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Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Robert James Fischer
Portoroz Interzonal (1958), Portoroz SLO, rd 13, Aug-27
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Queen's Knight Variation (A16)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Robert James Fischer (1958)

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <peter.soup> After 12...dxe5 or 12...♗xe5 White simply replies 13.♕xh5 leaving Black a pawn down.
Apr-25-07  utssb: Petrosian looked quite different as a young man, atleast in this photo. Another difference of time is how crowded the table is. In modern games there seems to be much more breathing room for the players. Though the beautifal set they are using is compensation.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Is the photo here actually of this game or was it taken when Fischer made his only trip to the USSR prior to the interzonal?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: This has to be 1958 when Bobby came to the USSR. He's wearing that same sweater he had on as he boarded the plane as seen in many photo's. They say he played blitz with many of the top players in the Soviet Union during his stay, I presume this is one of them. They would NOT let him play Botvinnik; the current World Champ at the time.
Apr-26-07  RookFile: Yes, that's what I thought, the photo is Fischer and Petrosian playing blitz chess, it's not the current game in this thread.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: It's also really a shame Bobby didn't hit it off with the Soviet authorities, I'm sure they were going out of their way to make him feel welcome, ect. Damn his sister Joan was there with him, and she was born in the Soviet Union! His mother earned her medical degree in Moscow! And having chess as another common love, this trip from what I have read turned into a disaster. Bobby should have been very warm to his hosts, instead his behavior was rude and obnoxious.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Joshka: Yes this photo is from Moscow 1958. Steve Stepek has it in his collection, called Picaso. Great shots in his collection!!..thanks<benzol>!!
May-01-07  RookFile: I think it's in Wade and McOnnell's (sp?) book about Fischer too.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Nice positional effort by Petrosian though Fischer is able (barely) to save a draw. After 9 e4 the position is book Fianchetto Kings Indian (Panno variation) with black having the extra move ..Nh5. This enables him to get ..f5 in faster though it is not clear that this benefits black. In fact, Fischer recommends ..c5 instead of ..f5. Evans mentioned 13 Nc6 as a possible alternative to 13 hg though it is not clear that this is an improvement. White gets a nice edge anyway. 45 c5 is a nice pawn sacrifice which probably should have led to a win for Petrosian.
Sep-22-07  gambitfan: Petrosian-Fischer, 1958, 1/2-1/2

click for larger view

67 f7

Black to play...

I do not understand why tis game was a draw! :-(

Sep-22-07  Resignation Trap: The draw is quite clear: 67...Rxg6+ 68.Kxg6 Kb2 69.f8=Q c2 is a well-known book draw. The best White can hope for is a position like this after a series of checks and a few king moves:

click for larger view

Black to play.

All Black has to do is play...Ka1!, when the capture on c2 is a stalemate. If...Kc1?? instead, Kd3! forces mate.

If you want to explore other possibilities, try this endgame position on Shredder Endgame Tablebase: . This tablebase is great for any endgame with up to 6 pieces!

Sep-22-07  gambitfan: <Resignation Trap: The draw is a well-known book draw.>

Thanks for your kind explanations.

I might look like a chess analphabete, but could you give me some more precisions about this <well-known book draw>

In what books can I find the explanations ?

Thanks so much.

Sep-22-07  Resignation Trap: <gambitfan> There are many good books on the endgame available through , as a start. Just do a search with <chess endgame>.

(White) Queen vs. (Black) Pawn is a win with the Pawn anywhere except a2, c2, f2 or h2, and these exceptions exist only due to stalemate possibilities.

Sep-23-07  gambitfan: <Resignation Trap:(White) Queen vs. (Black) Pawn is a win with the Pawn anywhere except a2, c2, f2 or h2, and these exceptions exist only due to stalemate possibilities.>

Thanks a lot, <Resignation Trap> for this golden rule!

I will try to remember it!

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: 3) BEAR HUG

"In what appear to be perfectly equal positions, Petrosian consistently finds seemingly innocuous moves which gradually overwhelm his opponent. He accomplishes his objective simply by exchanging pieces and maneuvering for victory without taking unnecessary risks. This essentially defensive technique has the virtue, when it doesn't utterly succeed, of producing a draw. Fischer, by contrast, generally chooses the sharpest course, however precipitous it may become. Occasionally he overreaches himself, but it makes for interesting chess."

"In this game, replete with errors on both sides, Petrosian succeeds in pinning his opponent for a time to a static endgame. But Fischer manages to burst his bonds, only to blunder on the very next move (51 ... Kd6). Petrosian, however, by blundering in *his* turn, restores the balance. The ensuing Rook and Pawn ending produces a thrilling draw."

Larry Evans, "MSMG"

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 g6 3. g3 Bg7 4. Bg2 0-0 5. Nf3 d6 6. 0-0 Nc6 7. d3 <On 7. d4 I intended ... e5. Petrosian is striving for an English Opening formation, a slow system for which he is temperamentally suited.> Nh5 8. d4 <Reckoning he can afford this loss of time in view of Black's misplaced KN. On 8. Rb1 f5! 9. Qc2 a5 10. a3 f4 Petrosian vs Vasiukov, 1956 Black obtains an excellent aggressive setup. I was impressed by that game as Petrosian must have been, since he got crushed.> e5 9. d5 <9. dxe5 dxe5 10. Qxd8 Rxd8 11. Nd5 Rd7 12. Bh3 f5 13. g4 Nf6! If 14. gxf5 (14. Nxf6+ Bxf6 15. gxf5 gxf5 16. Bxf5?? Rg7+ wins) Nxd5 15. cxd5 Rxd5.> Ne7 10. e4 <This is the right time to get in 10 ... c5! Petrosian vs Boleslavsky, 1957 continued 11. Ne1 Kh8 12. Nd3 f5 13. Rb1 Nf6 =.> f5 11. exf5 gxf5 <Tempting but unsound is 11 ... Nxf5 12. g4 Nd4 13. gxh5 Bg4 14. Nxd4! Bxd1 15. Ne6 etc. And on 11 ... Bxf5 12. Ng5 Qd7 13. Ne6! Bxe6 14. dxe6 Qxe6 15. Bxb7 Rab8 16. Bg2 Qxc4 17. Nd5! White comes out on top.> 12. Nxe5! Nxg3 <A "desperado" combination: this Knight (which is doomed anyway) sells its life as dearly as possible.> 13. hxg3 <Simple and good. I had expected 13. fxg3, but Petrosian eschews the K-side attack and plays for control of the center squares instead. His judgment turns out to be right.> Bxe5? <13 ... dxe5, keeping a fluid Pawn center, offers more play. I was unduly worried about White's passed d-Pawn after 14. c5.> 14. f4! Bg7 15. Be3 Bd7 16. Bd4 <Forcing the trade of Black's most active piece. White soon obtains a firm grip on the position.> Ng6 17. Re1? <A careless transposition. Now by 17 ... Bxd4+ 18. Qxd4 h5! followed by ... h4, Black could exchange his isolated h-Pawn for White's g-Pawn and the game would be dead equal. Correct was 17. Bf3.> Rf7? 18. Bf3! <Black doesn't get a second chance.> Qf8 19. Kf2 Re8 20. Rxe8 Qxe8 21. Bxg7 Rxg7 22. Qd4 b6 23. Rh1 <White has effortlessly achieved a plus and now he wants to improve his position before embarking on a committal course. 23. b4! threatening c5 is much sharper, and poses more immediate problems.> a5 <My first free breath!> 24. Nd1 Qf8 25. Ne3 <Petrosian keeps building without getting sidetracked - even by good moves. I was more afraid of 25. Bh5! trying me up completely. Then the Rook can't move because of Bxg6 followed by a check on h8.> Rf7! 26. b3 Qg7 <The exchange of Queens eases the cramp. White can't afford to retreat and cede this important diagonal.> 27. Qxg7+ Kxg7 28. a3 Rf8 29. Be2 <White constantly finds ways to improve his position. Not 29. b4 axb4 30. axb4 Ra8 and Black seizes the open file.> Ne7 30. Bd3 h6 31. Rh5 Be8

Bobby Fischer, "MSMG"

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: 32. Rh2 <Avoiding a little trap: 32. Nxf5+? (or 32. Rxf5? Rh8!) Nxf5 33. Rxf5 Rh8! followed by ... Bg6 winning the exchange.> Bd7 33. Rh1 Rh8 34. Nc2! <Headed for an even stronger post on d4. I was amazed during the game. Each time Petrosian achieved a good position, he managed to maneuver into a better one.> Kf6 35. Nd4 Kg7 36. Be2 <Feigning an invasion with Bh5 and Re1 and Ne6. White has two wings to operate on: Black must be flexed to react appropriately, and this requires alertness.> Ng8? <Panicking and giving him the opportunity he's been waiting for to sneak b4 in at a moment when Black can't counter with ... axb4 and ... Ra8. Petrosian likes to play cat-and-mouse, hoping that his opponents will go wrong in the absence of a direct threat. The amazing thing is - they usually do! Witness a case in point. I should have just ignored his "threat" with, say, 36 ... Ra8 37. Bh5 Rc8 38. Re1 Kf6 and if 39. Ne6 c6.> 37. b4! Nf6 38. Bd3! <38. bxa5 Ne4+ 39. Kg2 bxa5 40. Rb1 Nc5 holds.> axb4 <38 ... Ne4+? 39. Bxe4 fxe4 40. bxa5 bxa5 (if 40 ... Ra8 41. axb6 cxb6 42. Rb1) 41. Rb1 followed by 42. Rb7 wins easily. White also invades after 38 ... Kg6 39. bxa5 bxa5 40. Rb1.> 39. axb4 Kg6 40. Ra1! <White has finally achieved his ideal setup, but Black's game is still tenable.> Ng4+ 41. Ke2 Re8+ 42. Kd2 Nf6 43. Ra6 <43. Ra7 Rc8 transposes to the game.> Rb8 44. Ra7 Rc8 45. c5! <This Pawn sac caught me completely by surprise. It's the only line that gives Black any trouble.> bxc5 <Not 45 ... Nxd5? 46. c6.> 46. bxc5 dxc5 47. Nf3! Kf7! <47 ... Nxd5 loses to 48. Ne5+.> 48. Ne5+ Ke7 49. Nxd7 Nxd7 50. Bxf5 Rf8! 51. g4 <51. Bxd7 Kxd7 52. Ke3 (if 52. Ra6 Rg8) Kd6 53. Ra6+ Kxd5 54. Rxh6 Re8+ 55. Kf3 c4 should draw.> Kd6? <Should be the losing move! Correct is 51 ... Nf6! 52. Be6 Nxd5! 53. Bxd5 Rxf4 (53 ... Rd8 also draws) winning the last Pawn and forcing a draw.> 52. Bxd7! Kxd7 53. Ke3 Re8+ <On 53 ... c4 54. Ra6 wins. The idea is to force his King to the K-side, away from the passed c-Pawn.> 54. Kf3 <Not 54. Kd3 Rg8.> Kd6 55. Ra6+ Kxd5 56. Rxh6 c4 57. Rh1? <As Petrosian points out in the Russian bulletins of the tournament, White can win with the following line: "57. Rh7! c6 58. Rd7+ Kc5 59. Rd1 c3 60. g5 Kc4 61. g6 c2 62. Rc1 Kc3 63. f5 Rg8 64. Kf4 Kd2 65. Rxc2+ Kxc2 66. Kg5 c5 67. f6 c4 68. f7 Rxg6+ 69. Kxg6 c3 70. f8=Q." White is a tempo ahead of the game, where Black's Pawn succeeds in reaching c2, instead of c3 (as here). What if Black tries to improve? For example, after 57. Rh7 c5 58. Rd7+ Ke6 59. Rd1 Rb8. Now there are two main lines: A] 60. g5? c3 61. Kg4 (if 61. Rc1 Kf5 62. Rxc3 c4! 63. Rxc4 Rb3+ with a draw by blockade although two Pawns down) Rb4! 62. Re1+ Kf7 63. Kf5 c2 64. Rc1 Rc4 65. g6+ Kg7 66. Kg5 Rc3 draws. B] 60. f5+! Ke5 61. Re1+ Kd4 (after 61 ... Kf6 62. Kf4 c3 63. g5+ Kg7 64. g6 c2 65. Kg5 Rb1 66. f6+ wins) 62. g5 c3 63. f6 c2 64. Rc1! (64. f7? Rb1! draws) Ke5 65. Kg4! snuffs out Black's resistance.> c3 58. g5 c5 59. Rd1+ <It's tough right down the line. After 59. g6 Rg8 60. f5 Ke5! 61. Kg4 Kf6 62. Rc1 c4! 63. Rxc3 Rc8! White can make no headway. Or on 59. Kg4 Re2! 60. g6 Ke4! 61. Kg5 Rg2+ 62. Kf6 Kxf4 etc., as the Russian bulletins also point out.> Kc4 60. g6 c2 61. Rc1 <On 61. Rg1 Rd8! the threat of ... Rd1 forces 62. Rc1 (not 62. g7? Rg8! followed by ... Rxg7 and wins).> Kd3 62. f5 Rg8! 63. Kf4 Kd2 64. Rxc2+ Kxc2 65. Kg5 c4 66. f6 c3 67. f7 Drawn

Bobby Fischer, "MSMG"

Premium Chessgames Member
  tpstar: <I offered the draw, not realizing it was bad etiquette. It was Petrosian's place to extend the offer after 67 ... Rxg6+ (if Black wants to get melodramatic 67 ... Rc8 68. g7 Kb1 69. f8=Q Rxf8 70. gxf8=Q c2 reaches the same position) 68. Kxg6 Kb1 69. f8=Q c2 with a book draw.>

Bobby Fischer, "MSMG"

There's a notation error for Petrosian's line at Move 57 where "70 P-N8 = Q" should be 70. f8=Q since the Rook just gave up its life for the Pg6.

A highly instructive R&P endgame which should be required reading for all serious students.

Nov-08-07  sallom89: good end game by both , but i see white .. or am i wrong ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: <utssb: Petrosian looked quite different as a young man, at least in this photo.> I don't think that is Petrosian. For one thing the position in the photo doesn't occur in this game. (Maybe Tal?)
Feb-13-08  MichAdams: Looks more like a pictorial reproduction of a photo. From experience, it's a common Soviet technique, if my suspicion is correct.

And that probably is Petrosian; it's certainly not Tal.

Feb-13-08  Resignation Trap: <MichAdams> Your suspicion is correct. I have many old publication from the USSR and "touched-up" photos are a specialty of theirs.
Feb-13-08  Riverbeast: <Bobby should have been very warm to his hosts, instead his behavior was rude and obnoxious.>

I don't know about that. Supposedly Bobby was having fun playing blitz with the Russians, talking his usual banter in what little Russian he knew.

He was upset that none of the leading Soviet GMs would play him, though. He thought this was disrespectful on their part, as he was US Champion. Finally Petrosian played him, after Fischer crushed all their second-tier masters.

Feb-13-08  Geronimo: What a beautiful game. There's enough in here to keep a player like me busy for a month of filing through variations. Does anyone have a good history of this game?
Nov-21-08  jerseybob: And where are the scoresheets if that's a tournament game? I've read that Fischer - 10 or 15 years later - was able to remember the moves of a game he played that day, possibly against Vasiukov.
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