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Boris Spassky vs Lev Polugaevsky
USSR Championship (1960), Leningrad URS, rd 1, Jan-26
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Polugayevsky Variation (B96)  ·  1/2-1/2
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-20-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  matey: My take on this is that even though the manouver looked good and was one move away from succeeding (if only White could get in g5) it failed to get total control of d5. White could put pieces on d5 but Black would exchange and Spassky would only wind up with a pawn on that square, easing black,s problems. Polugaevsky's exchange sacrifice followed by d5! gave him dynamic counterchances.
Feb-21-04
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I think you're right, Matey.
It's a clever idea but it is just too slow!
Feb-21-04  clocked: Challenge problem: if 19.Kb2 how should black respond?
Feb-12-05  aw1988: <clocked> 19. Kb2 Nxd5?
Feb-12-05  samvega: My guess:
19.Kb2 e4 20.Bxe4 Nxe4 21.Qxe4 Bf6, followed by Rc8
Feb-12-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Tricky position if 19 Kb2 is played. I checked with Shredder after initially thinking 19...Nd5 would win out of hand for Black. I didn't see the reply 20 f6! which Spassky would play in a flash. But Black also has a counter to that, using the idea mentioned by <samvega> ...e4!

If 19 Kb2 Nxd5 20 f6! Nxf6 21 g5 e4!

Black is holding off White's attack on h7 just long enough to draw. Black has the drawing mechanism in the final position Nf6-Nd7-Nb6-Nc4+ Nxa3+ if he can buy a little time. Wonder how much Spassky and Polu saw.

Feb-13-05  aw1988: Damn. Guess that means I'm not Polugaevsky.
Feb-13-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: My first idea involved ...Qa4, threatening ...a5, as in 19. Kb2 e4 20. Bxe4 Qa4. But it doesn't quite work because White can interpolate d6 at some point in these kinds of lines.

So then I thought of ...Bd6 first, preparing this idea. I tried it against the gnuchess program, and it went 19. Kb2 Bd6 20. Be4 Qa4 21. Rhe1 a5, which looks strong for Black (22. Na2 Qxa3+ 23. Kb1 Rc8, etc.)

I'd be curious to know what Shredder (or anyone else) thinks of 19. Kb2 Bd6.

Feb-13-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <beatgiant> Black's queen has no exit after 19 Kb2 Bd6 20 Be4 Qa4 21 Rhe1 a5 22 Ra1! (Shredder found this nice move saving the piece) Rc8 23 Nc6 and White has the advantage +.94 evaluation.

However in that line substituting 21... Rc8 for 21...a5 Black is doing okay for if 22 Ra1 Rc4!

After finding this, Shredder discarded 20 Be4 and favored 20 Qg2 but Black can still force a draw.

19 Kb2 Bd6 20 Qg2 Rd8 21 g5 Nxd5 22 Be2 Nxb4 23 Qxb7 Nxc2 24 Rxd6 Rxd6 25 Rd1 Qxa3 26 Kxc2 Qa2+ with a perpetual check.

Feb-13-05  samvega: <tamar> I take it that your Feb 12th posting is telling me, diplomatically, that the immediate 19..e4 is insufficient?
Feb-13-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <samvega> Me diplomatic? No, just scampering to cover my tracks. I missed the trump moves on both sides and had to be shown by the computer on this one.

I think ...e4 it is a key idea, but it has to be played when White has lost a tempo with g5. In the line you gave <19.Kb2 e4 20.Bxe4 Nxe4 21.Qxe4 Bf6, followed by Rc8> the White queen ends up on e4 where it guards the knight on b4, so the threats against c3 are not so serious. White has a free move to increase his attack on the other wing

22 h4 Rc8 23 Rd3 and the black forces have no way to increase the pressure. White also is threatening to take the initiative with Nc6 in this position as the bishop on f6 is no longer directed at the weak point a3.

Feb-13-05  Albertan: In this game Polugaevsky played the variation with which he became well known for ie. 7...b5. (and the variation was named after him).

The move 8.e5 is the main line:ie 8.e5 dxe5 9.fxe5 Qc7!? 10.exf6 Qe5+ 11.Be2 Qxg5.

Spassky's move of 9.f5 has apparently not been repeated after this game.

On move 14 I wonder if Spassky considered playing 14.Kb1 ie 14. Kb1 Qa5 15.a3 Rxc3!? 16.bxc3 Qxa3 17.Bc1 Qxc3 18.Na2 Qc7 19.Rhe1 Nc5 with a good position for Black

Feb-14-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <tamar>
<I missed the trump moves on both sides and had to be shown by the computer> Me too! I thought this was an easy attack for Black, and completely missed the fact that ...Qa4 and ...a5 would bury Black's queen in the line I suggested. Gnuchess must have seen that all along.

Given what we now know, the best play seems to be 19. Kb2 Nxd5. Then you and Shredder are suggesting 20. f6 Nxf6 21. g5 e4.

You don't give the further continuation, but to the naive human eye, it looks like 22. gxf6 Bxf6 23. Bxe4 Bxc3+! 24. Kxc3 Qxa3+ 25. Kd4 Qxb4+ 26. c4 Re8 27. Bxh7+ Kf8! leaves Black coming out on top.

If White varies with 23. Rg1, the same motif of 23...Bxc3+! works even better.

I'm sure I'm still missing a lot of the tactics. Could you post what you found for White against 21...e4 in this line?

Feb-14-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Could you post what you found for White against 21...e4 in this line?>

19 Kb2 Nxd5 20 f6 Nxf6 21 g5 e4 22 Rhf1 Rc8 23 Qe1 Nd7 24 Bxe4 Nb6 25 Kb1 Nc4 26 Rd4 Bxe4 27 Rxe4 Bf8 28 Rxf7! Nxa3+ 29 Kb2 Ra8 30 Rf5 3.24

Shredder 8 on Deep Analysis after 21 ...e4

<beatgiant> I note the computer found the weak spot on f7 against the 21...e4 variation. 22 Rhf1 looks strange, but c3 is too weak to capture 22 gxf6, so White spends two moves preparing it. The rook lift to d4 looks very instructive, perhaps threatening Rxc4 at the proper point, but I have not studied it in full and will just post the result for now.

19...Bd6 looks to be the safer option for Black at this point against 19 Kb2

Feb-15-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <tamar>
It certainly is a humbling experience to study a computer's work on a position like this.

After <19 Kb2 Nxd5 20 f6 Nxf6 21 g5 e4 22 Rhf1 Rc8 23 Qe1 Nd7 24. Bxe4>, I first thought Black was crushing with 24...Nc5, but White then has 25. Bxb7 Na4+ 26. Ka1 Nxc3 27. Rd8+! Rxd8 28. Qxc3, and White's on top.

Then, after 24...Nb6 25. Kb1, I thought Black was crushing with 25...Qxa3, but White then has 26. Bxh7+! Kxh7 27. Qh5+ and White's attack gets in first.

Shredder's 25...Nc4 allows Black to meet this attack with 26. Bxh7+ Kxh7 27. Qh5+ Kg8 28. Qxf7+ Kh8 29. Qh5+ Kg8 30. g6 Nxa3+ 31. Kc1 Bg5+! 32. Qxg5 Nc4, and now Black has enough time to get a repetition with 33. Kb1 Na3+, etc.!

Preventing the latter drawing mechanism must be the point of Shredder's 26. Rd4!!

Feb-15-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <tamar>
But I'm still not clear about the end of Shredder's line.

After <19 Kb2 Nxd5 20 f6 Nxf6 21 g5 e4 22 Rhf1 Rc8 23 Qe1 Nd7 24 Bxe4 Nb6 25 Kb1 Nc4 26 Rd4 Bxe4 27 Rxe4 Bf8 28 Rxf7!>, I expected 28...Qxa3 , so that 29. Rxc4 Rxc4 30. Qe8 Rxb4+ 31. cxb4 Qxb4+ 32. Kc1 Qa3+ 33. Kd1 Qd6+ 34. Ke1 Qb4+ looks drawish.

Can you reveal what Shredder has in mind against 28...Qxa3 in this line? Maybe 29. Rxc4 Rxc4 30. Qe6 makes the difference here?

Feb-16-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <beatgiant> I looked at 30 Qe6 last night and it looks convincing.

<But I'm still not clear about the end of Shredder's line.

<After <19 Kb2 Nxd5 20 f6 Nxf6 21 g5 e4 22 Rhf1 Rc8 23 Qe1 Nd7 24 Bxe4 Nb6 25 Kb1 Nc4 26 Rd4 Bxe4 27 Rxe4 Bf8 28 Rxf7!>, I expected 28...Qxa3 , so that 29. Rxc4 Rxc4 30. Qe8 Rxb4+ 31. cxb4 Qxb4+ 32. Kc1 Qa3+ 33. Kd1 Qd6+ 34. Ke1 Qb4+ looks drawish.>

30. Qe6 Rxb4+ 31. cxb4 Qxb4+
32. Kc1 Qa3+ 33. Kd1 Qd6+ 34. Qxd6 Bxd6 35. Ra7 Bxh2

( or 35... b4 36. h3 Bf4 37. g6 hxg6 38. Rxa6 Be5 39. Rxg6 Bf6 40. Rg4 White can gain ♔ing position here I think and win one of the pawns.

36. Rxa6 Kf7 37. Rb6 Bf4 38. Rxb5 Kg6 39. c4 Bxg5 40. c5 Bf4 41. Rb7 h5 42. Ke2 eval 6.18, 23

Feb-16-05  ranchogrande: a bit of pity the strong GMs dont play the "Poly-variation" (almost) anymore.Such dynamic positions where theres tension in the air - about from the first move!..
Feb-16-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <tamar>
Thanks again. Since Shredder shows a win for White after 19. Kb2 Nxd5 and a draw after 19. Kb2 Bd6, the main remaining try for a Black win is 19. Kb2 Nd7.

Again playing naive human moves, it looks like Black gets in first. For example: 19. Kb2 Nd7 20. Qf3 Bf6 21. g5 Bxg5 22. Rhg1 Bf6 23. Rg3 e4 24. Qxe4 Nc5 25. Qg2 (with a counterattack against g7) Na4+ 26. Kc1 Kh8 27. Rg1 Nxc3 28. Rxg7 Ne2+!, etc. to Black's advantage.

Again, I'm sure there must be lots of improvements over my hand-generated line.

Feb-17-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <beatgiant> The first few times Polugaevsky tried his new variation, he was hit with novelties before he got to it. This is a fascinating game nonetheless. It is probably too much for any grandmaster to analyse all this at the board, as each side has plausible winning attempts on each move.

<Again playing naive human moves, it looks like Black gets in first> After 19 Kb2 Nd7 20 f6 would suggest itself by analogy with the other variations, but I don't see how to make it work.

Feb-17-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <tamar>
<After 19 Kb2 Nd7 20 f6 would suggest itself by analogy with the other variations> I don't think it is as strong here, because the d5-pawn is blocking the central diagonal.

I tried this against gnuchess, and the result was 19. Kb2 Nd7 20. Qf3 Bf6 21. h4 Nc5 22. g5 e4 23. Bxe4 Bxc3+ 24. Kxc3 Qxa3+ 25. Kd2 Qxb4+ 26. Kc1 Nxe4, and Black is on top.

Thanks, <clocked>, for posing this extremely interesting challenge problem!

Feb-18-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <tamar>
<After 19 Kb2 Nd7 20 f6 would suggest itself by analogy with the other variations, but I don't see how to make it work.>

Maybe 19. Kb2 Nd7 20. f6 does work. What I found is 20...Bxf6 21. g5! Be7 (not 21...Bxg5? 22. Qg4 Qd8 23. Nc6, etc.) 22. Bxh7+ Kxh7 23. Qh5+ Kg8 24. Rd3, and it looks like White's attack comes first again!

Feb-19-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <beatgiant> Hmmmm. The Greek gift.

If the sacrifice on h7 works, that cuts down on the variations.

Especially since 19 Kb2 Nd7 20 f6 Nxf6 21 g5 Nd7 is the exact position that arises after 19 Kb2 Nd7 20 f6 Bxf6 21 g5 Be7

In both cases after 22 Bxh7+ Kxh7 23 Qh5+ Kg8 24 Rd3 Black is forced to sacrifice the bishop to prevent mate on h8. I see two ways, 24...Bxg5 or 24...g6 25 Qh6 Bxg5 White still has an advantage, but no mate.

May-05-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: It is indeed a shame that the Sicilian Polugaevsky has almost disappeared from top-level play. So has the Spanish Zaitsev.

Replaced by Paulsens and Berlins.

Even the Spanish Marshall is a drawing weapon at the top these days.

Oct-28-17  edubueno: Probablemente Spassky estaba falto de tiempo. Caso contrario hubiera intentado 20 Rd2! Axb4;21 cxb4 Dxb4+; 22 Rb1
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