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Boris Spassky vs Paul Keres
Spassky - Keres Candidates Quarterfinal (1965), Riga URS, rd 1, Apr-07
Queen's Indian Defense: Kasparov Variation (E12)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-11-03  ughaibu: I wonder if Deep Junior has this opening in it's book.
Jan-08-06  aw1988: This isn't too unusual, it's one of those fluid Indian systems.
Dec-08-06  Rama: You have surely noticed, I am studying the games of Boris Spassky; there is rich material here. One thing I have noticed, whichever color he is playing, when he plays his Queen's Rook Pawn forward one square he is feeling confident of victory.

In the two years leading up to this match, our database shows Keres with victories as black in the Ruy Lopez against Tal (twice), Fischer, etc. Perhaps this was why Boris chose to open with the d-pawn.

They play a Queen's Indian which goes well for black. 7. ... Ne4, looks completely equal. Both sides profit from the ensuing exchange on e7, black blocks e3-e4 and may play f7-f5. So white exchanges again, and after 9. ... Bxe4, the move f7-f5 is bad for black -- threat parried.

But then white falters with 11. Nd2 ..., whereas 11. Qd2 ..., would be superior. If 11. ... Qxd2+, 12. Kxd2 ..., the players could legitimately pack it in and go have a beer; it is that even. If. 11. ... Nc6, then 12. a3! ..., gains the initiative.

Instead Boris destabilizes the position with 11. Nd2 ..., and 14. c5 .... The tactics here revolve around the black Queen's lack of maneuverability, but it backfires. After 17. axb4 Qxb4, 18. Rb1 ..., black has the smashing and hard-to-foresee 18. ... Qf8!, attacking the unfortunate Rg7 and thus protecting his Bb7 from the X-ray attack. Keres gains another pawn, probably a winning advantage.

The combination ends with 20. ... Ne7, and this is a good point for you to examine the diagram. Black wins the K+P ending, so my strategy would be to exchange all the pieces. How about you?

White appears to have lost all sense with 25. d5 ..., which sacs two more pawns in hopes of -- what? 27. ... Rb5, exploits white's lack of coordination and gets the exchanges going. Note the pin along the rank. 30. Nxe4 ..., is just plain stubbornness. White resigns in a few moves.

This was bad for Spassky. Game 1 of an important match is not the time to make fatal mistakes in an even position. Or was it a ploy designed to produce over-confidence in Keres?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <Rama> Thanks for drawing my attention to this game, and for your overview. Spassky certainly made it more interesting by playing 11.Nd2 instead of Qd2. Let me add a few more comments:

17...Qa4 was a weak move by Keres (almost any other queen move - f5, d5, b6 - would have been better), since it allows white to equalize by 18.Nc5(!) Qxd1+ 19.Bxd1 - and now either 19...Rb8 20.axb4 (with the white rook eyeing the pawn on a7), or 19...Bc8 20.Bf3 and Bxc6, spoiling black's pawn structure. Either Spassky didn't see it (which I find hard to believe) or he was still thinking he could play for a win.

25.d5 is easy to understand, since white is two pawns down and has to do SOMETHING active if he wants to try and save the game; the move I find harder to understand is 26.Qa1 - why sacrifice another pawn, and not simply recapture on d5? Allowing black to play 26...dxe4 actually defeats the purpose of opening lines against the black king (e.g., preventing a move like Re3+ in certain variations). Maybe Spassky miscalculated and saw imaginary chances of attack in some variation. And 27.Bh5, allowing the black rook to come to b5, is plain suicide - but at this stage, even after better moves (like 27.Nb3) white is already lost.

Dec-09-06  Rama: Good eye.

I interpreted 17. Nb3 ..., as a change of plan mid-stream resulting from the sudden realization of Qf8. Now it looks like the Knight was going to c5 all the time. The change of plan occurs here.

18. Nc5! ..., sure looks good to me. I wonder why he passed it up? (The move is the direct result of 11. Nd2 ..., so it appears this was a long-range plan.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: Spassky said this about this game. "The game with Keres which I lost, the first of the 1965 match. It was probably my best game, and I made a very good sacrifice, but then I went wrong by playing R-R3 instead of P-Q5, and was crushed."

I am not sure what is so special about 23.d5 (other ideas are 23.Ra5; 23.Ra6; 23.Na6, and 23.Bc4). Best seems 23.d5 exd5 24.exd5 Nxd5 25.Qd4 Rxg3 26.fxg3 Qd6 27.Bf3 Qf6 28.Qxf6 Nxf6 29.Re1+ Kd8 30.Nxd7 Kxd7 31.Rd1+ Kc8 and Black still looks good.

Oct-27-10  Ulhumbrus: < wwall: Spassky said this about this game. "The game with Keres which I lost, the first of the 1965 match. It was probably my best game, and I made a very good sacrifice, but then I went wrong by playing R-R3 instead of P-Q5, and was crushed." I am not sure what is so special about 23.d5 (other ideas are 23.Ra5; 23.Ra6; 23.Na6, and 23.Bc4). Best seems 23.d5 exd5 24.exd5 Nxd5 25.Qd4 Rxg3 26.fxg3 Qd6 27.Bf3 Qf6 28.Qxf6 Nxf6 29.Re1+ Kd8 30.Nxd7 Kxd7 31.Rd1+ Kc8 and Black still looks good.>

Perhaps after 23 d5 exd5 Spassky intended, as in the game, to play a move with his Queen instead of retaking on d5, eg 24 Qd4.

Then one way for Black to lose is 24...dxe4 25 Nxd7 Bxd7 26 Rd1 Rd8 27 Bg4 f5 28 Bh5+.

On 24...Rxg3 25 hxg3 Rb8 26 Bf3 dxe4 27 Nxe4 gets ready for the check 28 Nf6+.

These two variations suggest that Black's main problem, weakness or liability consists of having an unsafe King in the centre, a serious liability indeed.

One point of 23 d5 exd5 24 Qd4 is that after 24...Rxg3 25 hxg3 Black can't play 26...Qg7 in an attempt to get his King into safety.

Oct-28-10  Ulhumbrus: With 14 c5! Spassky offers Keres the b2 pawn. Keres can't accept it because after 14..Qxb2 15 Nc4 his Queen gets trapped or caught in a skewer even though she can deliver a check to White's King eg 14...Qxb2 15 Nc4 Qb4+ 16 Kf1 0-0-0 17 a3 Qc3 18 Rc1 or 14...Qxb2 15 Nc4 Qb4+ 16 Kf1 b5 15 Rb1 Qa4 16 Qxa4 bxa4 17 Rxb7 or 14...Qxb2 15 Nc4 Qc3+ 16 Kf1 0-0-0 17 Rc1 Qb4 18 a3 Qb5 19 Nd6+
Sep-27-11  King of Nothing: <wwall> I don't like 23.d5 myself and I don't understand what Spassky thought was so bad about what he played. All of Black's pieces are huddled on the back three ranks but can White do?
Dec-27-17  Saniyat24: Couldn't Spassky play a few more moves before resigning?
Dec-27-17  Petrosianic: He could, but not with the slightest hope of changing the outcome. Three pawns down and in serious danger of being mated, or having his Knight picked off, his only chance would be if Black were in serious time trouble. Which, presumably, he wasn't.
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