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USSR Championship Tournament

Boris Spassky11.5/17(+7 -1 =9)[games]
Anatoly Karpov10.5/17(+5 -1 =11)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian10.5/17(+4 -0 =13)[games]
Lev Polugaevsky10.5/17(+4 -0 =13)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi10.5/17(+5 -1 =11)[games]
Gennadi Kuzmin10.5/17(+5 -1 =11)[games]
Efim Geller8.5/17(+3 -3 =11)[games]
Karen Ashotovich Grigorian8.5/17(+3 -3 =11)[games]
Paul Keres8/17(+1 -2 =14)[games]
Mark Taimanov8/17(+2 -3 =12)[games]
Vladimir Savon8/17(+2 -3 =12)[games]
Mikhail Tal8/17(+3 -4 =10)[games]
Vladimir Borisovich Tukmakov7.5/17(+2 -4 =11)[games]
Nukhim N Rashkovsky7.5/17(+2 -4 =11)[games]
Orest Averkin7/17(+1 -4 =12)[games]
Vasily Smyslov7/17(+1 -4 =12)[games]
Evgeni Ellinovich Sveshnikov6.5/17(+2 -6 =9)[games]
Alexander Beliavsky4.5/17(+2 -10 =5)[games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1973)

In the aftermath of Robert James Fischer 's victory over Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Championship, the Soviet Union had been humiliated and humbled by an American, and the 35+ year rule of the Soviet chess machine over the international chess world had finally been put to an end. The consequences of this result were felt in Soviet chess for months after. Mark Taimanov, Tigran Petrosian, and Spassky were all reprimanded for their failure to stop Fischer. Consequences continued into the 41st USSR Championship, held in the Soviet capital of Moscow, from October 2-26, 1973. The tournament was organized to be the strongest in a decade. In addition to the four qualifying players who had each won a semi-final (Orest Averkin, Karen Grigorian, Nukhim Rashkovsky, and Evgeni Sveshnikov), the very strongest grandmasters of the Soviet Union received forced invitations to participate. The list was a collection of former world champions, multiple Soviet title winners, and the very strongest of the Soviet school, including: Spassky, Petrosian, Mikhail Tal, Vasily Smyslov, Anatoli Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi, Efim Geller, Paul Keres, Lev Polugaevsky, Taimanov, Leonid Stein, Vladimir Tukmakov, Vladimir Savon and Gennadi Kuzmin. Victor Davidovich Baturinsky, the vice-president of the USSR chess federation, and a Colonel of Justice, explained clearly to all the participants that their attendance was not only obligatory, but their very future as Soviet chess players (and the favors imparted therein) depended on their performance in the championship. Stein died before the championship took place and he was replaced by junior world champion Alexander Beliavsky. In addition to the composed line up, it was made known that draws of thirty moves or less were 'discouraged' by the organizers. Although short draws did occur, the schedule of play and the intense combat among the contestants was arduous. It was Spassky, after failing in Reykjavik, who emerged victorious by a full point. This edition did have the desired effect of revealing future world title candidates, as Karpov and Korchnoi tied for second and would face each other the following year for what ultimately was the de facto world championship.

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 Spassky * 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 =2 Karpov * 0 1 1 1 1 1 10 =2 Petrosian 1 * 1 1 1 10 =2 Polugaevsky * 1 1 1 1 10 =2 Korchnoi 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 10 =2 Kuzmin 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 10 =7 Geller * 1 0 0 1 1 0 8 =7 Grigorian 0 * 1 1 1 0 0 8 =9 Keres 0 * 0 1 8 =9 Taimanov 0 0 1 * 1 0 8 =9 Savon 1 0 0 0 * 1 8 =9 Tal 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 8 =13 Tukmakov 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 7 =13 Rashkovsky 0 0 0 0 1 * 1 7 =15 Averkin 0 0 0 * 0 1 7 =15 Smyslov 0 0 0 0 1 * 7 17 Sveshnikov 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 * 0 6 18 Beliavsky 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 4

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1973, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Keres vs Taimanov ½-½351973USSR ChampionshipA48 King's Indian
2. N Rashkovsky vs Smyslov ½-½581973USSR ChampionshipD85 Grunfeld
3. Polugaevsky vs Sveshnikov ½-½361973USSR ChampionshipD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
4. Geller vs Tal ½-½421973USSR ChampionshipB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
5. G Kuzmin vs Spassky ½-½411973USSR ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
6. Averkin vs Korchnoi  ½-½301973USSR ChampionshipA15 English
7. V Tukmakov vs Beliavsky 1-0411973USSR ChampionshipB83 Sicilian
8. Petrosian vs K Grigorian  ½-½491973USSR ChampionshipA14 English
9. Karpov vs Savon 1-0411973USSR ChampionshipA15 English
10. Spassky vs Averkin 1-0351973USSR ChampionshipB44 Sicilian
11. Tal vs V Tukmakov ½-½381973USSR ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
12. K Grigorian vs Smyslov 0-1511973USSR ChampionshipE38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5
13. Taimanov vs Karpov ½-½201973USSR ChampionshipE54 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System
14. Sveshnikov vs Keres ½-½751973USSR ChampionshipC45 Scotch Game
15. Savon vs N Rashkovsky ½-½571973USSR ChampionshipB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
16. Beliavsky vs Polugaevsky 0-1351973USSR ChampionshipB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
17. Korchnoi vs Geller ½-½541973USSR ChampionshipE97 King's Indian
18. Petrosian vs G Kuzmin ½-½331973USSR ChampionshipE54 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System
19. Smyslov vs Savon  ½-½401973USSR ChampionshipB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
20. Averkin vs Petrosian  ½-½251973USSR ChampionshipA06 Reti Opening
21. Keres vs Beliavsky 1-0401973USSR ChampionshipE14 Queen's Indian
22. Geller vs Spassky ½-½241973USSR ChampionshipD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. N Rashkovsky vs Taimanov 1-0411973USSR ChampionshipD38 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation
24. V Tukmakov vs Korchnoi  0-1391973USSR ChampionshipC81 Ruy Lopez, Open, Howell Attack
25. G Kuzmin vs K Grigorian  ½-½411973USSR ChampionshipD94 Grunfeld
 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
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-25-16  zanzibar: The seeding is obviously to avoid having the two strongest players meeting in the first round.

All systems "beg the question as to what the result will be."

If match play is bad, then why do we use it for the "final" round of the WCC contest?

It's not used mainly for practical reasons.

Mar-25-16  zanzibar: And Fischer was right about match play eliminating (or reducing) collusion. It certainly has that advantage over other systems.
Mar-25-16  ughaibu: 1. the point of playing is to decide who is stronger, if that is arbitrarily decided before play, in the seeding, then the playing is superfluous. You might as well arbitrarily award the title, "at the start".

2. and accusations of collusion continued after the candidates tournaments were replaced by matches! In particular, accusations by Fischer.

Mar-25-16  zanzibar: I don't think I agree with 1.

Seeding does not a match win.

As for point 2, yes Fischer was tragically flawed off the board.

But on the board? Not so much.

Mar-25-16  ughaibu: Your responses to both points seem to be non sequitur.
Mar-25-16  zanzibar: Well, let me end it but asking how seeding stops the best player from getting to the end, if such a best player exists?

Your whole point seems to be that there isn't a best player, that's what I'm concluding.

Mar-25-16  ughaibu: As Alexmagnus pointed out earlier, strength is somewhat idiosyncratic. The best performance in a candidates tournament was Tal's, in 1959, but had this been knock-out matches, he might have been eliminated by Keres (according to their actual results). At the time, who was stronger, Tal or Keres?

And more to the point, if the player who achieved the best result might have been eliminated under a less competitive format, what justification is there for advocating that format?

Feb-07-17  Straclonoor: <Victor Davidovich Baturinsky, the vice-president of the USSR chess federation, and a KGB Colonel> Victor Davidovich Baturinsky never been KGB Colonel, he was Colonel of Justice. He served in Military Prosecution not in NKVD/MGB/KGB.
Feb-07-17  Lt.Surena: <Straclonoor: > The resident 007 Secret Agent Man (aka. the author of above Intro. User: suenteus) likes to add a little drama to the mix by dropping the KGB name above. Not to mention adding Bobby's name to the Soviet Championship tournament which he never attended or claimed ownership to. He believes Bobby was the cause and the effect for all humankind's successes and failures from 1940 to 1990s :-) AND the price of tea in China.

Seriously, suenteus needs to get back to finishing his essay about Bobby's role in the Earth's Climate change and also Bobby's eventual abduction by the space aliens.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: There is quite a big gap between the first 6 finishers, who scored +6. +5 or +4, and everyone else, who scored 50% or less. Of those top 6, Kuzmin's future was the least successful. I hope he is not reading this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Conversely, the youngster who was bottom marker here went on to have a better career than a number of those who finished ahead of him, despite the world champions and title candidates, past and future, who took part in this--such was his improvement even early on that he came joint first in the next year's edition.
Feb-09-17  Howard: Yes, I remember that! In fact, he and Tal got their pictures on the cover of the April, 1974 issue of CL&R when they co-won that championship.
Feb-10-17  Troller: <the youngster who was bottom marker here> has always been a little erratic in his performances though. He could score the legendary 100% (Alicante) or crash completely (e.g. Linares 1994). At this stage of course he was only 20 years old.

This event mainly gets me to think "Spassky's come-back", but indeed it is fascinating to look through the chart.

E.g. Smyslov finished third from last here and was regarded "over the hill", but 10 years later he would contest the Candidates Final.

Feb-23-17  RookFile: Just reading over the names, this looks like a ridiculously strong event.
Mar-10-18  Retireborn: This must surely be the only tournament to comprise nearly all (11 by my count) the Soviet GMs who competed at Candidates level from 1959-1982.

I say nearly all, because 10 year old Garry Kasparov didn't quite make the cut.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Tal narrowly avoided relegation, but went on to share first the following year, if in a clearly weaker version than this, with the aforementioned Belyavsky.
Mar-10-18  Retireborn: <perfidious> Tal had a rather strange year in 1973. First places at Wijk, Tallinn, Sochi, Dubna, and Hastings, but sad disappointments at the Leningrad izt and this Soviet ch.

As you say, he did have a couple of further successes in both arenas ahead of him though.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Retireborn>, 1973 saw the end of one long undefeated string at Leningrad and the birth of another during this event, which would run until Tal vs N Kirov, 1974, played the following October.
Mar-11-18  Retireborn: <perfidious> It's very impressive, isn't it? But the mature Tal was always difficult to beat, even in his declining years.

Ulf Andersson vs Tal, 1989

Mar-13-18  Retireborn: In his file van Reek thinks it was Levon Grigorian, not Karen, who played in this tournament.

Every source I have, including Russbase, contradicts him, and certainly the openings played seem Karenish to me.

Still can't help worrying that Spassky may have told him something the rest of the world doesn't know!

Mar-16-19  Helios727: Was this the tournament that qualified Karpov for the 1973 Interzonal? As for Fischer, he could not have won this tournament ever, because the Soviet players would have been ordered to throw games to the favorite pick of the Soviet authorities.
Mar-16-19  Retireborn: <Helios> This tournament, not a zonal, was played *after* the 1973 interzonals!

I can't recall Karpov ever having played in a zonal tournament. I believe he qualified for the interzonal by virtue of winning the 1969 World junior championship; the 1971 winner Hug played in the Petropolis interzonal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

That is correct, Karpov qualified because he won the 1969 Junior and played in the Leningrad Interzonal (1973)

The Russian zonal qualifier for this event was USSR Championship (1972) which was also the qualifier for the other interzonal Petropolis Interzonal (1973)

Korchnoi, Geller and Taimanov got into the Interzonals because they were in the previous candidates, A commission of Botvinnik, Najdorf, Kashdan and Trufuncvic also selected Polugaevsky, Smyslov, Keres and Stein to play in the Interzonals. Stein passed away and was replaced by Bronstein.


Mar-17-19  Helios727: So why did not the 1969 World Junior Championship place Karpov in the 1970 interzonal? Was there a rule that there had to be at least a two year wait?
Mar-17-19  Retireborn: <Helios> World junior champions didn't get interzonal places in 1970; it was one of the changes made for 1973.

It didn't last though. Certainly the next set of World junior winners (Beliavsky, Miles, and Chekhov) did not get to play in the 1976 interzonals.

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