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Paul Keres (1916-1975)

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-“How is that you never managed to become Chess World Champion?”.-

-“Because, like my country, I had bad luck” (Paul Keres)

(Curiously enough, the first time I saw this statement was in Spassky´s words. Both were friends, so …)


I hardly remember when I began to admire him. Perhaps everything began when I managed to get a copy from Anthony Saidy´s book “The Battle of Chess Ideas”(around 1980). In this book the author confess he wants to follow Reti´s path and chose ten modern super GMs, wrote a biographical summary and included games and positions. He also wrote about the history of Chess and the Chess ideas/schools. The GMs Saidy´s analized were: Botvinnik, Reshevsky,Keres, Bronstein, Smyslov,Tal, Petrosian, Larsen , Spassky and Fischer. He also regretted having to pass over names like Korchnoi, for instance.

Or , perhaps like Keres, I have never had good luck either…

Years later, one of my CC opponents from Estonia sent me, as a present, the famous book -in Estonian- “Meie Keres” by V Heuer. And I managed to get other books by Keres : “The Art of Analysis”, “Practical Chess Endings” and an invaluable one: “My Chess Style” (aka “Chess As I play It“). (By the way, Keres is perhaps the only Chess GM who appears in a banknote. He is also a Estonian hero).

(I have written about Keres previously in this blog, so you can find other posts in this site.)

I cannot explain why I am so fond of Keres… Perhaps it is because his personality, his personal history and fate ,or perhaps because I was deeply moved by the images included in that Estonian book “Meie Keres”. What follows is a personal interpretation of the topic.

Keres was born in Estonia. But his country was annexed to the Soviet Union after WW2. The territory has a complex history (it is a borderland) . An independent state, with links to Sweden,the Russian Empire, invaded by the Nazi’s during WW2,later invaded by the USSR,…and so on. Anyway, Keres managed to survive the Stalinist terror regime, played for Estonia and later for the USSR (he died in 1975 being, officially , a Soviet citizen. For more information, please find those other posts in this blog). 

In 1938 Keres won the AVRO Tournament ahead of Alekhine,Capablanca,Botvinnik Euwe, Reshevsky ,Fine and Flohr. The winner of the event would be the official challenger to play for the World Championship (in the hands of Alekhine). But the outburst of WW2 frustrated the possibility of such a match. Estonia was invaded by the Germans and Keres had to survive accepting the new rules. At the end of the war, Estonia fell in Stalin’s iron claws and he had to survive again but being under a severe stress for many years.He managed to survive and protect his family again. Being a Soviet citizen he played for the USSR for the rest of his life , taking part in seven Chess Olympiads in which the USSR Team won the gold medal one after another. Keres can be considered among the ten best ever chessplayers of his time with victories over eight out of nine World Champions and drawing in two games against Anatoly Karpov, for instance. As an anecdote, he had an excellent score against Korchnoi, and Viktor once complained that “It is always the same: I always manage to beat Tal and Keres always manage to beat me”. Keres’ last tournament was in Vancouver (Canada) in 1975. When he was going back home via Helsinki, he suddenly died in the Finnish capital. Botvinnik stated that Keres’ death had been the greatest loss for the Chess world since the death of Alekhine. And Botvinnik very well knew what he was talking about.

(White side)


This position appeared in Smyslov-Keres, USSR Chess championship 1951. Black to move. Could you find the plan/moves Keres found to beat his extremely dangerous opponent?

(White side)

ranviir-keres .

And this comes from a relatively unknown game played in 1947 between Randviir (White) and Keres.

Smyslov Keres went:

36…, Bb1! 37. a3  a5! 38. Bd1 Kg6  39. Kg2  Kf5  40. Kf3  Ke5

 41. a4  g5  42. Ke2  Bf5  43. g4  Bb1  44. Kf3  f5  45. gf5  Kxf5  46. Kf2  Be4  47. Kg3  Kg6  48. Kf2  h5  49. Kg3  h4  50. Kf2  Bf5  51. Kg2  Kf6  52. Kh2  Ke6!   /White resigned in view of 53. Kg2  Ke5  54. Kh2  Bb1  55. Kg2  Ke4  56 Kf2  Kd3 (Suetin)

Randviir-Keres : Keres to move, what would your first move be?: (Remember this is a Pawn endgame, so the basic technique is that of “opposition”)

1… Kb5!! (the only way to avoid a draw according to Keres)2. a4  Kb6  3. Kc4  a5  4. d6  Kc6  5. d7  Kxd7  6. Kxc5  Ke7  7. Kd5  Kf7  8. Ke4  Kf8!!  9. Ke3  Ke7  10. Ke4  Kd6  11. Kd4  h6!  12. Ke4  Kc5  13. Ke3  Kd5!  14. Kd3  Ke5  15. Ke3  h5  16. gh5  Kxf5  17. Kf3  Ke6  18. Kg4  Kf7  19. Kf5  Kg7 / White resigned.

To end this post and for the lovers of  3-movers, perhaps you would like to have a try at the following mate in 3 moves “specially composed” by H. Alton:





Written by QChess

February 7, 2015 at 10:02 am


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B. Spassky

(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)

Sochi, 1964

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

1. e4, e6/ 2. d4, d5/ 3. Nc3, Nf6/ 4. e5, Nfd7/ 5. Nf3, c5/ 6. dc, Nc6/ 7. Bf4, Bc5/ 8. Bd3, f6/ 9. ef, Nxf6/ 10. 0-0, 0-0/ 11. Ne5, Bd7/ 12. Nxc6, Bxc6/ 13. Qe2 ( attacks e6 ,undefended), ... Qe7/ 14. Rae1 (attacks e6),…, Rae8/ 15. Bg3, a6/ 16. a3, Qf7/ 17. b4 (attacks b4 , undefended),…, Bd4/  18. Be5, Bxe5/ 19. Qxe5, Nd7/ 20. Qg3, e5/ 21. f3 (with this and then with 27. c3, White prevents …d4 and …e4),… Qf4/ 22. Qxf4, Rxf4/ 23. Rf2, g6/ 24. Rd2 (attacks d4 to decoy the Nd7),… Nb6/ 25. Rde2, (attacks e4),… Nd7/ 26. Nd1, b5/ 27. c3, Rf7/ 28. Bc2, Kg7/ 29. Bb3 (with this and 30.Ne3  “d4” is attacked) 29…, h5/ 30. Ne3, Nb6/ 31. Nc2 (attacks d4 and prepares the opening of a second front on the Q-side. Black’s Re8 is undefended too.)  31…, Nd7/ 32. Re3, h4/ 33. h3, Rf6/  34. Nd4  (attacks the undefended Bc6 and indirectly the Re8  -the Pawn e5 is pinned too.) 34…, Bb7/ 35. a4, Rd8/ 36. Ne2, ba/ 37. Ba4,  Nb6/ 38. Bb3, e4/ 39. Nd4, Kh6/ 40. Rd1, Rc8/ 41. fe, de/ 42. Ne6, Nc4/ 43. Bxc4, Rxc4/ 44. Nc5 (attacks  b7, undefended),… Rf7/ 45. Ra1, (attacks a6, undefended),… Kg5/ 46. Ra5, Kf4/ 47. Kf2, Bd5/ 48. Nb3, Ke5/ 49. Ke2, Rc6/ 50. Nd2 (attacks e4, undefended) … Ke6/ 51. Ne4, Bc4/ 52. Kd2, Rd7/ 53. Kc2, Kf7/ 54. Re5, Kg7/ 55. Nd2, Bb5/ 56. Nf3 (attacks h4, undefended),… Ba4/ 57. Kb2, Rd1/ 58. R5e4, Rf1/ 59. Re4, Rxe1/ 60. Rxe1, Rf6/ 61. Re4 (again h4)… Rf6/ 62. Ng5, Rf2/ 63. Ka3 (attacks a4),… Bc6/ 64. Rh4, Bg2/ 65. Ne4 (attacks f2), Re2/ 66. Nc5 ( attacks a6), Bf1/ 67. Rf4 (attacks f1), …Re1/ 68. h4 , Black resigned.  (Some annotators considered that Petrosian had committed too many inaccuracies, for instance on moves 21st, 31st, 36th, 40th.. But this is Chess!) 
Every Chess game by a GM contains a lot of subtleties. I have pinpointed two of them. You can discover many others.In Chess,the work you do not do is not done by anybody else…
Unfortunately, I have seen some photos of Spassky taken last December when he was taken by Vasiukov to the  Central House of Chess in Moscow. I was shocked and could only remember Shakespeare words in “Hamlet”: ” Tears in his eyes, distraction in his aspect…”. The man I met in 2007 full of life and vitality… I wonder what we are here for, why so much suffering and pain simply to play the losers’  game we call life… I can forget those days we spent together talking of everything. Nobody can rob us of our memories. I am writing these words on December 29th 2012. Christmas time. Boris is in Russia, his beloved Russia. When he had to abandon it in 1976 little could have he imagine the day would arrive when his salvation would have to come from his friends in his Motherland. I’m sad and depressed. It’s all I can say. Quoting Shakespeare again, “…the rest,let sorrow say”…
In the meanwhile, I remember when Boris beat Karpov at Corsica in 2006  (Match of the Legends). After the match, he wrote to me informing me of the event and said something very curious: “I have beaten Karpov and I am no longer afraid of this man“. Why this?.- Years later I found out why: The overall score Spassky-Karpov is heavily in favour of the younger man (Karpov). In the past, Boris reached the conclusion that Tolya played very very strongly, adding that Karpov process of thought was completely different to his own one and that was why he found so difficult to play against him. He never forgot that fact,  and in 2006 he managed to break the spell! Incidentally, an evidence of how deep feelings among super GMs. are!Here are both games played with a control of 15 minutes( + 3 additional seconds per move:
In the first game, Spassky played a Bogoindian Defence and the game was drawn after 62 moves. The definitive game was as follows:
W.: Spassky (1)
B.: Karpov (0)
Match of the Legends, Porto Vecchio, 2006
1. e4, c6/ 2. d4, d5/ 3. Nc3, dxe4/ 4. Nxe4, Nd7/ 5. Nf3, Ngf6/ 6. Nxf6, Nxf6/ 7. h3, Bf5/ 8. Bd3, Bxd3/ 9. Qxd3, e6/ 10. 0-0, Be7/ 11. c4, 0-0/ 12. b3, c5/ 13. Bb2, cxd4/ 14. Rfd1, Qa5/ 15. Bxd4, Rfd8/ 16. Qe2, Qf5/ 17. Rd3, Qe4/ 18. Qxe4, Nxe4/ 19. Rad1, Kf8/ 20. Kf1, f6/ 21. Be3, Rxd3/ 22. Rxd3, Ke8/ 24. Rxd2, a6/ 25. Ke2, Rd8/ 26. Rxd8, Kxd8/ 27. c5, Kd7/ 28. Kd3, Bd8/ 29. b4, Bx7/ 30. Kc4, h5/ 31. a4, Be5/ 32.b5, axb5/ 33. axb5, Kc7/ 34. g4, hxg4/ 35. hxg4, Kd7/ 36. f4, Bb2/ 37. f5, e5/ 38. Kd5, Ba3/ 39. g5, fxg5/ 40. Bxg5, Bb2/ 41. Bh4 ,  Black resigned (in view of 41…., Bc3/ 42. Bg3, e4/ 43. Kxe4, Bb4/ 44. Kd5,Bc3/ 45. Be5, Ba5/ 46. Bxg7 +-)
(This event was very important for Boris, perhaps also in view of the difference in ELO: Karpov 2672, Boris 2548 at the time.)

Written by QChess

January 3, 2013 at 7:05 am

Mysteries of the Chessboard

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The famous “Three Pawns Problem”. Known centuries ago, the Hungarian Josef Szén apparently solved it.  In 1836,  in Paris,  he challenged players to play this position for a stake.  We, chessplayers actively taking part in OTB / CC events tend to think we know “these little” things…

Perhaps you should try to show  that “whoever plays, wins“, which apparently is the solution of the riddle…But “saying” is not the same as “showing”…

Our wonderful Chess microcosm is full of things  we think we know…Though sometimes knowing nothing about something is better than believing we know something when do not know if we will be able to prove it in practice. ..


Bobby Fischer is one of the most enigmatic individuals in the realm of Chess. Yet hundreds of books and thousands of articles have been written about his life and games. There have been books and revision of those books (criticism and countercriticism with the same degree of bitterness). Even if you read and re-read Brady’s books on him there are several details never explained in the past , never to be explained in the future. As an example, I have been unable to understand how he managed to avoid army recruitment in a period when everybody had to serve no matter what your name was…

Who and why? -These would be two interesting questions to be answered.

I have a small list of Fischer’s most famous statements. Here some of them (with the most mysterious one featuring the last place ):

– “You have to have fighting spirit…You have to force moves and take chances.”

-“Ideas, I never memorize lines” (?????)

-“Genius. It’s a word. What does it really mean?. If I win, I am a genius. If I don’t, I’m not”

-“I think my subconscious mind is working on it all the time. Even when I’m not playing or studying, I sit down at the board and I get a lot of new ideas. Things are coming to me all the time.”

-“There are tough players and nice guys , and I am a tough player.”

My favourite one because in my opinion it contains a perfect definition of the process which happens in a Chess game, summarizes Fischer’s Chess life and shows you in what direction one should  go  to play Chess, understand GMs’  games, etc.:

“They make mistakes” (My own Chess mantra!!)

And now the most enigmatic one : “When I was eleven, I just got good.”

I JUST GOT GOOD??????????????????????????????????????????????????

This few words have been a self-inflicted torture for me. How on earth one “just gets good“???? I want to know how. I need to know it. If you are a true chessplayer you cannot read this and keep on living as if nothing happens… We should spend a lifetime trying to find the answer to this …riddle?.  And no, nobody has managed to explain this statement…Nor even Brady -as far as I know-.

Some experts say that one of the things that boosted Fischer’s strenght took place when he realize the potentiality of the Black pieces and devoted a lot of study to establish an active Black repertoire. Others say he had access and literally devoured Soviet books and magazines even in the original… But not only Soviet literature. In fact he tried to get everything no matter if the material was from major tournaments of smaller events. For instance: let’s take a line which is becoming very fashionable of late:

1. e4  c5  2. Nf3  d6  3. d4  cd4  4. Nd4:  Nf6  5. Nc3  a6  and now everybody knows  6. Be3 / 6. Bg5/ 6.Bc4/ 6.Be2/6.f4, etc.  But in  the game Fischer -Bolbochan , Stockholm Itz. 1962, Fischer uncorked :     6. h3 (and later he even beat Najdorf at Varna Ol. 1962 in a famous game). Many people worship the talent of those great players who are able to find incredible moves -which ate the same time seem modest, humble, etc.:

WRONG!-  The Spanish player and author Pablo Moran , in his book on Fischer,  explains that “…this move was first played in the game Freire – Rossolimo, at  Coruña (Spain)International tournament 1951 – a not very known event, by the way. Mr. Moran says that Mr. Freire told him “If Rossolimo wants to attack on the Queen side I will attack on the King side .” I have been unable to find this game, but Mr. Moran was present there and among the participants was the former Spanish “wunderkind”  and GM Arturo Pomar who apparently made second.

Here the Fischer game:

W.: Fischer (1)

B.: Bolbochan (0)

Stockholm Itz 1962

1. e4  c 2. Nf3  d6  3. d4  cd4  4. Nxd4  Nf6  5. Nc3  a6  6. h3  Nc6   (Mr. Moran says that the original game Freire-Rossolimo had gone: 6…, e5 / 7. Nf3,h6 /8.Bc4,b5/9.Bd5 ,Nxd5/ 10. Nxd5. the game was a draw)

(And the other Fischer game is somewhat more famous: Fischer-Najdorf, Varna 1962:  6…, b5!? 7. Nd5  Bb7? (-7…Ne4-)  8. Nf6  gf6  9. c4  bc4  10. Bc4  Be4  11. 0-0  d5  12. Re1!  e5  13. Qa4!  Nd7  14. Re4!  de4  15. Nf5!  Bc5  16. Ng7!  Ke7  17. Nf5  Ke8  18. Be3  Be3  19. fe3  Qb6  20. Rd1  Ra7  21. Rd6  Qd8  22. Qb3  Qc7  23. Bf7  Kd8  24. Be6 .- 1-0)

7. g4   Nxd4  8. Qxd4  e5  9. Qd3  Be7  10. g5  Nd7  11. Be3  Nc5  12. Qd2  Be6  13. 0-0-0  0-0  14. f3  Rc8  15. Kb1  Nd7  16. h4   b5  17. Bxh3  Bxh3  18. Rh3  Nb6  19. Bb6  Qb6  20. Nd5  Qd8  21. f4  ef4  22. Qf4  Qd7  23. Qf5  Rcd8  24. Ra3  Qa7  25. Rc3  g6  26. Qg4  Qd7  27. Qf3  Qe6  28. Rc7  Rde8  29. Nf4  Qe5  30. Rd5  Qh8  31. a3  h6  32. gh6  Qh6  33. h5  Bg5  34. hg6  fg6  35. Qb3  Rf4  36. Re5  Kf8  37. Re8  Black resigned.


Written by QChess

November 1, 2012 at 8:00 am

Posted in CHESS, Chessplayers, Fischer

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Chess for Thought

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In 1931 Nimzowistch said -of the following game- that it was “A good game which shows just how difficult it is to win at the present high level of Chess.”:

W.: Spielmann(0)

B.: Nimzowitsch (1)

Bled, 1931

1. e4  c6  2. Nf3  d5  3. Nc3  de4  4. Ne4: Nf6  5. Nb3  c5 6. Bc4  a6  7. a4  Nc6  8. d3  g6  9. Be3  Bg7  10. 0-0  b6  11. c3  0-0  12. h3  Bb7  13. Qe2  Na5  14. Ba2  Bd5  15. Nd2  Ba2:  16. Ra2:  Nd5  17. Nc4  Nc6  18. a5!  b5  19. Nb6!  Nb6:  20. ab6  Qb6:  21. Ne4  Qc7  22. Nc5:  a5  23. d4  Rfb8 (planning a minority attack)  24. f4? (24. Qf3!) ,… e6  25. Ra-a1  Ne7  26. g4  Nd5  27. Rf3  a4  28. Bd2  Qc6  29. Ne4  b4  30. f5?!  ef5  31. gf5  a3!  32. ba3  bc3  33. f6  cd2!  34. fg7  Re8!  35. Qd3  Re4:  36. Qe4:  Re8  37. Qh4  Nc3  38. R3-f1  Qd5  39. White resigns.

Belfort 1988, Karpov and Kasparov plays the 129th (!)  game between themselves. After a fantastic struggle, many  people , several  GMs included , declared that both were above the rest and that games like this one could only be understood by the two “K’s”:

W.: Karpov (1)

B.: Kasparov (0)

Belfort, 1988

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  g6  3. Nc3  d5   4. cd5  Nd5:  5. e4  Nc3: 6.  bc3  Bg7  7. Bc4  c5  8. Ne2  Nc6  9. Be3  0-0  10. 0-0  Bg4  11. f3  Na5  12. Bf7:  Rf7:  13. fg4  Rf1:  14. Kf1: Qd6  15. e5  Qd5  16. Bf2   Rd8  17. Qa4   b6  18. Qc2  Rf8  19. Kg1  Qc4  20. Qd2  Qe6  21. h3  Nc4  22. Qg5   h6  23. Qc1  Qf7  24. Bg3  g5   25. Qc2  Qd5  26. Bf2 (Please note how all Karpov’s moves have a goal: to pose small threats so as to force Kasparov to weaken his position. Try to see the threats posed by the White Queen going to and fro, here and there.)

26. …, b5 27. Ng3  Rf7  28. Re1  b4  29. Qg6  Kf8  30. Ne4  Rf2:  31. Kf2:  bc3  32. Qf5 Kg8  33. Qc8  Kh7  34. Qc5:  Qf7  35. Kg1  c2  36. Ng3  Bf8  37. Nf5  Kg8  38. Rc1  and Kasparov resigned. A strategical masterpiece with the White Queen assuming a decisive role.

The next game belongs to the match in which World Champion Kasparov smashed GM A. Miles. The outcome of the match made Miles exclaim that Kasparov was “a monster with a thousand eyes”. High class Chess:

W.: Kasparov (1)

B.: A. Miles (0)

Basel (Match) 1986

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  c5  3. d5  e5  4. Nc3  d6  5. e4  Be7  6. Nf3  0-0  7. h3  Nbd7  8. g4  Ne8  9. Bd3  a6  10. a4  Rb8  11. Rg1  Nc7  12. b3  Re8  13. h4 b5  14. g5  Nf8  15. h5  Bd7  16. Nh2  bc4  17. Bc4: f5  18. ef5  Bf5:  19. Nf1  Qd7  20. Ne3  e4  21. Bb2 Bd8  22. Ne2  Qf7  23. Nf4  Bc8  24. Rg4  Qe7  25. Rg3  Qf7  26. Nfg2  Na8  27. a5  Nc7  28. Nh4  Nb5  29. g6  hg6  30. Ng6:  Bf6  31. Bb5:  Rb5:  32. Qc2  Bb2  33. Qb2:  Ng6:  34. Rg6:  Re5  35. 0-0-0  Rh5:  36. Rdg1  Rh7  37. Nc4  38. Kb1  Rb7  39. Nd6:  Bf5  40. Rf6  Qh2  41. Rg3  Qh1  42. Ka2  and Black resigned.

Our next game was a sensation at the time it was played. Bobby Fischer playing the great Soviet GM Leonid Stein at Sousse Interzonal (yes, the one Bobby abandoned after  a few rounds after a lot of  comings and goings, discusions, threats and the like, so spoiling the chance of playing Petrosian in 1969 (had he managed to  qualify and win the Candidates’ Matches…)

W.: Fischer (1)

B.. Stein (0)

Sousse (Itz) 1967

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  Bb7  10. d4  Na5  11. Bc2  Nc4  12.  b3  Nb6  13. Nbd2  Nbd7  14.  b4  ed4  15.  cd4  a5  16. ba5  c5  17. e5  de5  18. de5  Nd5  19. Ne4  Nb4  20. Bb1  Ra5  21. Qe2  Nb6  22. Nfg5  Be4  23. Qe4  g6  24. Qh4  h5  25.  Qg3  Nc4  26.  Nf3  Kg7  27. Qf4  Rh8  28. e6  f5  29. Bf5  Qf8  30. Be4  Qf4  31. Bf4  Re8  32.  Rad1  Ra6  33. Rd7  Re6  34. Ng5  Rf6  35.  Bf3  Rf4  36. Ne6  Kf6  37. Nf4  Ne5  38.Rb7  Bd6  39. Kf1  Nc2  40.  Re4  Nd4  41. Rb6  Rd8  42. Nd5  Kf5  43. Ne3  Ke6  44. Be2  Kd7  45. Bb5  Nb5  46. Rb5  Kc6  47. a4  Bc7  48.Ke2  g5  49. g3  Ra8  50. Rb2  Rf8  51. f4  gf4  52. gf4  Nf7  53. Re6  Nd6  54. f5  Ra8  55. Rd2  Ra4  56. f6  and Black resigned.

Starting around 1980 I began to fill up notebooks with notes to games. As I said before, I devoted those never-ending years to Botvinnik, Karpov, Spassky and Fischer. Now, from time to time , I like playing through those games trying to compare those notes with the ideas I now see in the same  games . I suppose that by doing so one can see if his approach to Chess has changed and if his/her knowledge of the game has improved. In Chess, you have to do your own work. Unless you find collection of games very deeply analysed, most  of the games in most of the books and newspapers are only very superficially annotated. Today’s players pay too much attention to the opening stage. This is not bad. But one should investigate the middlegame and the engame. The Soviet chessplayers became what they became because they were forced to study Chess as a whole. Once you have reached  a certain level, you may devote most of the time to the opening. Chess is more than hundreds of memorised opening variations. Every minute you spend studying Chess is useful . The main problem comes when, in spite of years of studying, you lose… I have no a recipe for this and everyone must learn to cope with that odd feeling. In any case, keep on studying and thinking about Chess. And keep on playing too.


Written by QChess

September 25, 2012 at 6:44 am

Spassky’s Mystery

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What has happened to Boris Spassky???.According to the Russian newspaper “Komsomolskaya Pravda” he had to escape from his home near Paris where he ,apparently, was kept under seclusion . He gives no names but said that after his stroke two years ago instead of being treated he had been stuffed with drugs. Apparently he was sent home but there somebody cut all his contacts off keeping him as if he were under arrest. In the interview Boris said he had to restore to “friends” who managed to obtain a single use passport which allowed him to travel to Russia. He also stated that at his near Paris home,once back from hospital, he  found he had no Internet, no possibility of communication and that he has been deprived all his documents, the French and the Russian.

I began my contacts with Boris in 1997. In 2007 he and his wife visited my home own and spent a wonderful time. Then we maintained our contacts. But two years ago, Boris disappeared: no phone calls, no answer to my written letters and no answer to my many e-mails. At first I thought it could be due to his stroke. But apparently this story paints a different scenery…Many things could be written but most of them would be subjective, personal interpretations. So no place , no moment. I am trying to contact him, but so far to no avail. If any reader could help me I would be very grateful to him/her. I feel for my friend Boris and the piece of news has left me very sad.  Final word: in 2007, he told me some things I did not pay too much attention to. Now I understand though I still have more questions than answers.

P.S. A new “dramatis persona” enters: Boris Spassky’s younger sister joins the ceremony of confussion. Now I must admit I understand absolutely nothing…(!). In any case, where is  Boris Spassky??

Written by QChess

August 23, 2012 at 4:25 am

Posted in Chessplayers, Spassky

Tagged with

“What Would Have Happened If…?”

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German GM Wolfgang Unzicker (1925 – 2006)


Speculations… We all have speculated about what would have happened if this or that had taken place instead of… (“WWHHI” from now on)

Thirty years ago, Bobby Fischer defeated  Boris Spassky in Iceland so causing an immense stir in the world of Chess in general and in the Soviet Chess in particular. In the middle o the so-called “Cold War” between the Soviets and the Americans, Fischer hit where it most could hurt: the pride of the Soviet regime: Chess. Shortly after Rejkjavik, Fischer disappeared playing no more serious games. In 1975 , in spite of all the efforts, Fischer did not appear to play against the challenger, the then Soviet GM Anatoly Karpov. And a myth was born. Since then, one of the most recurrent question has been “what would have happened if there had been a match between Fischer and Karpov?”.

Evidently, everybody has his/her emotional favourite and both sides can show  a variety of reasons to justify the choice. Even someone like Gary Kasparov has dealt with the matter devoting a lot of space to it in his mamooth masterwork  “My Great Predecessors”. Kasparov , who has always admired Fischer and had played bitter matches against Karpov when both were the best of the best -so no suspicious of being too much  pro-Karpov- , has stated that Karpov would have beaten Fischer. Karpov’s Chess record had been impressive, yes. He was the blueeyed boy of the Soviet regime (very angy at both Spassky -imagine why-, and Korchnoi -always making “friends” with his strong character and open criticism. Well, to reach Fischer, Karpov  had to play in the Leningrad Interzonal (tied first with Korchnoi ahead of R. Byrne, Smejkal, Larse, Hübner,Kuzmin,Gligoric Taimanov, Tal, up tp 18 players. And Korchnoi was full of praise for Karpov´s play (!). Over to the Candidates’ Quarter-Final, Karpov’s first opponent was his fellow countryman L. Polugaevsky. Karpov won by +3  -0  =5.  His  next rival in the Semi-Final, was Boris Spassky. Karpov also won :  +4  -1  =6. And the last match marked the start of a long lasting confrontation on the board and outside it: Karpov vs Korchnoi. 24 terrible struggles were needed to find the challenger, with Korchnoi complaining about all the problems he had to face on the part of the Soviet authorities. Karpov won by the narrowest of margins : +3  -2  =19. Neither of them could imagine that the winner of the match was going to be the next Champion of the World without moving a Pawn (By the way: another “What-would-have-happened-if”  horror story: “WWHHI Korchnoi had won the match??? Perhas he would have accepted all the conditions Fischer tried to impose, so having to leave the Soviet Union in 1975 -instead of in 1976…as he did. I think this was very likely to have happened: Korchnoi’s situation in the USSR was in a no-way-out lane and the break was a matter of time. He would have tried to play Fischer inside or outside FIDE. In fact, around 1977 he tried to contact Bobby so as to play an unofficial match with him and even travelled to California to meet him. He could only realise in how bad conditions Fischer already was. Nothing came out of it.)

Well, if a match Fischer-Karpov would have taken place in 1975 …er… Thank you very much indeed.

Fischer had not played serious Chess between 1972 and 1975. (But he had done similar things before coming back on top…). Karpov would have gone armed to the teeth. Fischer wanted a match up to ten victories with no game limit and with the challenger having to win by, at least,  a two point margin. This was not accepted by the Russians. Karpov even said that with two players like Bobby and him, wh lose very few games,  that condition would have sent them to a bedlam…  So, “what would have happened?”…

Another “WWHHI- story” could be: “Wa would have happened if in the 1978 World Championship match Korchnoi, after levelling the score 5-5 instead of blowing himself us as Black in the last game of the match had played to protract the match as much as possible -as happened years later in the first Karpov-Kasparov match in 1984-?.

And WWHHI in that first K-K match it had not be cancelled by the FIDE President?


The following game is a masterpiece worth a deep study. Unfortunately, the winner is no longer with us.

  GM. A. Miles, (1955-2001)

W.: A. Miles  (1)

B.: R. Hübner (0)

Wijk aan Zee, 1984

1. d4  d5  2. c4  c6 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. Qc2  dc4  5. Qc4:  Bf5  6. g3  Nbd7  7. Bg2  e6  8. 0-0  Be7  9. Nc3  0-0  10. Bf4  Ne4  11. a4  a5  12. Rfd1  Qb6  13. Nh4!  Bh4  15. Be4: Be7  16. Bf3  Nf6  17. e4  Rad8  18. Be3  Qc7  19. Rac1  Qd7  20. Rc3  Bb4  21. Rcd3  Q7  22. Kg2  Rd7  23. b3  Rfd8  24. Bg5  h6  25. Bc1  Ba3  26. Be3  Bb4  27. h4  Ne8 28. Qc2  Nc7  29. Qe2  Na6  30. Kg1  Bd6  31. Bg2  Nb4  32. R3d2  Bc7  33. Qg4  Kf8  34. Bf1  Bb6  35. Bc4  Qf6  36. Kg2  Ke7  37. Qh5!  Kf8  38. g4  Re8  39. g5  hg5  40. Bg5:  g6  41. Qh7 , Black resigned.

W.: A. Karpov  (1)

B.: V. Korchnoi (0)

Baguio -World Champioship 1978 .Game 32

This was the last game of a match played up to six victories with no game limit and draws not counting. This dramatic match seemed an easy matter for Karpov -and a matter of time too-. After the 27th game Karpov was winning 5-2 only needing one more victory. But somehow he managed to lose games 28th, 29th and 31st . Korchnoi, playing excellently,  levelled the score. In the 32nd game Korchnoi defended the Black side and -in my opinion- completely missed the point trying to rush things (?), surprise Karpov (?). Instead of playing on Karpov´s nerves, he chose the wrong defence (again my opinion). After all, wouldn’t have it  been better to draw with a French and play the 33rd game as White?. instead he allowed Karpov to reach a favourable position belonging more to a Benoni than a Pirc…:

1. e4  d6  2. d4 Nf6  3. Nc3 g6  4. Nc3 Bg7  5. Be2  0-0  6. 0-0 c5 (apparently this is  38. what Korchnoi wanted: a difficult variation leading to a complex middlegame. O.K. –But against Karpov???– I wonder.

7. d5 Na6  8. Bf4  Nc7  9. a4   b6  10. Re1  Bb7  11. Bc4  Nh5? (and after ten moves, it is Korchnoi the first in faltering…)

12. Bg5  Nf6  13. Qd3  a6  14. Rad1  Rb8  15. h3 Nd7  16. Qe3 Bc8  17. Bh6  b5  18. Bg7:  Kg7:  19. Bf1  Nf6  20. ab5  ab5  21. Ne2  Bb7  22. Ng3  Ra8  23. c3  Ra4  24. Bd3  Qa8  25. e5!  de5  26. Qe5:  Nd5:  27. Bb5: +-  Ra7  28. Nh4  Bc8  29. Be2  Be6  30. c4  Nb4  31. Qc5: (The triumph of White’s strategy. Black’s  plan backfired without achieving the goal:  “…a complex middlegame, etc”)

31. …, Qb8  32.   Bf1  Rc8  33. Qg5  Kh8  34. Rd2  Nc6  35. Qh6  Rg8  36. Nf3  Qf8  37. Qe3  Kg7  38. Ng5  Bd7  39. b4  Qa8  40. b5  Na5  41. b6  Rb7 (sealed)/ Korchnoi abandoned without resuming the game. 1-0

(With this post about to appear the Chess world knew a sad piece of news: one of the warriors of the chessboard has just left us: GM Svetozar Gligoric passed away  on August 14. He was born in 1923 and was another living legend. One of the best chessplayers in the world and -in my opinion- the best Jugoslavian one, (other people may have different opinions ) many of you will remember his extraordinary career. You can enjoy his games against the greatest post WW2 fellow colleagues. He was also an extraordinary man. Rest in peace.)


Written by QChess

August 15, 2012 at 8:31 pm

“The Style is the Man Himself”.- G-L Buffon

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When one begins to play Chess, the first classification of chessplayers one hears is that of  “attacking players” or “positional players” as if they were mutually exclusive terms. At the same time, one begins to read about Chess styles more or less so: “there are three Chess styles: combinative, positional and universal”, and each one showed  several names attached. Of course, this is too rigid a definition. It is clear that every GM has a particular style, but in fact they can play any sort of game. Karpov is, primarily, a positional player. But he has played sacrificial games too. The same can be said of Petrosian, for instance. Tal was a combinative, attacking genius, but he was able to produce positional gems too. You all understand what I mean.

In general, the new gurus in the field of Chess training – Dvorestky, Zlotnik,etc- have widened this narrow landscape with their ideas. Well, I would like to mention two valuable contributions to this matter. Krogius ,quoting Torre, wrote that the latter had mentioned four periods in the evolution of the players’ style: 1) The form ; 2) The expression of the play; 3) The style  and 4) The grand style.

Y. Averbach in an interview to a Chess magazine several years ago, stated that he had divided the chessplayers into six groups:  1) The Killer ; 2) The Fighter ; 3) The Sportman ; 4) The Gambler ; 5) The Artist  and 6) The Analitic (sic) – He meant the “analyst”. He offers examples of players in each group: 1 : Fischer, Korchnoi,Botvinnik. 2) :Lasker, Kasparov. 3) : Capablanca . 4) Janovsky and Karpov. 5) Tal and Anderssen. 6): Rubinstein.

In the same way that too narrow classifications are imprecise, too wide ones may be misleading. Because there is always something indefinable in Chess. The more you want to classify things, the more overlappings or  holes you produce. In the matter of chessplayers, they are so  complicated that a “universal style” had to be invented to include the likes of Spassky, Smyslov and Keres.

I feel great respect for Averbach and understand this is his way of seeing things. As any other topic in Chess, you can understand this is debatable… Averbach has problems with the adscription of  Tal and Karpov, for instance and he even admits that some players may share characteristics in two of the groups.

Some people associate “positional”  to ” defensive”, “attacking” to  “combinative” -in the same wrong way that some people associate 1.d4/1.c4 with  “positional players” and 1. e4 with “attacking players” and there is much more than this. Perhaps all this comes from the influence of 19th century Chess. We associate 1. e4 to attack because this was the favourite opening of  romantic players like Andersson, Morphy, etc. And most of the onsidered “positional players” preferred 1. d4.  But this is not dogma (remember Kasparov smashing everybody with 1.d4 and Karpov playing positional masterpieces with 1. e4) .The evolution of Chess and the present state of Chess theory have changed all these assessments.

And this is why most -perhaps all of them- top GM/Champions of the World refuse to speak about their respective styles and some even have stated they have no style at all (implying that Chess is so complicated that you have to master all forms of playing.)

I think Capablanca,Karpov,Fischer or Botvinnik never cared about  “stylistical considerations” -they simply played Chess- while Nimzowitsch,for example,  took great pride in considering himself a great defensive player criticizing the lack of defensive technique in some of his predecessors and contemporaries.

In the past, as a boy, with my fellow-companions, we used  to have long “discussions” about “our” styles. Some wanted to play like Fischer and said they were “attacking” players. The followers of Karpov or Capablanca were proud of their “positional” styles… Perhaps that was sheer mimicry of war, like baby cats/dogs who “fight” against others like them simply to learn how to defend themselves once they grow up…

Now, I hardly ever think about style classifications : life has taught me that I can lose against attacking or defensive opponents. (But always  in style!)

And you??

To continue unearthing maybe forgotten Chess games, here today’s ones:

W.:  L.Karlsson  (1)

B.: M. Suba  (0)

Hastings 1984

1. c4  g6  2. Nc3  Bg7  3. g3  e5  4. Bg2  Ne7  5. e3  0-0  6. h4!!?   c6  7. Qb3 Na6  8. N1e2  Nc5  9. Qc2  Ne6  10. Qb3  b6  11. h5  d5  12. hg6  Nc5  13. gh7  Kh8  14.Qd1  Nd3  15. Kf1  dc4  16. b3 f5  17. f4  e4  18. Ba3  cb3  19. ab3  c5  20.Kg1  Rf6  21. g4  Rg6  22. g5!  Rd6  23.Ra2  Be6  24. Bf1  Nc6  25. Rh2  Na5  26. Qb1  Bb3:  27. Ng3  Ba2:  28. Qa2:  Ne1  29. Nce4:  Nf3  30. Kh1  fe4  31. Bb2!  Nh2:  32. Bg7:  Kg7:  33. Nf5  Kh8  34. Qb2  Rd4  35. ed4  Kh7:  36. Kh2: Qd5? (Better seemed … Qf8)  37. g6!  Kg6:  38. Ne7  Kf7  39. Nd5:  Rh8  40. Kg1  Rg8  41. Kf2 and Black resigned 


W.: V. Korchnoi (0)

B.: U. Andersson (1)

Brussels 1988

1. c4 e6  2. Nc3  d5  3. d4  Nf6  4. Nf3  Nbd7  5. Bg5  h6  6. Bh4  Be7  7. e3  Ne4  8. Be7:  Qe7:   9. Ne4:  de4  10. Nd2  f5  11. Qh5  Qf7  12. Qf7:  Kf7:  13. c5!?  e5!  14. Bc4  Ke7  15. 0-0-0  ed4  16. ed4  Nf6  17. Rhe1  Rd8  18. d5  b5  19. Bb3  a5  20. a3  Nd7  21. c6  Nc5  22. f3  Nd3  23. Kc2  a4   24. Ba2  b4  25. Bc4  Ne1:  26. Re1:   ba3  27. ba3  Kd6  28. fe4  Re8  29. Kc3  Kc5  30. e5  Ba6  31. Ba2  Rad8  32. Nf3  Rd5:!  33. Bd5:  Kd5:  34 . h4  g6  35. Kb4  Rb8  36. Ka5  Bc4!  37. e6  Kc5  38.Re5  Bd5  39. Ka6  Kc6:  40. Ka7  Re8 / White resigned. A wonderful struggle.


Written by QChess

August 2, 2012 at 6:54 am

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