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USSR Championship Tournament

Mikhail Tal14/21(+9 -2 =10)[games]
Paul Keres13.5/21(+8 -2 =11)[games]
David Bronstein13.5/21(+9 -3 =9)[games]
Boris Spassky13/21(+7 -2 =12)[games]
Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush13/21(+10 -5 =6)[games]
Ratmir Kholmov12.5/21(+6 -2 =13)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi12/21(+6 -3 =12)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian12/21(+7 -4 =10)[games]
Isaac Boleslavsky11.5/21(+4 -2 =15)[games]
Lev Aronin11/21(+6 -5 =10)[games]
Mark Taimanov11/21(+5 -4 =12)[games]
Semyon Abramovich Furman10/21(+5 -6 =10)[games]
Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov9.5/21(+5 -7 =9)[games]
Anatolij Bannik9.5/21(+3 -5 =13)[games]
Konstantin Klaman9.5/21(+6 -8 =7)[games]
Vladimir Antoshin9/21(+5 -8 =8)[games]
Efim Samoilovich Stoliar8.5/21(+3 -7 =11)[games]
Vladas Mikenas8/21(+5 -10 =6)[games]
Bukhuti Gurgenidze7.5/21(+5 -11 =5)[games]
Abram Khasin7.5/21(+3 -9 =9)[games]
Vitaly Georgievich Tarasov7.5/21(+3 -9 =9)[games]
Lev Aronson7.5/21(+4 -10 =7)[games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1957)

The 24th Soviet Chess Championship took place in Moscow from January 20th to February 22nd, 1957. (1) The championship was held in a theater attended by hundreds, and followed by radio. The championship was significant due in large part to the debut of Mikhail Tal to international chess attention. His "sacrificial style" made a strong impression not only on the grandmasters at the event but around the world as well. The success of his style of play earned him first place among the very best in the Soviet Union with 14/21 at the final.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts 1 Tal * 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 14 =2 Keres 0 * 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 13 =2 Bronstein 0 * 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 13 =4 Spassky 1 * 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 13 =4 Tolush 0 0 1 * 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 13 6 Kholmov 1 * 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 12 =7 Korchnoi * 1 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 12 =7 Petrosian 0 1 0 * 1 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 12 9 Boleslavsky 1 0 0 * 1 1 1 11 =10 Aronin 0 0 1 1 * 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 11 =10 Taimanov 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 1 1 0 11 12 Furman 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 1 0 0 1 10 =13 Nezhmetdinov 1 0 1 0 0 * 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 9 =13 Bannik 0 0 1 1 0 * 1 0 0 9 =13 Klaman 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 * 0 1 1 1 9 16 Antoshin 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 * 0 1 1 1 9 17 Stoliar 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 1 8 18 Mikenas 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 * 1 0 0 0 8 =19 Gurgenidze 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 * 1 1 0 7 =19 Khasin 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 * 1 0 7 =19 Tarasov 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 * 7 =19 Aronson 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 1 * 7

(1) Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov, The Soviet Championships (Cadogan 1998), pp. 92-95.

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1957, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 80  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. K Klaman vs Spassky 1-0761957USSR ChampionshipC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
2. E S Stoliar vs A Khasin  1-0321957USSR ChampionshipA26 English
3. Tolush vs Bronstein 1-0381957USSR ChampionshipA40 Queen's Pawn Game
4. Spassky vs Keres 1-0461957USSR ChampionshipE31 Nimzo-Indian, Leningrad, Main line
5. Bronstein vs L Aronson  1-0401957USSR ChampionshipD02 Queen's Pawn Game
6. Antoshin vs Gurgenidze 1-0781957USSR ChampionshipE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
7. Furman vs E S Stoliar  1-0411957USSR ChampionshipE55 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, Bronstein Variation
8. Petrosian vs Taimanov 1-0421957USSR ChampionshipE80 King's Indian, Samisch Variation
9. Tal vs Bronstein 1-0461957USSR ChampionshipD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
10. Petrosian vs E S Stoliar  1-0481957USSR ChampionshipE12 Queen's Indian
11. Spassky vs Gurgenidze 1-0291957USSR ChampionshipE46 Nimzo-Indian
12. Aronin vs Furman  1-0411957USSR ChampionshipC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
13. L Aronson vs Nezhmetdinov 1-0341957USSR ChampionshipE75 King's Indian, Averbakh, Main line
14. Tolush vs Antoshin 1-0331957USSR ChampionshipC16 French, Winawer
15. Keres vs Boleslavsky 1-0301957USSR ChampionshipB65 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...Be7 Defense, 9...Nxd4
16. Gurgenidze vs A Khasin 1-0801957USSR ChampionshipA07 King's Indian Attack
17. A Khasin vs V Tarasov  1-0401957USSR ChampionshipE61 King's Indian
18. Nezhmetdinov vs Tal 1-0321957USSR ChampionshipC17 French, Winawer, Advance
19. Antoshin vs L Aronson  1-0501957USSR ChampionshipE75 King's Indian, Averbakh, Main line
20. L Aronson vs V Mikenas  1-0411957USSR ChampionshipB32 Sicilian
21. Kholmov vs A Khasin 1-0341957USSR ChampionshipA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
22. Bronstein vs Nezhmetdinov 1-0361957USSR ChampionshipC76 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, Fianchetto Variation
23. Boleslavsky vs V Tarasov  1-0381957USSR ChampionshipC75 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
24. Spassky vs L Aronson 1-0371957USSR ChampionshipA66 Benoni
25. Bronstein vs V Mikenas 1-0311957USSR ChampionshipD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 4; games 1-25 of 80  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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Kibitzer's Corner
May-11-14  notyetagm: USSR Championship (1957)

Tal's last round (21) win that secured the championship for him:

Tal vs Tolush, 1957

May-11-14  waustad: Can you really picture getting this many players this good to play a 21 round tournament? Not this century.
May-12-14  notyetagm: <waustad: Can you really picture getting this many players this good to play a 21 round tournament? Not this century.>

Yeah, that's a *lot* of games. ;-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: What a lineup! Maybe not so voluntary, as certain obligations must be met to keep one's stipend from the state. Break the rules, and you could lose your apartment too, back in the day.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: Actually, there was no requirement to compete in the national championship until after Fischer became world champion. That's when they decided that maybe top players skipping the championship was making them too soft.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Ok, nothing "official", but a nudge from a local party apparatchik meant you play, or you might have stuff taken away from you.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Petrosianic: But no evidence that it happened. Pre-Fischer, a lot of top players did skip out on the big one. In all the years the Soviets held the title, a reigning world champion only won three times. But if you look at the early 70's tournaments, you'll start to see names that hadn't been around in a while, because they were starting to crack down.

Actually, a lot of top players have this disease. Anand hasn't won the Indian Championship since the 1980's. Larsen went years without playing in a Danish Championship. I'm not sure if Kramnik has ever been Russian Champion, or when Topalov last played in the Bulgarian Championship.

Apr-05-15  A.T PhoneHome: Yes, many times Soviet Union's best skipped USSR Championships in order to rest and prepare for international tournaments, but not until mid 60's. I think that up to mid 60's the very best Soviet players competed regularly in their national championships. Notable is Botvinnik's absence starting from 1952 USSR Championship victory after which he participated in 1955 USSR Championship, but his next (and last) participation would be 12 years later in 1967. As it is, he had to play World Championship matches in 1954, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961 and finally in 1963 which obviously lowered his participation rate.

The introduction of Candidates Matches in 1965 is when top-flight Soviets started to skip USSR Championships for obvious reasons as many of them reached those said matches. Considering how strong field Soviets had always had, it would've been absurd for Soviet government to decline their entries in favour of USSR Championships.

- Amsterdam Interzonal (1964) produced five(!) Soviet entries to Candidates Matches and this cycle lasted from 1964 to 1966

- Sousse Interzonal (1967) produced four(!) Soviet entries to Candidates Matches, including last cycle's finalists Boris Spassky and Mikhail Tal and this cycle lasted from 1967 to 1969

- Palma Interzonal (1970) produced four(!) Soviet entries to Candidates Matches, including last cycle's final runner-up Viktor Korchnoi and dethroned World Champion Tigran Petrosian

Next was 1973 USSR Championship; the first to mandate participation. However, even when it was "strongly advised" to participate, I think that it didn't differ much from previous USSR Championships mainly because the field was pretty much the same, with the young blood of course so the effect of forced participation may be a bit exaggerated.

It would be really nice to pin medals on Fischer's chest but this one he won't receive. Mind you, he might be relieved due to excessive breathing difficulty stemming from carrying lots of medals on his chest!

Apr-06-15  Howard: The 1964 interzonal actually could have resulted in seven Soviets (and Larsen) making the Candidates, except for a rule back then limiting the number of players from one country (i.e., the Soviet Union !) to five.

That rule also came into play in the 1962 interzonal, in Stockholm. In that event, six Soviets normally would have made the Candidates...but there was only room for five.

Apr-06-15  A.T PhoneHome: For some reason I don't think that having five out of eight Candidates as Soviets in place of seven out of eight was much of a comfort for Western chess nations. :P But I didn't consider those facts, thank you for sharing <Howard>!

The introduction of those matches is the main reason for top-level absentees which just meant that there were more debutants and it presented a great opportunity to bring in more young and new Soviet stars. I don't think this new situation was perceived in negative light in Soviet Union and "being forced to play" only applied for 1973 and maybe 1991 USSR Championship.

Apr-06-15  Howard: Back in the day when the Soviet Union ruled over chess, the quip was sometimes made that for any Soviet grandmaster who wanted to become world champion, the "hardest" part was qualifying from the Soviet zonal tournament, every three years. After that, it'd be a "downhill" road from there as far as becoming world champion.

Translated, that means....the Soviet zonal every three years was such a super-strong tournament that even some of the very top Soviet players simply couldn't advance to the interzonal from that point---there was only room for a limited number of Soviet qualfiers. Thus, many exceptionally strong Soviet players had to watch the interzonal and Candidates competition from the sidelines.

Spassky, for example, made it to the 1956 Candidates tournament, at the age of only 19....but then the next two cycles after that, he slipped at crucial moments in the Soviet zonal, and didn't make the interzonal again until 1964.

Apr-06-15  A.T PhoneHome: Leonid Stein is someone I would've loved to see playing for the title. His USSR Championship debut was remarkable! He certainly took no favours from others, playing with confidence and strong will.

As for Spassky I think it's good he had those slips just so he would listen to someone and do some studying. Obviously it worked for him even though it never meant he was going to eat books for breakfast. :P but he worked a bit for his mid-60's successes and I don't think he regrets that decision today.

Of course it was hard; if you failed, another three years. And there was no way there wouldn't be a new bunch of Soviet youngsters pressing you 100%. And, three years waiting may put one in doubt which I think happened more than once because it's natural.

Oct-14-15  Howard: Tal's victory in this event was one of the reasons why FIDE awarded him the grandmaster title even though Tal had technically not made any grandmaster norms in international tournaments yet. In other words, FIDE made an exception in his case.

If anyone thought that that exception was not warranted, they probably would have reconsidered when Tal won the 1958 Soviet championship the following year--and that tournament was tougher than the 1958 edition !

Apr-05-16  Howard: Oops---slight typo on my part. I meant that the 1958 edition was tougher than the 1957 one, not the "1958".

Little wonder--1958 was a zonal year.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Is the book that Peter Clarke wrote on this Championship available somewhere?
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Benzol> UC-Los Angeles Library has a copy:

Not even Amazon has a copy:

Not looking good otherwise:

Maybe time to brush up on your Russian in order to read the original?

(I'm assuming such an original exists)


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Maybe here (for $36):


Premium Chessgames Member

(White to move after 30...Kh8-h7)

click for larger view

1q4r1 /3Q1Npk/p6p/1p5N/8/7P/Pn3PP1/6K1 w - - 0 1

<Tal, Mikhail -- Antoshin, Vladimir S
Moskou ch-URS (1) Moskou ch-URS
1957.01 1/2-1/2 C92e>

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Benzol> aren't you in Australia?


Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <zanzibar> I'm across "The Ditch" in New Zealand.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <zanzibar> Thanks for your efforts in trying to find it. Maybe Ray Keene will do a reissue sometime in the future.


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Benzol> I wonder if we can find the Russian version of the tb somewhere online. Hmmm.
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