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Curacao Candidates Tournament

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian17.5/27(+8 -0 =19)[view games]
Paul Keres17/27(+9 -2 =16)[view games]
Efim Geller17/27(+8 -1 =18)[view games]
Robert James Fischer14/27(+8 -7 =12)[view games]
Viktor Korchnoi13.5/27(+7 -7 =13)[view games]
Pal Benko12/27(+6 -9 =12)[view games]
Mikhail Tal7/21(+3 -10 =8)[view games]
Miroslav Filip7/27(+2 -15 =10)[view games]
* Chess Event Description
Curacao Candidates (1962)

Soon after the Stockholm Interzonal (1962), eight players met from 2 May - 26 June in Curacao in order to determine the Challenger for Mikhail Botvinnik, the World Champion.

The event in Stockholm selected six of the top finishers there. Due to a restriction limiting the number of players advancing from the same country to the next stage, Leonid Stein did not qualify, and Benkö took his place after the Stockholm Interzonal Playoff (1962). Both Paul Keres and Mikhail Tal qualified by virtue of their placings from the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959). This made for an eight-player quadruple round-robin, as in the previous FIDE cycle.

Only 105 games were played since Tal withdrew due to illness after round 21.

Keres and Geller, having finished second ex aequo, were obliged to play a match to determine who would automatically qualify for the next Candidates cycle; Keres - Geller 2nd place Candidates Playoff (1962) was held at Moscow from 11th-25th August 1962 and was won by Keres by a score of 2-1, with five draws.

1 Petrosian XXXX ==== ==== =1== ==11 ==1= 11=* =11= 17.5 2 Keres ==== XXXX ==== 0=1= ==1= 1110 1=1* =11= 17 3 Geller ==== ==== XXXX 11=0 ==1= ===1 =11* =11= 17 4 Fischer =0== 1=0= 00=1 XXXX 010= 01=1 =1=* 1=1= 14 5 Korchnoi ==00 ==0= ==0= 101= XXXX ===0 10=* 1111 13.5 6 Benko ==0= 0001 ===0 10=0 ===1 XXXX 10=* 011= 12 7 Tal 00=* 0=0* =00* =0=* 01=* 01=* XXXX 10=* 7 8 Filip =00= =00= =00= 0=0= 0000 100= 01=* XXXX 7

Petrosian advanced to the Petrosian - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1963).

References: (1) Wikipedia article: Candidates Tournament, Original collection: Game Collection: WCC Index (Curacao 1962), by User: Hesam7.

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 105  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Keres vs Filip ½-½37 1962 Curacao CandidatesB49 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
2. Petrosian vs Tal 1-064 1962 Curacao CandidatesA12 English with b3
3. Benko vs Fischer 1-040 1962 Curacao CandidatesA00 Uncommon Opening
4. Korchnoi vs Geller ½-½38 1962 Curacao CandidatesE60 King's Indian Defense
5. Korchnoi vs Petrosian ½-½36 1962 Curacao CandidatesC97 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
6. Geller vs Fischer 1-040 1962 Curacao CandidatesB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
7. Filip vs Benko 1-028 1962 Curacao CandidatesE60 King's Indian Defense
8. Tal vs Keres 0-140 1962 Curacao CandidatesC96 Ruy Lopez, Closed
9. Benko vs Tal 1-041 1962 Curacao CandidatesA00 Uncommon Opening
10. Fischer vs Filip 1-066 1962 Curacao CandidatesC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
11. Keres vs Korchnoi  ½-½33 1962 Curacao CandidatesD02 Queen's Pawn Game
12. Petrosian vs Geller  ½-½21 1962 Curacao CandidatesE12 Queen's Indian
13. Petrosian vs Keres ½-½17 1962 Curacao CandidatesD18 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch
14. Geller vs Filip ½-½13 1962 Curacao CandidatesB42 Sicilian, Kan
15. Tal vs Fischer ½-½58 1962 Curacao CandidatesB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
16. Korchnoi vs Benko  ½-½59 1962 Curacao CandidatesB36 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto
17. Keres vs Geller ½-½27 1962 Curacao CandidatesE61 King's Indian
18. Benko vs Petrosian ½-½67 1962 Curacao CandidatesA00 Uncommon Opening
19. Filip vs Tal 0-134 1962 Curacao CandidatesA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
20. Fischer vs Korchnoi 0-133 1962 Curacao CandidatesB09 Pirc, Austrian Attack
21. Geller vs Tal  ½-½27 1962 Curacao CandidatesB48 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
22. Petrosian vs Fischer ½-½25 1962 Curacao CandidatesE84 King's Indian, Samisch, Panno Main line
23. Keres vs Benko 1-028 1962 Curacao CandidatesB43 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3
24. Korchnoi vs Filip 1-0101 1962 Curacao CandidatesD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
25. Tal vs Korchnoi 0-135 1962 Curacao CandidatesC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 105  PGN Download
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 6 OF 6 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-21-17  Petrosianic: Not exactly. In the end, both Keres and Geller were seeded into the next Candidates.

The reason that playoff happened so quickly is not that they were concerned about the next cycle. Rather, Botvinnik was talking about retiring with the title and not playing in 1963. It was a long shot, but if it had happened, it was very important to know right away who had finished 2nd at Curacao in order that that person might take Botvinnik's place in the match.

Mar-21-17  Retireborn: Yes, I gather that dear old Botty was disgruntled that his right to a return match had been abolished. Or at least very far from being gruntled.
Mar-21-17  Petrosianic: Petrosian said he never believed that Botvinnik wouldn't play, and said that he probably considered it the same way a player considers a bad move before rejecting it.
Mar-21-17  althus: Another thing I'm unclear on is whether rescinding Botvinnik's rematch clause was part of the package of reforms enacted at the Varna 1962 Congress, in response to Fischer's collusion outcry following Curacao. It would seem logical that it was, but again I haven't found any documentary evidence.

But I wonder now if the timing of the Keres-Geller match is a clue. There wouldn't have been a match if Botvinnik hadn't made noises about not playing in 1963. And I want to believe Botvinnik wouldn't have made those noises if the rematch hadn't already been taken away.

However. The Keres-Geller playoff was in August, and the FIDE Congress was in October of 1962. So Botvinnik was already making those noises before FIDE scrapped the Candidates Tourney and changed whatever else they did.

When, then, did FIDE scrap the rematch? I'm not sure.

Mar-21-17  Howard: As far as why the rematch clause was scrapped, for the next 20 years, at least two theories have been given.

One was that Botvinnik was allegedly abusing the rematch clause. When he was defending his title against Smyslov in 1957 and then Tal in 1960, he may have viewed those matches as "training" matches. If he won, great. If not, he could always try to get his title back in the rematch.

Another reason is that he may have purposely thrown his matches in 1957 and 1960, so as to allow the Soviet Union to have more world champions from that country. To put it another way, he may have purposely "loaned" the title to both Smyslov and Tal, so that the Soviets would have two additional former world champions.

Mar-21-17  Petrosianic: Well, Botvinnik was one of the most resilient and scientific players of all time. Better than anyone, he knew how to learn from his mistakes, which meant being objective about his shortcomings and correcting them.

But there's also a psychological factor. As Petrosian explained it to himself, Smyslov and Tal both beat Botvinnik so convincingly that there was no room for doubt about the outcome. To be asked to measure up against the same guy so soon is hard to do. He felt that both of them looked past the rematch, thinking that they'd already proven their superiority to this guy, and deep down just wanted to coast through with a minimum expenditure of energy. Botvinnik, on the other hand, was the kind of guy who could get slapped silly and come back burning with energy.

There was the same kind of talk after 1960. That Botvinnik was pushing 50, and beaten so badly that he wouldn't even exercise his right to the rematch. People who thought that didn't know him very well.

Talk of Botvinnik, who mistrusted others so much that he played world championship matches without a second, to throw a match and trust the bureacracy to give him the title back are totally insane, and on the same level as those theories that Saidy threw the game to Fischer to help him finish 11-0. Wishful thinking with no evidence.

Mar-21-17  Howard: Granted, there is no evidence about what I suggested, but the theory is plausible, in my view.

Keep in mind that Botvinnik was held in high esteem by the Soviet government, so he might have very well trusted it, as far as making sure he got his "title" back during the rematch.

But, we'll obviously never know what was really going on back then.

Mar-21-17  Petrosianic: Botvinnik's relationship with the Soviet Government was complicated. He was their Fair-Haired Boy, but also kind of their Bad Boy. They didn't even give him the Order of Lenin until he lost the title, and it would have been too embarrassing to give it to Smyslov and not Botvinnik.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: The next re-match clause after Botvinik's reign was officially in the 1978 match between Karpov and Korchnoi.

The last one - I'm not sure if this qualifies as a 'return match clause', but in the 2007 World Chess Championship. There was a rule that if Kramnik did not win it (he came second) then he would play a match v the winner (Anand).

Also not too sure about the theory that Botvinnik threw in the towel to allow two more ex-World Champions for the USSR. He was not that type of guy.

He got beat fair and square. His record in World Champion matches on paper was not too impressive.

P. 7. W.2 D.2 L3

However losing the title twice and winning it back twice is a stiff record to beat, especially under the current rules.

To equal it Carlsen has to lose in two finals and qualify from two candidates to get back into the finals. Botvinnik never had to play in a candidates to get his titles back.

Mar-21-17  Howard: Here's one piece of trivia which a lot of people probably aren't aware of:

When Petrosian successfully beat Spassky for the WC in 1966, it was the first time since 1934 that a reigning world champion beat his challenger in a WC match.

I'll admit I wasn't aware of this until Petrosian died, in 1984, and was surprised...

...until I mentally reviewed all the WC matches starting with 1934, and I realized that this was indeed correct.

Botvinnik, in other words, never won a WC match in which he was the defending champion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Geoff....Botvinnik never had to play in a candidates to get his titles back.>

He had the opportunity, but chose not to play in the 1965 cycle.

Mar-21-17  althus: <Petrosianic> <Botvinnik's relationship with the Soviet Government was complicated. He was their Fair-Haired Boy, but also kind of their Bad Boy>

This is true. Sometimes I think he was their Useful Idiot, too. Let him think he's in charge, but ultimately too unimportant to bother purging.

To have survived the bonkers USSR of the 1930s to 50s as anyone of stature required a complicated relationship, to be sure.

Mar-21-17  Petrosianic: The way I heard the Order of Lenin story was that Botvinnik "forgot" to congratulate Comrade Stalin when he (Botvinnik) won the World Championship, and in return they "forgot" to give him the Order of Lenin. But there would be no way to hide the snub if Smyslov got it and Botvinnik didn't, and they didn't want to deny Smyslov. Yeah, it is rather surprising that Botvinnik survived the Stalin era at all.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi althus: and beatgiant

I found a report on the on the 1959 FIDE meeting that took place from the 13th to the 24th September at Luxembourg,

CHESS Oct 24th 1959 (page 14).

The report is from Alan F Stammwitz who at the time was hon.Secretary B.C.F.

He arrived with a letter from the president of the Scottish Chess Fed saying he could vote on their behalf.

First item on the agenda. Countries excluded for not paying their FIDE fees:

Chile, Columbia, Egypt, Greece, Pakistan and SCOTLAND! (you could not make it up)

A promise was made that Scotland would send their fees before December so they were allowed back in,

I have photo-copied the relevant bit and it is here at the bottom of an old Blog. Just scroll down and you will see it. It is reading like Tal was in because he was the recently disposed Champion.

It does says 3 players max from the same nation - it does not specifically say the two who are already there (Tal and Keres) are not to be counted as the part of the maximum 3.

Mar-21-17  althus: This is good stuff! It also makes you shake your head.. Written in black and white: three players max. But those two guys Keres and Tal...? Oh don't worry, they don't count.

I guess there is no answer to the question of how the rule was truly defined. FIDE seems to have pulled things out of their ear ad hoc, then as now.

Unless this is sloppy reporting by CHESS -- but when every journalistic outlet is the same kind of sloppy, then it looks instead like the slop comes from the source.

Mar-21-17  Petrosianic: <This is good stuff! It also makes you shake your head.. Written in black and white: three players max. But those two guys Keres and Tal...? Oh don't worry, they don't count.>

It's clear enough. Three may qualify from the Interzonal. Keres and Tal didn't count because they didn't play in the Interzonal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hi althus:,

OOPS! I've just had a grim e-mail.

I had a league match and forgot all about it. I was at that the Edinburgh Club when I should have been playing the Edinburgh Club at the RAF Club.

I have the bound CHESS's 1959-1960-1961-1962-1963 with me. I am going though them to see if I can uncover anything else.

I am finding loads of other good stuff..

Petrosian was given an onyx Knight after beating Botvinnik by one of his fans.

If you looked into the tiny eye of the Knight you could see the final position of Petrosian vs Botvinnik, 1963

It had been carved on a piece of rice, inserted in the eye and covered with a small magnifying glass.

Mar-21-17  althus: <Petrosianic> <It's clear enough. Three may qualify from the Interzonal.>

But Graeme, it doesn't say that. I am being all Winterian here, but darnit, there's a reason that guy exists.

<Sally Simpson> Aie! It sounds like you're a traitor on top of it all :) Isn't it past your bedtime?

Mar-22-17  Petrosianic: And yet more than three played. So we still don't have the full picture.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Hello Again,

Chess February 1962 (page 174)

Chess are reporting on the replayed European Zonal to see who goes to Stockholm.

The first Zonal was held in Holland but Holland refused to allow Uhlmann into the country because he was an East German and East Germany was not recognised as a state. (A bit like the Arab - Israeli situation today).

So Uhlmann was left out leading to other players boycotting the event: Filip (Czechoslovakia), Szabó (Hungary), Silwa (Poland), Bobostov (Bulgaria), Ghitescu (Romania)

The event was run without these players. Time passed, letters were sent, protest held, threats issued...the usual FIDE chaos

So the whole event was run again this time in Czechoslovakia. (nowdays called the Czech Republic) with all the original players.

Whilst reporting on all of this CHESS on page 174 of the February 1962 issue state:

"The first six from the Interzonal {Stockholm], together with Tal and Keres, compete in the Candidates Tournament at Curacao in May to decide who shall challenge Botvinnik for the World Championship next year."

The first six, no mention of a USSR limit.

And then from CHESS, page 206, March 1962. CHESS are doing a report on the play off from Stockholm and they mention that only 3 players from the USSR can play at Curacao.

I have photo-copied that bit and added to the bottom of the same link: (but before going there read on.)

Interesting to note that when CHESS do their report on the Curacao Candidates they mention that many 'commentators' (not Fischer)

"...are raising the old cry of collusion."

The following month's report has the editor B.H.Wood saying the round by round games and final table:

"..tell a disturbing tale..."

Then comes more from B.H.Wood and this time he mentions:

"...under the rule that no more than five 'candidates' should be from one country.

He then mentions that the Soviets possibly did conspire to get their man through. Saying an 'outsider' will not win the title for 10-15 years. (he was right. it took 10 years.)

I have also photo-copied that bit added it to the above link.


One wonders if the Russians have fixed world chess seed was planted in Bobby's mind by others though the same magazine CHESS July 1962 reports on a Fischer interview given at round 12 where Fischer calls the Soviet players 'Cowards'.

"The real Soviet fighters like Smyslov, Spassky and Bronstein, aren't even here." says Fischer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Nosnibor: <Petrosianic> Thanks for your comments but Keres won the right to play whereas Geller obtained his place by concession. The playoff decided this because Geller had the better SB score in the original event.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Given the discrepancy in the rule for Curacao 1962 Candidates' as written (maximum 3 from same country) versus actual (3 plus the seeded players), doesn't that suggest that in the Yugoslavia 1959 Candidates also, it could have been 4 plus the seeded players?

But the rule that <seeded players don't count toward the limit> seems to have been unwritten, so maybe we'll never know.

Mar-22-17  Petrosianic: <Nosnibor: <Thanks for your comments but Keres won the right to play whereas Geller obtained his place by concession.>

I'd disagree with the implication that the First Alternate hasn't "earned" his spot. Of course he has. But it's also true that Keres got into the 65 Candidates directly, while Geller got in because Botvinnik dropped out. My point was just that, in <hindsight>, the match decided nothing at all. If it had been known for sure that Botvinnik would play in 1965 but would not play in the 65 Candidates, this match would never have happened.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < <hindsight>, the (Keres-Geller playoff) match decided nothing at all. If it had been known for sure that Botvinnik would play in 1965 but would not play in the 65 Candidates, this match would never have happened.>

This is axiomatic; nor would Geller have needed to play the 1964 <Tournament of Seven>.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: At the time nobody, not even Botvinnik, was sure if he would defend his title.

Salo Flohr writes at the time it was 50-50. Benko had beaten Keres in the Candidates but Keres accepted that as part of the game.

Benko losing to Geller they way he did he could not accept as it was possibly robbing Keres of his cherished dream, a World Chess Championship Final.

Flohr jokingly writes you could call the Geller - Keres match the 'Benko Match' but not within earshot of Keres who could bear to hear his name.

Flohr adds, fortunately after the match and through time Keres calmed down and you could without risk mention 'Benko' in his company.

As it was Botvinnik decided to defend his title but not play in the next candidates. So as Petrosianic says, in hindsight the match was not needed .

"Forethought we may have, undoubtedly, but not foresight."

Napoleon Bonaparte

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