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Paul Keres vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Curacao Candidates (1962), Willemstad CUW, rd 25, Jun-20
Sicilian Defense: Accelerated Dragon. Maroczy Bind Gurgenidze Variation (B36)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 7 OF 7 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Feb-27-09  Petrosianic: Here, I've found what I think Fischer was talking about already. Have a look at this. From Chess Review, November 1953, p. 323

<Although Americans naturally are disappointed that their standard-bearer could not gain first place, they should bear in mind the magnitude of his actual achievement, which can be assessed properly only by considering the terrific handicaps imposed upon him.

To begin with, he entered the tournament not at all certain that the 9 man Russian "syndicate" would be overly concerned with "bourgeois" standards of sportsmanship. At Saltsjoebaden there had been undeniable collusion by the Russians in a move to freeze out Western competitors. Might not the same tactics be repeated at some critical stage in the present struggle if it became expedient to throw collective support to the Soviet candidate whose prospects had crystallized above those of his fellow Russians? Regarding this possibility, the Australian "Chess World" remarked in a pre-tournament issue that "we fear the Russians would put patriotism above the canons of sport, as at Saltsjoebaden, and make things a bit easier for the top Russian."

While "Chess Review" has no evidence that such collusion was either planned or practiced in Switzerland, the ever-present threat operated as a mental hazard that could not but adversely affect the play of the Western group. An indication of the peculiar Russian mentality on this point is seen in the intransigent attitude of Ragozin, official spokesman for the Russian delegation, during an interview with the American journalist and master, George Koltanowski. When George started to ask a question beginning, "If a non-Russian were to win this tournament-" Ragozin brusquely interrupted: "Neyt! Never! Impossible!" Why players of the calibre of Reshevsky, Najdorf, Gligorich and so forth should be ruled out summarily is difficult to see, even if we grant the undoubted capabilities of the Russian stars. Was Ragozin merely voicing a personal opinion as to the probable outcome? Or was he expounding an official, a priori dogma that no non-Communist will ever be allowed to win a challengers' tournament if the Russians, by hook or crook can possibly prevent it?>

Analysis next post.

Feb-27-09  Petrosianic: A couple of points about the above:

1) No specific allegations of anything. They even admit they have no evidence of anything.

2) The whole "threat is greater than the execution" argument is, I think their best point. Even if nothing happened (and in light of Kotov-Smyslov, it probably didn't), Reshevsky may have been adversely affected, <wondering if it would>. Imagine if the final round had had Reshevsky tied for first, and drawing, while the guy he was tied with beat a fellow Russian. Even if the result was completely legitimate, nobody would have any confidence that it was. That's why I think that tournaments are a bad way to decide these things in the first place.

3) The idea that a fix would be in, and they'd bother to tell somebody like Ragozin about it seems pretty far-fetched to me. Reasonable suspicions are one thing, but this is getting nutty.

4) They make reference to collusion at the 1948 Saltsjobaden Interzonal. They don't say what they're talking about, but describe it as "undeniable". So, that's the place to look next.

Feb-27-09  Olavi: Another case is the Groningen 1946 tournament. Botvinnik won with 14,5 ahead of Euwe 14. He repeatedly referred to his famous saved draw against Euwe "without this draw, there probably would not have been a WC tournament in 1948". He meant that Euwe would have been declared champion had he won the tournament (as he indeed was in the Winterthur 1947 congress for two hours, before the soviets arrived). But in round 14 of this 19 round tournament, the same Kotov beat Botvinnik! OK this is much more debatable, but seems like a big gamble...
Feb-27-09  Petrosianic: I've found the article on the Saltsjobaden Interzonal, but it's annoyingly vague. From Chess Review, August 1948, page 3:

Incomplete reports on the interzonal tournament at Saltsjobaden (near Stockholm), Sweden indicate that Soviet chess masters have scored a landslide victory.

Seven players represented the U.S.S.R. in the twenty man field and five of them finished in the top six places!

David Bronstein, 24-year old Moscow master, was first with 13.5-5.5. He had a full point margin over Laszlo Szabo. The Hungarian star was the only non-Soviet entrant to squeeze into the coveted winner's circle. Third place went to Isaac Boleslavsky, 12-7, Alexander Kotov, 11.5-7.5 took fourth and Andre Lilienthal, 11-8, was fifth. A fifth Russian, Igor Bondarevsky, had 10-6 with one game adjourned. A win would give him a tie with Lilienthal.

The rest of the star-studded group in the International Chess Federation's tournament were also rans. In this limbo were such grandmasters as Mendel Najdorf, Gideon Stahlberg and Salo Flohr.

The top five players will join Vassily Smyslov, Samuel Reshevsky Paul Keres, Dr. Max Euwe and possibly Reuben Fine in the "tournament of candidates" to be held next year. The winner of this event will be the official challenger for the world title. He and champion Mikhail Botvinnik will meet in match play sometime during 1960.>

So, there's no mention of collusion here, though maybe it was mentioned at some other time. If so, it won't be easy to find.

One thing to mention. In the early days, the list of candidates was altered a lot. Though the article says that Fine might be playing in the 1949 Candidates Tournament, a) he didn't play, and b) it was played in 1950.

The article says that the top 6 finishers qualified for the "tournament of champions", and that Najdorf, Stahlberg and Flohr were "also rans". No. In actual fact, all three of those players played in the 1950 Candidates Tournament. As for Bondarevsky, he was supposed to play, and they were going to invite Petar Trifunovich of Yugoslavia (the next highest finisher) as well, to keep the numbers even. But Bondarevsky dropped out of the tournament, and as a result, Trifunovich was left out as well (Yes, things really were that loose in the early days).

But no mention at all of the "undeniable" collusion that the 1953 article talked about. The top Western finisher was Najdorf, who DID in fact play in the Candidates. The top Western finisher who did NOT play in the Candidates was the Finish master Eero Book, the guy who invented the book variation (Yuck, yuck, yuck!), who finished with an even score. I doubt any collusion was necessary to keep him out.

But okay, let's say that collusion was used to keep Najdorf out of the top 6, but he was later admitted to the Candidates anyway. If there was, this article doesn't mention it. Maybe it's somewhere else, and I'll keep an eye out. But it'll be harder to find.

Feb-27-09  Augalv: Regarding Curacao 1962, didn't Suetin say there was a draw pact between Geller, Keres and Petrosian?
Feb-27-09  Olavi: I seem to remember that Najdorf, Stahlberg and Flohr were admitted to the 1950 Candidates when it became clear that Euwe, Reshevsky and Fine would not play. But I can't give a source.
Feb-27-09  AnalyzeThis: <Augalv: Regarding Curacao 1962, didn't Suetin say there was a draw pact between Geller, Keres and Petrosian? >

The answer would be yes. But he was only Petrosian's second, what would he know?

Feb-28-09  Petrosianic: <Regarding Curacao 1962, didn't Suetin say there was a draw pact between Geller, Keres and Petrosian?>

Not sure. Possibly yes. I seem to remember someone alluding to a Suetin quote here once, but the source they claimed was either out of print, or in German, or both, and so the quote was never posted. I don't believe Suetin was at Curacao, however. Rook is remembering half right. Suetin did serve as Petrosian's second once, but it was for the 1971 Petrosian-Fischer match, not at Curacao. (Of course just because he wasn't there doesn't make it impossible for him to have any meaningful knowledge).

However, I'm certain that Averbakh was at Curacao, and he promised a book of his memoirs several years ago, so we may get new information on this at some point.

Feb-28-09  Petrosianic: <I seem to remember that Najdorf, Stahlberg and Flohr were admitted to the 1950 Candidates when it became clear that Euwe, Reshevsky and Fine would not play. But I can't give a source.>

I'm trying to remember what happened. I believe that Reshevsky, Fine and Euwe were originally supposed to play in the Candidates, but withdrew, and so their places were filled by the next highest people from the Interzonal.

I'm not sure about the details, though. For the longest time I had heard that Reshevsky and Fine couldn't get leave from the State Department to go to Budapest, but I seem to remember hearing more recently that that's not the case and neither one ever applied. Euwe, I've heard, couldn't get leave from his teaching job, though I couldn't swear to that.

Feb-28-09  ughaibu: Suetin wasn't in Curacao.
Feb-28-09  Olavi: About the 1950 Candidates, I think I read the above in Lilienthal's or Szabo's memoirs, or Munninghoff's Euwe biography, or Bronstein Sorcerer's apprentice, os the Deutsche Schachzeitung... none of which I have at hand now. Anohow, the soviets were so dominant in Saltsjobaden 48 that it seems absurd to suggest any collusion there. OK perhaps against Najdorf, but surely he wasn't so terrifying at that or any other time.
Feb-28-09  I Like Fish: hello...
is this...
a draw...
Feb-28-09  khursh: <I Like Fish:>
this is ...
win ...
for petrossian ...
which would ...
let petrossian ...
lose ...
curacao ...

ciao :)

Feb-28-09  I Like Fish: khursh...
sweating curecao...
at a spa...
aint no fun...
you will...
some weight...
Feb-28-09  khursh: <I Like Fish:> ...
Feb-28-09  I Like Fish: khursh...
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It is the 50th anniversary of this famous game this year.
Feb-29-12  ewan14: Infamous game ! !

Curacao - at the very least there would have been a drawing pact between Geller & Petrosian

Remember they both ( not Petrosian alone ) visited Benko to '' check '' his analysis for the Keres game

Feb-29-12  ewan14: In O.M.G.P. I am sure Kasparov has

Suetin as confirming the drawing pact

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I would say that this game has more kibitzes than any other 14-move draw on the site.
Mar-01-12  King Death: Even more than any of the "battles" between the Kosintsevas.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic.....For all (Fischer's) playing strength, his lack of adaptability was a weakness. Imagine a pitcher who can throw 110 mph fastballs, but only in July, when the temperature is between 74 and 76 degrees. In contrast, Botvinnik played training matches where he had Ragozin blow smoke in his face to help himself adapt to adverse conditions.>

Another great champion who adapted to circumstances was Alekhine: he was well aware that, while already one of the elite players before sitting down to play at Buenos Aires, he had to raise his game to have a chance at defeating his great rival Capablanca.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Here is the final position:

click for larger view

And play <could> continue 15. Qa3 h6 16. Bh4? Nc4

click for larger view

17. Qxe7? Qd2+ 18. Kf1 Ne3+

click for larger view

19. Kg1 Qxg2#
Unlikely - but it may be what Sports Life was going on about.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: What has always got me puzzled about this Russian Fix is if it was (and there is a lot of evidence to say a fix had gone in) then how stupid they were.

The could have pre-arranged full games even scoring a win against each other (it was a double-header) and all the fix claims would never have surfaced.

As it was you get the impression:

'we know you know what we are up to and we want you to know what we are up to because we know you can do anything about it.'

It is very possible the players were instructed beforehand not to fight amongst themselves.

Spassky relates a similar instruction coming from the powers that be shortly after winning this game Spassky vs Smyslov, 1953

"Suddenly there came a telegram from Moscow ordering us to stop shedding our own blood and insisting that we should draw all our games between ourselves. "

Perhaps Geller, Petrosian and Keres did these short draws to show they had been ordered not to fight. This was a protest.

(Nah... I must be wrong there. But why do it so blatantly?)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

'we know you know what we are up to and we want you to know what we are up to because we know you can do anything about it.'


!'we know you know what we are up to and we want you to know what we are up to because we know you <cannot> do anything about it.'

You knew and I knew that I'd screw that sentence up.


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