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Paul Keres vs Vasily Smyslov
Zurich Candidates (1953), Zurich SUI, rd 24, Oct-13
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Hedgehog System (A17)  ·  0-1


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Given 54 times; par: 50 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <By 1953, when I was beginning to play chess seriously, everybody was talking about the unfair way of selecting Botvinnik's opponents. And there were charges that the Russians were rigging international tournaments to keep the world championship in Russian hands. For example, the Chess Review wrote about the Candidates' Tournament of 1953: "There has been undeniable collusion by the Russians to freeze out Western competition." The main argument was this: nothing could prevent one of the Russian players' winning the Candidates' Tournament if, at a critical stage, "it became expedient to throw collective support to the Soviet candidate whose prospects had crystallized above those of his fellow Russians." Nothing could prevent it because the Russian team could draw all their games with each other if they were in the lead, or throw their games to the strongest Russian contender it they were threatened by a player from another country. In an editorial The New York Times said that the system for picking the challenger for the world championship led "to possible collusion between Soviet players to help one win a tourney, as against a non-Soviet opponent.">

-- Bobby Fischer

Jun-11-12  Petrosianic: Chess Review sniffed a bit at the results, but Chess Life apologized publicly afterwards, saying that their fears of collusion had come to nothing, and that Kotov even beat Smyslov at a critical juncture.

Of course the tournament format is imperfect for some of these reasons. Remember a few years back when Cheparinov went all out to beat Ivanchuk in the last round of Sofia, when most people would have taken a quick draw, to try to help Topalov into first. Or when all the GM's got together and ganged up on Needleman to keep him out of the FIDE lottery.

This is why the tournament format isn't good for these things. Unfortunately, everyone seems to have been for it when it mattered. Fine wrote that deciding the world championship in a tournament in 1948 was a great idea because it gave so many players the chance to compete for it. I think that's silly. A much better format would have been an 8 player knockout, culminating in a Best of 24 final to crown the new champion. That gives you both matches and gives a lot of players the chance to compete. But FIDE's organizational skills might not have been up to it at the time. (Come to think of it, they aren't up to it any more either).

Jun-11-12  Petrosianic: This from Chess Life, January 5, 1954:

<Not so long ago, our best Chess brains prematurely but emphatically predicted that the nine Russians will gang up on all the non-Russians, particularly on our own and only entry on the Challengers Tournament i Switzerland, Sammy Reshevsky.

Now the tournament is over and our faces are red. Every participant played his best. The Russian winner of the tournament lost ony one game and that to a Russian.>

Jun-11-12  ughaibu: Your remarks about the Needleman affair are incorrect and defamatory. Needleman was the only player who needed a win, all the other players would have qualified on draws alone.
Jun-12-12  Petrosianic: Which remarks would those be? The outcomes and lengths of those games are a matter of public record. You may need to look up the meanings of both "incorrect" and "defamatory" before attempting to apply them.

To save you the trouble, "incorrect" means "not true", not "true but embarrassing". And "defamatory" means to damage ones reputation with libel, (again, not "to point out something true but embarrassing".

To libel them, I would, of course, have to first accuse them of doing something wrong, and all of them acted within the rules. That's the point that you're missing here. It's the rules themselves that are the problem.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Thanks <Petrosianic>!
Jun-13-12  ughaibu: It's pretty @#$%* obvious which remarks, isn't it? "All the GM's got together and ganged up on Needleman to keep him out of the FIDE lottery" is incorrect and defamatory.
Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: Okay, well I just explained why those remarks couldn't have been defamatory,and you don't seem to have any answer to my explanation. Repeating a mistake doesn't make it become true as a consolation prize.
Jun-13-12  ughaibu: The term isn't exclusive to legal usage, again obviously, but here you go: So your explanation wasn't worth @#$%. Further, if the lengths of the games is a matter of public record, produce that record, produce any score from the play-off. Next, explain why those who only need to draw would have a motive to "gang up" on anyone.
Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: <The term isn't exclusive to legal usage, again obviously, but here you go:>...

I'm reading it. "Defamatory: The act of defaming." Oh yes, that was very helpful. This should show you the dangers of trying to use a link as a substitute for arguing your own case.

Before you continue, have you actually <seen> the games in question? And have you seen the crosstable of the event? If you haven't, they're available here on, so consider them "produced". You don't seem to have any idea why anyone would think they played harder against Needelman than each other, so I assume you've seen neither. Get the facts first, THEN form your opinion. That's the way the pros do it.

Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: Incidentally, how come you aren't upset about the Cheparinov comment? That's why it wasn't obvious which comments you meant. I thought I was harder on him than the others (the GMS in the Needleman case acted in their own best interests, but Cheparinov might have acted against his) but you seem to have passed that over completely.
Jun-13-12  ughaibu: 1) either you understand that "defamatory" has a breadth of usage or you're incorrigibly ignorant on the matter.

2) if you cannot show me any of the games, then I will not be able to see any of them, will I? If you can produce the score of any game from the play-off, do so. As far as I'm aware, those games were not recorded. The burden is on you.

3) you are some species of master, aren't you? This really should be piss easy for you to figure out, from my first reply to you. If the there is a collection of players, all but one of whom need only draws, and if it is late at night, after a hard day of chess, should it surprise anyone if the players who only need draws quickly both offer and accept those draws? On the other hand, if there is only one player who needs a win, would it be a surprise if that player offered or accepted quick draws?

4) are you unaware of the fact that this matter was fully sorted within days of the event? That Needleman himself repudiated any association with the accusations?

Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: 1) You have a tendency to ask people to accept your case before you've even made one. This is you third post on the matter, and only now are you deigning to actually argue your case, rather than demand I accept your conclusion on faith. This is why you lose arguments.

2) I told you where the games are, why haven't you looked at them?

3) If you'd looked at the games, you wouldn't be asking this. I'm telling you <what actually happened> in those games. You've got an explanation for why it probably wouldn't happen, which ignores the fact <that it already has>. You're like the mathematician who proved that bees can't fly. There's just one <tiny> problem with that theory...

4) I explicitly said that all the players acted within the rules. Therefore there was no "accusation". I'm just repeating myself now.

You're wasting my time now. Unless you look at those games, my next answer to you, word for word is going to be "If you'd looked at the games, you wouldn't make that mistake." I'm giving you my next post in advance, unless you prevent it.

Jun-13-12  ughaibu: Link to a game from the play-off, any game.
Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: If you'd looked at the games, you wouldn't make that mistake.
Jun-13-12  Petrosianic: To cut this short, it wouldn't help to link to one game. I could link to one GM draw, and it wouldn't prove anything by itself. You'd have to see all of the games to get an accurate picture. That would be a lot of work to link to every game without any guarantee that you'd even look at them, or that the facts would matter if you did (you've given me considerable reason to doubt that).

So, how about this? I'll admit that you've won the battle of wills (because I couldn't "make you drink", so to speak), but not the argument (because you haven't given me any reason not to repeat the claim to the next guy). But at least you can say you won something.

Jun-13-12  ughaibu: Bull @#$%. You have far greater credibility as a historian of chess than I have, but your persistence with this nonsense is jeopordising that status.

The play-off games were not recorded, as far as I know, linking to any score from the play-off would be sufficient to show me to be wrong about this.

You're not a fool, are you? You understand that given two players, A and B, if A only needs a draw but B needs a win, then there is no surprise about A offering a draw as early as possible, neither is there any surprise about B refusing all offers of draws, for as long as possible. In the Needleman case, there were several players in A, so there is nothing surprising about them agreeing quick draws, is there? In B there was only one player, Needleman, so there is nothing surprising about him refusing draws, is there?

Sure you can repeat the claim to the next guy, but why would you? The "ganging up" claim was made by one excessively nationalistic journalist, it was denied by everyone else, including Needleman. In short, there is even less of a case for ganging up than there is with Bronstein's nonsense about Zurich, or Fischer's about Curacao. So, not only is supporting this nonsense beneath the level of your wit, it's also beneath the level of your integrity.

Jul-07-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move Final Score:

Keres vs Smyslov, 1953.
Your score: 55 (par = 49)


Aug-22-15  ToTheDeath: A justly famous game, a masterpiece of defensive ingenuity.
Aug-22-15  ToTheDeath: "Don't Rook Back"
Mar-11-18  sakredkow: Grischuk asked if he remembers a "famous Steinitz game with a rook manouevre". His response: "No, but I remember a really famous game with Keres-Smyslov in Candidates 1953. White put rooks on h3 and h5, took on h7 - and lost."

Tweet from Tarjei Svenson following Grischuk-So game and interview in Berlin.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: The questioner asked about this game specifically:

Steinitz vs Von Bardeleben, 1895

Mar-12-18  drleper: That part of the interview (about Keres - Smyslov) is here:

Although it's worth watching from the start, Grischuk in top form!

Mar-22-18  Howard: Incidentally, Soltis wrote a long two-part article for ChessCafe many years ago titled "Treachery In Zurich", and he touched upon this game, in fact.

One point to be made was that not only was Keres trailing Smyslov going into this game, but Keres had not yet taken his second-half bye..but Smyslov had. Thus, Keres needed to strive for a win at all costs here.

Too bad it backfired on him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Marmot PFL: Keres at least twice could have forced a draw I think but needed to win.
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