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Efim Geller vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Curacao Candidates (1962), Willemstad CUW, rd 24, Jun-17
Caro-Kann Defense: Advance Variation (B12)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-20-03  drukenknight: NOt sure I understand you, is Petrosian "well ahead" or is it "double edged"? Not sure how it can be both an easy win and a tough game.
Oct-20-03  drukenknight: Hey Eggman you got a problem with this game? Take a look at this one, which game is more likely to claim an advantage?

Spassky vs Petrosian, 1966

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: I just did some research and found the factoid that puts an end to this debate for all time:

The scenario:

a) 3 rounds left

b) Geller trails the joint leaders Keres and Petrosian by a half-point.

c) Geller has a 0-point bye due in the second last round.

d) Neither Keres nor Petrosian is due a bye.

e) Geller, in the third last (26th) round, has White against none other than Keres.

f) The game is a draw in 15 moves!

Think about that. Geller has already taken the quick draw with Petrosian. Now, when Geller has only two games left to play, and the others get to play three, and Geller's trailing anyway, he takes a quick draw with White. And against none other than Keres, one of the two men he desperately needs to catch.

What else could this be but collusion? The controversy is over. The argument is won. Checkmate.

Oct-20-03  Spitecheck: Without being a GM I'd say Petrosian was slightly better (If it was me I'd prefer to play black mainly on aesthetic grounds (his position just looks more attractive, without any concrete analysis).

Having just looked at the games between the the top 3 finishers in Curacao and indeed the match that followed for second place (boy those games went a heck of a lot longer), the games do seem a tad suspicious. But what's with the last round game Keres versus Fischer, why is that drawn, surely Keres can play that to the death and if Fischer blunders he atleast gets a playoff with Petrosian?? Petrosian taking the draw against Filip is whimpy but that's Petrosian, while Geller plays the decisive game guaranteeing him atleast the playoff match for direct seed in to the next candidates.


Oct-20-03  Benjamin Lau: I don't know enough about this matter to make any real good points and personally have no opinion on the issue, but it seems to me that we're assuming that people always behave logically. Do they?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Incidentally Spitecheck, I'm pretty darn sure that the play-off between Keres and Geller that you refer to was occasioned by the fact that there was some question as to whether or not Botvinnik would defend his title. Had Botvinnik not done so, then the World Championship Match would have been contested between Petrosian and the winner of the Keres-Geller play-off, which turned out to be Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Spitecheck: s regards the final-round Keres-Fischer game (Keres vs Fischer, 1962), playing on and on and on in a totally drawn position against one of the 10 best players in the entire world just isn't done.

BL: do people always behave logically? Nope. But did, for example, Karpov go all to win in the final game of his 1985 match against Kasparov when the title of World Champion was at stake? He sure did.

There are no subtle points of logic that one could fail to comprehend: you need to win, so try your best to do so!

Another thing that makes people behave illogically is stress/emotion, but I don't see where that applies here. It would be a strange coincidence if Geller was too stressed out to think straight about his goals (or to play for a win) only when he faced Petrosian and Keres.

Oct-20-03  Spitecheck: The Geller/Keres game is the most suspicious.....cause for Geller as opposed to the Petrosian game as you say this was where most of it was on the line. It does not nec indicate that the Russians colluded altogether, there may have been other factors at sway surrounding that game.

But what's wrong with the Russians colluding anyway LOL... If they had agreed beforehand that all games between them shall be drawn. Nowhere in the rules of chess does it specify when an agreed draw should take place..nor between whom.:). That's why FIDE changed the Rules, they saw that what the Russians were doing in no way breached the rules but in affect gave them a distinct advantage. So the Russians contributed as much to changing of the rule as did Fischer or FIDE :).

The thing that leaves it in doubt is that the Russians, didn't do the most honourable thing.....they could have all drawn without making a move...just signed the scoresheets and walked to a cafe and played lightning or whatever. And Fischer could have been grumbling under this breath while he tries to defeat Korchnoi in 90 moves. :)

Who were they colluding against anyway, Fischer? or Botvinnik.


Oct-20-03  Spitecheck: Totally drawn with two rooks, differing pawn structure and 5 pawns each?? True it looks fairly equal in fact Fischer might even have a slight plus in my books, but to me it just seems to smack of inevitability, every game, every round points to Petrosian as the challenger. But none more so than ironically the Fischer/Keres game. Regardless of any collusion Petrosian was the deserved challenger.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: 5 pawns each?? Count again, SC. Keres has four pawns (he's a pawn down at the moment), and to get his pawn back he'd have to play 31.Nxe5 Rxe5 32.Rd7 and then after 32...h5 33.Rxb7 Rb5 34.Rxb5 (or 34.Rc7 Rxb2 35.Rxc6 Kg7, which surely offers no better chances) cxb5 we have one Rook and four pawns each, with no real winning chances for White. Not at this level.
Oct-21-03  ughaibu: Spitecheck: Keres was leading until losing to Benko in the penultimate round.
Oct-21-03  Spitecheck: Egg...Sorry I actually meant 4 pawns, as I was fully aware that Keres would get the pawn back, as for the rook exchange you speak of that decreases the chances of a decisive outcome especially for white.

ugh...I am aware of that have more than a few chess books that talk about Curacao and other storms in a teacup, my (radical if you wish) assertion that Petrosian always looked like the winner was more based on the fact that he was drawing every game with Keres and Geller, yet as opposed to those two he did not lose to anyone else. You are right though the tournament was up for grabs right up till the last round. The notion is more concept than detail.

Some more info on this issue Keres apparently made a statement similar to this "if one does the maths one can see that a draw favours the player in the bottom half of the table" (meaning that a draw worth 50% as it were is a leg up to any player whose total score is less than 50%.)

Kotov (a non participant) at the time also said that a Russian player never deliberately threw a game to a compatriot (wink). Draws on the other hand are something of a natural occurence between strong Russian GMs.

PS I like the Generals comment on Aug 7, sounds like Tigran Petrosian is a criminal LOL (Those are two things that just don't seem to mix)


Dec-22-03  N. Cline Plane: The board position or any opening analysis is indeed irrelevant in determining whether the draw was "predestined."

As an example, I refer you to Karpov vs. Yudasin 1988 on this website, to which I have appended this quote due to GM Nigel Davies, who was present:

"I witnessed one blatant example of Soviet 'pressure' in an active chess qualifier in Gijon, Spain (1988). Leonid Yudashin checkmated Karpov and then, after the boys had a quiet word with Yudashin after the game, he and the appeal committee agreed to a replay."

Karpov officially won the game.

Thus, there is more than one way to fix a match -

Jul-24-05  ARTIN: First, the so called +2 advantage that Geller had over Petrosian is not very descriptive since Petrosian wasn't as high class a player till 1953. and from 1953-1962 Petrosian leads Geller by a point. This of course is irrelevant. The fact is that it's pretty darn hard to beat Petrosian especially when he doesn't need a win (he only lost 1 game in Curacao). As for the last round draw that petrosian made, it's a well known psychological trick that he used very successfully over the years. It's just a matter of preference since playing for a win involves chances of losing.
Apr-15-09  ewan14: I don't think Petrosian lost at Curacao. He did lose to Stein in the USSR Championship / zonal

Geller might have learnt a lesson in the Candidates tournament in 1956. In the first round he declined Petrosian's offer of a draw in their game and won( which might have caused Petrosian's disasterous start )

Subsequently Petrosian went all out for a win ( successfully ) in the '' return '' game with Geller costing Geller the lead in the tournament

Thereafter in important games Geller and Petrosian would draw , and at Curacao visit Benko offering help

Apr-15-09  sleepkid: Geller and Petrosian drew 33 times out of the 41 games they played together in the database. A large number of these draws are roughly 20 moves or less. They were either friends and generally did not like to face each other, or they had a mutual fear of each other, and thus avoided confrontation.

This pattern of drawing exists even before the Curacao tournament.

Not saying one thing or another here. Just pointing out the facts.

Dec-22-09  Marmot PFL: Evidently these two got off the plane at Curacao, were hit by the heat and blazing sun and prudently decided they would need plenty of rest over the next several weeks. Keres (46 years old) was not averse to this either. the big threats were believed to be Tal and Fischer. Bobby got in trouble early with a loss to Benko that seemed to affect his confidence, and Tal was too sick to even finish the event. So now Keres was the major threat, but he too lost to Benko, with a bit of adjournment help from the two Soviet teammates.
Aug-24-11  ewan14: Benko denies he actually made use of the '' gruesome twosomes'' offer of assistance

Keres fan

P.S. The Soviets would not have wanted Fischer to have the opportunity to play Botvinnik

Aug-24-11  number 23 NBer: I have absolutely nothing to add to the argument, save that I find the designation of the three alleged conspirators as "Russians" to be bothersome when Keres was Estonian, Petrosian was Armenian and Geller was Ukrainian. In fact, the only Russian in this particular tournament was Korchnoi.
Aug-24-11  Strongest Force: Because of his baskettball skills, Geller was my hero back in the 60's. It didn't hurt that he was a great attacking player. In 62 he saved Botvinnik's adjourned game against Fischer at the olympics.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: This is where the Curacao drawing pact gets really weird. Geller, effectively a point-and-a-half behind Petrosian and Keres (he still had to take his bye round for the non-game against Tal), had plenty of chances to win the tournament if he had beaten Petrosian in this game (he would have been a point behind Keres four rounds to go). On the other hand, he had nothing to gain from a draw standing-wise. But Geller seems to have decided to 'withdraw' from contention. He was friends with Petrosian and wanted him to win. He seems, along with the rest of the Soviet contingent, to have had a residual antipathy to Keres (probably because of Keres' wartime collaboration). And there may have been a piece of it that, like Boleslavsky slowing down at Budapest 1950 to allow Bronstein to catch him, Geller felt that Petrosian was really the better player and had a better chance of beating Botvinnik. So, basically, Geller sacrificed himself because he didn't want to get into a situation where he ruined Petrosian's chances and then failed to overtake Keres in the tournament's last rounds.

It's all really bizarre -- and you get the sense with a lot of the Soviet players in this period that, even in the absence of overt political pressure, they actually kind of preferred this sort of point-counting and political machination to deciding tournaments over the board.

Mar-07-14  ughaibu: What drawing pact?
The only plausible case of a "drawing pact", that I've heard of, is the one at Hastings 1967/68 (1967) This is plausible because it's said that the prizes were crap, so the top players arranged to share the cash. Of course, in a candidates tournament, there's no sharing of the prize.
Mar-07-14  Petrosianic: This is an article of faith. I spent 6 months trying to get Riverbeast to provide some evidence of it, and all he came up with in that time was that he liked the idea and it was commonly believed.

Curacao is one of those odd tournaments, where the history was more or less written by the losers (primarily Fischer and Korchnoi). Fischer's Sports Illustrated article was heavily discredited in the 60's (see particularly Eliot Hearst's "The Selfmate of Bobby Fischer" column in Chess Life, July 1964), but got a new lease on life when he won the title.

Of course, the core of Fischer's charges was that Korchnoi threw games to the top 3, but nobody believes that even now, it's just something people try to forget.

Mar-07-14  SChesshevsky: <zydeco: This is where the Curacao drawing pact gets really weird.>

I guess what you mentioned is possible. But so is the summary of the tourney in "Tigran Petrosian: his life and games" by Vik Vasiliev, Chapter 8.

It states Petrosian's basic view was that given the tough conditions and grueling schedule, his two main contenders were Korchnoi and Fischer. Tal was sick, Keres was too old, Geller was not young either and prone to nerves. He felt Fischer a threat but at only 19 a longer shot than Korchnoi. He felt Korchnoi could win but his liking of attacking, complex chess would put him at a disadvantage over time.

So Petrosian had a patient, save energy strategy during the event.

By the end of the 2nd out of 4 cycles, Petrosian felt he was in good position. Not tired at all after winning 4 games and drawing 10.

At the beginning of the last cycle, Petrosian felt his plan was working out. He was tied with Geller with 14 points, a half behind Keres, and three ahead of Korchnoi.

After the tournament, Petrosian felt his plan had a lot to do with his win. The book notes that in the tournament Petrosian played a total of 48 hours, Keres and Geller 59 hours and Korchnoi 72 hours.

The book also noted that Keres had a chance to tie Petrosian by beating Fischer in the last round and did have the advantage until the stress blew up his game.

Check out the book if possible. It's a pretty good read.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: I know. These conversations go in circles. I feel like I have a decent understanding the 'drawing pact.' Averbakh, who was the head of the Soviet sport delegation in Curacao, explains it pretty well here: It didn't have much to do with Fischer (Fischer was just the one to break the story). All of the participants knew that it was going to be a long, physically taxing tournament. Petrosian, Geller, and Keres each calculated that it would be in their interest -- and in the interest of the Soviet contingent as a whole -- to make draws with each other. It wouldn't have worked if somebody else -- Tal or Fischer or Korchnoi -- had gotten red-hot, but, because of the slow pace of the tournament, it worked brilliantly. So far so good. What usually happens with alliance blocs (c.f. any season of Survivor) is that they hold for a while, and then at the end of the competition, it breaks apart and it's everybody for themselves. Except that at Curacao, Keres, Petrosian, and Geller kept drawing straight through to the end of the tournament. It makes sense for Petrosian: he was an inveterate point-counter and he seems to have decided that his best chance was to draw his last five games of the tournament. In hindsight, Keres may have hurt his own cause with the drawing arrangement, but he had his own reasons for participating -- he seems to have felt, based on his experience from previous candidates tournaments, that he was better off making draws and agreeing to a slow pace -- and the strategy worked great for him until he lost to Benko in the next-to-last round. Geller is the most curious one (and I haven't read much about his role in the tournament). He had a perfectly viable chance of winning all the way through the last cycle, but he seems, in some way, to have decided to hitch himself to Petrosian -- and so agreed to two very short draws, against Keres and Petrosian, when, by any rational competitive calculation, he should have been playing for a win.
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