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Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Boris Spassky
"Boris Bad and Off" (game of the day Oct-28-08)
Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Match (1966)  ·  King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto. Panno Variation Blockade Line (E63)  ·  1-0
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Given 85 times; par: 32 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: <FSR: Incidentally, Reuben Fine made the startling claim that Petrosian was probably the weakest world champion, but Petrosian was the <only> world champion to win a match <as world champion> between Alekhine-Bogolyubow 1934 and Karpov-Korchnoi 1978.>

Fine had some 'issues' and an agenda of sorts.

Was that in his 'Conquest' book? I'll have to look it up, see context, if so.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <parisattack> I think it was in his pamphlet on the Fischer-Petrosian Candidates Match. That was also the pamphlet where he gave one of Petrosian's third moves two question marks: 1.P-K4 P-K3 2.P-Q4 P-Q4 3.N-QB3 N-QB3??
Premium Chessgames Member
  parisattack: Grazie <FSR> I'll fetch, look.

Fine was probably more dogmatic than Tarrasch.

Aug-29-13  EdZelli: Mr. Ruben Fine's statement sounds more
like envy with racist under tones. Maybe his skin color was too dark for Mr. Fine. Or he was an "evil" Russian to him, lol !! In addition to repeated WC victories, Petrosian also won 4 soviet championships (easily comparable to world championships). He could have won more of them in 63 and 66 (in particular) but he was busy playing in the world championship matches.
Mr. Fine himself chickened-out of 1948 matches with many excuses. I believe chess base had an article about Fine's many excuses over the years.
Aug-29-13  JimNorCal: Fine was a strong player, astute observers consider him to be WC caliber though he didn't get that far.

A lot of chess players "have issues", Fine was not alone in this area. And he was far from being alone in considering Petrosian a weak champion. TP's reputation was "strong in matches, weak in tournaments".

Rarely defeated but rarely (for a world champion) able to steamroller his opponents.

A snip from Wikipedia indicates that this is/was a widespread belief: "Petrosian's style of play, although highly successful for avoiding defeats, was criticized as being dull. Chess enthusiasts saw his "ultraconservative" style as an unwelcome contrast to the popular image of Soviet chess as "daring" and "indomitable".[30] Fellow Soviet chess grandmaster and personal friend Mikhail Tal described Petrosian as "cowardly", out of frustration that this eminent tactician so rarely showed the chessworld what he was capable of. His 1971 Candidates Tournament match with Viktor Korchnoi featured so many monotonous draws that the Russian press began to complain."

Fine is not my favorite chess player, but he's just a guy. Calling him "racist" due to Petrosian's skin color with no supporting evidence at all? A bit over the top, in my view.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Frank Brady in <Profile of a Prodigy>:

<Reuben Fine's opinion of the Armenian was rather low: "Petrosian is probably the weakest player who has ever held the world's championship.">

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: < EdZelli: Mr. Ruben Fine's statement sounds more like envy with racist under tones. Maybe his skin color was too dark for Mr. Fine...>

Petrosian was a Caucasian. Literally!

Aug-30-13  Cibator: <leka: Tigran Petrosian played 68 games without a loss.Also T.Petrosian in the chess olympiads 78 wins 50 draws only one loss to Huebner in 1972.He was a worty world champion>

Impressive statistically, I'll grant you, but I think on digging a bit deeper you may find he didn't always meet the top opposition.

One comment I recall about the 1966 Olympiad remarked that "Spassky was given the dirty job of taking black against strong opponents" - which would account for Boris's comparatively low score of 10/15 for the event.

Petrosian by contrast made 13.5/15, which enabled him to win the individual gold medal for top board, edging out Fischer (15/17) by a whisker. Much was made at the time of the number of tough opponents (including Fischer himself) whom Tigran hadn't played in the process of compiling that score.

Sep-03-13  paavoh: An astonishing ending, it delights me everytime I stumble upon this game.

And this post begins my journey to the next 1000 posts. See you in about 5 years...

Sep-03-13  ewan14: Boris would probably find it easier playing for a win with black than Petrosian
Apr-21-14  CopyBlanca: I definitely think Euwe was the weakest champion ever. Then a tie between Smyslov and Petrosian. Now being a weak world champion is not exactly a criticism. Euwe because I read somewhere that Alekhine was not sober for parts of the match. Alekhine definitely the hardest to rate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: Petrosian was weak enough to successfully defend his title - something many cannot say.
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: "Petrosian is probably the weakest player who has ever held the world's championship and successfully defend his title."
Premium Chessgames Member
  JointheArmy: I'd say that title belongs to Anand.

No way Anand wins the title if they didn't hold that stupid WC tournament to unify the titles.

Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: I don't understand why would Fine say something so stupid. As they say, he had issues. Neither was it the only stupid thing he said.
Premium Chessgames Member
  maxi: Petrosian's defensive style was a personal conscious decision. He once said that after a game he had lost an Armenian came up to him and said, "Who gave you the right to lose?" He said that after that he tried never to lose.
Apr-22-14  Howard: Petrosian had at least one truly remarkable record of consistency, which seems to have been overlooked over the years, and it had to do with the Candidates cycles.

More specifically, he made the three-year Candidates tournament four times in succession from 1952-62. On his fourth attempt, he won the tournament (Curacao, 1962) and then went on to win the world championship from Botvinnik. He then held the title for the next two three-year cycles, defending it against Spassky in 1966.

But he then made the Candidates matches (by then, the Candidates consisted of matches, not tournaments) for the next four straight cycles, from 1971-80. His streak, unfortunately, ended in 1982 when he played in the Las Palmas interzonal and failed to make the Candidates.

The bottom line was that Tigran Petrosian was in the world championship cycle either as a Candidate or the W.C. himself for....TEN cycles in a row over a thirty-year period ! That record has never been equaled--period.

Petrosian, incidentally, left us two years after the Las Palmas interzonal, dying of cancer in 1984. And he was only 55.

Apr-23-14  EdZelli: The more appropriate pun here is 'Brain Spasm by Spassky'. Boris was one tough customer in the 60's perhaps number one or two in the world. He crushed Tal, Keres and Geller to get to the 1966 WC.

Boris had nothing but admiration for Tigran after the match. For more of Tigran's domination check out game 7 of this series. My all time favorite.

By the way Tigran did not lose a single game on the way to 1963 WC with Botvinnik. If that's a sign of a weak champion then you don't know chess.

Apr-23-14  ewan14: Boris did not crush Keres in their match

It went to the final game !

Mar-18-15  Poisonpawns: A similar motif from: White to move Sveshnikov-Dreev 1993

click for larger view

Mar-18-15  WDenayer: Petrosian was one of the strongest chess players of the 20th Century. Fine had to be nuts or frustrated to say such a thing, but, hey, this is chess, people say anything. I didn't look up any statistics, nothing can be proven either way, it's just opinion: in my opinion Spassky was the weakest WC. We can all talk a lot about the WC match of the Century, but Spassky played some seriously poor games in 1972 and later, against Karpov, the difference showed. I do not believe that Euwe was a weak WC: he beat Alekhine and all the talk about alcohol is nonsense that never seems to die (by all means read Meunighof's biography - Alekhine was not drinking during the WC match). In 1937 Alekhine was better prepared and more motivated, while Euwe was working on other things, such as keeping his family alive in a depression, working as a teacher during the day and working on this research in the evenings. And yes, he was also world champion - he basically had 3 jobs, Spassky had 1. When he went to Iceland he was in great shape: he had played a lot of tennis as well as a lot of poker and read a lot of novels (this very bitter comment is Geller's, but I don't doubt it's true, even Karpov himself said so (see chessbase interview a couple of weeks ago)).
Oct-10-15  The Kings Domain: I like how the game comes to life after a staid opening. It seems all the cliches regarding Petrosian are all too revealed here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  notyetagm: <leka: Tigran Petrosian played 68 games without a loss.Also T.Petrosian in the chess olympiads 78 wins 50 draws <<<only one loss to Huebner in 1972.>>> He was a worty world champion>

That sole loss(!) was on time due to a faulty clock. Petrosian smashed it with his hands after he lost.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <notyetagm:...
That sole loss(!) was on time due to a faulty clock. Petrosian smashed it with his hands after he lost.>

I heard it was with his teeth.

Mar-29-16  Granny O Doul: Have we ever seen a photograph of that clock? Pre-smash?
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