WCC Overview
Petrosian vs Spassky 1966

 Petrosian and Spassky
 Both colleagues and adversaries.
In 1966 Tigran Petrosian met popular challenger Boris Spassky who entered the match a big favorite. Not only had Spassky convincingly defeated Keres, Geller and Mikhail Tal in candidates matches, he had also played model chess in a universal style. Spassky seemed equally at home in the wilds of the King's Gambit and other open games as in the thickets of the King's Indian and assorted closed positions. At a strictly personal level, if not to the manor born, Spassky was certainly to the gracious manner born. In the match Spassky achieved numerous promising positions only to run into a record number of exchange sacrifices and other sophisticated holding maneuvers. He thrashed about and found himself two points down after 10 games. He evened the score after game 19, but Petrosian won the 20th and 22nd games to clinch the title defense, +4 -3 =17.[1]

After failing to dethrone him in 1966, Spassky described Petrosian as, "first and foremost a stupendous tactician."[2]

The match took place in Moscow between April 9 and June 9, 1966. After the full 24 games, Petrosian defended his title of World Chess Champion.

click on a game number to replay game 123456789101112131415161718192021222324

FINAL SCORE:  Petrosian 12½;  Spassky 11½
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Petrosian-Spassky 1966]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #10     Petrosian vs Spassky, 1966     1-0
    · Game #7     Spassky vs Petrosian, 1966     0-1
    · Game #12     Petrosian vs Spassky, 1966     1/2-1/2

1. The Game of Tigran Petrosian Book review by Edward Winter, 1991

 page 1 of 1; 24 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½37 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
2. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½50 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchD59 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower
3. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½43 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
4. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½41 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchA14 English
5. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½79 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
6. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½15 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
7. Spassky vs Petrosian 0-143 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchA46 Queen's Pawn Game
8. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½23 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchA33 English, Symmetrical
9. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½26 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
10. Petrosian vs Spassky 1-030 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchE63 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Panno Variation
11. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½26 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchC10 French
12. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½39 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchA04 Reti Opening
13. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-091 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB19 Caro-Kann, Classical
14. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½57 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchA05 Reti Opening
15. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½55 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB24 Sicilian, Closed
16. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½49 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB06 Robatsch
17. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½29 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchB30 Sicilian
18. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½33 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchE17 Queen's Indian
19. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-068 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchC11 French
20. Petrosian vs Spassky 1-041 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
21. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½39 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchC11 French
22. Petrosian vs Spassky 1-035 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchA40 Queen's Pawn Game
23. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-031 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchC11 French
24. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½77 1966 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship MatchE60 King's Indian Defense
 page 1 of 1; 24 games  PGN Download 
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  talisman: as spassky shows petrosian the pick and roll, in petrosian's biddie basketball office, petrosian is heard to say, "did you hear koufax and drysdale are holding out together for more money?".
Mar-03-09  khursh: The term <best> is very vague here. <best> in what? So such lists will always raise debates. I prefer giving different adjectives to players. For example Fischer is the most <surprising> champion for me. No one expected that any chessplayer can play and win like Fischer did. Kasparov is the most <dominant> player, etc.

However, I wish to see a list of bests based on <achievement> + <contribution to chess> + <dominance>.

Mar-03-09  ewan14: How did Petrosian trash Spassky ?
Apr-15-09  alshatranji: "if not to the manor born". Do you mean "not to the manner born"? Or you actually referring to the British sitocm? And what does the phrase actually mean in reference to Spassky?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: The first champion in 32 years to win a match as champion.
Dec-30-09  TheChessGuy: One of my favorite matches for the world crown.
Aug-10-10  rapidcitychess: I'm not one for lists but if I have to:
1: Paul Morphy (Of course!)
2:Jose Capablanca (Another easy one.)
3/4/5:Mischa Tal ( Completly befuddles me.)
3/4/5: David Bronsteim ( Fun player that plays like me, but better.) 3/4/5:Bobby Fischer ( I felt bad about 5th for him.)
6/7: Vladimir Kramnik ( you guys saw it coming from me. Ha ha,) 6/7: Viswanathan Anand ( A good player, I've been a bit hard on him for beating Vlad.) 8: Garry Kasparov ( Close 8th)
9: Alexander Alekhine (Could be the best, if wasn't for that drink.) 10:Karpov ( Old man, still good.)

I left room so you guys can fight over it.
No, really I would like opinions.


Aug-30-10  goldenbear: 1.Lasker 2.Kasparov 3.Alekhine 4.Botvinnik 5.Karpov
Aug-30-10  goldenbear: My five favorite players: 1.Spassky 2.Petrosian 3.Tal 4.Fischer 5.Smyslov
Oct-10-10  chesschampion11: 1.garry kasparov 2.bobby fischer 3.viswanathan anand 4.tigran petrosian 5.mikhail tal
Oct-25-10  abstract: 1.Fischer 2. Kasparov 3. Carlsen 4. Nimzovitch 5. Capablanca 6. Anand 7. Petrosian 8. Mrphy 9. Tal 10.Keres
Premium Chessgames Member
  NM JRousselle: When I build a top 10 list that covers many years, I consider how did any candidate for the list fare against his contemporaries. With that in mind:

1 - Morphy (clearly the #1 by my standards)
2 - Fischer (Remember his candidate run?)
3 - Capablanca (10 years without a loss)

After the top 3, the order gets foggy, but here goes. 4 - Karpov
5 - Kasparov
6 - Lasker
7 - Alekhine
8 - Steinitz (way ahead of his time)
9 - Botvinnik
10 - Keres (won AVRO 1938)

The current batch of players has been deliberately left off this list.

Nov-01-10  Everett: Lasker-Alekhine-Kasparov-Karpov for their excellence over at least two decades each. Anand, for now, is the only other possible addition to this list, being roughly in the top 3 for 15 straight years and counting. Consistency and excellence over time...

For their uniqueness of play, then Tal, Petrosian, Fischer and Karpov's styles are more recognizable then most others, to me at least.

Premium Chessgames Member
  SatelliteDan: According to the chessgames data base, Botvinnik's record in World Championship play he lost 65-72 in the opponents favor. Where he had a even score against Bronstein and the 1st Smyslov match.
Nov-26-11  AnalyzeThis: I think the 1966 Petrosian vs. Spassky match was one of the greatest in world championship play.
Feb-06-12  Penguincw: This match was best of 24 right? And Petrosian, champion, had an edge in that if it ended in a 12-12 tie, he would retain it. Well, after Round 22, he had 12 points. Even if Spassky won the last two games, it would be 12-12, and Petrosian would win. So why didn't it end after R.22?
Premium Chessgames Member
  talisman: <So why didn't it end after R>22?>...Russia.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Bishoprick: There should be a list of top players whose games are just fun to replay. On that list I would place Alekhine,Tal, Nezhmeditov (forgive the spelling), Morphy, Anderson,Bronstein, and Spassky. There may be many better players, but few have provided me with more fun.
Mar-23-12  RookFile: It didn't end when Petrosian had 12 points because there was a possibility that Spassky could win two and make a tie. Yes, Petrosian keeps the title, but in that event the prize money would be distributed evenly. Petrosian made a couple of extra dollars by winning the match instead of tying it.

True, we're not talking about a lot of money in this match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: What a match. Can anyone give me a pointer to the "...sophisticated holding maneuvers..." mentioned in the description?



Dec-21-12  EdZelli: AnalyzeThis says.'I think the 1966 Petrosian vs. Spassky match was one of the greatest in world championship play.'

I agree completely. I believe Spassky was at the peak of his strength in 1966 (even stronger than 1969) having defeated Geller, Keres etc. I don't know how Tigran pulled it off. I love game 7. A true classic. Nimzo's spirit must have been present in the hall when this game was played :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <<RookFile> True, we're not talking about a lot of money in this match.>I heard the winner got 2.500$. This leads me to a pet theory of mine: That the Soviets actively tried to keep prize money in chess at a low level, as to not encouraging players from other (read western) countrys to take up chess on a professional level.
Nov-06-13  jonie: Alekhine (fanatical zeal to win)
Botvinnik (iron logic)
Capablanca (endgame purity)
Tal (intuitive aggressive play)
Fischer (optimistic play)
Kasparov (hybrid pragmatic approach)

these are my 6 greatest players of all time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <Diademas: <<RookFile> ... I heard the winner got 2.500$. This leads me to a pet theory of mine: That the Soviets actively tried to keep prize money in chess at a low level, as to not encouraging players from other (read western) countrys to take up chess on a professional level.>

Makes a lot of sense to me.

I hope all is well in beautiful Bergen!

Nov-06-13  Everett: Botvinnik had more of a chromoly logic. Took a long time to rust.
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