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Petrosian vs Spassky 1969
Moscow

 Petrosian and Spassky
 The second encounter, 1969
In 1969, Tigran Petrosian was due to defend his title, once again against Boris Spassky.

Would Boris fare better the second time around? Here is what ex-champion Vassily Smyslov predicted before the match:

The World Champion has penetrated deeper perhaps than anyone into the secrets of positional manoeuvring. He is finely sensitive to all the nuances of the struggle on the chess board. Who will win: Petrosian or Spassky? It is hard to say. I wish to make just one remark. There is a Russian saying: "Repetition is the mother of understanding." In 1954 I could not win the crown from Botvinnik, but three years later I succeeded in doing so. Why should not Spassky also do the same? He has every ground for achieving it.[1]

The match took place in Moscow between April 14 and June 17, 1969. After 23 games, Boris Spassky was crowned the 10th World Chess Champion.

click on a game number to replay game 1234567891011121314151617181920212223
Spassky0½½11½½1½00½½½½½1½101½½
Petrosian1½½00½½0½11½½½½½0½010½½

FINAL SCORE:  Spassky 12½;  Petrosian 10½
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Petrosian-Spassky 1969]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #19     Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969     1-0
    · Game #5     Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969     1-0
    · Game #11     Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969     0-1

FOOTNOTES
1. The World Chess Championships by Graeme Cree

 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Spassky vs Petrosian 0-156 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchB42 Sicilian, Kan
2. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½61 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
3. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½43 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchB36 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto
4. Petrosian vs Spassky 0-141 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
5. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-030 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
6. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½47 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
7. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½27 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD19 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch
8. Petrosian vs Spassky 0-144 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
9. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½65 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchA56 Benoni Defense
10. Petrosian vs Spassky 1-038 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchE47 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3
11. Spassky vs Petrosian 0-156 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchE12 Queen's Indian
12. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½49 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
13. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½25 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchC42 Petrov Defense
14. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½56 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
15. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½19 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchC42 Petrov Defense
16. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½31 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
17. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-058 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchB42 Sicilian, Kan
18. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½59 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
19. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-024 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchB94 Sicilian, Najdorf
20. Petrosian vs Spassky 1-050 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
21. Spassky vs Petrosian 1-053 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
22. Petrosian vs Spassky ½-½31 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. Spassky vs Petrosian ½-½41 1969 Petrosian-Spassky World Championship RematchB48 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
 page 1 of 1; 23 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-29-08  positionalgenius: Alot of very good games in tis match
Apr-29-08  Petrosianic: <Poor Tigran, he lost his title on his 40th birthday....not a nice present.>

Well, he could have taken his final time-out (which people expected him to do) but he faced the music and didn't keep Spassky waiting.

Mar-02-09  Open Defence: In the photograph above Spassky looks very confident, Its pure speculation but perhaps he must have overcome any self doubt he had the last time around

if you look at that photograph there is no doubt the Champion is Spassky

I got a simmilar feeling looking at a photograph of Karpov vs Spassky in the candidates... there I had the feeling that Karpov was the man

Mar-02-09  Dredge Rivers: Back in the Summer of '69!
Aug-11-09  WhiteRook48: and then comes '72: Fischer
Aug-15-09  kooley782: If Spassky had not agreed to all Fischer's demands, he would have remained World Champion, which was the reasonable conclusion. But he was a good sportsman-he agreed to the demands and ended up losing his title for it. But he was a good sport. It's a shame he had to forfeit his title for Fischer's demands. He is one of my favorite players, along with Mikhail Tal.
Aug-15-09  AnalyzeThis: You mean where they couldn't use cameras? Spassky didn't give a hoot about those.

There was another reason why Spassky lost the title.

It was that Fischer was a stronger player.

Aug-16-09  kooley782: Fischer of course was a much stronger player. I agree with that.
Aug-25-09  kooley782: After some thought, I have to disagree. Spassky was either equal to or better than Fischer. I can't help but believe that Fischer was simply scared to death of his opponent and tried to rattle him using all these demands. The bad thing is it worked. Spassky should have won.

A way to prove my point is that Fischer never actually defeated Spassky until their World Championship, and only after Fischer had demanded all these things be changed.

Aug-25-09  dx9293: I think Fischer only became stronger than Spassky during the 1971 Candidates Matches, and even then not so much stronger.

If I was Spassky, I would have definitely laughed at Fischer's demands and gone home with my crown.

Either Fischer would have to come down with his demands (not a certainty!), or I guess we would have seen Spassky-Petrosian III. Petrosian's best days were behind him by 1972 (meaning that he was "only" a Top 5 player!) and Spassky could have held onto his crown for ANOTHER 3 years at least.

The thing is, Spassky even got another chance to leave, after Fischer forfeited Game 2! Here he was up 2-0 in the match and no one would have blamed Spassky for walking out.

Instead, Spassky let down his guard and Fischer began to gain confidence, winning the match. Spassky still won the 1973 Soviet Championship SuperFinal but was eliminated in the '74 Candidates and a few years later left the USSR for France.

So Spassky taught contemporary players well, most of all Fischer: when you are the Champion, don't risk playing unless you absolutely have to play!

Aug-25-09  AnalyzeThis: <kooley782: Fischer of course was a much stronger player. I agree with that. >

<kooley782: After some thought, I have to disagree. Spassky was either equal to or better than Fischer. >

Lol. Thanks for your analysis.

Aug-25-09  Petrosianic: <After some thought, I have to disagree. Spassky was either equal to or better than Fischer.>

Depends when you're talking about. In the 60's, yeah, Spassky and Petrosian were both better than Fischer. In the 70's, no. Fischer had passed them by.

<I can't help but believe that Fischer was simply scared to death of his opponent and tried to rattle him using all these demands.>

Then you don't know Fischer very well. He wasn't afraid of this opponent or that one, he was afraid of ALL of them. Or, you could say he was afraid of himself failing to deliver 100%. You could plausibly argue that he was afraid of Spassky, but do you think he was afraid of his US opponents? Ridiculous, right? But fear of losing the title is the reason he stopped playing in the US Championship. Eleven rounds was too short. He might have a bad game or two and not be able to catch up.

<The bad thing is it worked. Spassky should have won.>

How do you figure? Spassky was in pretty poor form, especially in the early part of the match. Tell me the games he should have won that he didn't. Game 14, okay. 15 maybe (though he could have lost that one too). Some might say 19, but I've never seen the win and don't believe it's there. But even if we give him all three of those games, he still loses.

I'm afraid Boris had caught a thing called Champion's Disease. It happens to most champions after they climb Olympus, and affects their results. If you'll take a look at not just the Fischer-Spassky match, but ALL of Spassky's results since early 1969, you'll see the beginnings of a decline.

Of course Fischer caught Champion's Disease worse than any of the others, but that's another story...

Aug-25-09  dx9293: <Champion's Disease> Yes, Botvinnik and Petrosian had it and, going further back, so did Alekhine! He was "scared to death" of a rematch with Capablanca.

It is interesting that Euwe, often considered one of the weakest Champions, did not shy away from defending his title against Alekhine. Kasparov also did not make it easy to play "World Championship" matches against him (see Shirov, Ponomariov).

Aug-25-09  AnalyzeThis: Euwe was considered the favorite going into the rematch with Alekhine.
Aug-26-09  Petrosianic: <Yes, Botvinnik and Petrosian had it and, going further back, so did Alekhine! He was "scared to death" of a rematch with Capablanca.>

That's probably true, although I'd consider that Alekhine caught Champion's Disease less badly than most champions. Apart from the blemish of avoiding a rematch, the quality of his play <improved> markedly after he won the title. The same thing happened to Karpov.

Champion's Disease usually results from the feeling that one has nothing left to prove after winning the title. But probably neither Karpov nor Alekhine felt that way. Karpov wanted to prove he was a worthy champion, despite being unable to face his predecessor, and Alekhine wanted to prove he was worthy despite being unwilling to play a rematch with his.

<It is interesting that Euwe, often considered one of the weakest Champions, did not shy away from defending his title against Alekhine.>

Part of that was a matter of honor. In fact, I find it amazing that Euwe was able to win at all, when his mindset was so totally geared towards bending over backwards to accommodate his opponent. The only real parallel is Spassky in 1972. It's not easy to work so hard to help your opponent and concentrate on fighting him at the same time. But Euwe managed to do it. Extraordinary.

By 1937 though, Euwe might have been overconfident. He'd finished above Alekhine in all the tournaments they'd played in since the first match, and probably the talk was that Alekhine was washed up. 1937 showed that he wasn't washed up, to the contrary, he'd dried out (yuck, yuck, yuck).

Oct-06-09  The Rocket: "By 1937 though, Euwe might have been overconfident. He'd finished above Alekhine in all the tournaments they'd played in since the first match, and probably the talk was that Alekhine was washed up."

That is actually correct beliave it or not according to one of my old books Euwe was at the time the favourite in the rematch against Alekhine in 1937 and it was concidered somewhat of a suprise that Alekhine regained the titel.

Oct-07-09  AnalyzeThis: It's too bad. Let's say Euwe beats Alekhine in the rematch. Up until the last few games of the match, this was possible, until Euwe fell apart. Then there would have been a second Euwe vs. Capablanca match.

I really respect Euwe's fighting spirit - the man certainly didn't run away from playing the tough matches, against anybody.

Apr-24-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <dx9293: <Champion's Disease>

It is interesting that Euwe, often considered one of the weakest Champions, did not shy away from defending his title against Alekhine.>

My understanding was that Euwe was contractually obligated to the rematch - AA stipulated a return match in order for Euwe to get the original title shot.

Jun-03-11  AVRO38: <I still don't understand why in games 17 and 19 Petrosian switched to playing the Sicilian. After 16 games, the score was level and Petrosian only needed to draw the match in order to retain the title.>

Petrosian probably realized that with the match moving into it's final phase Spassky would not allow another Petrov and would probably play the lethal King's Gambit, a Spassky specialty.

With this in mind, Petrosian opted to try and repeat his win in the first game, but Spassky was ready for him.

Jan-24-14  RookFile: The lethal King's Gambit? I supposed that Petrosian might have laughed himself to death.
Jan-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: From Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969

<perfidious: In reference to game 17, followed by this effort, the following was once written: 'It is the author's thesis that if Petrosian had retained the nerve to bore his audiences (by playing the Petrov <perfidy>), he might have retained his world championship'.>

Jan-24-14  RookFile: This game is probably a reasonable approximation of a Spassky vs. Petrosian King's Gambit:

Bronstein vs Petrosian, 1963

Jan-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  WCC Editing Project: <Petrosianic>

In response to this post-

<It is interesting that Euwe, often considered one of the weakest Champions, did not shy away from defending his title against Alekhine.>

You wrote:

<"Part of that was a matter of honor. In fact, I find it amazing that Euwe was able to win at all, when his mindset was so totally geared towards <<<bending over backwards to accommodate his opponent.>>> The only real parallel is Spassky in 1972. It's not easy to work so hard to help your opponent and concentrate on fighting him at the same time. But Euwe managed to do it. Extraordinary.">

Just in case you or others didn't know this, Euwe agreeing to a rematch against Alekhine in 1937 was more than just a "matter of honor," as you characterize it. It was actually a matter of contractual obligation.

<Alekhine> had a contractual right to this rematch, should he lose to <Euwe> in 1935 and wish to challenge for a rematch.

The contract for <Alekhine-Euwe> 1935 world championship match stipulated that <Alekhine> had the right to a return match provided he

1. Challenge within 1 year

2. Deposit a stake of approximately 2,000 pounds

Source:

"Times" (17 Oct 1935), p.8. In Leonard Skinner and Robert Verhoeven, "Alexander Alekhine's Chess Games 1902-1946" (MacFarland 1998), p.534

Jan-24-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: <RookFile: The lethal King's Gambit? I supposed that Petrosian might have laughed himself to death.>

I don't think anyone laughed when Spassky played it. In his career Spaasky had only one loss with the KG (and that was in a simul).

(I did a search on Spassky c30-c39 neat feature)

Jan-24-14  RookFile: Well, Spassky knew when not to play it, too. He had his chances in this match and didn't.
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