior position after another and there are no those damned threats to conjure up because every time your stupid pieces are scattered threatening nothing or you need a Knight not that fat Bishop and your King is on h8 instead of e8 as in that Petrosian game and so on… “Forget studying openings, you must study endgames, as Capablanca said and did”… And you buy all the Averbach endgame volumes and spend months studying them (those ideal but irreal positions with pure Knight or Bishop endgames, etc) simply to lose all your games in the first tournament you play because your opponents catch you on the hop in the very opening and you beat a record by being the only player to lose all his games before the 15th move… And then you start to believe Chess is not for you because it is an arcane game only understood by super-humans who can calculate tens of moves in advance, learn millions of opening variations and keep them updated day after day, and so on. FAR FROM IT. If you are feeling very ill with these symptoms,my simple advice is :
1.- Don’t get nervous or anxious.
2.- Chess is a difficult game, even for professional players.
3.- Buy or get a copy of the following books: Rowson: “Chess for Zebras” . Rowson : ” The Seven Deadly Chess Sins” and Hendricks “Move First,Think Later” and read them very carefully .
After that, you can continue studying your favourite authors, your opening books, etc.
The tale of all this is easy to understand: to learn Chess, study games and positions. Most of us have read tens of books on general principles. It is time to devote ourselves to dissect the games played by the great and to work on positions. Take for instance the following game by Tal:
W.: Rohde (0)
B.: Tal (1)
New York 1990
1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, e6/ 3. Nf3, d5/ 4. Nc3, c6/5. e3, Nbd7/ 6. Be2, Be7 (Apparently this Bishop belongs to d6…I would like to explain something :I don’t know how they -the super GMs- do it, but they always manage to reach positions full of possibilities. Unless they make an opening mistake, they never fall in “dead” positions without active possibilities. Nor even Karpov when playing the ultrasolid Caro-Kann. This is the type of details you have to study, I guess. I suppose it has to do with the famous concept known as “insight”...) / 7. 0-0 , 0-0/ 8. Qc2, b6/ 9. e4, dxe4/ 10. Nxe4, Qc7/ 11. g5, c5/ 12. d5 (Rohde is out for blood against an attacking genius. Tal will have to withstand the attack and find a way to start a counterattack) 12…, exd5/ 13. cxd5, Nxd5/ 14. Bc4, N7f6/ 15. Rfe1, Bg4/ 16. Bxf6 (The American has spotted a sacrificial combination on f7. Well, now Tal would have spent a lot of time assessing it and trying to decide whether there is a way to counter the attack. In these moments you have to consider at least two types of possibilities: 1)The combination takes place but I can find a defence to level the game; 2) I can find not only intermediate moves to deactivate the attack, but also aggressive continuations to make the attack rebound on my opponent. What happened here was:)
16.., Nxf6/ 17. Nf3-g5, Nxe4 18. Nxf7!?, Nf6! (18. … Rxf7/ 19.Qe4)/ 19. Qb3, b5!/ 20. Nh6+ , Kh8/ 21. Nf7+, Rxf7/ 22. Bxf7, Rf8/ 23. h3, c4!/ 24. Qxb5, Rxf7/ 25. hxg4, Nxg4 (and now it is Tal who is posing threats)/ 26. Qh5, Qf4/ 27. Re2, g6/ 28. Qh3, Bc5/ 29. Rf1, Nxf2!! / 30. Re8+ , Kg7/ And White resigned.
Now you should try to solve the following three positions. They have been taken from Karpov’s games (yes, Karpov also played beautiful combinations and I must say they may be even more complicated to spot than those by players with a combinative style!) :
1.- Karpov-Ungureanu, Skopje (Ol) 1972
2.- Karpov-van der Wiel, Amsterdam, 1980.
3.- Alvarez-Karpov, Skopje (Ol) 1972
1) 1. Be3! , Bxe4/ 2. Bxe4, Qxe5/ 3. Qxh7, Kf8/ 4. Bxa8, Ke7/ 5. Qe4, Qc7/ 6. Qb7 Black resigned.
2) 1. Rxe6!, Qxa6/ 2. Rxf7!, Kxf7/ 3. e8Q, Rbxe8/ 4. g6, Kg8/ 5. Rxe8, Bf8/ 6. Qe6 , Black resigned.
3) 1…, Rxg3!/ 2. hxg3, Neg4/ 3. Rde1, Rxe1/ 4. Rxe1, Nf2/ 5. Kh2, N6g4/ 6. Kg1, Ne4 / White resigned.
Progressing in Chess can be painful. Today you have access to tons of information and most of it in real time. You study openings, you have a look at recent games (most of which may follow theory up to move 30 or even more…) , you ask Houdini, Fritz, etc what to do, you realise the old way of studying Chess is now out of fashion (you don’t know why, but …), you dream to meet any GM and beat him/her in a briliant game in which you have managed to follow theory up to the 35th move, etc. My question is: “Do they (today’s GMs) play Chess“. Rather they and (we) simply play opening variations. Where have all those beautiful strategical plans gone?. You may say today’s Chess is different from the Chess played in the past. Yeah. And more because today everybody wants to live on Chess. Money has attracted quantity. I’m afraid “quality” has been left behind in some forgotten place…Of course this is only a personal opinion, but some voices have been raised concerning all this. One may say that this may be true for super-professionals, and that the situation is quite different on other levels. The state of Chess today is rather messy: people under suspicion of cheating who is searched, people caught cheating directly, young boys who only want to earn money and that at 18 has played more games than Fischer or Capablanca in their entire lives, parents -as in any other sport- trying to make a profit out on their chessplaying children (the younger, the better, the earlier, the better, no matter if the boy/girl has to abandon his/her studies and start wandering from playing hall to playing hall since he/she is 8 years old…). You may say this is not really so, and that cases like these are exceptions, but I agree to differ… I prefer playing Chess but also thinking that I am making an effort to understand the richness of the millenary game. I prefer seeing Chess like the great GMs: as a way of life, as a philosophy of life.
“ZWISCHENZUG” : German word to describe an “intermediate move”, which can be defined as an unexpected move made in the middle of a sequence of moves and which forces the opponent to take immediate action against the immediate threat that poses so altering what seemed the logical development of the line in question. An intermediate move decoys an enemy’s piece, forces to defend immediate mate, attacks hanging pieces, checks to win a tempo, brings one piece into play provoking a threat, etc. You all know all this. Every GM uses them in their plans and calculations. But did you know this device has been the hallmark of Capablanca and Fischer, whose games are full of intermediate moves to implement their attacking plans, to entice their opponents into active ,even apparently winning, plans simply to smash them out of a sudden, to force their opponents into making mistakes or to create tactical whirlwinds and complicate the game to the utmost?. And I can even say a bit more: Fischer’s extreme ability rested on the fact that he was able to find every intermediate move in any possible line.
Well, in this post I propose the reader a field day in a rather classical style. First of all, solve the following tactical exercises from actual games (the solutions are at the end of the post). Then analyse, in depth, the game I include trying to understand the moves and finding all the “intermediate” moves it contains. Do it with board and pieces.
Tactical exercise 1:
Tactical exercise 2:
Tactical exercise 3:
Tactical exercise 4:
Tactical exercise 5:
??????????????????? (Do you know who played this game?
1. c4, c5 / 2. Nf3, g6/ 3. d4, cxd4/ 4. Nxd4, Nc6/ 5. e4, Nf6/ 7. Be2, Nxd4/ 8. Qxd4/ 9. Bg5, h6/ 10. Be3, 0-0/ 11. Qd2, Kh7/ 12. 0-0, Be6/ 13.f4 (from now on, you should try to guess Black’s move before making them), …, Rac8/ 14. b3, Qa5/ 15. a3, a6/ 16. f5, Bd7/ 17. b4, Qe5!/ 18. Rae1, Bc6!/ 19.Bf4!, Nxe4/ 20. Nxe4, Qxe4/ 21. Bd3, Qd4/ 22. Kh1, Rce8!/ 23. Be3!,Qc3!/ 24. Bxh6, Qxd2/ 25. Bxd2, Be5/ 26. Bf4, Bxf4/ 27. Rxf4, gf5/ 28. Rxf5, Kg7/ 29. Rg5, Kh6/ 30. h4, e6/ 31. Rf1, f5/ 32. Rb1, Rf7/ 33. b5, ab5/ 34. cb5, Bd7/ 35. g4, Ra8!/ 36. gf5, ef5/ 37. Bc4? , Ra4/ 38. Rc1, Bxb5/ 39. Bxf7, Rxh4/ 40. Kg2, Kxg5/ 41. Bd5, Ba6/ 42. Rd1, Ra4/ 43. Bf3, Rxa3/ 44.Rxd6, Ra2/ 45. Kg1, Kf4/ 46. Bg2, Rb2/ 47. Rd7, b6/ 48. Rd8, Be2/ 49. Bh3, Bg4/ 50. Bf1, Bf3/ 51. Rb8, Be4/ 52. Ba6, Ke3/ 53. Rbc8, Rb1/ 54. Kh2, Kf4/ White resigned. (The game belongs to the Fischer-Larsen 1971 Candidates’ match held in Denver, USA)
Solution to the problems:
1.- : 32. Rxe6!, Ba3 / 33. Na3, Ke6/ 34. Qg4, Ke7/ 35. Rf2, Re8/ 36. Qg5, Kd7/ 37. Rf7, Kc8/ 38. Qf5, Kb8/ 39. Qd7, 1-0.
2.- : 38. …, g4!!/ 39. Qxg4, Qxg4/ 40. hxg4, Kg7! / 41. Rf5, Rxh1! / 0-1 (42. Kxh1, Rc1/ 43. Kh2, Bxg3/ 44.Kh3, Rh1 #)
3.- : 15. Bxe6, fxe6/ 16. Rxf8!!, Qxf8/ 17. Qa4, 1-0
4.-: 23. Rxe4!! (if you have found this move and the idea behind you have solved the problem), Qxg3/ 24. Rxd4!, Qg4/25. Rxg4, Bxg4/ 26. Bxg6, Rhg8/ 27. Bh7, Rh8/ 28. Bd3, Rde8/29. f7 and White won on move 47th.
5.- : 27. …, Nc3!/ 28. Kc1, Na4!/ 29. Kb1, Rxb2!!/ 30. Rxb2, Nc3/ 31. Kc1 , Qa3! 32. Bd3, Qa1 / 33. Kd2, Qxb2/ 34. Ke1, Ne4/ White resigned.
(All these positions are from Bobby Fischer’s games)
Boris Spassky’s childhood was not easy. Born in 1937 he and his family had to endure the hardships of the 2nd World War. A country devastated and a country ruled by no other than Stalin…
Boris used to spend many hours analysing games at home and trying to spend as much time as possible at the Pioneers’ Palace. His idol was A. Alekhine, whose games tried to understand for hours on end. This helped him to become not only a universal chessplayer, but also left a very deep influence in his tactical skills. That work left an indelible imprint for years to come: like Alekhine he was able to play positional games full of strategical sparkling ideas or combinative attacking games in the 19th century Chess tradition. Like his admired predecessor, he was able in a rather subconscious way to reach positions charged with latent energy ready to explode in a given moment. He developed also a very precise insight to perceive and take advantage of the critical moments during games.
Unlike Botvinnik, Karpov or Kasparov, Boris never liked to write about his Chess experiences. Unlike with Fischer, about whom scores of books have been written, very few people was interested on Spassky. (Perhaps because his enormous talent requires a lot of effort to be clearly dissected? .who knows…)
Many people know Boris as “the player who lost to Fischer”. But I must say he is one of the most complete and interesting chessplayer in the history of the royal game. If you devote time to study his games, the first thing you realise is the different sides his talent show. When you believe you know him quite well, a new aspect is revealed here or there.
So, is it possible to train with Spassky?.- Absolutely yes. In this post I have included games to be studied/analysed and five exercises taken from his games. Good luck.
W.: Spassky (1)
B.: Ciric (0)
Marianske Lazne, 1962
1. e4, c5/ 2. Nf3, Nf6 (an old variation of Hypermodern flavour .) / 3. e5, Nd5/ 4. Nc3, e6/ 5. Nxd5, ed5/ 6. d4, Nc6/ 7.dc5, Bxc5/ 8. Qxd5, Qb6 (an old line already played in 1924. Black gets an aggressive position and White has to show he has something to counter it). 9. Bc4, Bxf2+/ 10. Ke2, 0-0/ 11. Rf1, Bc5/ 12. Ng5, Nxe5/ 13. Qxe5, d5/ 14. Qxd5! (A critical moment. Spassky avoided 14.Bxd5 due to: 14…, Bg4+/ 15. Ke1, Rae8!/ 16. Bxf7+,Kh8/ 17. Bxe8, Qa5+ 18. Bd2, ,Bxf2+ and the White Queen is lost) 14…, Re8+/ 15. Kf3, Qf6/ 16. Kg3, Bd6/ 17. Rf4!, Be6/ 18. Nxe6, Rxe6/ 19. Qxd6. Qg6/ 20. Rg4, Re3+/ 21. Bxe3, Qxd6+/ 22. Kf2, Re8/ 23. Rf4, Re7/ 24. Bb3, Qe5/ 25. Re1, g5/ 26. Rf3, Kg7/ 27. Rd1, f6/ 28. Kg1, g4/ 29. Bd4 and Black resigned. Beautiful.
W.: Spassky (1)
B.: Gligoric (0)
Montilla/Moriles (Spain) 1978
1. d4, Nf6/ 2. Nf3, g6/ 3. g3, Bg7/ 4. Bg2, 0-0/ 5. 0-0, d6/ 6. Nc3, Nbd7 /7.e4 (a GM weapon: the transposition of moves: what seemed a King’s Indian is now a Pirc) 7…, e5/ 8. a4, c6/ 9. b3, Re8/ 10. Ba3, ed4/ 11. Nxd4, Nc5/ 12. Re1, Ng4/ 13. Qd2, Ne6/ 14. Nde2, Qf6/ 15. f3, Bh6/ 16. f4, Qd8/ 17. h3, Qb6/ 18. Kh1, Qe3/ 19. Qc1, Qxc1/ 20. Raxc1, Ne3/ 21. Bd6, Nxg2/ 22.Kxg2, b6/ 23. Rcd1, Bb7/ 24. g4, Rad8/ 25. f5, Nf8/ 26. Ng3, Bg5/ 27. e5, Bh4/ 28. Kh2, h6/ 29. Rf1, Nd7/ 30. e6, Nf6/ 31. ef7, Kxf7/ 32. fg6, Kxg6/ 33. Nf5, Bg5/ 34. Kg3, Nd5/ 35. Nxd5, cd5/ 36. h4, Bf6/ 37. h5, Kh7/ 38. Bf4, d4/ 39. Nh6, Re2/ 40. Rd2, d3/ 41. Rxd3, Rg2/42. Kh3, Rxd3/ 43. cd3,Rc2/ 44. Rc1, Rxc1/ 45. Bxc1, Ba6/ 46. g5, Bc3/ 47. g6, Kg7/ 48. d4, Bc8/ 49. Kh4, Bxd4/ 50. Ng4, Bf6/ 51. Bg5, Bc3/ 52. Bh6 . Black resigned.
W.: Spassky (1)
B.: Taimanov (0)
1. e4, e5/ 2. Nf3, Nc6/ 3. Bb5, a6/ 4. Ba4, b5/ 5. Bb3, Na5/ 6. 0-0, d6/ 7. d4, Nxb3/ 8. ab3, f6/ 9. Nc3, Bb7/ 10. Nh4!, Ne7/ 11. de5, de5/ 12. Qf3, Qd7/ 13. Rd1, Qe6/ 14. Be3, g5?/ 15. Nxb5!!, ab5/ 16. Qh5, Qf7/ 17. Rxa8, Bxa8/ 18. Rd8!, Kxd8/ 19. Qxf7, gh4/ 20. Qxf6, Rg8/ 21. f3!, h3/22. g3, Ke8/ 23. Qxe5, Rg6/ 24. Qxb5, Bc6/25. Qb8, Kf7/ 26. Qxc7, Rf6/ 27. Bg5, Re6/ 28. b4, Kg8/ 29. Qb8, Ng6/ 30. Kf2, Ne5/ 31. b5, Be8/ 32. Be3, Bd6/ 33. Qc8,, Kf7/ 34. b6, Rf6/ 35. Bf4, Bd7/ 36.b7, Be6/ 37. Bxe5, Bxe5/ 38.b8Q, Bxc8/ 39. Qxe5 and Black resigned.
W.: S. Flor (0)
B.: B. Spassky (1)
1.Nf3, Nf6/2. c4, e6/ 3. b3, d5 (I think Spassky’s approach to Chess is classical. In these types of set-ups in which White cedes the center he always occupies it playing a sort of reversed Queen’s Gambit) / 4. Bb2, Be7/ 5. g3, 0-0/6. Bg2, c5/ 7. cd5, ed5/ 8. d4, Nc6/ 9. 0-0, Bg4/ 10. dc5, Bxc5/ 11. Nc3, a6/ 12. Ne1, Re8/ 13. h3, Bf5/ 14. Nd3, Ba7/ 15. Rc1, d4/ 16. Na4, Be4/ 17. Nac5, Bxg2/ 18.. Kxg2, Qd5/ 19. Kh2, Ne4/ 20. Nxe4, Rxe4/ 21. Rc2, Rae8/ 22. Bc1, f6/ 23. f3, Rhe7/ 24. Ba3, Rf7/ 25. Nb4, Nxb4/ 26. Bxb4, Qb5/ 27. Ba3, h5/ 28. Qd3, Qxd3/ 29. ed3, Re3/ 30. Rd2, Rc7/ 31. Kg2, Kf7/ 32. Rc1, Rc3/ 33. Rcd1, Ke6/ 34. Bb2, Rc6/ 35. Rc1, Kd5/ 36. Rxc6, bc6/ 37. Kf2, Bc5/ 38. Rd1, Bb4/ 39. a3, Bd6/ 40. Bc1, Re7/ 41. Bd2, Rb7/ 42. b4, a5/ 43. ba5, Rb2/44. f4, Ra2/ 45. Ke2, h4/46. gh4, Bxf4/ 47. a6, Bxd2/ 48.Rxd2,Rxa3/ 49. Rb2, Rxa6/ 50. Rb7, Ra2/ 51. Kf3, Rd2/ 52. Rxg7,Rxd3/ 53. Kg4, f5/ 54. Kxf5, Rxh3/ 55. Rd7, Kc4/ 56. Kg5,, c5/ 57. h5, d3/ White resigned.
Now the positions to solve:
Position 1: Spassky – Korenski, Sochi 1973:
Position 2: Furman – Spassky, USSR Chess Championship, 1957: (Position from the Black side):
Position 3: Spassky – Portisch, Geneve, 1977:
Position 4: Spassky – Reshko, Leningrad, 1959:
Position 5: Geller- Spassky .Zonal T. of Seven, Moscow 1964. (Position from the Black side):
Pos. 1.: 1. e7!, Kg8/ 2. Qxf7, Kh8/ 3. e8=Q, Rxe8/ 4. Qxe6, Kg7/ 5. Qe5, Kg8/ 6. Qg5 and Black resigned.
Pos. 2.: 1…, Bg4!!/ 2. f3, Bxf3!!/ 3. gxf3, Nxf3/ 4. Kh1, Qh3/ 5. Rf2, Ne1!! / White resigned.
Pos. 3.: 1. Nh5!!, Nxd5/ 2. cxd5, gxh5/ 3. gxh5, Bg7/ 4. Bb2, f6/ 5. Bxf6, Rxf2/ 6. Re2, Qf7/ 7. Re6 and Black resigned.
Pos. 4.: 1. e7!!, Bxe7/ 2. Qxg4, Nd7/ 3. Nxe7, Kc7/ 4. Bf4, Ne5/ 5. Qg7!, Kb6/ 6. Bxe5, Qe6/ 7. Bxd4 Black resigned.
Pos. 5.: 1…., Qxc7!!/ 2. Bxc7, Be3+!/ 3. Kg2, Nxd2/ 4. Rxf8+, Rxf8/ 5. Bxd5, Rf2+/ 6. Kg3, Nf1+/ 7. Kh4, h6/ 8. Bd8, Rf8!!/ White resigned.
The 1981 World Championship Match was to be played in the same venue as the Candidates’ Final between Korchnoi and Hübner, the Italian town of Meran (north of Italy, region of Trentino-Adigio.The place gives also name to the famous Meran Variation in the Semislav after the game Tartakower-Rubinstein played there in 1924. That part of the old Europe is very interesting historically speaking ). After that match fiasco, I guess the organizers would expect to cash in on a bigger stake. The events which had taken place three years before still cast their shadows over Meran ’81 :Korchnoi’s family was still in the Soviet Union : the Soviet authorities refusing to allow them to leave the country, and the rivalry between the two K’s had not diminished. But the match turned out to be a sort of anticlimax… The Soviet delegation included many people: Chess helpers, Karpov’s personal cook, medical staff, physical helper,translators and diplomats,as well as A. Roshal and V. Baturinsky, and bodyguards. (Any Soviet World Champion had access to any sort of help. Karpov had many “consultants” and I could mention his all-time helper Zaitsev, and Yuri Balashov, for instance. In Meran Tal and Polugaevsky were side by side with him too. On those days it was very difficult to clearly determine “who were doing what” in Soviet official Chess camps) . Korchnoi’s seconds were Stean, Seirawan,Gutman and Ivanov. He was also accompanied by a lawyer, A. Brodbeck and a Chief of Delegation, E. Sztein. Journalist present mention also the presence of a bodyguard… Those were hard days…The match was scheduled to beguin on October 1st, the winner would have to win six games with draws not counting.
All in all, one thing was immediately clear: Karpov was still becoming stronger while Korchnoi seemed to be slowly declining, at least to maintain such intensity against a terrific opponent as Karpov and for so many years . The first games of the event showed that Viktor was not in the match: after the first five games, the score was 3-0 for Karpov. Korchnoi managed to win the sixth game but after the tenth game the score was 4-1 in Karpov’s favour. Some drawn games followed, Korchnoi won the 13th game but lost the 14th and leaned over the abyss much to the organizers’ desperation who saw that a quick resolution of the match would finish with their financial expectations (understandably, under such conditions a very long match can be catastrophic but if it is too sort and one-sided the financial situation for the sponsors is the same: absolute disaster!). I have read that the organizers managed to express their worries to Karpov who somewhat reassured them (!)… Be that as it may, three more games ended in a draw but the 18th one ,played on November 19th was adjourned with a winning position for Karpov. The game was not resumed and Karpov renewed his World Champion title for three more years.
After the 1978 match I was looking forward this new event. On the one hand , my sympathy was with Karpov. But I still had the secret hope of witnessing another magnificent struggle with the scores dangling from one side to another. That was not to happen. But the match taught me a lot of Chess strategy, especially the first and the ninth games. In the first game, Karpov played superbly using one of his favourite weapons: the hanging Pawns. In the ninth game, he showed another of his specialties: the fight against the isolated Queen Pawn. The fifth game was also of great technical interest since Karpov managed to draw as Black -a Pawn down- in a typical King +Rook + four Pawns vs. King + Rook + three Pawns all in the K-side. Nevertheless and in retrospect, the feeling left by that match was one of dullness. Nothing to do with what was going to come: the immense clash Karpov-Kasparov in the following years. In a sort of gesture to the gallery, Karpov even played the Italian Opening in the 8th and the 10th games. Two draws. Karpov himself in his notes to the games says that the Italian Game had last appeared in a World Championship Match in 1896 (Lasker-Steinitz return match).
W.: V. Korchnoi (0)
B.: A. Karpov (1)
Meran, Italy 1981.- World Championship Match (1)
1. c4, e6/ 2. Nc3, d5/ 3. d4, Be7/ 4. Nf3, Nf6/ 5. Bg5, h6/ 6. Bh4, 0-0/ 7. e3, b6/ 8. Rc1, Bb7/ 9. Be2, Nbd7/10.cxd5, exd5/ 11. 0-0, c5/12. dxc5, bxc5/ 13. Qc2, Rc8/ 14. Rfd1, Qb6/ 15. Qb1, Rfd8/ 16. Rc2, Qe6/ 17. Bg3, Nh5/18. Rcd2, Nxg3/ 19. hxg3, Nf6/ 20. Qc2, g6/ 21. Qa4, a6/ 22. Bd3, Kg7/ 23. Bb1, Qb6/ 24. a3, d4!/ 25.Ne2, dxe3/26. fxe3, c4!/ 27. Ned4, Qc7/ 28. Nh4, Qe5/ 29. Kh1, Kg8/ 30. Ndf3, Qxg3/ 31. Rxd8, Bxd8/ 32. Qb4, Be4!/33. Bxe4, Nxe4/34. Rd4, Nf2+/ 35. Kg1, Nd3/ 36. Qb7, Rb8/ 37. Qd7, Bc7/ 38. Kh1, Rxb2/ 39. Rxd3, cxd3/ 40. Qxd3, Qd6/ 41. Qe4, Qd1+/ 42. Ng1, Qd6/ 43. Nhf3, Rb5/ The game was adjourned here. Karpov sealed a move but Korchnoi, after a while, stopped definitively the clocks. White resigned.
W.: V. Korchnoi (0)
B.: A. Karpov (1)
Meran, Italy 1981. World Championship Match (9)
1. c4, e6/ 2. Nc3, d5/ 3. d4, Be7/ 4. Nf3, Nf6/ 5. Bg5, h6/ 6. Bh4, 0-0/ 7. Rc1 dxc4 (TN according to Karpov)/ 8. e3, c5/ 9. Bxc4, cxd4/ 10. exd4, Nc6/ 11. 0-0, Nh5!/ 12. Bxe7, Nxe7/ 13. Bb3, Nf6/ 14. Ne5, Bd7/ 15. Qe2, Rc8/ 16. Ne4, Nxe4/ 17. Qxe4, Bc6!/ 18. Nxc6, Rxc6/ 19. Rc3, Qd6/ 20. g3,Rd8/ 21. Rd1, Rb6/ 22. Qe1, Qd7/ 23. Rcd3, Rd6/ 24. Qe4, Qc6/ 25. Qf4, Nd5/ 26. Qd2, Qb6/ 27. Bxd5, Rxd5/ 28. Rb3, Qc6/ 29. Qc3, Qd7/ 30. f4, b6/31. Rb4, b5/ 32. a4, bxa4/ 33. Qa3, a5/ 34. Rxa4, Qb5 /35. Rd2, e5/ 36. fxe5, Rxe5/ 37. Qa1, Qe8!!/ 38. dxe5, Rxd2/ 39. Rxa5, Qc6/ 40. Ra8+, Kh7/ 41. Qb1+, g6/ 42. Qf1, Qc5+/ 43. Kh1, Qd5+/ White resigned.
(As an homage to Spassky and my father, who taught me the moves around 1971 and from whom I first heard of Boris, here are some of the notes I wrote when I found some interesting stylistic features in Spassky’s games.)
In his games, Boris Spassky is always looking for aggressive moves, moves that pose one threat after another. This is what has been defined as “aggressive-thinking mode”. Instead of using defensive (passive) moves he answer with threats whenever possible. The aim is the attempt to break the coordination of his opponents’ pieces.In the following game we can see this feature in different moments. (Please bear in mind that these notes are totally subjective)
W.: A. Lein (0)
B.: B. Spassky (1)
1. e4 , c5/ 2. Nf3, Nc6/ 3. d4, cd4/ 4. Nxd4, e6/ 5. Nxc6, bc6/ 6. Bd3, Nf6/ 7. 0-0, d5/ 8. Nd2, Be7/9. Re1, 0-0/ 10. Qf3, Nd7/ 11. ed5, cd5/ 12.c4,Nc5 (instead of 12…, Bb7 first) / 13. Bc2, Bf6 ( the plan is the attack on b2 and later the attack on the Q-side with long-range pieces so as to create indirect threats on the K-side. 13…Bf6 prevents White’s b2-b4 too.)/ 14. Nb3, Nxb3/ 15. ab3, Bb7/ 16. Qe3, Qb8/ (instead of defending passively with …a6/) 17. Ra2, Rc8 (threatening 18…,dc4) / 18. Qh3, g6/ 19. Bh6, dc4 (another attacking plan side-stepping White’s threats on e6) 20. Rxe6, Re8 / 21. Rxe8, Qxe8/ 22. Qe3, Qc6 (attacking on both sides of the board through files and diagonals)/ 23. Qf3, Qb6 ( this move and the following one threaten…Re1 and prevent white’s h2-h3 or h2-h4 due to …Be5/ ) 24. Qg3, Re8/ 25. Ra1, Bxb2/ 26. Rd1, Be5/ 27. Re1, Qa5/ 28. b4, Qxb4/ 29. Qxe5, Qxe1/ White resigned.
As Black, Spassky is always thinking of counterattack. Instead of seeing defence as something passive, he always try to create counter-threats. I think he prefers to isolate his opponents’ concrete threats and try to meet them one by one rather to set up a whole defensive strategy as the order of the day. In purely “Leningrad School of Chess”, he tries to counterbalance his opponents’ attacks in an active -never passively- way. He believes more in active plans than in prophylactic webs. This risky way of dealing with the problem of defence creates terrible clashes over the board.(Perhaps this is his Alexander Tolusch’s trademark -Tolusch was one of his first trainers. In my opinion,in some aspects of Boris approach to Chess, Tolusch influence is more conspicuous than Bondarevsky’s one.Tolusch trained Boris when he was a young boy and was forming his Chess style. Those first childhood influences are hard to erase because, due to psychological reasons, they tend to remain firmly stuck on one’s mind) . All in all, I have always found something elusive (indistint?, unclear?,blurred?, diffused?…) in Spassky’s style, something that is there but cannot be easily brought to the surface. Perhaps it is a blend of Alekhinian influence plus the Leningrad School of Chess, something he learnt as a child and later developed in thousands of games perhaps in a rather subconscious way. It is not only the way he plays Chess, it is also the way he understands the relations among the different elements that compose the game. In my humble and perhaps wrong opinion, this explains why in the sixties he became nearly unbeatable, why he managed to go through two gruelling series of Candidates’ matches to play for the World Championship in 1966 and 1969, and why the always ferocious Bobby Fischer, with his hate for the Soviets, failed to beat him during those years. In fact , between 1960 and 1971, the score between them was clearly in Spassky’s favour: +3 -0 =2, and forced Fischer to change his approach “to the Spassky problem” so as to beat him in 1972. (Nevertheless, in 1972 Spassky’s wrong approach and wrong punctual decisions helped a lot to allow Fischer play the type of psychological game most favourable to his interests. And this has been admitted by Boris himself.). During those years he also defeated all sort of chessplayers like Petrosian, Keres, Geller, Tal, Korchnoi, Gligoric, Larsen, Polugaevsky, Bronstein, Smyslov, Reshevsky, etc.
Another feature in Spassky’s style I have found some notes about has to do with his games against Keres in the 1965 Riga Match (5th game) and against Petrosian in Moscow 1966:
Spassky always attack undefended pieces/pawns using it as a sort of intermediate-move device. Whenever possible, he defends his pieces indirectly by attacking his opponents’ ones. This also allows him to improve the position of his own army without restoring to passive defence. Another effect of this way of playing is that he manages to charge the position with energy ready to explode later in the game. He always creates and maintains tension in the position sustaining it as longer as possible.
In the first game against Keres, the “e4 Pawn” is indirectly defended for many moves because taking it would mean to liberate all the tactical energy contained in the position. In the game against Petrosian he also uses the “Principle of the Two Weaknesses” and the constant attack on undefended pieces:
W.: B. Spassky (1)
B.: P. Keres (0)
Candidates’ Match. (5) Riga, 1965
1.e4, e5/ 2. Nf3, Nc6/ 3. Bb5, a6/ 4. Ba4, Nf6/ 5. 0-0, Be7/ 6. Re1, b5/ 7. Bb3, d6/ 8. c3, 0-0/ 9. h3, Na5/ 10.Bc2, c5/ 11. d4, Qc7/ 12. Nbd2, Bd7/ 13. Nf1,cd4/ 14. cd4, Rac8/ 15. Ne3, Rfe8/ 16. b3, ed4/ 17. Nxd4, Bf8/ 18. Bb2, Qd8/ 19. Ndf5, Bxf5/ 20. Nxf5, g6/ 21. Ne3, Bg7/ 22. Qd2, Nb7/ 23. b4, Qe7/ 24.f3, Qf8/ 25. Bb3, Nd8/ 26. Rad1, Rc6/ 27. Rc1, Qe7/ 28. Kh2, Qd7/ 29. Nd5, Nxd5/ 30. Bxd5, Rxc1/ 31. Rxc1, Qe7/ 32. Bxg7, Kxg7/ 33. Qc3, Kg8/ 34. f4, Ne6/ 35. g3, Ng7/ 36. Qc7, Qf6/ 37. Rc2, Rf8/ 38. Qb6, g5/ 39. fg5, Qxg5/ 40. Qxa6, Qe5/ 41. Qxb5, Ne6/ 42. Qf1, Kg7/ 43. Qf5 , Black resigned.
W.: B. Spassky (1)
B.: T. Petrosian (0)
World Championship Match. (19) .Moscow, 1966
In 1966 the Piatigorsky couple (the famous cellist George Piatigorsky and his wife Jacqueline) organised the “2nd Piatigorsky Cup”. The first one had taken place three years before. This time, Mrs Piatigorsky decided to invite Bobby Fischer who had not been invited in the previous one -provoking some disrespectful comments on Bobby’s part…-. The great event was scheduled to be played from July 17th all through August 15th, the venue was Santa Monica, California, USA. The importance of he tournament was such that even FIDE recommended its member nations not to organise any other event during the celebration of the Piatigorsky one.
It was a double round-robin tournament and the always seemingly reluctant Soviet authorities (sending players to the USA…) even agreed to send two players to it , and they were no others than the current World Champion Tigran Petrosian and the challenger Boris Spassky, the two best players in the world (during those years I consider that the World Champion and the challenger were the best players in the world though it is a matter of opinion) and who had just played for the title with the victory of Petrosian, as everybody knows.
Besides these two super GMs, the list of players included Bobby Fischer, B. Larsen, W. Unzicker, L. Portisch, S. Reshevsky, M. Najdorf, B. Ivkov and J. Donner. The event seemed tailored to Fischer’s taste: he had always complained about the USA Championships, with few players and in which any small “accident” may cost the championship: here every player would have to play eighteen games against some of the best chessplayers in the world.
Nevertheless, Fischer started the tournament in a rather dull way, with a poor showing: when the first round-robin ended -9 games- he only had 3.5 points. He reacted in the second part of the event beating Reshevsky, Portisch, Ivkov, Donner, Larsen and Najdorf. With two rounds to go Spassky and him were leading the field. But Spassky seemed unbeatable, playing overwhelmingly strong Chess to emerge as the winner with 11.5 points and no losses ( Boris won five of the nine matches and drew the rest losing no game at all). Fischer was second winning more games than Boris but losing three of them. The rest were Larsen, Unzicker, Portisch, Petrosian (a poor performance by the World Champion),Reshevsky,Najdorf, Ivkov and Donner. Knowing Fischer’s character, one may suppose that the worst for him was that he was unable to defeat Petrosian (two draws) and the loss in his particular duel with Spassky (1.5 -0.5 for the Soviet). I have read that during Petrosian’s years as World Champion many people considered Spassky as the “real” champion (poles apart stylistically speaking ,one may share or not this opinion but it is understandable. Spassky was not only an attacking player with what was defined as a universal style, he was also one of the most difficult players to beat, and up till 1972, he was Fischer’s “bête noir”).
W.: B. Spassky (1)
B.: R. Fischer (0)
2nd Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 1966
1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, g6 / 3. Nc3, d5 / 4. cd, Nd5/ 5. e4, Nc3 / 6. bc, Bg7 / 7. Bc4, c5/ 8. Ne2, Nc6/ 9. Be3, 0-0 / 10. 0-0, Qc7/ 11. Rc1, Rd8/ 12. Qe1, e6 / 13. f4, Na57 14. Bd3, f5 /15. Rd1, b6 / 16. Qf2, cd/ 17. Bd4, Bd4/ 18. cd,Bb7/ 19. Ng3, Qf7 /20. d5, fe/ 21. de, Qe6/ 22. f5, Qf7/ 23. Be4, Rd1/ 24. Rd1, Rf8/ 25. Bb1, Qf6/ 26. Qc2, Kh8/ 27. fg, hg/ 28. Qd2, Kg7/ 29. Rf1, Qe7/ 30. Qd4, Rf6/ 31. Ne4, Be4/ 32. Be4, Qc5/ 33. Qc5, Rf1?/ 34. Kf1, bc/ 35. h4, Nc4/ 36. Ke2, Ne5/ 37. Ke3, Kf6/ 38. Kf4, Nf7/ 39. Ke3, g5/ 40. h5, Nh6/ 41. Kd3, Ke5/ 42. Ba8, Kd6/ 43. Kc4, g4/ 44. a4, Ng8/ 45. a5, Nh6/ 46. Be4, g3/ 47. Kb5, Ng8/ 48. Bb1, Nh6/ 49. Ka6, Kc6/ 50. Ba2 .Black resigned.
W.: B. Larsen (0)
B.: B. Spassky (1)
2nd Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 1966
1. d4, d5/ 2.c4, dc/ 3. Nf3, Nf6/ 4. e3, Bg4/ 5. h3, Bh5/ 6. Nc3, e6/ 7. Bc4, Nbd7/ 8. 0-0, Be7/ 9. e4, 0-0/10.Be3, Bg6/ 11. Bd3, c6/ 12. a3, Rc8/ 13. Re1, Bh5/ 14. Rc1, a5/ 15. Be2, Bg6/ 16. Nd2, Ra8/ 17. Qb3, Qb8/ 18. Bf3, h6/ 19. g3, Rc8/ 20. Bg2, b5/ 21. e5, a4/ 22.Na4, ba/ 23. Qb8, Rab8/24.ef, Nf6/ 25. Nc4, Nd5/ 26. Ne5, Ne3/ 27. Re3, Rb2/ 28. d5, Rc2/ 29. Rc2,Bc2/ 30. Nc6, Kf8 /31. de, fe/ 32. Ne7, Ke7/ 33. Bd5, e5/ 34. Be4, Bb3/ 35. Bb7, Rc1/ 36. Kh2, Ra1/ 37. Re5, Kd6/ 38.Re3, Ra3/ 39. g4, Ra2/ 40. Kg3, Rb2/ 41. Re1, a3/ 42. Be4, a2/43. f4,Rd2/ White resigned.
W.: M. Najdorf (0)
B.: T. Petrosian (1)
2nd Piatigorsky Cup. Santa Monica 1966
1. d4, Nf6/ 2. c4, g6/ 3. g3, c5/ 4. d5, d6/5.Nc3, Bg7 / 6. Bg2, 0-0 /7.Nf3, Na6/ 8. 0-0,Nc7/9. a4, Rb8/ 10. h3, b6/ 11. e4, a6/ 12. e5, Nd7/ 13. ed6, ed6/ 14. Bg5, f6/ 15. Bf4, Ne8/ 16. h4, Ne5/ 17. Nd2, Nf7/ 18. Re1, g5/19. hg5, fg5 / 20.Be3, Ne5/ 21. Nce4, h6/ 22. Ra3, Ng4/ 23. Qc1, Rb7/ 24. Bf3, Rbf7/ 25. Bg4, Bg4/ 26. Qb1, a5/ 27. Qc1,Be5/ 28. Kg2, Qd7/ 29. Rh1, Qf5/ 30. Bg5, hg5/ 31. f3, Nf6/ 32. fg4, Qg4/ 33. Qd1, Qd1/ 34. Rd1, Ne4/ 35. Ne4, g4/ 36. Rd2, Bd4/ 37. Ra1, Re7/ 38. Nf2, Re3/ 39. Ng4, Rb3/ 40. Nh2, Rb4/ 41. Re1, Rc4/ 42. Re6, Ra4/ 43. Rd6, Rb4/ 44. Rc6, a4/ 45. d6, Kf7/ 46. Nf3, Ke6/ 47. Nd4, cd4/ 48. d7, Kd7/ 49. Rh6, Rf5/ 50. g4, Rd5/ 51. Kf3, d3/ 52. Rf6, b5/ 53. Rf4,Rc4/ 54. Re4, Kd6/ 55. Ke3, Rc2/ 56. g5, Rc1/ 57. Rg4, Re1/ 58. Kf2, Re8/ 59. g6, Kc5/ 60. g7, Rdd8/ 61. Kf3, b4/ 62. Kf2, Kb5/ 63. Kf3, a3/ 64. ba3, ba3/ 65. Kf2, Rg8/ 66. Ke3, Rd7/ 67. Rd3, Rd3/ 68. Kd3, a2/ 69. Rg1, Rg7/ 70. Ra1, Rg2/ 71. Kc3, Ka4/ 72. Rh1, Ka3/ 73. Rf1, Rg8/ 74. Rh1, Rc8/ White resigned.
W.: L. Portisch (1)
B.: T. Petrosian (0)
2nd Piatigorsky Cup, Santa Monica 1966
1. c4, g6/ 2. d4, Bg7/ 3. Nf3, Nc3/ 4. Nc3, Nf6/ 5. g3, 0-0/ 6. Bg2, Nc6/ 7. 0-0, a6/ 8. d5, Na5/ 9. Nd2, c5/ 10. Qc2, Rb8/11. b3, b5/ 12. Bb2, bc4/ 13. bc4, Bh6/ 14. f4, e5/ 15. Rae1, ef4/ 16. gf4, Nh5/ 17. e3, Re8/ 18. Nce4, Bf5/ 19. Bc3, Nb7/20. Qa4, a5/ 21. Rb1, Qe7/ 22. Rfe1, Bd7/ 23. Qc2, Bf5/ 24. Qa4, Kf8/ 25. Rb6, Rbd8/ 26. Qb3, Bc8/ 27. Nf1, Rd7/ 28. Nfg3, Ng3/ 29. hg3, Bg7/ 30. Qb2, f5 /31. Bg7, Qg7/ 32. Nf6 , Black resigned.