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🏆 USSR Championship (1951)

  PARTICIPANTS (sorted by highest achieved rating; click on name to see player's games)
Mikhail Botvinnik, Efim Geller, Paul Keres, Igor Bondarevsky, Nikolai Georgiyevich Kopilov, Isaac Lipnitsky, Alexander Kotov, Lev Aronin, Oleg Leonidovich Moiseev, Vladimir Simagin, Salomon Flohr, Nikolay Novotelnov, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, Vasily Smyslov, Mark Taimanov, David Bronstein, Yuri Averbakh, Evgeny Terpugov

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1951)

The 19th Soviet Chess Championship took place in the capital city of Moscow from November 11 to December 14, 1951. Eighteen of the Soviet Union's strongest players, including the reigning world champion, participated in the round robin event. Fourteen of the players qualified from the semi-final tournaments played earlier in the year. Nikolai Novotelnov, Isaac Lipnitsky, and Mark Taimanov qualified from Baku; Vasily Smyslov, Evgeny Terpugov, Oleg Moiseev, and Nikolai Kopilov qualified from Leningrad; Lev Aronin, Vladimir Simagin, and Salomon Flohr qualified from Lvov; and Tigran Petrosian, Efim Geller, Yuri Averbakh, and Isaac Boleslavsky qualified from Sverdlovsk. Boleslavsky fell ill before the final and was therefore replaced by Igor Bondarevsky, who had placed fifth in the Leningrad semi-final. Four invitations were also sent to Paul Keres as returning Soviet Champion, Mikhail Botvinnik as world champion, David Bronstein as world vice-champion, and Alexander Kotov. The assembled field was the strongest in the history of the USSR championship at that time, which makes it an especially impressive victory for Keres. It was his second consecutive Soviet crown and his third overall. He edged out runners-up Petrosian and Geller by half a point, and finished two full points ahead of world champion Botvinnik, who only managed to finish in fifth place.

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 1 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 12 =2 Petrosian * 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 =2 Geller 0 * 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 4 Smyslov 0 0 1 * 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 11 5 Botvinnik 0 0 * 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 10 =6 Averbakh 1 * 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 9 =6 Bronstein 1 0 0 1 * 1 0 1 0 1 1 9 =6 Taimanov 0 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 1 9 =9 Flohr 1 0 * 0 1 1 0 1 9 =9 Aronin 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 * 1 0 1 1 9 11 Kopilov 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 * 0 1 1 0 1 1 8 =12 Kotov 1 0 0 1 0 1 * 0 1 0 8 =12 Bondarevsky 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 0 1 1 8 14 Simagin 0 0 0 0 0 * 1 1 1 7 =15 Moisieev 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 1 6 =15 Lipnitsky 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 * 1 6 17 Novotelnov 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 * 3 18 Terpugov 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 * 2

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1951, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Bronstein vs Kotov 0-1661951USSR ChampionshipA54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
2. Petrosian vs N Kopilov 0-1341951USSR ChampionshipE43 Nimzo-Indian, Fischer Variation
3. Simagin vs Aronin  ½-½301951USSR ChampionshipE61 King's Indian
4. Keres vs E Terpugov 1-0221951USSR ChampionshipD07 Queen's Gambit Declined, Chigorin Defense
5. Lipnitsky vs Averbakh  1-0421951USSR ChampionshipA27 English, Three Knights System
6. Novotelnov vs Bondarevsky 0-1391951USSR ChampionshipD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
7. Flohr vs Taimanov  ½-½281951USSR ChampionshipA15 English
8. Smyslov vs Geller 1-0481951USSR ChampionshipB26 Sicilian, Closed, 6.Be3
9. Botvinnik vs O Moiseev 1-0571951USSR ChampionshipE45 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Bronstein (Byrne) Variation
10. Averbakh vs Bronstein 0-1421951USSR ChampionshipB93 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.f4
11. Taimanov vs E Terpugov 1-0371951USSR ChampionshipD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
12. Kotov vs Novotelnov  1-0371951USSR ChampionshipE34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
13. Geller vs Simagin 1-0321951USSR ChampionshipD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
14. N Kopilov vs Keres 1-0591951USSR ChampionshipB32 Sicilian
15. O Moiseev vs Lipnitsky  ½-½301951USSR ChampionshipE02 Catalan, Open, 5.Qa4
16. Aronin vs Petrosian 1-0391951USSR ChampionshipC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
17. Flohr vs Botvinnik ½-½811951USSR ChampionshipD14 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
18. Bondarevsky vs Smyslov  ½-½621951USSR ChampionshipD94 Grunfeld
19. Keres vs Aronin 1-0631951USSR ChampionshipB62 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer
20. Lipnitsky vs Flohr  ½-½341951USSR ChampionshipB17 Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation
21. Petrosian vs Geller  ½-½231951USSR ChampionshipE92 King's Indian
22. Smyslov vs Kotov  ½-½671951USSR ChampionshipB85 Sicilian, Scheveningen, Classical
23. Simagin vs Bondarevsky  ½-½201951USSR ChampionshipD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
24. Novotelnov vs Averbakh 0-1311951USSR ChampionshipE08 Catalan, Closed
25. E Terpugov vs N Kopilov  ½-½491951USSR ChampionshipA43 Old Benoni
 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
Aug-18-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: This was Kopylov's only participation in a USSR Championship final tournament. Although he finished 11th, he did have the satisfaction of defeating tournament winner Keres, =2nd place finisher Geller and the current World Champion Botvinnik.
Jul-01-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Funny to see Keres, Petrosian, and Geller bunched together at the top of the cross-table. Eleven years later at Curacao they were bunched together almost exactly the same way - except there it was Petrosian who finished half a point above the other two.
Dec-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sokrates: A magnificent victory by Keres, who didn't have sunny days under the Soviet regime. I think this was his renaissance after having been in a deep cellar of depression in the second half of the 1940s. We shall never learn what Paul Keres could have achieved if he was not forced to live in the Soviet. Well, the same could be said for many others. Only a few, primarily Botvinnik, Petrosian and Karpov were favoured by the regime.
Jun-26-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: The tournament was also a zonal for the 1951-54 Candidates cycle. Botvinnik, Bronstein, Keres, and Smyslov were already seeded into the Candidates tournament. Geller, Petrosian, Taimanov, and Averbakh qualified for the Interzonal. The Soviet Union had a fifth spot - which would have gone to Lev Aronin if he had won his last-round game (Aronin vs Smyslov, 1951) - but instead of organizing a tiebreak between Flohr and Aronin, they 'socially promoted' Kotov, who wasn't even close to qualifying but was a member of the Sports Committee -- and justified his rather corrupt qualification by making a record score at the Interzonal. It's a really sad story for Aronin -- who apparently never got over the setback.

This tournament is right up there as one of Keres' greatest achievements. He played smooth, attractive chess, overcame a couple of early defeats, went 4.5/5 down the stretch, and cold-bloodedly won a tough last-round game against Taimanov. He was pretty clearly the best player in the world in 1951 -- and made such an impression that the Soviet grandmasters orchestrated a remarkable coup: they dumped Botvinnik, the reigning world champion, from board one on the 1952 Olympiad team, with the rationale that his recent results hadn't been anywhere close to Keres'.

It's interesting to think about Geller and Petrosian playing as a pair. They don't seem to have much in common stylistically or temperamentally -- but rose up through the ranks at exactly the same time.

Kopilov was definitely the tournament wild card.

Good games from this tournament:

Bronstein vs Kotov, 1951
Smyslov vs Bronstein, 1951
Botvinnik vs Geller, 1951
Smyslov vs Keres, 1951
Geller vs Keres, 1951
Keres vs Taimanov, 1951
Kotov vs Geller, 1951
Petrosian vs Smyslov, 1951
E Terpugov vs Petrosian, 1951
N Kopilov vs Bondarevsky, 1951

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