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Tigran Petrosian. In Memoriam

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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?

Petrosian

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!

QChess.

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Written by QChess

April 4, 2014 at 11:41 am

Posted in CHESS, Chess History, Petrosian

Tagged with ,

2 Responses

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  1. Reblogged this on Chess Musings and commented:
    “Chess is a game by its form, an art by its content and a science by the difficulty of gaining mastery in it. Chess can convey as much happiness as a good book or work of music can. However, it is necessary to learn to play well and only afterwards will one experience real delight.” – Tigran Petrosian

    chessmusings

    April 5, 2014 at 4:24 am

    • I fully agree. And I think that by studying Petrosian´s games one can learn how to play excellent Chess.
      Thanks for your interest.
      QChess.

      QChess

      April 5, 2014 at 8:33 am


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