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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 ChampionshipE57 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line with 8...dc and
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
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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-24-16  suenteus po 147: <ughaibu> I grant that you are more well read on the subject than I am regarding Fischer and the '72 world championship. But a lot of what I have read points to FIDE's involvement ranging from indifference to capitulating to Fischer's demands (some reasonable, some most decidedly unreasonable), which I don't equate with "unequaled support." Fischer was the one who pushed for the changes that would either give him an advantage or take an advantage away from Spassky and the Soviets. The fact that FIDE gave in doesn't mean they were in collusion with Fischer the whole time, or even part of the time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <The "Soviet Chess machine" at that time was a bunch of old men>

Well, Tal beat an over the hill Botvinnik in 1960. Karpov beat a much older Korchnoi twice. Capablanca beat up a much older Lasker--chess history is full of the younger man beating the older guy in the world championship--what's your point?

And of course, a twenty two year old Carlsen defeated a middle aged Anand twice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <HMM: <The "Soviet Chess machine" at that time was a bunch of old men>

Well, Tal beat an over the hill Botvinnik in 1960....>

It should be mentioned that Botvinnik exacted retribution the following year by an even greater margin than which he lost his crown.

Big bully--beating up on a kid that way!

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: well, it was a kid with kidney disease.
Mar-24-16  ughaibu: Suenteus po 147:

The most radical change to the rules of the world championship was from an all-play-all candidates tournament to a set of knock-out matches. This was done in response to Fischer's sour grapes over losing at Curacao.

Of course FIDE's decision is understandable, given the great PR potential that Fischer offered for chess, but as a knock-out format is less competitive and increases the luck factor, their decision is difficult to justify other than by mooting a mollycoddling of Fischer.

There's also all the support that Fischer had from his compatriots, the US chess machine so to speak. The most conspicuous example being all those who gave way so that he could play in the 1971 Interzonal. But on top of that there's the fact that he had seconds, and as he, at least once, got into a physical fight over which player it was time for the second to work with, he clearly availed himself of their services.

Let's consider another case, when Botvinnik suspected that his preparation was being leaked and as a precaution deceived his own second. In this case Botvinnik wasn't only working alone, he needed to spend time pretending not to be. In effect, we could say that Botvinnik took on the Soviet chess machine on less than his own.

Would anyone really take seriously the contention that Botvinnik took on the Soviet chess machine on his own? It's difficult to imagine, which makes it particularly puzzling that so many people make the claim about Fischer.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Of course FIDE's decision is understandable, given the great PR potential that Fischer offered for chess, but as a knock-out format is less competitive and increases the luck factor, their decision is difficult to justify other than by mooting a mollycoddling of Fischer.>

For determining the placement of players according to relative strength I would agree.

But not for determining the single best player. No, I think a KO format, properly done, is competitive. And maybe even the best method, if time allowed.

You really think the current Candidates Match gives sufficient separation?

Maybe a RR4, but certainly not a RR2. Not with the Candidates at this level of parity.

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: <zanzibar> The KO format would be fair in determining the best player if the playing strength were strictly ordered. It is not - there are many examples of A doing well against B, V doing even better against C - and, contrary to order logic - C simply crushing A.
Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: Not V but B :)
Mar-25-16  Howard: HeHateMe-----Karpov beat Korchnoi three times, not twice.

You're forgetting about their 1974 "world championship" match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <alexmagnus> for one or two game encounters, yes.

For for a sustained, and robust, head-to-head match?

Let's ask it this way... if A always beats B in a head-to-head match, does B deserve a shot at the WCC?

The idea of WCC is that nobody can beat such a player. So, B should never get the opportunity to claim to be the World's best, since A can prove otherwise, anytime.

The trick with KO formats is to properly seed the tournament at the start.

Mar-25-16  ughaibu: But "to properly seed the tournament at the start" is to beg the question as to what the result will be.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.

Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
Premium Chessgames Member
  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.
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