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Anatoly Karpov vs Yuri Balashov
Tilburg Interpolis (1977), Tilburg NED, rd 6, Sep-29
Caro-Kann Defense: Karpov. Smyslov Variation (B17)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jul-13-06  KingG: I asked <ray keene> on his page whether he knew of any Karpov games that were suspected of being fixed, and he mentioned this one. These are the comments he made:

<there was a karpov v balashov game from tilburg one year that aroused some suspicion-i dont recall which year tho i think it was a caro kann-karpov needed to win and balashov was karpovs second. of course theres no evidence just a suspicion but i seem to remember it was quite widely voiced at the time.>

<karpov v balashov 1977

i think the suspicions were aroused because from move 30 onwards for several moves black could have won material with ---g5-white is forced to sac but it looks unconvincing

karpov needed to win because of a strong challenge from miles at that time-i seem to recall

balashov was karpovs second

black seemed to be winning but then inexplicably failed to play ---g5 for a whole bunch of times when it probably wins -or so we thought at the time--a bit of computer analysis wd be welcome to ascertain whether we were right--or not

all circumstantial i know but as i said-suspicions were aroused!>

Therefore i decided to do some computer analysis to see if ...g5 was indeed winning at some point. It certainly wins the knight, but the question is, can Black survive the resulting attack that White gets?

Jul-13-06  KingG: In fact, there is only one move where Black could have played ...g5 that needs careful analysis. If it's played on move 31, then White's attack is crushing

31...g5? 32.Bxg5! hxg5 33.Qxg5 Ng8! (33...Nd5? 34.Nf5! exf5 35.Qh6+ Kg8 36.Bxf5 ) 34.d5! Qb6 (34...exd5 35.Bh7 Nce7 36.Nf5 ) 35.dxe6 Qxf2+ 36.Kh1 Rxd1 37.Rxd1 Qxb2 38.exf7 Nge7 39.Re1!

click for larger view

Black won't survive.

32...g5? 33.Ne5! gxh4 34.Bxh6+ Ke8 35.Qg5 Nxh6 36.Qxh6 Rdc7 37.Qh8+ Ke7 38.Qxh4+ Kf8 39.Qh8+

click for larger view

Jul-13-06  KingG: So that just leaves 30...g5

Now, White has two options, either try for a draw with 31.Nxg5 hxg5 32.Bxg5 Nxd4 33.Qe5 Qxg2+! 34.Nxg2 Nf3+ 35.Kf1 Nxe5 36.Bxf6 Rxd1 37.Rxd1 Bf3 38.Rd2

click for larger view

or play for a win with 31.Qd2 gxh4 32.Bxh6+ Ke7 33.Bg7!?(33.Bg5 Bxd4 34.Nxd4 Rxd4 35.Bxf6+ Kxf6 36.Qh6+ Ke7 37.Be4 Rxd1 38.Rxd1 Qb8 39.Qxh4+ Ke8 40.Qh8+ Ke7 41.Qh4+ is a draw) 33...Nd5 34.Be4, which just looks unclear. It doesn't look much fun to play as Black though.

click for larger view

Of course, we don't know how much either player saw, but it's certainly possible that Black was frightened off by the attack, and preferred not to take the risk. From Karpov's point of view, he was worse anyway, so perhaps he was trying for complications.

Jul-13-06  ughaibu: A point that might be significant, is that the challenge was being mounted by Miles. I'm not suggesting anything conscious on Keene's part but the nationalist component of these accusations cant be ignored.
Jul-13-06  KingG: I didn't think Keene and Miles were exactly the best of friends, so i don't see why Keene would make this up. He's probably more of a fan of Karpov than Miles.
Jul-13-06  ughaibu: I'm not suggesting he made it up, I'm suggesting an unconcious nationalist sentiment at work. Keene is a big fan of the British queen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Keene is a big fan of the British queen.> Isn't everyone? Life just isn't the same without Freddie Mercury. Thanks for posting all that analysis, KingG!
Jul-13-06  euripides: I think Miles was very popular in British chess in 1977 - he was becoming the first world-class player the country had had for a very long time. The fights came later. I think that any suspicion of a Soviet stitch-up against Miles would have been greeted with the same fair-mindedness and generosity that people in England now feel for Cristiano Ronaldo.

There may also have been a tradition of soft draws between Soviet players on foreign soil. Somehere Botvinnik boasts that one of his victories was the first time one Soviet grandmaster had beaten another at Hastings. (Funnily, I think the opponent was Balashov).

Apr-16-09  ToTheDeath: KingG is right- the complications arising from 30...g5 and 31...g5 are extremely murky and would not be easy to evaluate over the board.

If anything the spot where Balashov fell apart was 33...exd5? Instead 33...Nf6! gives Black the advantage in all lines. However this collapse could easily have been the result of time pressure.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Karpov played 13..cxd in a loss to Rublevsky at Polonica Zdroj 1998 (not in this database).
Feb-16-10  A Karpov Fan: Funny how envy affects people isn't it ;-)
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