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Nineteen Eighty-One.

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karpovkorchnoi1981Karpov-Korchnoi 1981

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.



Chessic Unrest (my own) and the 1978 W.Ch. Match

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I have got over 400 Chess books in several languages (English, Russian, German, Spanish, Serbocroat, Estonian, Czech, Hungarian). Many of them are devoted to strategy, tactics,planning,endgames,calculation of variations and so on.  But sometimes it seems that the more you read/study the less you seem to understand about how Chess is played.

(The 1978 World Chess Championship was full of tension. There were excellent games, short draws, less goods games and interesting situations. Karpov was the Soviet World Chess Champion. His opponent, V. Korchnoi had left the USSR slamming the door, and was an enemy of the state.


This position is from the 3rd game  (White: Korchnoi) which ended in a draw.  Here Korchnoi played 21. g4. Nevertheless, analysts pointed out 21. f5  as the blow leading to White’s victory. Others found a defence for Black -Do your own work on the position-. After  21. g4 , Qc7 22. f5? (It is not the same!) Here Salo Flohr pointed out that the winning manoeuvre started with  22. Rh3! (IF 22…, Kg7/ 23. f5 , Ng8  24. f6!)  22. .. , ef5!/   and it was a draw on move 30th. )


And I have realised that the leading GMs and the World champions, may have written a lot of books, analysed hundreds of game, but if you take the whole work, you will realise how little information it contains about their thinking process. Either they did not want to give away any secret or simply they are at a loss for words as to how the process takes place. Many analysis,many ideas post-game, but NO INSIGHT into the work of their Chess minds (lots of references to “intuition” though…

5th game after 75...Ka8

(This famous  position if from the 5th game. (W.: Korchnoi) and it ended in stalemate on move 124. The position was analyse by Averbakh in 1954. Black draws no matter if he has to move first!. Evidently, both players knew it. But their relations were far  from  “heartfelt”…)


Concerning the above mentioned matter of the top GMs , some questions assault me:

1.- Perhaps things are not so straightforward and methodical in the GMs Chess minds?

2.- Perhaps the only thing we can do is to study Chess letting our intuition work alone afterwards?

3.- Maybe we can extract a lot of considerations but it is impossible to describe any Ches thinking process unless we make suppositions?.

4.-Perhaps the only explanation as how top  GMs are able to play is that of   “I simply  saw it”?.

5.- Maybe books contain too many  “because’s” but very few  “how’s?.

  7th game


(This position is from the 7th game of the Baguio match. (W.: Korchnoi). Apparently Black’s position seems much better and some GMs present thought Karpov was winning. They were suddenly awoken when after Korchnoi’s sealed move was made: 42. Qh8  a draw was immediately declared.  Both camps had made their homework and though the analysis contains some complicated lines,  it shows there is no way of winning. At least, that was the conclusion.

The following moment I want to recall took place when in the 10th game, Karpov introduced a novelty in a well-known line in the Ruy Lopez (Spanish Game):

W.: Karpov

B.: Korchnoi

Chess World Championship 1978

1. e4 , e5 /2. Nf3 , Nc6 /3. Bb5 , a6 /4. Ba4 , Nf6 /5. 0-0 , Nxe4 / 6. d4 , b5 / 7. Bb3, d5 / 8. de5 , Be6  /9. Nbd2 , Nc5 / 10. c3 , d4 / 11. Ng5 !!?.  Korchnoi found his way through the complications and the game ended in a draw in 44 moves.

This line was played later in other GM games. The curious thing is that once I saw the game I decided I had to play it one way or another. .. But I had to wait around 20 years (!) to have the opportunity of using it in one of my CC games. Incidentally, I won that game thanks to a last-minute imprecision on my opponent’s part…

The last position I want to show is from the 22nd game (W.: Karpov), when the score was 4-2 in Karpov’s favour. Had he won this game, perhaps it would have meant a somewhat easier victory instead of the disaster he was about to suffer in the final part of the match (in the last six games, Karpov lost 3 of them allowing Korchnoi to level the score 5-5. At last, Karpov won the 32nd game and kept the world title…

 22 game  W.: Karpov

The game continued: 30. f5, Ng4 / 31.Ne3!, Nf6 / 32. d5, Nxh3/ 33. d6, Rd7 / 34. Nd5!, Nxd5 / 35. Rxd5 , Ra8 / 36. Be3, Ng5 / 37. Bb6, Ne4 / 38. Rfd1, a4 / 39. R5d4, Re8 / 40. Rxb4, Rxd6 / 41. Rxd6, Nxd6/  And here Karpov could have sealed his next move. If that had been 42. Rxa4 Korchnoi would have resigned according to M.Stean, one of his seconds at Baguio. Instead, Karpov played on and spoiled the victory! : 42. Bc7?! Re1/ 43. Kc2 Ne8 / 44. Ba5, a3 / 45. Rb8 , Re7 /46 Bb4??   definitively spoiling the game! . Larsen wrote “46.ba3 wins , 46. b4 wins”.  The game ended in a draw  in 64 moves…


Have the reader ever felt the pains I have here exposed?. It’s a real nightmare. This is why , from time to time, one gets the odd feeling that one knows nothing at all of Chess. How can it be possible and continue living????


Now one game from Baguio 1978:

W.: A. Karpov (1)

B.: V. Korchnoi (0)

Baguio 1978. World Championship Match.

1.e4, e5 / 2. Nf3 Nc6 / 3. Bb5 ,a6 / 4. Ba4 , Nf6 /5. 0-0 , Nxe4 /6. d4 , b5 / 7. Bb3 , d5 / 8. de5 , Be6 /9. c3 , Bc5 / 10. Nbd2 , 0-0 / 11. Bc2 , Bf5 / 12. Nb3 , Bg4 / 13. h3 , Bh4 / 14. g4 , Bg6 / 15. Bxe4 , de4 /16. Nxc5 , ef3/ 17. Bf4, Qxd1 / 18. Raxd1 , Nd8! /19. Rd7, Ne6 /20. Nxe6, fe6/ 21. Be3 Rac8 /22. Rfd1 , Be4 /23. Bc5 , Rfe8/ 24. R7d4, Bd5?! /25. b3 , a5 /26. Kh2, Ra8 / 27. Kg3, Ra6? (27…Bc6 -Larsen) / 28. h4, Rc6 ( according to Larsen, the decisive mistake)   /29. Rxd5!, ed5/ 30. Rxd5, Rce6 / 31. Bd4, c6 /32. Rc5, Rf8/ 33. a4!, ba4 / 34. ba4, g6  /  35. Rxa5, R6e8/ 36. Ra7, Rf7 / 37. Ra6!, Rc7 / 38. Bc5, R7f8 / 39. Bd6, Ra8 / 40. Rxc6, Rxa4 / 41. Kxf3, h5/  (Adjourned)   42. gh5 , gh5 / 43. c4, Ra7 / 44. Rb6, Kf7 / 45. c5, Ra4/ 46. c6, Ke6/ 47. c7, Kd7/ 48. Rb8, Rc8/  49. Ke3 , Rxh4/ 50. e6!   and Korchnoi resigned.

To make justice to Korchnoi, I include the excellent endgame he won in the 29th game. (You can learn a lot trying to guess White´s moves and trying to understand all the possibilities.):

 29th game Position after 40…, Be7/

W.: Korchnoi (1)

B.: Karpov (0)

29th Game

41. Rh6, Kf7/ 42. Rh7, Kf8 / 43. Rh8, Kf7 / 44. Bd2,Nf8/ 45. Rh1, Kg6/ 46. Rd1, f5   (Defending actively. Larsen believes this is a conceptual mistake and advocates a passive defence) 47.Nf2, Bd6 / 48. Bc3, Nd7 /49. gf5, ef5/    50. g4!,  Nb6/ 51. Kf3, Be7/ 52. Ba5, Rf6/ 53. Kg2, fg4 / 54. Nxf4, Re6/ 55. Kf3, Bf6 / 56. Nxf6, Rxf6 / 57. Kg4!, Nc8 / 58. Bd8!, Tf4 / 59. Kg3, Rf5 / 60. a4, Kf7 / 61. Rd3, Re5 /62. Kg4, Kg6 /63. a5, Re4 / 64. Kf3, Tf4 / 65. Ke3, Rh4/ 66. Rd5, Rh3 / 67. Kd2!, Rxb3/ 68. Rxc5, Rb8/ 69. Rc6, Kf5 / 70. Rxa6, g4/ 71. Rf6, Ke4/ 72. Bc7!, Rb2/ 73. Kc3, Rb7/ 74. Bh2, Rh7/ 75. Bb8, Rb7/ 76. Bg3, Rb1/ 77. Rf4!, Ke3/ 78. Rf8, Ne7 / 79. a6 and Karpov resigned. 


Boris Spassky.

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World Champ. Spassky

“I am not afraid of having nothing . I’m afraid of having nothing and being ill.”  Boris Spassky is supposed to have said this after having to flee to Moscow from his home in France, where apparently he was being ill-treated/abused. He made no open accusation but everybody knows who he was referring to. His son tried to intervene and bring him back to France but he did not accept it an remained in Russia (Moscow) under the care of the people who had helped  and saved him. The untimely and unfortunate intervention of his sister in a strange press conference was also dismissed by Boris and helped to compose a curious scenery of near conspiration against him. I BELIEVE HIM. The only thing I would like to hear now is that he is completely recovered from the second stroke he suffered around two years ago. (The following link  very kindly provided by one of the readers, Mr.Wychodzca may be very useful:

When one has lost everything, one may realise that one may hardly need anything … except some tenderness and support from a very few- perhaps only one person- people. And one must learn , the hard way, that one may have done everything right and , nonetheless, the final result is wrong…  Maybe in these moments one of the signals of intelligence is learning to keep on living with all those painful and nearly unbearable thorny uncertainties life throws in our paths. If we accept that life implies constant change it is easy to deduce that when we are in those lovely rosy days the only possible change is for the worse. But the opposite is also true… Some people call this “hope”. To me is sheer survival. Some people also say hope should be the last thing to lose. I think if you even lose it, then you must try to strongly keep,at least , your dreams.Some people keep on calling this  “hope” again…

Professional chessplayers, even those charismatic World Champions, are ,primarily, human beings. Like you and  me. All right, we tend to see them as “very fortunate” and so on. Indeed,  they are Chess geniuses. But they are men and women with feelings. And feelings can be shared, but can also be hurt and even destroyed.

In 1966 the Chess World Championship match featured the clash between “iron” Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian and Boris Vasilievich Spassky who had managed to qualify after beating  Keres ,Geller and Tal in the Candidates’ matches. Petrosian was considered the representative of the ultra-positional/solid style while Boris’ style was universal, fresh, aggressive… Many cliches have been repeated ad nauseam as if they were absolute truths. But Gligoric wrote that Petrosian was an excellent tactician, and that one can only become Champion of the World after winning many games against the best chessplayers in the world.  As everybody acknowledges, Petrosian was an overwhelming strategist too. So, they were the best players in the world at that moment.

Spassky lost the match by one point (12.5 – 11.5). Some people believe he tried to meet his opponent in the wrong battlefield…

In 1969, after three new Candidates’ Matches, Spassky was again knocking at Petrosian’s door. The match took place from April 14th to June 17th, once more in Moscow. This time Spassky had learnt the lesson. Gligoric wrote that the events in the match had helped to create an Armageddon atmosphere. The match was a terrible fight, with both players out for blood while the supporters on both sides held the breath one game after another. No more “fencing courtesy” , total struggle for the sake of it. The 17th game was the key turning point. With a total score of 3-3 so far and a maximum of 8 games to go, Spassky manages to win that game in 58 moves. After a draw in 60 moves in the 18th, Spassky won the 19th (the most famous one of the match) in 24 moves leaving Petrosian trailing down. But the wily Armenian won the 20th ( clear signal of the dramatic events taking place in   the match) in 50 moves and Spassky answered back winning the 21st in 53!. The 22nd was a draw and  in the 23rd Spassky offered a draw to sentence the match because in case of rejecting the offer, Petrosian would have had to face a new defeat… This World Championship match deserves close study. Sometimes beauty , learning and truth are hidden while everybody repeats what other people say or do  without an inkling of independent thought.

The truth  we may learn will be that we will be able to  discover on our own and by ourselves, not what other people say they have discovered for us…

W.: T. Petrosian (0)

B.: B. Spassky (1)

Moscow 1969. World Championship Match

1. c4 , e6  2. d4, d5  3. Nc3, Be7  4. Nf3, Nf6  5. Bf4, c5   6. dc5, Na6   7. e3, Nxc5   8. cd5, ed5   9. Be2, 0-0   10. 0-0      , Be6  11. Be5, Rc8  12. Rc1, a6  13. h3, b5 14. Bd3?, d4!   15. Bxd4, Nxd3  16.Qxd3, Bc4   17. Qb1, Bxf1   18. Rxf1, Nd5   19. Ne2, Bf6  20. Rd1, Qc7   21. Bxf6, Nxf6   22. Nfd4, Qe5   23. Qd3, Rfd8  24. a4!, ba4   25. Ra1, Ne4!   26. Qxa6, Ra8  27. Qd3, Re8  28. Nf4, g6  29. Qa3, Qf6  30. Nd3, Rec8   31. Rd1, Rc4   32. b4, Rac8   33. b5, Rc3   34. Qa1, Rxd3!   35. Rxd3, Qxf2   36. Kh2, Qg3   37. Kg1,  Qf2   38. Kh2, Qg3   39. Kg1, Nf2   40. Nc6,  Nxh3   41. Kh1, Nf2   42. Kg1, Nxd3  43. Ne7, Kf8  44. Nxc8, Qxe3/ White resigned.

From the recent Spanish Chess Team 1st Div. Championship, León, Spain, the following confrontation:

W.: Lenier Dominguez (2734) (1)

B.: R. Ponomariov (2735) (0)

1. e4, e5   2. Nf3, Nc6   3.Bb5, Nf6  4. 0-0, Nxe4  5. d4, Nd6   6. Bxc6, dc6    7. de5, Nf5   8. Qxd8, Kxd8   9. h3, Ke8   10. Nc3,  h5   11.Ne2, b6   12. Rd1, Ba6   13. Nf4,   Rd8  14. Bd2,  Nd4   15. Nxd4, Rxd4   16. a4,  Bc8  17. a5, c6   18. Be3, Rxd1   19. Rxd1, b5  20. Nd3, Be7  21. Bc5, Bd8  22. Nb4, Rh6  23. f4, f5  24. c3, Bh4  25. Rd3, Rg6  26. Kh2, Bb7  27. Nc2,  Bc8  28. g3, Bd8  29. h4, Be6  30. Nb4, Bc8  31. Rd2, Bb7   32. Rd1, Bc8   33. Rh1, Bb7  34. Kg2, Be7  35. Nd3, Bd8  36. Kf2, Rh6  37. Re1, Bc8   38. Nb4, Kf77  39. Rd1, Ke8  40. Re1, Kf7   41. Re3,  Rg6   42. Ke2, Rh6  43. Kd2, Rg6  44. b3, Rh6  45. c4, Rg6  46. Kc3, Rh6  47. Nc2, Re6  48. Nd4, Re8  49. Rd3, bc4   50. bc4, Bd7  51. Re3, Be7  52. Bxe7, Kxe7   53. e6, Bc8  54. Kb4, Kf6  55. Kc5, Bb7  56. Nxc6, g6  57. e7, Ba8   58. Re5, Bb7  59. Nd8,  Bg2  60. Nc6, Kf7  61. Nb4  Rxe7  62. Rxe7, Kxe7  63. Nxa6 , Kd8  64. Nb4, Ba8  65. Nc6, Kc8  66. a6  , Black resigned.


Written by QChess

November 22, 2012 at 7:43 am

Two Ways of Seeing Things.

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Bobby Fischer in 1992.

Concerning Bobby Fischer, I have noticed the existence of -to put it midly- “two schools of thought”.  One of these analizes / studies his life  and Ches career mentioning all sort of facts but not taking sides, not drawing blood/ from the affairs Fischer was involved or provoked especially after 1992. The other dismisses Fischer’s whole life on account of the behaviour he showed in the last part of his life, when he railed against the Jews, severely criticized/insulted the USA even supporting what the Americans may hate most, and so on. They are not ready to save any part of Bobby’s life and what is worse: they do not understand -and in some cases severely attack- the people who keep on admiring him by his Chess.

I have read that some people (GMs included) admitted admiring Kasparov as a chessplayer but not as a man (this is simply an instance). The same happens with Karpov, Korchnoi, etc.  After 1972 Fischer vanished from the Chess scene. In 1975 he did not accept the conditions imposed by FIDE and lost the World Title without playing a single game against Anatoly Karpov. Only a few people knew of Fischer’s whereabouts. Apparently he held contacts with Karpov and other people but everything came to nothing. He seemed to be sliding down a dangerous path. Nevertheless, in 1992, he reappeared in a match vs. Boris Spassky and the world -at first- went mad with delight. But the match took part in Serbia , a country at war and with strong sanctions on the part of the USA and the international community. Fischer, defying his government went and played. Consequently, he put himself out of the law: he could never go back to the States (curiously enough, nothing happened to Boris in France…) ,was put in a list of wanted-people  : the American authorities wanted him back to take him to court, etc.  Fischer did and said many things he should not have done and said. But the problem was that he continued saying those things after  1992…

I confess myself a Fischer Chess  admirer in the same way I find it totally unacceptable what he said to journalists and radio stations (mainly in the Philippines and Argentina)/mass media in general  after 1992. He had reached a no-return point -personally and mentally-  and was convinced that what he was doing was in self-defence. After many problems -including that of being jailed in Japan and being aware that if he had been deported to the USA things would have been even worse, he managed to reach Iceland where he died in 2008. This story is well-known. (As it is that he had been arrested,abused and mistreated in Pasadena, that some people simply made disappear many of his things he kept in a store, and many other facts concerning his life after 1972)

But Fischer’s case was not the first one. Remember what happened to  European players who played in Germany during the Nazi period… A case in point is Alekhine (others had troubles, but managed to overcome them :Bogoljubow, Keres, etc.). The problem of Alekhine was that apart from playing in Nazi Germany, hate the Soviets, etc., he was accused of writing some anti-Jew pamphlets. This story is far from clear: many people claim that he was the author. Others claim he was not. I am not going to labour upon this point. In that troubled post WW2 world, Alekhine found himself accused, blamed for and, finally, guilty of  collusion with the Nazi regime. Different people in different countries attacked him mercilessly. He managed to reach Spain where he  was supported by some Spanish players (a Spain in sheer poverty after its Civil War, by the way), and then he went to Portugal where he died (more or less mysteriously…). In his native country things towards him had started to change thanks to , among others ,  Botvinnik but it was too late.

In both cases the truth has two sides: the people who ferociously attacked Alekhine and the US authorities in Fischer’s case could have been a little more understanding and flexible, and in both Alekhine’s  and Fischer’s cases, they could have avoided doing what they did . But Bobby was at war against his country.

But when passion rages, it is very dificult to think  in a cold way… Sometimes you find yourself in a situation where you take this or that path without knowing why… In the case of public figures this can be absolutely destructive. In life, like in Chess, we are responsible for the moves we make. Some of them may be corrected later, but others are serious mistakes. And if we persist, the game is lost…

I am sure most of you already knew these stories. And know it is up to you -if you had not thought much about it- to decide what your position is.

We can admire the artist and hate/not admire the person behind.  Or we can hate the artist because we hate/cannot accept the person behind.

I suppose that the people who defend the second option will not admire painters, music composers/conductors , writers  etc. with “doubtful” personal stories either -for the sake of being consequent with their thoughts-…

But  I think  that  what we should not do, is to try to impose our vision/opinion on other people, in case we , at last, end up falling in the same error we so readily criticise on others…


Now here are some positions from Fischer’s games for you to solve and the solutions.  (In all positions it is Fischer’s turn):

1.–  Bisguier-Fischer, US Chess Championship 1966.

2.–  Fischer-Mednis US. Chess Championship 1957-58

3.-  Fischer-Dely, Skopje 1967

4.-  Fischer-Bisguier, US. Chess Championship 1959


1.: 38. …, g4! 39.Qg4: (39. Rf5 Rh1: 40. Kh1: Rc1 41. Kh2 hg  x) 39…, Qg4: 40. hg Kg7! (the idea is …hg/ 42. Ng3 Rh8)  41. Rf5 Rh1:  /0-1 (If 42. Kh1: Rc1 43. Kh2 hg  44. Kh3 Rh1  x)

2.: 32. Re6:!! Ba3 (32…, Ke6:  33. Qg4 Kf7  34. e6! Kf8  35.Qg6 +-) 33. Na3: Ke6: 34. Qg4 Ke7  35. Rf2 Re8 36. Qg5 Kd7 37. Rf7 Kc8 38. Qf5 Kb8 39. Qd7  1-0

3.:  1. Be6: fe6: 2. Rf8: Qf8: 3. Qa4  1-0 (If 3… b5  -3…Kd8/4.Bb6- then 4. Qe4: Rd8  5. Qc6 Rd7 6. Rd1 Qe7 7. Rd3 and now 8. Bg5 +-)

4.: 1. Qa3! Kd3  2. Kb3 Kd2 3. Ka4 Kc2  4. b4  1-0




Written by QChess

May 12, 2012 at 6:35 am

Mijail M. Botvinnik: deviatii diagonal*

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* “the ninth diagonal

My feelings towards Botvinnik are , today in 2012, contradictory. Some 30 years ago Botvinnik’s games taught me the art of planning in Chess. You may know strategy, you may be able to play combinations, calculate variations, etc. But one day you realize you are not progressing… That happened to me: I could understand any positional game, no matter if that was played by Petrosian or Karpov. And?. And you have to learn how to  make plans and integrate them in the framework of a chessgame. I even discovered , on my own, that planning was not only referred to “strategical planning”, and realized there was also “tactical planning” : I called it “tactical strategy” .

(I will explain my method of training with Botvinnik’s games later. )

Botvinnik was the first Soviet chessplayer in becoming World Champion of Chess. He was an exceptional strong player: hard-working, talented, with a scientifical mind he applied to Chess, absolutely self-disciplined and goal-oriented, with a deep positional knowledge and accurate calculation skills, able to study and prepare in a systematic unprecedented way, who spent much time devoted to his engeneering work and was able to keep ready for the Chess battles holding secret matches at home… He also made a thorough study of the openings and the typical middlegame positions stemming from them

Botvinnik learnt Chess at 12, and became a GM in 1950. Champion of the Soviet Union in seven times.  In 1948 a match-tournament was decided as the way to find the Chess World Champion. Alekhine had died two years before and the old method of choosing a challenger died with him as FIDE took over the ruling of the Chess world. The “chosen few” were Botvinnik, Smyslov, Keres, Reshevsky, Fine and Euwe. Reuben Fine declined to take part and when the smoke of the battle cleared Botvinnik had won the event.

In 1955 he defended the title against Bronstein and retained it because the rule was that in the case of a final tie the Champion retained the crown (later Bronstein hinted at having suffered some sort of pressure not to win the match…)

In 1954 the same happened in his match with Smyslov: a final tie with Mijail Moiseyevich retaining the crown…

In 1957, Smyslov defeated him becoming Champion of the World. For cases like this , Botvinnik had secured a return match in a year’s time. In 1958 he regained the title.

In 1960 Tal beat him but in 1961, again in a return match, Botvinnik defeated his opponent… Again World Champion.

In 1963 Petrosian defeated him this time with no return match. It was said that Bovinnik never forgave FIDE for such a “treason”.


Botvinnik had to learn to live -as the rest of the USSR citizens- in the terrible Stalinist era. Apparently he knew how to do it. He was the Chess “blue-eyed-boy” of the regime, and he knew how to move his pieces on the political board too. Not only in the Keres’ controversy, but also when he feared he could not be taken as the best to play against Alekhine… Apart from Stalin himself – remember Chess was  a “matter of state” in the former USSR, it seemed he was in good relations with names like V. Snegirov, Nikolai Krylenko (1885-1938), People’s Commissar of Justice and Prosecutor General of the RSSFR and, in the 30’s,  also head of several sports associations,with  Chess among them. The last was V. Molotov (1890-1986): Stalin’s protegee, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, Minister of Foreign Affairs, First Deputy Premier.

Many pages have been written about all this. I have my own opinion, of course… But curiously enough, all his political influences could not prevent him from being excluded of the Soviet Union Chess Team for the Helsinki Chess Olympiad. Botvinnik explained that was due to two bad results (The Maroczy Memorial and the USSR Chess Championship) but he was far from pleased since he wrote that the decision was taken in a “strange way” by voting it among the rest of Team members : Bronstein, Keres, Smyslov, Boleslavsky and Geller (remember what had happened with Keres before, and later with Bronstein…) The result of the “poll” was unanimously against him with a blank ballot (!) .-So he would never know who to really blame for the offence!-.

Botvinnik had a natural talent for strategy and planning. He tried to find an “opponent-proof”  opening repertoire focusing on the English/ Catalan/ QG as White and the French as Black . Against the QP he used several defences within QGD boundaries but also the Grünfeld though one of his pet lines was the Dutch. He made a great contribution to the theory of the middlegame systematizing many positions and procedures.

The two big questions which will never be answered are:

– Is the Bronstein story true?

-What happened in the Keres case?

The same I said in the post about Keres (nº. 2) I believe happened -if it really happened- with Bronstein.

The Soviet authorities had many ways to do things. They did not bother to kill Petrov as you know. In the Keres case, he knew what he had to do to survive and did it. In the Bronstein case I suppose the adequate hints operated the miracle. But we will never knew the truth. In the case of chessplayers nobody can explain why some suffered such criminal treatment while others could speak even criticize openly without too many problems.

Well, going back to Chess, I must say that Karpov had taught me how strategy worked in practice but Botvinnik taught me how strategy worked in theory...


If you want to use my method, follow the folowing steps:

1.- Copy a Botvinnik game in a sheet of paper in columns.

2.- Play the first ten-twelve moves on the board.

3.- Cover Botvinnik’s moves with a paper and try to find them one by one. Once you ave cosen your move (the move you think Botvinnik played, uncover it and check it against he move you chose.

4.- Once you have finished the exercise, replay the game writing down why you thik Botvinnik played each move.

You can obtain the percentage of the moves you managed to guess following this method:

-take the total number of moves of the game.

-take down the number of opening moves you played.

-add two zeroes to the number of moves you have guessed.

-divide this number by the number you got in step two.

For instance: let’s suppose the total number of moves was 40. You played ten opening moves. So, 40 -10 = 30.

20+oo = 20000

If you have guessed 20 moves, then 2000/30= %

A percentage 0f 70% or + is excellent.

This is the way I used to train.


P.S.  The blog has been flooded by spam comments so from now on it will be necessary to register to leave a comment.

I hope you understand this decision and encourage you to leave comments. Thank you very much indeed..- Questchess.

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