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Anatoly Karpov vs Boris Spassky
Montreal (1979), Montreal CAN, rd 4, Apr-14
Queen's Gambit Declined: Harrwitz Attack. Main Line Old Main Line (D37)  ·  1-0


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Given 36 times; par: 63 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-31-06  notyetagm: In this game Karpov makes defeating the IQP look almost easy.
Jan-28-07  morphyvsfischer: This game should put a rest to Tarrasch's idea that an IQP is always good for the possesor. The Black pieces are very passively placed on move 15, when the plans for each side begin. I think 11...e5 is necessary. After the game continuation, the pawn acceptance 12 Nb3 Qb6 13 cxd5 Nxd5 14 Nxd5 exd5 15 Rxd5 Bb4+ 16 Nd2 (axb4? Nxb4 17 Qd2 Nxd5 18 Qxd5 Be6 wins for Black) 16...Rac8, and Black definitely has compensation for the pawn. As in the game, white has a positional edge for nothing, as 12... Rfc8 is necessary to give the black Q d8 for a retreat square if Nb3. A good example that tactics always rear their ugly heads is 17...bxc6 18 Ba6. 20 Bxe4? dxe4 21 Qxe4 Qxb2 suddenly makes black's position playable.

21...Bxa3 22 Bxg7!; Black has something for the exchange, and indeed winning chances (unlike as in the game) after 21...Rxc3!? 22 bxc3 Qa5 with a pawn and some initiative for the exchange.

31...f5 32 Qg6 Bf8 33 Be5 followed by g4 also crushes Black; 34 f5 Bf7 35 e4 d4! saves black, since d4 is invulnerable due to the Q check on e5; 40...Red7 41 dxc7 Rxd3 42 cxd8Q also wins.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <morphyvfischer> 11...e5 is the main line today, according to OMGP V. Karpov (as Black) tried 10...Re8 and 11...e5 against Korchnoi in Baguio and lost. In the Montreal 1979 tournament book he criticizes his own play and makes clear that he was eager to try this line as White.

Spassky does himself no favors with his ...Rfc8, ....Qd8 manuever. Note that 17...Rxc6 is forced because if 17...bc, 18. Ba6 wins the exchange. Once the knights are off and Karpov's bishops are perfectly placed on the long diagonals, Black is all but doomed.

Here is the Baguio game.

Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1978

Jul-30-07  sanyas: He played a similar yet superior (in my opinion) game later in Korchnoi vs Karpov, 1981.
Jul-30-07  RookFile: Well, this is a nice game.
Jul-11-09  ToTheDeath: Excellent game- Karpov learned from the greats: Botvinnik vs E Zagorjansky, 1943

The key breakthrough 36.e4! becomes possible once the Bishop is driven from the e6 square.

Jan-18-12  zakkzheng: Karpov was able to destroy the blacks position and win a piece and when black made his desprite try,white was already preprared for the killing isult.White was good enough to win the isolated d pawn really fasonted.
Jul-06-12  Howard: In the recently-published book that has Karpov's best games up through 1985 (followed by a subsequent volume by the same authors, which gives his best efforts from 1986 to about 2010), the authors point out a move that Karpov missed, which would have netted him a pawn.

They also point out a move near the end where Spassky could have put up more resistance.

Nonetheless, a very good game---no question about that. So was their other Montreal encounter, where Karpov played a strong endgame!

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Daniel ♔ annotates this game in his Powerplay CD:
Apr-17-14  Lossmaster: This game was played on round 4, on April 15th 1979. It was my 14th birthday, and I was there in the audience! I still have the scorebook where I wrote down the moves as I was watching the game. Strangely, in my handwritten score, the move order for Black is not exactly the same as above: instead of 30...a5, 32...Qb5 and 34...Qc6, I have 30...Qb5, 32...Qc6 and 34...a5. Should I blame it on my youth?
Apr-19-14  Lossmaster: Out of curiosity, I've just looked up the game in the official tournament book, written by Gligoric (the tournament director), and in another book on the same event, written the same year by Gilles Brodeur et al. Well, both books agree with my scorebook and disagree with the database: the move order for Black should be 30...♕b5, 32...♕c6 and 34...a5 instead of 30...a5, 32...♕b5 and 34...♕c6.
Apr-19-14  john barleycorn: <Lossmaster> keep those notebooks! :-)
Apr-19-14  Howard: Hmmmmm, maybe I should check both the Informant for the first half of 1979, plus that aforementioned book on Karpov's best games. Seems to be some disagreement on the score.
Apr-19-14  Eusebius: of the greatest
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Just checked my 1979 Informator. No. 27. Game 522.

It has the move order as given in the main score on here. Has a note after Black's 34th move 34...Qc6 indicating 34...Rd6 was better.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: Forgot to add, the notes are by Geler (sic).

I'd trust the eye-witness account.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: One would imagine that Black was played by Spaski--that guy who played a match with someone called Korcnoj barely a year before this event.
Jul-14-14  Tatumart: MONTREAL 1979 Tournament pf Stars
Pergamond Press Translation 1980 K. P. Neat from the original Russian edition entitled Turnir Svyezd published by Fiskultura i Sport 1979 The game above has the original notes by Karpov, and the moves are as shown in the complete game above
Jul-31-14  Howard: Is that "Tournament of Stars" book (written by Tal I believe) still a reasonable price ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: 38...b5?? was an awful blunder for such a player as Spassky. Unbelievable.
Jun-20-17  Petrosianic: Yeah, whoever heard of a blunder right before Move 40? Unbelievable.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Spassky might, instead, have gone the whole hogger and blundered again at that other favourite spot: move 41, had he decided to prolong matters.
Jun-20-17  Retireborn: Spassky probably expected 41.dxe7 Rxd3 and had missed 41.b3! when he played 38...b5 - it's bad but not the worst blunder I've seen a GM make.

As for the move order, I too have seen the game given with the <Lossmaster> move order in various books, including (I think!) at least one book by Karpov himself.

It's easy to imagine Geller reconstructing the game entirely from memory and not getting it quite right.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <Petrosianic: Yeah, whoever heard of a blunder right before Move 40? Unbelievable.> For a patzer, it happens quiet often, but Spassky was a former World Champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <Retireborn: Spassky probably expected 41.dxe7 Rxd3 and had missed 41.b3! when he played 38...b5 - it's bad but not the worst blunder I've seen a GM make.> There are GMs and GMs. The difference of strengh between GMs can be very big. Spassky, as a former World Champion, was not a common GM. He blundered very rarely. He was not in his best shape at Montreal.
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