“What we cannot speak about, we must pass over in silence” Wittgenstein.
I have been writing in this blog for many months. Now I am in a stand-still because I have fallen in a curious state: I think I cannot write about Chess.
Firstly, I am not a professional OTB player. I’m , simply, a CC one. Secondly, perhaps I could tell my own experiences, but nothing more. Even top professional GMs have problems with trying to write about the game.
I suppose Chess is so vast a world that it cannot be taught. It can only be learnt. In my writings I have tried to show that CC and OTB Chess are very different, and this implies different ways of training and studying Chess. (One single fact: for an OTB player memorizing opening lines is vital. Not for a CC player, who has databases to look up during the game. So, as time has been passing by, I tend to think perhaps wrongly- that I hardly know opening lines… (or am I being too self-critical?). In any case , CC players can vary their opening repertoires as much as they desire because they do not need to commit to their memories tons of opening variations.
The present state of Chess theory is overwhelming. It is nearly impossible to know everything about several different lines. Only professional players can try to keep all the Najdorf lines, all the Ruy Lopez and another system as Black against 1.d4 in their minds. In CC this problem is relative: you play the opening with your databases, so in the same tournament you could be playing two Najdorf, two Spanish , two Italian, one QGA, three Nimzoindian one Benoni and two Queen’s Indian openings/defences without fearing to forget / change moves or not knowing entire subvariations… And in another tournament perhaps at the same time, you decide to play the English as White and the Grünfeld as Black…In a sense the challenge is (to me ) absolutely attractive. CC is the continuation of the eternal game but with other means at our disposal.
I don’t know if possible CC players reading this blog agree with this (of course you may be the type of CC player with a fixed opening repertoire . Then your situation is a bit different. But I guess most average CC players like changing the openings they use for the sake of exploring new alternatives, play different positions -more aggressive/more strategical, etc- because they have everything and everything updated in their databases.) To put it in a nutshell: you don’t need to memorize opening lines to play CC now.
As for the CC players’ approach (I’m thinking of the ICCF), today nobody plays for fun (and this is great, in my opinion). Nobody spends time and money to play in the ICCF simply for fun, for making new friends and so on. People are out for blood. They play to win because victories give you rating points and the possibility of reaching norms. The use of computers have turned CC into an extremely specialised matter. The ICCF outstanding webserver have nearly finished with the old practice of postcards + stamps (the costs have been drastically reduced and everything is under control with no possibilities of moves going astray in the post, expensive registered letters, misunderstandings, etc.). So people play out their games till a result is nearly unavoidable.
These days I have also been thinking about the players who have most influenced me. A trip down memory lane. This has led me to try to understand how I play Chess and which my most important defects are.
When I began to study Chess my first books/influences were Karpov, Nimzowitsch, Petrosian, Reti and Botvinnik. So I was influenced by strategical/positional players rather than by tactical ones. (Everybody says you must start learning tactics, combinations, etc. I began the other way round: by trying to understand Petrosian’s and Karpov’s positional games, Nimzowitsch elaborated -sometimes tangled- expressions…) Curiously enough, this has had a consequence affecting my character: that chessic influences have affected my life outside Chess. I tend to analyse, see or understand everything from a sort of strategical point of view, trying to solve all the matters in life in a strategically planned way (forgive me but it is easier to understand it than to express the idea with words. I hope you understand what I mean).
And here I am: re-reading Chess books, thinking about how to improve my play and in a terrible contradiction. After all, who am I to write about Chess? The Internet is full of Chess blogs written by GMs. You can buy those wonderful books by M. Dvoretsky, J. Nunn, J. Rowson, J Aagaard, A. Soltis, J. Timman, etc.
This blog began to be written in February 2012. When I am writing these words (end of August 2014 )it has had well over 6,300 visits. I am very grateful to all the people who have spent their time having a look at it.
Now, you may like to solve these 3-movers:
Otto Fuss . Mate in 3 moves
A.W. Galitzky. Mate in 3 moves.
This post will be the 100th one… after a long time without writing. I have been playing and re-reading…
Playing CC these days is painful. You start a new ICCF tournament. So you receive the list of player in your mail and the games appear in your ICCF page. At first you are delighted: some new opponents, perhaps other(s) you have already played against or are still playing in another group. In the Master class tournaments are made up with 11 players, so 5 games as White, 5 games as Black. I tend to send my first moves on the very start-date (no clues before the alloted time starts to run…) Some opponents send their first move as soon as they receive the pairing list. Me not. Well, you see your White opponents´first move and then you have to decide which defences you are going to use. some times you stick to your all-time favourite defences but against some opponents you decide to change: you are in high spirits and decide to “innovate”. In one of my tournaments this has led me to accept IQP isolated Queen Pawns (showing sheer STUPIDITY since I have never liked IQP…) Why have I done that??? I cannot say. So I´m stupid. Perhaps I convinced myself that really nothing happens and so on. But the outcome has been clear: worse positions with the Black and the White pieces. Yes, I am STUPID.) The moral of this is clear: DON’T PLAY WHAT YOU DO NOT LIKE ALLOWING YOUR OPPONENTS TO ATTACK YOU for free .
As White the same thing may happen: you are a 1. e4-player BUT you have been playing the English against some training program and you believe 1. c4 is “very interesting”. So you play it only to be taken into some obscure lines you have never seen before and then you are struggling to get a draw as the lesser evil… (Remember that today everybody uses computers and huge databases to caught you on the hop…). Then you feel pity about yourself defending stupid positions which only shows your own stupidity. Since the ICCF calculates your ELO rating every three months, mine looks like a chain of mountains…
I have played against many opponents with IM/SIM titles. It is very curious to play against them. In fact they are in your own class, but the difference in rating may be of 100 or even more points. Well, they tend to play thinking that their permanent titles are something definitive: no, you have no title but they do have one. So, they “must” beat you. Either you get an absolutely and nearly dead drawn position or be ready to play on and on till the bare Kings are left…
Well, the first you must bear in mind if you are a CC player is that CC is very different from OTB Chess. The second lesson is that a 99,99% of the Chess books have been written by OTB players for OTB players, not for CC ones. So most of the theories about tactics, calculation, and so on are nearly useless for CC players (after all, you can use books, notes, opening databases and Chess programs. OTB PLAYERS CAN’T, in CC you can analyse by moving the pieces on the chessboard. In OTB you can’t either. We are speaking of the same game but played in different worlds. The third idea has to do with opening theory…I am not going to give away my secret weapons but I can offer a clue: not all the modern opening databases contain absolutely all the games played with a certain line. You have to find the “holes” in them. This implies examining teens of games played by past Masters in obscure tournaments and sometimes these Masters were not the most famous ones…In many cases, when you manage to catch your opponent relatively unaware, the position you reach may show a slight advantage to you or perhaps a bigger one… I have found games played a 80 years ago featuring lines which are still played. Here you have to dig in search of gold… Get it?
Another interesting fact -in my opinion- is that we are still labouring with too many prejudices and commonplaces. We have build a lot of “mental states” , we believe they are true, and what is worse, we use them as a sort of “Holy Writ” believing they are immutable. FORGET about things like the following:
. Playing the White pieces is more advantageous that playing the Black ones = wrong (and I am not going to discuss statistical data)
. As White you must make two mistakes before you are lost. As Black, one is enough = wrong.
. White must attack while Black must defend first = wrong.
. 1. e4 players are attacking players while 1. d4 players are positional players = wrong.
. In CC games you can play all sort of openings even those considered relatively /(or even very) inferior = wrong (you have a program your opponents have a program, no zeitnot-mistakes, etc., ring a bell??)
. If you copy the moves in GMs’ games you will always obtain the advantageous positions they obtain = wrong (there are many junctions a good program can find for a CC player. And today’s Chess is changing so quickly you cannot copy games from the past without updating them accurately. Forget about playing now with the theory Fischer used in 1970, for instance, let alone if you try to use games played 80 or 90 years ago. This does not mean you will not find IDEAS, but beware of opening lines…)
. Then you may think studying the classics is a waste of time: it is up to you, In my opinion this is also wrong because the more one knows about the development of Chess ideas, the better. I like studying the classics to try to understand how they thought, and compare the changes into the different approaches to Chess throughout time, the development of new ideas, and so on. Bobby Fischer studied Steinitz, Capablanca and the rest of his predecessors. Karpov studied Capablanca and Spassky did the same with Alekhine. Others preferred Lasker, Tarrasch , Keres, Botvinnik or Nimzowitsch. But in this matter you must decide your course of action.
. “If you lose it is good because you learn” : absolutely wrong (you learn when training at home. Supposedly we play tournament Chess in official events either OTB or CC - to WIN not to learn…) In life we go to exams at school, university, etc to PASS them and get our goals, not to learn by falling them. So in Chess).
. In CC you should only play a few games so as to devote many hours to them. In my opinion this can be true or wrong, because if it is true that the more games you play the more possibilities to lack enough time to devote to them, it may also be true that you may have a lot of time to devote to them. It depends on your personal situation. After all, a professional GM can find the best move after thinking for a few minutes or play a big blunder after pondering over a position for over half an hour… Petrosian spoke about this curious thing. Chess is about working with threats (yours and your opponents’, using lateral thinking or normal logic, being aware of different factors, and so on.)
. Bobby Fischer said: “At the age of 11 I just got good”. No top GM can explain why/how they “just” got good in the same way that the best among the best deny having a “Chess style”. (Karpov: “I don’t think I have a Chess style” ) Think about it. (But we love definitions, names, narrative… We love explaining things with words to feel relieved, we think we are “positional” players or “attacking” ones, we say we are “fighters” and perhaps we tend to think all this musings are our own character in our daily lives… As GM Rowson explains, we live according to some sort of myth. Which is the myth you are living according to?).
. Perhaps it is very difficult to explain how a chessplayer can become a top GM. Two people can have access to the same literature and the same sort of practice, etc. but one of them may become a GM while the other one remains a club player… This also happens in music, for instance. In cases like these ones, people speak of “talent”, and here we realize it is impossible to describe perhaps not what talent is, but how it developes in some individuals. At least one thing seems clear: “practice makes perfect”, (or takes you nearer and nearer… I hope.)
M. Schneider (1935) .- Mate in 3 moves.
Many people (both inactive and active chessplayers) today disparage Chess, no matter if they played/are playing OTB or CC. Of OTB they say there are too many and too long opening variations, that players tend to play the safe side by shooting 25 or 30 book moves and then if the opponent makes a mistake they try to cash in on it and if not the game may peacefully end in a draw without further ado. They say this way of playing Chess is boring and that the aim of the super-GMs is not to lose valuable ELO points. They say other things too…(One of the problems is that they are not super GMs…)
Of CC they say that the use of computers have killed the game. They do not need to add any more.
Well, Chess is something you can choose to play or not. If you are an OTB professional, you will have to accept the new way of doing things and try to earn your living.If you are not a professional it’s up to you : either you play Chess or not. Easy.
As for CC (a field with no professional players) some people complain against the use of computers, and even some people with a blog like this one rail against CC with real disgust… One post after another they snivel and whimper about how good they could have been but for the damned computer their criminal opponents use against them…(Incidentally, I tend to see this as a clear case of “the-fox-and-the-grapes” tale: to put it simple: they were bad in the past when there were no computers and they are bad now but having something to put the blame on. And moreover they boast about their blogs and include their games to show how well they played . Do they really believe their potential readers will waste their time reproducing such things when they can reproduce games by Capablanca, Fischer, Karpov, Alekhine, Keres, Tal, Spassky, etc???)
The Internet has created a communication revolution. In a matter of seconds you can have access to tons of information or can generate your own messages in webpages or personal blogs like the present one with the possibility of reaching thousands of readers with a single click of the mouse. It has its drawbacks as you know too. (I read different Chess blogs/webpages, of course. But I will never visit again those I consider destructive or , simply, “crap”. Let be clear.) This is why I insist so much in telling you that here you will find my own opinions (never absolute truths) and this is why I stress on the importance of doing your own work, your own research, to reach your own conclusions.
I do not want to be “followed” , and only when I write about historical facts I try to be as objective as possible,by using my Chess library to checks facts, dates etc. Otherwise, I try to tell my first-person experience about those things I had the luck of witnessing. My aim is , only, to mention as many topics / ideas as possible for you to investigate, never to teach anything to anybody. You must remember that the essence of Chess is in the thousands of books written by time-honoured Chess trainers, World Champions and all the leading chessplayers in the history of our game. (If you had never studied, say, Keres, and by reading one of my posts you begin to get interested in his life and Chess legacy, that is the idea!).
On the other hand, let me recommend you not to fall under the influence of those who write simply to dismiss, devaluate, denounce, protest against, even insult everything that moves. Be positive. Studying the history of Chess is like studying the history of music, of painting, etc. Bruce Lee said that every type of knowledge was, in fact, a way to self-knowledge , your self-knowledge
Nobody owns a thing like “the absolute truth”. The better a man/woman is in the field of his/her election, the humblest they tend to be. Or they will never become “the best”
(Since the page has started to create problems and untill I will be able to solve them (or stop writing forever…) here is the position to solve:
White: Kb2 -Bg2 – Qh2 – Ra6.
B.: Kc5 – Nf7 – Nb1 -Pawn b4
This is a mate-in-three problem by Bull, 1932. In my notes there is a small note: “very difficult”. Problems of mate in three moves may be very deceptive. But remember they are an ultra-precise filigree work. And the less pieces, the more space, so the more fleeing squares for the King under attack… In any case, an excellent training ground for one’s tactical skills.
POSITION 1. Mate in 3 moves
POSITION 2: Mate in 3 moves
It is not a secret that one of the methods I use to train is to solve problems of mate in 3 or 4 moves. I have made a small compilation of this type of problems but I have not always annotated who the author is… This happens with the two above: I only know the name of the position 2 author: Basil. From time to time I choose these or those positions and try to find the solution. Sometimes it takes me a few minutes. On other occasions I have to devote several days to try to solve one particular position in . These training sessions may last one hour, half an hour or ten minutes. Sometimes you see the details of the position very quickly, but you are unable to accomplish the specification: only 3 moves. In other cases, your mind revolves around residual ideas and then it is better to leave the damned thing for the next session. (And some positions may be very tricky and then you begin to wonder if you will have taken down the correct position or not…). There is no strategy involved, but you must find the key squares for the pieces involved. When one of the pieces has several squares to go, you can be sure only one of them is the correct one. As you know, different tactical motifs are involved. I prefer positions with few pieces, not those with boards full of chessmen in a sort of chaos. A matter of taste, I suppose.
When one is not playing but try to devote one’s time to training sessions, the problem is to find activities which really help you to understand Chess. Should one study openings and openings alone? Should one solve tactical problems from GMs’ games? Should one study games? Or perhaps only huge volumes devoted to endgames?. Is it better to know “how” rather than to know “what”?. I cannot tell you what is the best (if any) way of doing things.
To play Chess one knows to master different fields: openings , strategy, tactics, endgames, planning. But the amount of information is such that it is impossible to know everything about all those fields. So you have to be selective. Today you can easily get the latest Chess book in a matter of days (buying them, so paying for them, a fair deal) or you can get a lot of information from the Internet. The key in Chess is that piling up information does not turn you into a good, very good or excellent chessplayer. In this respect, the sum of the parts may be greater than the whole itself and a lot of work has to be done. This work includes playing as much as possible, but always within your personal limits. Many players and authors have stressed the importance of reading/studying good Chess books.
Before giving the solutions, one step forward: Can you solve this one by the great S. Loyd ?:
(Black is about to queen his g Pawn. Remember the position is seen from the White side so the Black Pawn is on g2)
1.) 1. Qb5!! , Be6 / 2. Qa6 +! Ba2 / 3. Qxf6 mate.
2.) 1. Ra2, Ra1 / 2 Bb1!! Rxa2 / 3. Ng6 mate
3.) 1. Nfg3, Kg1/ 2. Ng5!! and is mate next move against any defence.
Some of my CC opponents keep complaining about the changes in the way of playing CC introduced by the intrusion of engines and databases. So here I leave some questions for the reader to consider:
-Do opening Chess books become quickly and easily outdated now ?
-If the player blindly follows those databases and engine recommendations, will s/he be playing what the engine decides and not what s/he decide?.
-The numerical assessments engines give to moves may be misleading. BUT if the player puts his/her confidence on them, will s/he end up following the engine move after move for fear of deviating and playing a move considered unfavourable by the program?
-Can today’s CC be played without the aid of an engine knowing that your opponents are employing them?
-Can the engine analytical brute force be met by an ultrapositional approach and no engine at all?
-In today’s CC games could it be possible to apply, for instance, restraint, blockade,overprotection and openings like 1. e3 , 1. Nf3 /2. e3, etc? (If so, do not use a computer…) and survive?
In any case, I firmly believe that the way CC is played now is a beginning, and not an end. New times new means,new ways of doing things. A matter of adaptation to the new environment and putting into practice our innate instinct of survival. (And remember that this is a wild jungle and only the strongest will survive.)
I am reading an amazing ,extraordinary book: “ARON NIMZOWITSCH 1928-1935″ by Rudolf Reinhardt. The late Mr. Reinhardt devoted a lot of time and effort to investigate that period in Numowitsch’s life (the last one since Nimzowitsch died in 1935) . The book contains a gold mine of information including games annotated by Nimzowitsch and others, his writings in the form of commentaries and articles, etc. I thought I knew Nimzowitsch inside out but it turned out a self-delusion…
The introduction to the tournaments and the games offers objective analysis but also Nimzowitsch states of mind. We see him showing doubts, joy, disillusion, self-distrust, renewed confidence… We see how he uses his beloved “system” against his honourable opponents (names like Capablanca,Alekhine,Bernstein,Becker,Spielmann,Rubinstein, Marshall,Bogoljubow, Vidmar, Stahlberg, Yates,Tartakower, and so on), opponents with different approaches to Chess and against whom he tries his ideas and explains the conclusions.
The book is making me rethink my ideas about strategy and how to use it in these complex CC age. I would like to strongly recommend this book to all of you. But let me say it would be much more pleasant and instructive if you have already studied Nimzowitsch’s “MY SYSTEM” / “THE PRAXIS OF MY SYSTEM” or the excellent Keene’s book “ARON NIMZOWITSCH: A REAPPRAISAL” (aka “Aron Nimzowitsch Master of Planning”
White to play wins. Horowitz & Kling. It resembles a real game, this is why I like.
1. Rxe6 , Rxe6 / 2. b6 , Kxb6 / 3. Rh6! winning
(For more on Keres, I have published two posts in March 1012)
In 1935, the great Estonian chessplayer Paul Keres played in several tournaments: Tallinn, Tartu,Varsovia and Helsinki.He also played two matches, vs. Friedemann and Kibbermann. Browsing my archives, I found an obscure game played at Helsinki. Some sources offer the game Stahlberg-Keres as one of them, but omit the following one, played against Thorsten Gauffin:
W.: Keres (1)
B.: Gauffin (0)
Helsinki , 1935
1.e4, c5 2. Nf3, a6 3. b4, cb 4. a3, c5 5. ed, Qxd5 6. ab, Bg4 7. Nc3, Qh5 8. Be2, e6 9. 0-0, Nf6 9. 0-0, Nf6 10. Ra5!, Nd5 11. h3!, Bxf3 12. Bxf3, Nxc3 13. dc, Qg6 14. Qd4,!, Qf6 15. Qc4, Nd7 16. Bg5, Qg6 (16…, Ne5/ 17. Rxe5, Qxe5/ 18. Qc6!!) 17. Bb7, Rb8 18. Bc6, Be7 19. Bd7, Kd7 20. Rd1 Black resigned.
Where do I get this game from?.- Well, this is a long story. During my Chess career I have had the opportunity to meet very interesting people from different countries. One of them was a man who was living in Spain (he sadly passed away around 1996). He had one of the largest Chess collections in Spain, with thousands of books, magazines, documents, etc. You could ask him whatever you needed: he would readily type the matter in question and send them to you. He loved Chess and he loved helping people too. His name was Mr. Cecilio Hernáez, lived in Vitoria , the Spanish Basque Country, and I feel obliged to pay this little homage to him. He invited me to help him doing translations from English to be published in Spanish-speaking magazines and I readily accepted (I can speak and translate several languages apart from English, namely French, Portuguese, Spanish,) . No matter what you asked him to find: you can be sure he would find it even if he had to spend days looking for it in his enormous collection. He was an exceptionally strong CC player too and a living encyclopaedia.
Concerning the classics, there are two schools of thought : some people consider it a loss of time, some people use it to really learn how Chess has to be understood.
Some players advocate the study of our contemporaries: Anand, Carlsen, Aronian, Shirov, Krammik, and so on. After all, theory has advanced a lot and they believe studying the classics is a waste of time: nobody can play like them because theory has changed drastically. Other people believe that by studying the classics you are not trying to study the latest cry in opening theory, but the way they think and so, how Chess should be understood. The third approach blends both points of view.
Keres and Estonia, his native land, had bad luck (Spassky said publicly this too.) As a border-land, the Estonians were a country by themselves, were annexed by the former Soviet Union, invaded by the Nazi Germany , recovered by the Soviet Union and independent again. Keres was a Chess professional player and played in German tournaments during the Nazi atrocious regime. When WW2 finished, Estonia became a part of the Soviet Union, and he had to pay the toll of having played in Nazi territory… (see the above-mentioned posts). He began to play tournaments in the thirties (20th century), won the 1939 AVRO tournament so acquiring the right to play against Alekhine for the World Championship , something WW2 destroyed, but managed to survive the Stalinist period. In the Candidates’ matches which decided the Challenger to Petrosian´s title in the ’60s he lost to Spassky, who eventually became Champion of the World in 1969.
A match Alekhine-Keres , like a match between Fischer and Karpov would have been two feast for millions of chessplayers throughout the world. But they never took place.
In the time when CC was played using postcards and stamps, many of my opponents in the former Soviet Union and the DDR (East Germany), sent me lots of books (in Russian, German, Estonian, Czech, Hungarian, etc.) From time to time I like leafing through these books. One of them is a Russian edition featuring photographs only (99% is devoted to Karpov. The author was the famous photographer Dmitry Donskoi).
Here you can see Karpov, Botvinnik, Polugaevsky, the young Kasparov, etc. There I found some snaps featuring one of the “forgotten World Champions” as I call them: Vassily Smyslov. Indeed, Smyslov beat Botvinnik in 1957 but lost the title in the 1958 return match. He was an extremely educated man, an opera singer too. A. Saidy even wrote that his endgame skills were greater that Botvinnik’s ones. But in the end, Smyslov was a victim of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Smyslov died in 2010, in a state of sheer poverty (sharing this damned state with his loving wife) and nearly blind… Then I think about those men who devoting their entire lives to Chess died in poverty… But we have their games and their memories. I have read that nobody really dies until the last person who has known them disappears too…This is an unjust,very sad world indeed…
This year the 30th anniversary of Tigran Petrosian untimely death will be commemorated. The 9th World Champion of Chess was born in 1929 and passed away in 1984. (For another post on him, see the one published on April the 2nd, 2012).
Petrosian’s Chess career started in 1946 and he was active nearly until the moment of his death. His World Championship Candidates series ran from 1952 till 1980. He was a Candidate in 1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974 and 1980. In 1971 he defeated the Germa GM Hübner and the Soviet GM Korchnoi, losing in the Final to Fischer. In 1974 he defeated GM Portisch (Hungary) but lost to Korchnoi. In 1980, he lost again to Korchnoi who had become his arch-enemy (Korchnoi, who became a defector in the mid 70’s of the 20th century, accused and blamed Petrosian (and many others too) of everything… In 1963, he became a Challenger and in the World Championship Match he defeated no other than Mijail Botvinnik. In 1966 Petrosian defended the Title successfully in a match against GM Boris Spassky but in 1969 against the same opponent he lost the match passing the honours to Spassky.
Petrosian played in 10 Chess Olympiads with an overall impressive score of +79 -1 =50. Apart from the many international tournaments he took part in, he also played in a lot of Soviet Team events, Championships, etc. He was four times Champion of the Soviet Union (1959, 1961, 1969 and 1975) .
Petrosian’s style was positional, strongly influenced by Nimzowitsch (he grew up studying his books). In fact, he used every Nimzowitsch’s weapon: overprotection, blockading Knight, prophylaxis, centralization, blockade, restraint, attack /play on squares of the same colour, etc., carefully blending them with the fresh new approaches of the Soviet Chess School. Petrosian was a master of manoeuvring, defence and prophylactic thinking. But he was also a superb tactician, very strong in blitz games, for instance. His games are full of hidden dynamism in Vasiliev words. He also mastered the art of sacrificing the exchange and his games were not as “dry” as many people, commentators and “experts” believe. He was able to realise advantages by means of tactical and combinative means, which mainly crop up after a careful strategical and manoeuvring play. He was able to detect and prevent the slightest of threats (some people have written that even before his opponent realized they existed ) , taking measures against them, which in some cases provoked a sudden collapse of his opponents’ positions.
Bobby Fischer acknowledged his strength and skills and even his arch-enemy Korchnoi wrote that one had to accept Petrosian really understood Chess.
One of the hardest ever player to beat, he was more an artist and a sort of anti-hero than a fighter like a Fischer, it was said that ,in fact, he was not interested in honours and public acknowledgement. He simply loved playing Chess and spoke of his games as his “old friends”. Shortly before his death,at the beginnings of the 80’s, he complained to Smyslov that , at least, the latter was engaged in Candidates’ matches…
The following position, from the Black side, belongs to the game Kasparov-Petrosian, Tilburg, 1981. The young Kasparov has mounted what seems a terrible attack. It’s Black’s turn, what would you play here?
Now I am going to give the solution, but first try, at least, to choose the move you would have played as Black. Pay attention to White wonderful dominating position. Will you choose an overwhelming defensive move trying to steer the game into a draw?. Would you try to exchange pieces and hope for the better? Or perhaps you would try to hurry your King away from White’s ire looking for a safe haven on f7, for instance?.
Choose your move and go to the game continuation:
35…, Kc6!! (yes, even Kasparov was shocked after seeing this suicidal attempt. But there still was a pretty surprise for him in the offing…) 36. Rba3 bxc4 37. Rxa6 Bb6 38. Rxa6 Bb6 39. Bc5 Qd8 40. Qa1 Nxc5 41. dxc5 Kxc5 42. Ra4 and White resigned at the same time!