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TOURNAMENT STANDINGS
Sukhumi Tournament

Mikhail Tal11/15(+7 -0 =8)[games]
Vladimir Savon10.5/15(+8 -2 =5)[games]
Mark Taimanov10/15(+6 -1 =8)[games]
Mikhail A Mukhin9.5/15(+7 -3 =5)[games]
Alexander Beliavsky9/15(+7 -4 =4)[games]
Vladimir Mikhailovich Liberzon7.5/15(+2 -2 =11)[games]
Ratmir Kholmov7.5/15(+3 -3 =9)[games]
Yacov Murey7.5/15(+5 -5 =5)[games]
Lutz Espig7/15(+4 -5 =6)[games]
Robert Huebner7/15(+3 -4 =8)[games]
Karoly Honfi6.5/15(+4 -6 =5)[games]
Eduard Gufeld6.5/15(+2 -4 =9)[games]
Duncan Suttles5.5/15(+3 -7 =5)[games]
Hans Ree5.5/15(+3 -7 =5)[games]
Nino Kirov5/15(+2 -7 =6)[games]
Vlastimil Jansa4.5/15(+0 -6 =9)[games]
*

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
Sukhumi (1972)

Mikhail Tal had just won the <Ilmar Raud Memorial 1972>, and nobody knew it yet, but his loss to Gunnar Andreyevich Uusi in round 11 of that event would be his last loss for a very long time. He went undefeated in his next 86 games.1 Now, at the Georgian seaside resort of Sukhumi, Tal faced a diverse field of Soviets and international invitees.

Sukhumi, Soviet Union (Georgia), 16 August - 4 September 19722,3

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts 1 Tal 2625 * ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 11.0 2 Savon 2595 ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 10.5 3 Taimanov 2590 ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 10.0 4 Mukhin 2420 0 0 ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 9.5 5 Beliavsky 2420 0 0 1 0 * ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 9.0 6 Liberzon 2540 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 7.5 7 Kholmov 2550 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 7.5 8 Murey 2380 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 ½ * 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 7.5 9 Espig 2435 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 1 1 * ½ 1 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 7.0 10 Hübner 2590 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 7.0 11 Honfi 2440 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0 0 1 * 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 6.5 12 Gufeld 2525 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 * 0 0 ½ ½ 6.5 13 Suttles 2470 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 * ½ 0 1 5.5 14 Ree 2480 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 1 ½ * ½ ½ 5.5 15 Kirov Ivanov 2450 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ * 1 5.0 16 Jansa 2480 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 * 4.5

<Photo Sukhumi> http://www.music.umich.edu/1961symp...

Of the nine Soviets, veteran grandmasters Mark Taimanov and Ratmir Kholmov were the most well known after Tal. Taimanov was still living down an embarrassing 0-6 loss to Robert James Fischer in the Fischer - Taimanov Candidates Quarterfinal (1971). Kholmov narrowly failed to qualify4 for the USSR Championship (1971), an event won by the international master Vladimir Savon in a remarkable upset. Savon triumphed over Tal, Vasily Smyslov, Anatoly Karpov, Yuri Balashov, Leonid Stein, Lev Polugaevsky, David Bronstein and Taimanov, clearly establishing himself as a rising star.5 Vladimir Liberzon and Eduard Gufeld were solid grandmasters who had never broken through to the elite rank in domestic or international competition.6 Mikhail Mukhin had won the <USSR Junior Championship> in 1965, but had yet to earn a FIDE title. He had failed to follow up his early success, though he was still only 24 years old.7 Yacov Murey was a FIDE international master- in correspondence chess!!8 Alexander Beliavsky was still a junior.9

The West German Robert Hübner was the only international grandmaster among the foreign guests.10 He had recently qualified for the world championship cycle by finishing shared 2nd at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970), ahead of Wolfgang Uhlmann, Taimanov, Smyslov, Lajos Portisch, Polugaevsky and Svetozar Gligoric. 11 Karoly Honfi held both the FIDE international master and the Hungarian grandmaster title.12 Two-time East German champion Lutz Espig had recently finished 3rd at the <9th Rubinstein Memorial 1971> in Polanica Zdroj.13,14 Hans Ree was a three-time Dutch champion, and Duncan Suttles had won the Canadian championship in 1969.15,16 Tal's friend Vlastimil Jansa had won the Czechoslovakian championship in 1964.17,18 The Bulgarian Nino Kirov Ivanov had just been awarded the international master title in 1971.19

The tournament began in the middle of a sweltering heat wave in which temperatures reached 35 degrees celsius in the shade. According to Tal, Hübner suffered most of all, contracting a serious sunburn and peeling skin on his face and arms.20 The stakes were high for both Tal and Savon, since the Soviet Chess Federation had made it clear to both that their inclusion in the upcoming <Skopje Olympiad> in October depended on their results at Sukhumi.20 Tal got off to a slow start, sitting in shared 4th after six rounds. Undaunted, Tal was confident that only Savon presented a serious obstacle to a tournament victory.20

Nonetheless, rounds seven to twelve featured remarkable runs by the two youngest players in the field. Beliavsky, just 19 years old, defeated Taimanov and occupied sole first after eight rounds: Taimanov vs Beliavsky, 1972. Mukhin was playing fearless and aggressive chess and had wrested sole ownership of the lead with three rounds to go. Tal and Savon, however, sat a half point back, well within striking range. In their eighth round game Tal had been horrified to run into a variation prepared by Savon's Soviet Army Club teammates,20 and his prospects to hold after the adjournment looked dismal: Savon vs Tal, 1972. Tal recalls a bizarre incident after resumption of play:

We were playing with a clock of far from perfect construction, and on which the flag fell at nowhere near the time control. I saw that by rights White had at least a minute left, and to demand a loss on time in such circumstances seemed blasphemous to me. All these thoughts occurred in a flash, and before the controller had time to record the fall of the flag, I made a move and pressed my clock. The game subsequently ended in a draw.20

Tal was fortunate to hold, since this draw turned out to be the deciding result of the tournament. He won without losing a single game, but finished just a half point in front of Savon. Taimanov came 3rd, followed by Mukhin and Beliavsky. The Soviets dominated the event, filling the top eight slots in the crosstable. The Germans Espig and Hübner finished best of the foreign contingent, sharing 9th place.

Tal had earned a spot on 4th board in the <Skopje Olympiad>, which turned out to be as good for the Soviet team as it was for Tal.21 He won his board gold medal with a remarkable +12 -0 =4. Savon was also asked to join the Olympic team, on 2nd reserve board.20,21

Notes

1 Hilary Thomas, "Complete Games of Mikhail Tal 1967-1973" (Batsford, 1979), p. 112.

2 Khalifman et al, "Mikhail Tal - 8th World Champion" (PC-CD) Event Index, p. 10; [rusbase-1].

3 Round numbers and game dates from Rusbase. Pgn download link: [rusbase-2].

4 Kholmov finished shared 3d with Shamkovich at the Ivano-Frankovsk USSR Championship Semifinal 1971, but Shamkovich, not Kholmov, was qualified for the USSR Championship 1971, likely on his higher Sonneborn-Berger score: [rusbase-3].

5 Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov, "The Soviet Championships" (Cadogan 1998), pp. 154-156.

6 David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, "The Oxford Companion to Chess 2nd Edition" (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 161, 225.

7 Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland, 2000), p. 115; Russian Wikipedia (Wikipedia article: %D0%9C%D1%83%D1%85%D0%B8%D0%BD, %D0%9C%D0%B8%D1%85%D0%B0%D0%B8%D0%BB %D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87).

8 Jeremy Gaige, "Chess Personalia, A Biobibliography" (McFarland 1987), p. 295. In Wikipedia article: Jacob Murey#cite note-Gaige-1 .

9 Hooper and Whyld, p. 34.

10 Gaige, p. 181. In Wikipedia article: Robert H%C3%BCbner#cite note-Gaige-1.

11 Gino Di Felice,"Chess Results 1968-1970" (McFarland 2013), pp. 320-321.

12 Hungarian Wikipedia (Wikipedia article: Honfi K%C3%A1roly).

13 German Wikipedia (Wikipedia article: Lutz Espig).

14 Polbase (http://polbase.w.interia.pl/rub71.htm).

15 Hooper and Whyld, p. 333.

16 Wikipedia article: Canadian Chess Championship.

17 Hooper and Whyld, p. 186.

18 Mikhail Tal, "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal" (Cadogan 1997), p. 331.

19 Bulgarian Wikipedia (Wikipedia article: Нино Киров).

20 Tal, pp. 403-404.

21 Olimpbase Skopje 1972 Soviet Team (http://www.olimpbase.org/1972/1972u...).

Introduction written and sourced by User: WCC Editing Project; Thanks to User: Paint My Dragon and User: Phony Benoni for Sonneborn-Berger calculations.

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 120  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Gufeld vs Huebner 1-0521972SukhumiC04 French, Tarrasch, Guimard Main line
2. N Kirov vs Suttles  1-0321972SukhumiA04 Reti Opening
3. Jansa vs L Espig  ½-½291972SukhumiB83 Sicilian
4. K Honfi vs Savon  1-0461972SukhumiD77 Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O
5. M Mukhin vs V Liberzon  ½-½581972SukhumiB44 Sicilian
6. Kholmov vs Beliavsky ½-½511972SukhumiA23 English, Bremen System, Keres Variation
7. Murey vs Tal  ½-½271972SukhumiB42 Sicilian, Kan
8. Taimanov vs H Ree  1-0301972SukhumiD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
9. V Liberzon vs H Ree  ½-½271972SukhumiC94 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer Defense
10. L Espig vs K Honfi  1-0601972SukhumiA15 English
11. Suttles vs Murey  0-1361972SukhumiA00 Uncommon Opening
12. Tal vs Gufeld  ½-½331972SukhumiB75 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
13. Savon vs N Kirov  1-0341972SukhumiB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
14. Beliavsky vs Jansa  ½-½341972SukhumiB03 Alekhine's Defense
15. M Mukhin vs Kholmov  ½-½271972SukhumiE41 Nimzo-Indian
16. Huebner vs Taimanov  ½-½251972SukhumiA12 English with b3
17. H Ree vs Huebner  0-1861972SukhumiA42 Modern Defense, Averbakh System
18. Gufeld vs Suttles 0-1521972SukhumiB06 Robatsch
19. Kholmov vs V Liberzon  ½-½191972SukhumiD79 Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O, Main line
20. Murey vs Savon  0-1411972SukhumiB95 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6...e6
21. Taimanov vs Tal ½-½221972SukhumiA77 Benoni, Classical, 9...Re8, 10.Nd2
22. N Kirov vs L Espig  ½-½251972SukhumiB83 Sicilian
23. K Honfi vs Beliavsky  1-0681972SukhumiB93 Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.f4
24. Jansa vs M Mukhin  ½-½331972SukhumiB51 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
25. Suttles vs Taimanov  ½-½451972SukhumiB26 Sicilian, Closed, 6.Be3
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 120  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-09-15  Kasparov Fan: Great tournament win by the Magician from Riga.
May-24-16  ozmikey: After playing over the games from this event, I'd have to say that this was probably one of the most hard-fought tournaments in chess history. A very high percentage of decisive games, and some terrific struggles among them.
Apr-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Vlastimil Jansa, "I came last. So sue me!"
Apr-15-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <offramp> Jansa was also a skilled soccer player, thats my kind of player

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