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USSR Championship Tournament

Ratmir Kholmov12/19(+6 -1 =12)[games]
Boris Spassky12/19(+5 -0 =14)[games]
Leonid Stein12/19(+6 -1 =12)[games]
David Bronstein11.5/19(+7 -3 =9)[games]
Alexey Suetin11.5/19(+8 -4 =7)[games]
Efim Geller11.5/19(+5 -1 =13)[games]
Eduard Gufeld11/19(+6 -3 =10)[games]
Lev Polugaevsky11/19(+5 -2 =12)[games]
Aivars Gipslis10.5/19(+5 -3 =11)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi10/19(+4 -3 =12)[games]
Vladimir Bagirov9.5/19(+4 -4 =11)[games]
Iivo Nei9/19(+4 -5 =10)[games]
Yuri Averbakh9/19(+3 -4 =12)[games]
Semyon Abramovich Furman8.5/19(+3 -5 =11)[games]
Mark Taimanov8.5/19(+4 -6 =9)[games]
Janis Yanovich Klovans7.5/19(+4 -8 =7)[games]
Alexander Zakharov7/19(+3 -8 =8)[games]
Igor Bondarevsky6.5/19(+2 -8 =9)[games]
Arkady Novopashin6.5/19(+3 -9 =7)[games]
Viacheslav Osnos5/19(+2 -11 =6)[games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1963)

The 31st Soviet Chess Championship was held in the city of Leningrad from November 23 to December 27, 1963. Twenty of the Soviet Union's strongest masters and grandmasters competed in the round robin event, with only two notable absences: the newly crowned world champion Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian and the newly deposed Mikhail Botvinnik. As usual, the field was composed chiefly of players who had qualified from the Soviet semi-finals held earlier in the year: Viacheslav Osnos, Boris Spassky, Alexey Suetin, and Igor Bondarevsky qualified from Kharkov; Lev Polugaevsky, Iivo Nei, Arkady Novopashin, and Alexander Zakharov qualified from Moscow; Ratmir Kholmov, Leonid Stein, Eduard Gufeld, and Semyon Furman qualified from Sverdlovsk; and Aivars Gipslis, Vladimir Bagirov, David Bronstein, and Janis Klovans qualified from Alma-Ata. Four invitations were also granted to former Soviet champions: Mark Taimanov, Viktor Korchnoi (the defending titleholder), Efim Geller, and Yuri Averbakh. The evenly matched field saw a three-way tie for first by the final, which was followed by a playoff from which Leonid Stein emerged as the champion. It was the first of what would be three Soviet crowns for Stein, and signaled his arrival as one of the world's strongest players.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 Pts =1 Kholmov * 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 12 =1 Spassky * 1 1 1 1 1 12 =1 Stein 1 * 0 1 1 1 1 1 12 =4 Suetin 0 * 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 11 =4 Geller * 0 1 1 1 1 1 11 =4 Bronstein 0 * 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 =7 Gufeld 0 1 1 * 0 1 1 0 1 1 11 =7 Polugaevsky 0 1 * 0 1 1 1 1 11 9 Gipslis 0 0 1 * 1 0 1 1 1 10 10 Korchnoi 1 1 0 * 0 0 1 1 10 11 Bagirov 0 1 0 0 1 * 0 1 1 9 =12 Nei 0 0 0 1 1 * 0 1 0 1 9 =12 Averbakh 0 0 0 1 * 0 1 1 9 =14 Furman 0 0 * 0 1 0 1 0 1 8 =14 Taimanov 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 * 0 1 8 16 Klovans 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 * 1 1 0 7 17 Zakharov 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 * 0 0 7 =18 Bondarevsky 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 6 =18 Novopashin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 * 1 6 20 Osnos 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 * 5

Playoff (in 1964):

1 Stein ** 1 2 2 Spassky 0 ** 1 2 3 Kholmov 0 ** 1

This collection would not have been possible without the work and time of <Phony Benoni>. He has my eternal gratitude.

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1963, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 8; games 1-25 of 196  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Bagirov vs A Novopashin ½-½411963USSR ChampionshipC50 Giuoco Piano
2. Suetin vs Bronstein 1-0591963USSR ChampionshipB17 Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation
3. Gufeld vs V Osnos  ½-½341963USSR ChampionshipB63 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack
4. I Nei vs Taimanov  ½-½451963USSR ChampionshipE92 King's Indian
5. Gipslis vs Averbakh  ½-½331963USSR ChampionshipB77 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
6. Furman vs Bondarevsky 1-0521963USSR ChampionshipD42 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 7.Bd3
7. Korchnoi vs Stein  ½-½411963USSR ChampionshipE83 King's Indian, Samisch
8. Geller vs Spassky  ½-½271963USSR ChampionshipC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
9. Kholmov vs Klovans 1-0361963USSR ChampionshipC72 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 5.O-O
10. Polugaevsky vs A Zakharov ½-½581963USSR ChampionshipE91 King's Indian
11. A Zakharov vs I Nei  0-1451963USSR ChampionshipC88 Ruy Lopez
12. V Osnos vs Kholmov  ½-½221963USSR ChampionshipE19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3
13. Bronstein vs Bagirov 0-1461963USSR ChampionshipB03 Alekhine's Defense
14. Taimanov vs Geller 0-1381963USSR ChampionshipD23 Queen's Gambit Accepted
15. A Novopashin vs Korchnoi ½-½231963USSR ChampionshipB43 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3
16. Klovans vs Suetin  ½-½251963USSR ChampionshipB49 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
17. Stein vs Polugaevsky  ½-½291963USSR ChampionshipB42 Sicilian, Kan
18. Furman vs Gipslis  ½-½381963USSR ChampionshipE48 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5
19. Bondarevsky vs Spassky ½-½211963USSR ChampionshipD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
20. Averbakh vs Gufeld  ½-½251963USSR ChampionshipB32 Sicilian
21. I Nei vs Stein  ½-½411963USSR ChampionshipE93 King's Indian, Petrosian System
22. Geller vs A Zakharov  1-0411963USSR ChampionshipD25 Queen's Gambit Accepted
23. Spassky vs Taimanov  ½-½191963USSR ChampionshipA46 Queen's Pawn Game
24. Gufeld vs Furman  ½-½271963USSR ChampionshipB44 Sicilian
25. Kholmov vs Averbakh  ½-½841963USSR ChampionshipC85 Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation Doubly Deferred (DERLD)
 page 1 of 8; games 1-25 of 196  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-10-16  Everett: <A.T PhoneHome: People always talk how Soviets draw against each other at international events; apparently Fischer made them scared or something. Looking at this tournament's standings I'd say Fischer has nothing to do with it! >

Every Russian school-boy knows that to play every game like it's your last is a sure-fire way to go crazy.

Apr-10-16  Howard: What are you studying in school, ATPhoneHome ? Still going over Spassky's games ?
Apr-10-16  Howard: There are at least a few notable exceptions to the notions of the Soviets' "drawing each other at international events"----here are two I still recall from 1979.

At Montreal 1979 Spassky was completely shut out by the other two Soviets (Karpov and Tal) by a 0-4 score !

Then, later that year, Tal beat all four of his Soviet colleagues at the Riga interzonal, 4-0. In fact, he played them all in the first four rounds---due to a rule back then that players from the same country in an interzonal, needed to play each other in the early rounds.

Apr-10-16  Everett: <At Montreal 1979 Spassky was completely shut out by the other two Soviets (Karpov and Tal) by a 0-4 score !>

Spassky became a French citizen in '78

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Interesting Stat No.139.

Players who have played in the Most USSR Championships up to 2012.

Geller & Taimanov - 23 times.

Bronstein, Polugaevsky, Tal - 20 times.

Smyslov - 19 times.

Balashov, Kholmov, Korchnoi and Petrosian - 16 times.

Plenty more Russian Championship stats here:

(this lad needs a job, a girlfriend, a hobby and a lot more fresh air.)

Apr-10-16  Mr. V: <most USSR Championship up to 2012> Umm... ok then
Apr-11-16  Howard: Regarding Everett's recent comment, Spassky still played under the Soviet flag until 1984. In fact, Bugojno (sp?) 1984 was his last event while representing the Soviet Union.

From a personal standpoint, I still remember playing at a tournament near Milwaukee over the 4th of July weekend that year, and I overheard a couple players mention that Spassky had just played his last event while representing the Soviet Union.

Chess Life also briefly mentioned that, as I recall.

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <A.T PhoneHome> People always talk how Soviets draw against each other at international events>

This is the most comprehensive study I have found that analyzes whether the Soviets colluded in tournaments: It is an update of the authors' 2007 paper on the same subject. It compares Soviet player performance in both Interzonal Tournaments and USSR Championships for the period 1940 1978.

I have my opinion but draw your own conclusions.

Apr-11-16  Everett: <Howard: Regarding Everett's recent comment, Spassky still played under the Soviet flag until 1984. In fact, Bugojno (sp?) 1984 was his last event while representing the Soviet Union.>

Doesn't matter. He clearly wasn't in the fold by Montreal '79. Becoming a citizen of a different country the year before would not be lost on the authorities of the motherland.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <RookFile: Shows you how ridiculously strong these events were. Korchnoi was just in the middle of the pack.>

With that coming the year after he won with ease, despite the final margin of merely one-half point; he scored -1 =4 at the finish in '62.

<Marmot: This does not look like one of the stronger fields for a USSR ch. Besides Botvinnik and Petrosian several other notable players were missing - Tal, Keres, Smyslov....>

Botvinnik never played in a Soviet championship after 1955 and by the sixties was generally rather more selective about appearances in the tournament arena.

<....Probably the prize fund was not too attractive compared to international events like the Piatigorsky.>

For the elite, such events were plums; Korchnoi (according to Wade in his work on Viktor the Terrible) was invited to play in the Cup but Keres was sent in his stead.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <Sally Simpson>: Just for the record, I've compiled five lists of players from the USSR Championships 1920-1991, starting here:

Game Collection: USSR Championship Player Index (A-E)

It's been some years since I looked at them, and links may need to be updated.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi P.B.

That lad at whose link I posted has really gone into great detail (I said up to 2012 because that was the date of his post.)

His work is truly a labour of love. (I still think he needs a girlfriend.)

Thought some here maybe interested in it. Shame to see all that effort just on one site. It should be shared.

Apr-12-16  Howard: As far as what country Spassky was "from" in 1979, one could always look at the Informants from back then---what country is given next to Spassky's name in the crosstables?

Hint: it wasn't France---not until the mid-80's, at least.

Apr-12-16  Howard: Also, try pulling up a few articles that that late Robert Byrne wrote on the 1982 interzonal in Mexico, in which Spassky took part.

See what country Byrne identifies him from....

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: this link from the 1982 N.Y. Times

Says Boris was of the Soviet Union.

Boris represented France at the 1984 Olympiad so between 1982 and 1984 he switched feds.

Apr-14-16  Howard: Spassky was still playing under the Soviet flag until 1984, so my point about Montreal 1979 still stands.

If you want some proof, kindly look at the Informants from, say, 1982. See which country Spassky is identified as from---hint: it ain't France.

Also, do a Google job and look up the late Robert Byrne's chess columns from the Mexico interzonal in 1982. See which country he identifies Spassky as being from.

Case closed---Spassky played for the Soviet Union for several years even after moving to France.

Apr-18-16  Everett: <Howard> case isn't closed. I hope you pretend to have no idea how humans work. Perhaps that's why you are always asking for help in various positions and no one responds to you for months.

The Soviets did not care about protecting Spassky at all in these tournaments, that's the point.

Spassky was on the outs since losing in 1972. Go ahead and google that.

Apr-30-16  Howard: All I know is that notwithstanding the fact that Spassky moved to France in 1977, he continued to represent the Soviet Union until 1984. How the Soviets felt about his leaving his homeland, is beside the point.
May-05-16  Everett: <Howard: All I know is that notwithstanding the fact that Spassky moved to France in 1977, he continued to represent the Soviet Union until 1984.< How the Soviets felt about his leaving his homeland, is beside the point.>>

No, how they felt is <exactly> the point, which is why his drubbing in 1979 by Karpov and Tal means nothing regarding their supposed history of collusion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> In my opinion, Spassky was never really in so far as the chess bureaucracy went, but he constituted their best hope for succeeding Petrosian and maintaining Soviet hegemony.

The hammer came down hard after Spassky's loss to Lombardy in their critical game at Leningrad 1960, and who knows when he would ever have got out had he been amongst the elite?

As matters went, Korchnoi felt more than one taste of bureaucratic wrath, and Kholmov's troubles with the powers that be are well known.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Keyser Soze: <Spassky was on the outs since losing in 1972. Go ahead and google that.>

Agreed. Got even worse, after 74 when Karpov beat him. Karpov became their new favorite by all means.

Feb-28-18  ughaibu: <In Soviet compatriots' meetings at Hastings, pacific intentions were certainly evinced, with Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1972, being, I think, the first decisive result.>

In fact the first decisive game was Botvinnik vs Balashov, 1966

Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Interesting, Suetin won more games than anyone else (8) but his 4 losses left him in a tie for 4 - 6 place


Mar-01-18  RookFile: Yep. In a tournament like this, draws count too. Spassky always understood this, for example.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Thanks <Rookfile> and quite a few very interesting games played in this tournament, very lively indeed
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