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Lajos Portisch vs Lubomir Kavalek
Hoogovens (1975), Wijk aan Zee NED, rd 11, Jan-27
King's Indian Defense: Saemisch Variation (E80)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: An incredible draw! Kavalek at his best.
Aug-30-03  xu fei: What if simply 15.Bxd4?
Premium Chessgames Member
  crafty: 15. ♗xd4 dxe5 16. fxe5 ♗b7 17. axb6 ♘xe5 18. ♗xe5   (eval 2.56; depth 14 ply; 500M nodes)
Aug-30-03  xu fei: I guess Portisch was flashy to a fault here. How he let this game get away is beyond me. And thanks to crafty for the help.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I think that black can play a bit better than Crafty's suggestion: 15.Bxd4 dxe5 16.fxe5 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Bxe5 18.Nxe5 Qd4

...But that line is before Kavalek gave up his queen for a bishop and 2 pawns. I don't think Portisch made any major tactical errors; just a general strategic malaise.

Apr-30-05  Caissanist: Kavalek named 29 Rxd5 as the decisive error when he annotated the game for Chess Life and Review. I'm afraid I can't recall what the winning move would have been. However, I do remember that Ljubojevic demonstrated to him how, if he does not give up the exchange here, white can eventually simplify down to a won ending of queen and two pawns against bishop and six pawns.
Jul-21-05  aw1988: Wow. I'd put it in "Einstein" but I feel it's not quite complicated enough.
Jul-21-05  hintza: I don't know what "Einstein" is, but I feel I should be in it!
Jul-21-05  aw1988: See my game collections.
Jul-21-05  hintza: Oh right, thanks. Very interesting!
Mar-23-06  Breyannis Nektarios: Winning are: 29.Qf3 (Timman) and 29.Bc4 (Ljubo)
Feb-28-07  Rubenus: <aw1988> You have no game collections.
Premium Chessgames Member
  shalgo: <I think that black can play a bit better than Crafty's suggestion: 15.Bxd4 dxe5 16.fxe5 Nxe5 17.Bxe5 Bxe5 18.Nxe5 Qd4>

In the tournament book, Kavalek mentions Timman's analysis, which continues 19.Ne2 Qxe5 20.axb6 Rd8 21.Ra2 Qc5.

Here Sosonko thought that after 22.Qb1 "objectively speaking, White has winning chances." But Timman pointed out that Sosonko's suggested 22...Rb8 23.Rb2 could be met by 23...Rd6! 24.b7 Rxb7 25.Rxb7 Bxb7 26.Qxb7 Rxd3 and "the white king still cannot find a way out."

It would be interesting to know what a computer makes of this analysis.

Dec-09-07  xeroxmachine: Definitely ( not at his worst :O
Apr-22-08  Caissanist: Kavalek revisited this game earlier this year in his chess column ( He now appears to believe that the sacrifice was sound--although white could have improved his play, black can still draw regardless.
Sep-14-08  Jaja01: Find and Compare more chess games at
Jul-27-09  WhiteRook48: forcing a draw down a rook
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: according to GM Kavalek, this game was in contention for the Leo van Kuijk prize in Wijk aan Zee 1975. Kavalek's 20...bb7 was the engine's choice!

Lajos Portisch - Lubomir Kavalek, Wijk aan Zee 1975

after 20.Kf1

click for larger view

Analysis by Rybka 2.2n2 mp 32-bit:

1. (2.86): 20...Bb7 21.Nxe8 Bxc6
2. (3.01): 20...Bxa1 21.Nxe8 Rxe8
3. (3.18): 20...e2+ 21.Bxe2 Bxa1

Feb-28-14  LIFE Master AJ: One of the coolest draws ever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: "Forty years ago, the <Leo van Kuijk prize> for the most spectacular game was given to me by his son (right on the photo I earned it for a positional queen sacrifice for a mere bishop against Lajos Portisch. It was a fascinating draw and the Hungarian grandmaster thought we should split the prize. "You got my queen," I told him,"I get the prize. Mind over matter." Portisch didn't come up short. He won the 1975 Wijk aan Zee tournament.

The game was analyzed by strong grandmasters such as Jan Timman, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Ulf Andersson, Jonathan Speelman, Ludek Pachman and many others. I analyzed it on 15 pages in the tournament book, but it is presented here in much shorter version. It also appeared in Andrew Soltis' "The 100 Best Chess Games of the 20th Century, Ranked." The computers more or less confirmed our findings."

Kavalek revisited his gem again:

Oct-24-15  DoneMac: This was a brilliant over-the-board draw that emphasizes creativity over variations... I'm sure both players went by gut over analysis because there are so many possibilities that enabled Kavalek to take advantage of a rare scenario and was able to find counterplay in position where a pawn and Bishop were able to neutralize a Queen (for the most part) ... a game worthy of study... I spent a few hours on it today...

According to the Kavalek's latest post (40 years... link provided above) we need to look at 23. Rc1 (?!) as the area where Portisch slips up (to illustrate the complexity, Kavalek notes that he spent 35 minutes on the move, so Time control can be a factor, even when winning - because, as Soltis pointed out 23. Ra3! Bb4 (23. ... Bb2 24. Rb3 Be5 25. Nxa6 ) 24. Rb3 a5!? and white has - can cover all threats with a knight leap to the edge (DoneMac: no better is 24. ... Bd6 25. Nxa6 Nc5 (25. ... Ne5 26. c5 Nxd3 27. Rxd3 ) 26. Nxc5 Bxc5 ) 25. Na6 with winning chances. Even though Soltis couches his terms - White has a strong plus and unlike later variations where Black has a Rook plus 2 or 3 pawns vs the White Queen there are less chances for Black to find the time to build a fortess that will allow drawing lines... much as Kavalek did later - I also looked at Kavalek's analysis of 15. Bxd4 and White will find an advantage in those lines but again a win for White is not on the horizon and even there White needs to play precise, as there are draws in those lines -- also in this new article he finds the antidote to GM Ljubojevic's 29. Bc4! after 29... Nb6 30. Qb3 Nxc4 31. Qxc4 e2 32. Re5! e1=Q 33. Rhxe1 Rd4! Foreseeing that 33... Bxe1 34. Rxe7 threatens Qxf7+; even without this finesse, the position will be difficult for White to win - the best case for Black would probably see a Rook on e6 in a fortress setup but White's King might be able to work into the king side and generate a passer; however, 33... Rd4! forces the White queen away so 34. Qxa6 Bxe1 35. Rxe1 Rd2+ 36. Kh3 Kavalek: "White still has a rook on the board, but it may not matter much. Black can survive."

Apr-21-18  Howard: Granted, the June, 1975 issue of CL&R isn't exactly accessible to most people, but it contains a LOT of analysis, plus commentary, to this fascinating encounter.

It's truly hard to believe that White didn't win. And silicon players have not found a win, to my knowledge.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: What an insane game!
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