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USSR Championship Tournament

Paul Keres11.5/17(+8 -2 =7)[view games]
Isaac Lipnitsky11/17(+8 -3 =6)[view games]
Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush11/17(+8 -3 =6)[view games]
Lev Aronin11/17(+9 -4 =4)[view games]
Vasily Smyslov10/17(+6 -3 =8)[view games]
Alexander Konstantinopolsky10/17(+5 -2 =10)[view games]
Vladimir Alatortsev9/17(+5 -4 =8)[view games]
Isaac Boleslavsky9/17(+5 -4 =8)[view games]
Efim Geller9/17(+7 -6 =4)[view games]
Salomon Flohr9/17(+5 -4 =8)[view games]
Vladas Mikenas8.5/17(+6 -6 =5)[view games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian8/17(+5 -6 =6)[view games]
Igor Bondarevsky8/17(+4 -5 =8)[view games]
Yuri Averbakh7/17(+4 -7 =6)[view games]
Alexey Suetin6.5/17(+5 -9 =3)[view games]
Georgy Konstantinovich Borisenko6.5/17(+3 -7 =7)[view games]
Alexey Sokolsky4/17(+1 -10 =6)[view games]
Victor Liublinsky4/17(+1 -10 =6)[view games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1950)

The 18th Soviet Chess Championship took place in the capital of Moscow from November 11th to December 11th, 1950. Fifteen of the Soviet Union's best masters and grandmasters qualified from five semi-final tournaments held earlier in the year. Lev Aronin, Victor Liublinsky, and Tigran Petrosian qualified from Gorky; Isaac Lipnitsky, Alexey Sokolsky, and Efim Geller qualified from Kiev; Vladimir Alatortsev, Alexander Tolush, and Igor Bondarevsky qualified from Leningrad; Salomon Flohr, Alexander Konstantinopolsky, and Vladas Mikenas qualified from Tartu; and Yuri Averbakh, Georgy Borisenko, and Alexey Suetin qualified from Tula. Vasily Smyslov was invited as returning Soviet champion, and since both Mikhail Botvinnik and David Bronstein were preparing for their upcoming world championship match in several months, their invitations went to 1947 USSR championship winner Paul Keres and world candidate semi-finalist Isaac Boleslavsky. The round robin event was dedicated in memoriam to the 100th birthday of Mikhail Chigorin. Whereas the field was exceptionally strong (minus Botvinnik and Bronstein) it was surprising that players like Smyslov, Boleslavsky, and Flohr were not as dominant as usual. Long time Soviet players Aronin, Lipnitsky, and Tolush surprised everyone by keeping pace with both Smyslov and Keres. Eventually, Keres and Tolush rose in the second half until they were even in the final round. While Tolush misplayed into the adjournment and had to accept the draw, Keres managed an excellent position and won his resumed game to finish half a point ahead of the next three players, taking the Soviet crown with eleven and a half points out of seventeen for the final. It was the second of what would be three titles for Keres, and a return to form from having finished in the middle of the field in the previous two editions of the Soviet championships.

The final standings and crosstable:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts 1 Keres * 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 11 =2 Lipnitsky * 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 11 =2 Tolush * 0 1 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 11 =2 Aronin 0 0 1 * 0 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 =5 Smyslov 0 1 * 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 10 =5 Konstantinopolsky 1 0 0 * 1 1 1 1 10 =7 Alatortsev 1 1 0 * 0 0 1 1 0 1 9 =7 Boleslavsky 0 0 1 0 1 * 1 1 0 1 9 =7 Geller 0 0 1 1 0 * 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 9 =7 Flohr 0 0 0 0 1 * 1 1 1 1 9 11 Mikenas 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 0 1 1 1 1 8 =12 Petrosian 1 0 1 0 0 0 * 1 0 0 1 1 8 =12 Bondarevsky 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 8 14 Averbakh 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 1 7 =15 Suetin 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 1 0 6 =15 Borisenko 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 * 1 6 =17 Sokolsky 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 * 4 =17 Liublinsky 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 4

This collection would not have been possible without the efforts of <Phony Benoni>.

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1950, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Tolush vs Flohr 1-041 1950 USSR ChampionshipB11 Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4
2. G Borisenko vs V Liublinsky ½-½45 1950 USSR ChampionshipE21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
3. Sokolsky vs Aronin 0-147 1950 USSR ChampionshipB51 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
4. Konstantinopolsky vs Alatortsev ½-½33 1950 USSR ChampionshipC50 Giuoco Piano
5. Suetin vs Petrosian 1-060 1950 USSR ChampionshipC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
6. Geller vs Smyslov ½-½56 1950 USSR ChampionshipD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
7. Bondarevsky vs Averbakh 1-039 1950 USSR ChampionshipD85 Grunfeld
8. V Mikenas vs Boleslavsky  ½-½27 1950 USSR ChampionshipE67 King's Indian, Fianchetto
9. Keres vs Lipnitsky  ½-½41 1950 USSR ChampionshipE02 Catalan, Open, 5.Qa4
10. Alatortsev vs Aronin ½-½35 1950 USSR ChampionshipA67 Benoni, Taimanov Variation
11. Smyslov vs Keres  ½-½23 1950 USSR ChampionshipE02 Catalan, Open, 5.Qa4
12. Konstantinopolsky vs Geller  ½-½19 1950 USSR ChampionshipA48 King's Indian
13. Boleslavsky vs G Borisenko  ½-½28 1950 USSR ChampionshipE35 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation, ed
14. Averbakh vs Suetin 1-033 1950 USSR ChampionshipB62 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
15. Lipnitsky vs Bondarevsky  ½-½42 1950 USSR ChampionshipC61 Ruy Lopez, Bird's Defense
16. Petrosian vs Tolush 1-019 1950 USSR ChampionshipD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
17. Flohr vs V Mikenas 1-037 1950 USSR ChampionshipD02 Queen's Pawn Game
18. V Liublinsky vs Sokolsky  ½-½54 1950 USSR ChampionshipC19 French, Winawer, Advance
19. Bondarevsky vs Smyslov 0-151 1950 USSR ChampionshipE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
20. V Mikenas vs Petrosian 1-041 1950 USSR ChampionshipE67 King's Indian, Fianchetto
21. Aronin vs V Liublinsky 1-041 1950 USSR ChampionshipC77 Ruy Lopez
22. Tolush vs Averbakh 1-047 1950 USSR ChampionshipE00 Queen's Pawn Game
23. G Borisenko vs Flohr 0-133 1950 USSR ChampionshipD21 Queen's Gambit Accepted
24. Geller vs Alatortsev  ½-½27 1950 USSR ChampionshipD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
25. Sokolsky vs Boleslavsky  ½-½28 1950 USSR ChampionshipE19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3
 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-08-13  ughaibu: What on Earth is this nonsense, "some small comfort for being denied a rematch with Botvinnik for the world crown"?
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <ughaibu: What on Earth is this nonsense, "some small comfort for being denied a rematch with Botvinnik for the world crown"?>

I assume a reference to Keres' failure to qualify for a match with Botvinnik at the Candidates' tournament in Budapest that year.

Apr-08-13  ughaibu: But a rematch requires a previous match.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Well, '48 was a match-tournament...
Apr-08-13  ughaibu: Oy! RookFile! Keypusher appears to be insinuating that Reshevsky lost a match to Botvinnik.
Apr-08-13  suenteus po 147: This is my bad. I had '48 match/tournament on the brain when I wrote this intro. It should be apparent by now that I'm not a very good historian. I used quantity to substitute quality.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <suenteus po 147> ughaibu is just being petulant. It's wonderful that you did all these collections. Practically everything ever written could benefit from some editing, but it still has to get written in the first place.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <suenteus> Thanks to the likes of people such as yourself, these collections are created and I appreciate your efforts, same as <keypusher>.

If this work is imperfect in some way, who among us is? Being less than perfect makes us all a bit more human.

As to <ughhaibu>, he is but a cypher.

Apr-08-13  suenteus po 147: <keypusher> & <perfidious> You guys are both really terrific. As Vonnegut would say, you both are the cat's pajamas. I appreciate the support. That being said, there is a better way to write this out. Rather than focus on Keres' win as being consolation for dashed WC dreams, perhaps I can revise this to put the win in context with his achievements and overall level at this point in history.

What can anyone tell me about Keres circa 1950?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: I love the USSR championships game collections! Thanks so much for putting them together.

BTW, Aronin appears with +8 -5 =4 (therefore 10 points) in the standings at the top of the page, but with 11 points (+9 -4 =4) in the crosstable. I took a quick look and I think the crosstable wrongly gives him a win over Mikenas, which was actually a loss. But again, I only took a *very* quick look.

Apr-08-13  suenteus po 147: <Fusilli> If you visit the game page, you will see that it has an incorrect score. The crosstable is correct as is. V Mikenas vs Aronin, 1950
Apr-08-13  ughaibu: Suenteus Po 147: I too am full of gratitude and praise for your dedication to producing such wonderful collections.

About Keres circa 1950; since winning the 1947 USSR Championship, he had finished down the table at Moscow (1947), USSR Championship (1948), FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948) and USSR Championship (1949). So he'd been in something of a slump.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <suenteus> Ah, I see, thanks for clarifying. Cute finale, by the way. I suppose you guys have submitted a correction slip?


Apr-08-13  ughaibu: Keypusher: According to Chessmetrics, the candidates tournament at Budapest was played after this championship.
Apr-09-13  suenteus po 147: <ughaibu> Thanks for your words, and for the info about Keres!

<Fusilli> I submitted a correction slip, though I got the impression that <Phony Benoni> had once already.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <suenteus po 147> I can't remember if I sent in a correction slip or not. And if I had, it would have been four years ago, so it definitely needed to be resubmitted!

<ughaibu> I can't figure out how to look up tournament dates on Chessmetrics, but the Budapest Candidates was held in April-May 1950 and this USSR Championship in November-December 1950.

Apr-09-13  ughaibu: I looked at Keres' "event details" page: The rating for the USSR Championship is given as January 1950 and the Candidates as April.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <ughaibu> Thanks for the link. Apparently, if the exact month of the tournament was not available, it was considered to have been held at the beginning of the year and was rated on the January list. This happens quite a bit with the USSR Championships: for instance, the 1948 Championship (November-December) and 1949 Championship (October-November) are rated on the January lists for those years.

I couldn't say how this affects his statistics, if at all, but it does demonstrate some lack of depth in research. The exact dates for the USSR Championships are not difficult to find.

Apr-09-13  ughaibu: I see. Thanks for the explanation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <suenteus po 147: <ughaibu> Thanks for your words, and for the info about Keres!>

Yes, though occasionally petulant ughaibu is no cypher.

Jun-27-14  jerseybob: Boleslavsky, having narrowly missed qualifying for a match with Botvinnik, may have been in a bit of a funk. It was as close as this great player would ever get.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: This tournament was the triumph of the Soviet 'B-team' -- a group of obscure but obviously very strong Soviet players (Aronin, Tolush, Liptnisky, Konstantinopolsky) keeping pace with Keres, Smyslov, Boleslavsky.

Aronin led through round eight; Smyslov from round eight to round twelve. Lipnitsky led after round thirteen. Then he lost; Keres and Tolush held the lead after round fourteen; Tolush lost to give Keres the lead. Keres lost to Petrosian in the penultimate round, creating a three-way tie between Keres, Tolush, and Aronin. Keres was the only one of the three to win in the last round.

Geller and Petrosian both had inconsistent tournaments but produced a few beautiful games.

Good games from this tournament:

Bondarevsky vs Smyslov, 1950
Boleslavsky vs Aronin, 1950
Lipnitsky vs Tolush, 1950
Alatortsev vs Boleslavsky, 1950
Petrosian vs Aronin, 1950
Boleslavsky vs Flohr, 1950
Lipnitsky vs Aronin, 1950
Aronin vs Geller, 1950
Tolush vs V Mikenas, 1950
Aronin vs Tolush, 1950
Lipnitsky vs Smyslov, 1950
Geller vs Averbakh, 1950
Keres vs Petrosian, 1950
Petrosian vs Bondarevsky, 1950
Averbakh vs Keres, 1950
Bondarevsky vs V Mikenas, 1950

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Article by Voronkov on this site:

In Russian, of course. I use the Google translate extension of the Chrome browser to read the site. It's still a bit incoherent, but the article has a ton of information.

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