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Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian vs Boris Spassky
Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Match (1966), Moscow URS, rd 18, May-23
Queen's Indian Defense: Kasparov-Petrosian Variation (E17)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-27-08  achieve: The level of play is beyond me at this point, as is the zero kibitzing for this game sofar! ;-)

More later...

Feb-27-08  nescio: <The level of play is beyond me at this point, as is the zero kibitzing for this game sofar! ;-)>

There is nothing to kibitz about. This is a bad game and can only be understood in the context of this strange WC match. Better leave it alone.

Feb-27-08  achieve: <nescio> Would you care to explain what is bad and strange about this game/match?

I'm eager to learn.

Surprised at the <better leave it alone> bit.

All the more reason, for me, as a ignorant fan, to want to know more.

Feb-27-08  nescio: From the beginning of the match Petrosian set up a concrete wall. Never playing actively he only obstructed, often at the cost of serious disadvantage. He could get away with this, even against Spasski, because his exceptional talent kept him alive in the most difficult situations.

In the first half of the match Spasski tried to break through twice - and lost. In the second half he threw away all sound strategical principles and only tried to provoke Petrosian into attacking. Which never happened, Petrosian continued blocking.

In this game Petrosian finally seemed to punish Spasski for his unsound play (5...Bxf3?), but at the crucial moment backed out (17.Nxb5 instead of 17.e4) and only achieved the equal position he wanted.

I am also eager to learn from grandmasters, but if we try to play like these two in this match we will lose, and lose badly. It was just an accident however, three years later Spasski and Petrosian played delightful and interesting chess at an amazingly high level.

Feb-27-08  achieve: <nescio> Hmm.. Yes I called someone who said it wasn't as bad as that, but pointed me to a book that Salo Flohr wrote on this match... I will pick it up next week, and try and find out more about this match...

Thanks for your insights; I obviously still have a long way to go. ;-)

Feb-28-08  nescio: <achieve> I like it. I recommend ignoring this match and then of course you are going to read a book about it. Wonderful!
Feb-28-08  achieve: Pull my tail and I'll walk the other way!

I'll make it a "brief inquiry" then?


Feb-28-08  euripides: I don't know the match nearly as well as <nescio>, but I love the first two games Petrosian won (particularly the tenth) and the last that Spassky won.

In this game the notes in Wade/O'Connell, which are by Blackstock, recommend 15.Qh3.

Actually this game is quite useful for anyone who plays the Petrosian system against the QID, showing how to deal with Bxf3. I like Spassky's counterplay at the end too.

Feb-28-08  nescio: <achieve> Please go ahead. It will be interesting to see what Flohr had to say. As much as I admire both players, I've done my best to forget the games of this match, but <euripides> likes some of them at least and I always appreciate his opinions.
Apr-05-08  Knight13: What, what's wrong with 5...Bxf3 ? Gives up nice bishop for a straggler on f3? So? someone's gotta try it sometime.
Premium Chessgames Member
  sillybilly47: I think that Petrosian was playing this match with a chip on his shoulder. Spassky was the golden child of the Russian chess establishment at this time. He was expected to win this match. The match is great.
Jun-17-09  WhiteRook48: why'd he throw back the exchange?
Premium Chessgames Member
  sillybilly47: The decision to give back the exchange (and guarantee the draw)is perhaps based on the fact that after 18 games Petrosian is up 2-1,has lost only once,and keeps his title in a 12-12 tie. Spassky has only 3 games left with White. This also gets this game "out of the way" without much more effort. The champ loses game 19, but in the long run, he is proven correct. At this point in the match Petrosian possibly feels that he will retain the Title.
Dec-30-14  ScottElliott: Was helpful for sillybully to provide the total context which of course impacts how any game is played. Carlsen followed the same pattern both in 2013 and 2014 content to draw as White against Anand when ahead in points. As for the position itself, the decision to play Nf3 by White and permit ..Bxf3 and for Black to follow through with ..Bxf3 seems to be very important positionally. Thus study if not this game then others where this same decision point occurs seems very relevant.
Dec-30-14  Petrosianic: I'm not sure he's right, though. He's assuming that the exchange sac is unsound, and concluding that White only gives it back to ensure a draw. But since White gives the exchange back only one move after Black offered it, there's been no time for the sac to have gone badly.

If White's winning chances are slim or none even without giving the exchange back, then sillybilly's comments are moot. But he doesn't give any variations or ideas to show how White might reasonably have gone after a win. Nor does he explain why Black gave up the exchange in the first place only a move earlier.

Jan-02-15  Petrosianic: Okay, I've had a look at it, and have to reject both nescio and sillybilly's comments:

<nescio> <In this game Petrosian finally seemed to punish Spasski for his unsound play (5...Bxf3?), but at the crucial moment backed out (17.Nxb5 instead of 17.e4) and only achieved the equal position he wanted.>

Actually, Nxb5 looks a lot better than e4.

17. e4 b4 18. axb4 fxe4 19. Nxe4 Be7

and what was White got that's better than in the actual game?

<sillybilly47>: <The decision to give back the exchange (and guarantee the draw)is perhaps based on the fact that after 18 games Petrosian is up 2-1,has lost only once,and keeps his title in a 12-12 tie.>

Or perhaps those were simply the best moves. You'll see why if you try to find an alternative to giving back the exchange. For example:

If 31. Rb3 Rxe3 32. Rxe3 Bxf4!

So, if White wants to keep the exchange, how is he supposed to do it?

Jan-03-15  RookFile: It seemed like Petrosian might have won this. I thought Spassky did well to get a draw.
Sep-30-16  Aunt Jemima: This game takes an interesting turn as soon as black takes on f3 in the opening. It's one of those games that illustrates bishops vs knights and doubled pawns. Interesting that Spassky would commit like this and give up the bishop so soon. What's even more interesting is how the master of strategy, Petrosian, plays 7. f4 right away. In this position I would be thinking about if I should play 7. Rg1 on the semi open file, 7. e4 just to take the center, or perhaps 7. Bf4 or g5, maybe even 7. Qc2 or 7. Qd3 as a flexible developing move. I would never have prioritized 7. f4 followed by f5.

So much to learn from these old masters.

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