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Chess World Championship

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These days everybody is writing about the Chess World Championship between Anand and Carlsen in India.  I only have a passing interest. When Kasparov (yes, the guy who now wants to become President of FIDE … -This is as if Guy Fawkes would have wanted to become PM…) and Short broke with that very same FIDE splitting into two the world of Chess, I predicted that was going to be disastrous for Chess. An easy prediction. After that , things were never the same. With Kasparov retired and Kapov nearly retired too, the Chess world saw how children of lesser gods became Champions of the World to vanish into thin air forever. Even the media lost their interest, and what was worse: most sponsors began to leave Chess and devote their money to other more profitable devotions. Thank you Gary  (Kasparov) for destroying a beautiful building to have a stone to sit on. Thank you Nigel (Short) for your greed and your lust for money. One of the side-effects was that if in the past even non-chessplayers knew the name of the Chess World Champion, today nobody knows and what is again even worse: nobody cares either. When you have lived with the names of Botvinnik, Tal, Spassky, Karpov, Fischer, Smyslov , Petrosian (to mention the period post WW2 only) , with those gruelling matches like those between Karpov and Korchnoi, Botvinnik and Tal , Spassky and Fischer, etc.

I agree with GM Spraggett when he says that neither Anand nor Carlsen will be like Fischer. And for my part, I don’t expect much from this match either. We are in an age of sheer and shameless pragmatism (see the first two game of this match.  What would have thought Fischer, Botvinnik, Tal, etc.?). Today’s players play mainly for a) money, b) ELO points -and I don’t know in which order…- So they fear losing. They play “not to lose” instead of playing to win at all costs. They are afraid of  losing ELO points like the plague while asking for good financial conditions. In the past, most of us spent our money buying the books dealing with World Championship matches because we were enthralled by the event and the charismatic players. And we used them to study the games, one time after another, TO LEARN Chess from them. Even today I spend many evenings with Fischer and Spassky in 1972, or with Tal and Botvinnink in 1960. I’m afraid I will pass NO time with Anand and Carlsen 2013… I accept that many people may consider the first two games of the match as something typical of World Championship matches . I have read somebody has calculated that every game costs around 166,000 euros… If it is so, these two guys should work a little harder. (I hope all this will change for the rest of the match…). At least the third and the fourth games have been  much more interesting. 

In 1971 Karpov and Korchnoi agreed to play a secret training match (this method was used in the Soviet Union. Botvinnik did it on several occasions too). In the end, the games crop up and here I have included two of them in case you prefer combine them with those played in India. I’m sure you will enjoy yourselves with them.

(You may argue Chess today is very different from Chess 30 or 40 years ago. But the attitude of the chessplayers has also changed perhaps forced by more pragmatic conditions. In any case, Chess offers plenty of occasions to create masterpieces and terrible fights one time after another. When this happens, no matter if the final result is a draw.   Perhaps this is why many people keeps mentioning Fischer, Tal, Keres, Bronstein, et alii and new books about them keep being published on a regular basis? Who knows…)

W.: Karpov (1)

B.: Korchnoi (0)

Leningrad 1971 (Training Match)

1. e4  e6 / 2. d4 d5 / 3. Nd2  c5  /4. Ngf3  Nc6 / 5. ed  ed /  6. Bb5  Bd6  / 7. dc  Qe7/ 8. Qe2!  Bxc5/ 9. Nb3  Bb6/ 10. Ne5!  Kf8 !? / 11. Bf4  Qf6 / 12. Bg3  h5/ 13. h4  Nge7/  14. 0-0-0  Nxe5  15. Bxe5  Qxf2  16. Bxg7  Kxg7/ 17. Qxe7  Bf5/  18. Qe5!  f6/  19. Qxe7  Kg6/  20. Rd2!!  Be3/ 21. Rf1  Bxd2 / 22. Nxd2  Qd4!/  23. Rxf5!  Kxf5/ 24. Bd3  Kf4 / 25. Qd6  Qe5 / 26. Qb4  d4?!/ 27. Ne4!   Kf5?/ 28. Qxb7  Kg4/ 29. Be2  Kxh4/ 30. g3  Kh3/  31. Nf2  Kh2/  32. Qh1  Kxg3/  33.   Ne4  Kf4 / 34. Qf3  mate. (Punctuation marks by Korchnoi who when annotated the game said this was the best game Karpov has played in his whole life…)

W.: Karpov (0)

B.: Korchnoi (1)

Leningrad Training Match 1971

1. e4  c5/ 2. Nf3  e6/ 3. d4  cd4/ 4. Nxd4  Nf6/ 5. Nc3  d6 / 6. Be2  Be7/ 7. Be3  a6/ 8. f4  Qc7/ 9. g4  d5/ 10. e5  Ne4/  11. Nxe4  de/ 12. h4  0-0/ 13. g5  Rd8/ 14. c3  Nc6/ 15. Qd2  Bc5/  16. h5  Bd7/  17.Bg4  Be8/  18. g6  Qa5/  19. gf  Bxf7/ 20. Nxc6  bc /21. Qf2  Bxe3/ 22.Qxe3  Rab8/  23. b4  Qa3/  24. Qc1  Qa4/ 25. Be2  c5/  26. bc  Bc6/ 27. Qe3  Rb2/ 28. Rg1  Bxh5  / 29. Bc4  Qa4/ 30. Bxe6  Kh8/ 31. Bg4  Bxg4/ 32. Rxg4  Rxa2/  White resigned.

Six games were played and the final result was two draws and two victories for each side .



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November 15, 2013 at 7:50 am

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.


Towards Meran 1981.

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After Baguio 1978, Karpov could see life a different way. In 1975 he had become Chess World Champion when Fischer decided not to play, and Karpov felt obliged to show the world he was a worthy champion.In 1978 he defeated the challenger and former fellow-countryman V. Korchnoi in a dramatic match and then he devoted the time between matches to playing in tournaments and team competitions. Between 1979 and 1981, he took part in around 16 top-class events. The 1978 challenger Korchnoi had to wait till 1980 to start his path in the Candidates’ matches which will give the name of the 1981 challenger. Three matches were required to acquire the condition of “official challenger”.

(1980 was the beginning of an intense decade which had to witness the destruction of one of the world’s political blocks: the Soviet one. The world also saw the end of a divided Germany and how the infamous Berlin Wall was broken down forever.Many of you will remember that decade …for its music too :). For my part, I began it with a knee injury, an operation and nearly a whole year being unable to walk + two years more of intense exercise to fully recover my leg…)

Korchnoi’s first opponent was his arch-enemy Tigran Petrosian, the venue of the match Velden, Austria, and the outcome was in Korchnoi’s favour: +2  -0  =7. The second match was against another Soviet player: L. Polugaevsky. An excellent match from the creative point of view. Polugaevsky was a tough opponent and Korchnoi won by a narrow margin: +3  -2  =9. Some of the games were fought till  no more options were left on the board. The  match took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and the players were given the opportunity of using the same chess pieces as in the Capablanca-Alekhine World Championship Match in 1927. (Remember that in those days the pieces, the chairs, the tables,the placement of the spectators and the players’ helpers were matters of heated debates… They used normal pieces from a local retailer though…)

The last step was the Candidates’ Final against Dr. Robert Hübner, from Germany. The place was the Italian historical city of Meran and the date Christmas of 1980.  As in the Petrosian-Hübner 1974  match, the German GM started the match simply to later walk out slamming the door, leaving it unfinished when he was  losing by +3  -2  =2 with two unfinished games … A pity, but not for Korchnoi , in his heyday perhaps the strongest chessplayer never to become Champion of the World, who managed not to knock on Karpov’s door, rather kick on it for the second time in a row. 

(In those days I was playing and studying Chess on a daily and nearly ” nightly” too – basis, though the only way to get the games was either a daily newspaper Chess column or waiting one or two months for a Chess magazine… I still remember how eagerly I read and re-read the newspaper clipping and played the moves one time after another alone in my room… Those were my happiest Chess days…)

The 1981 World Championship Match took place in Meran again and this time Karpov smashed his opponent. But this is another story and I will write about it in the future. Now, the games which belong to this period of time.

W.: Korchnoi (1)

B.: Petrosian (0)

Velden 1980. Candidates’ Match.

1. c4, e6 2. Nc3, d5 3. d4, Nf6  4. Nf3, Nbd7  5. cd5, ed5  6. Bf4, c6  7. e3, Be7  8. h3, 0-0  9. Bd3, Re8 10. Qc2, Nf8  11. 0-0-0, Bb4  12. Kb1, Qe7  13. Bg5, Qe6  14. Bf4, Qe7  15. Ne5, Ne4  16. Nxe4, de4  17. Bc4, Be6  18. Bxe6, Nxe6  19. Bh2, Nf8  20. Qb3, Ba5  21. Nc4, Bb6  22. d5, cd5  23. Rxd5, Bc5  24. Bd6, Bxd6  25. Nxd6, Red8  26. Rhd1, Qe6  27. Nxb7, Rdb8  28. Rb5, Qf6  29. Rd2, Qg6  30. g3, h6  31. Nd6, Rd8  32. Rbd5, Rab8  33. Qc3, Kh7  34.Qe5, Rd7  35. Nf5, Rdb7  36. h4, Ne6  37. Nd6, Rb4  38. h5, Qg4  39. a3, Ra4  40. Ka2, Nc7  41. Qf5, Qxf5  42. Rxf5, f6  43. b3, Ra6  44. Nxe4 /Petrosian resigned.

W.: Polugaevsky (1)

B.. Korchnoi (0)

Buenos Aires 1980. Candidates’ Match.

1. Nf3, Nf6 2. c4, b6 3. g3, Bb7 4. Bg2, e6  5. 0-0, Be7  6. d4, 0-0  7. d5, ed5  8. Nd4, Nc6  9. cd5, Nxd4  10. Qxd4, c5  11. Qd3, d6  12. a4, a6  13. Na3, b5  14. Bf4, b4  15. Nc4, a5  16. e4, Ba6  17. Qc2, Bxc4  18. Qxc4, Nd7  19. Rfd1,  Nb6  20. Qb5, Qc7  21. Bh3, Rfb8  22. Qc6, Qd8  23. e5, Nc4  24. ed6, Bxd6  25. Bxd6, Nxd6  26. Qxc5, b3  27. Rd4, Rb7  28. Rc1,h6  29. Qc3, Rab8  30. Qe3, Re7  31. Qf4, Re2  32. Rc6, Rb6  33. Qc1, Qf6  34. Qf4, Qd8  35. Rd2, g5  36. Qd4, Rb4  37.Qc3, Re1  38. Bf1, Rxa4  39. Re2 , Rxe2  40. Bxe2, Qe7  41. Bd3, Ra1  42. Kg2, Rd1  43. Ra6, Qd8  44. Qd4, f5  45. Ra7, Qf8  46. Qc3, a4  47. Qc7, Qf7  48. Ra8, Kg7  49. Qxd6, Rxd3 50. Qe5 / Korchnoi resigned.

W.: Polugaevski (0)

B.: Korchnoi (1)

Buenos Aires 1980′. Candidates’ Match.

1. Nf3, Nf6 2. c4, c5 3. Nc3, d5 4. cd5 Nxd5 5. e4, Nb4  6. Bc4, Nd3 7. Ke2, Nf4  8. Kf1, Ne6  9. b4, cb4  10. Nd5, g6  11. Bb2, Bg7  12. Bxg7, Nxg7  13. Nxb4, 0-0  14. d4, Bg4  15. Ke2, Qd6  16. Qd2, Ne6 17. Bxe6, Qxe6  18. Ke3, f5  19. Qd3, fe4  20. Qxe4, Qxe4   21. Kxe4, Nd7  22. Rhc1, Rf5  23. Rc7, Nf6  24. Kd3, a5  25. Nc2, Nd5  26. Rxb7, Nf4  27. Ke4, Nxg2  28. Ne5, Rf4  29. Kd5, Bf5  30. Rc7, Rd8  31. Kc5, Bxc2  32. Nc6, Re8  33. Nxe7, Kf8  34. Nc6, Rf5  35.Ne5, Nf4  36. Rxh7, Kg8  37. Rd7, Nd3  38. Kb6, Nxe5  39. de5, Rexe5  40. Rc1, Rf6  41. Ka7, Rxf2/ Polugaevsky resigned.

This is the adjourned position of the 9th game Hübner-Korchnoi, Meran 1981.

game  9  W.: Hübner.

And the 10th game was adjourned in the following position:

game 10 W.: Korchnoi

Korchnoi’s sealed move was  44. Rh3.

And Korchnoi became the official challenger for the second time in a row.


Written by QChess

December 13, 2012 at 8:26 am

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

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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