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Boris Spassky vs Lajos Portisch
Spassky - Portisch Candidates Semifinal (1977), Geneva SUI, rd 3, Jul-08
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Zaitsev Hybrid (C95)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-19-11  AnalyzeThis: Compare this game with the first Fischer vs. Spassky game in 1992 (this time Boris had black).

Fischer made it <look> easy, when it really wasn't.

Dec-26-13  Howard: This was definitely one of Portisch's best efforts from 1977, in my view.

It was rare back then for Spassky to lose on the white side of the Ruy Lopez, but he certainly did here. Simply put, Portisch outmaneuvered him Karpov-style in the middle game.

Mar-11-14  RookFile: Fischer tossed in a timely b4 for white. That gave him a threat of winning the b5 pawn which turned the position in his favor.
Dec-29-14  poorthylacine: In a book of Jan van Reek "supported by Boris Spassky", "Grand strategy", Spassky estimates that he could win the game by playing 45.Bxa4 bxa4 46.f3!..

And that later he could still draw by 52.Nd2! instead of Nh4? For the second assertion, it is easy to verify that he is really right: the draw could be reached by 52.Nd2!...

Apr-09-15  Howard: That's news to me. Jim Tarjan analyzed this game for Chess Life & Review back in late 1977 and makes no mention of this.
Apr-20-15  Howard: With the queen rook bottled up on a3, Spassky's position on the 52nd move looks rather bleak.
Oct-23-15  Howard: One of my favorite games from 1977--no doubt about it.

Where was the point of no return for Spassky, however. (In other words, I don't have a computer !)

Jan-05-16  Howard: Could Spassky really have won by 45.Bxa4 ?

Seems pretty far-fetched to me!

Jan-05-16  Retireborn: <Howard> The Van Reek/Spassky line runs 45.Bxa4 bxa4 46.f3 Bb5 47.Kf2 Rg8 48.Ra1 Rb7 49.Rh1 Rg6 50.Raa1 Rbg7 51.Rh2 Ke7 52.Nb1 Kd8 53.Na3 Be8 54.Rb1 intending b5 and Rb4, when White does indeed have winning chances.

It's obvious this is not a forced line, but it is true that after 46.f3 White has a plan with Kf2, Ra1, R3a2, Na3, and Rh1 which ties Black down somewhat, although Houdini does not see a forced win.

Spassky's point was that 43...cxb3 was a much clearer draw for Portisch.

May-20-17  edubueno: 45 g3 es una burrada. Recordar que BS llevó a su esposa Marina como segundo.
May-20-17  morfishine: Spassky goofed this one up, Big Time



May-20-17  Howard: Petrosian or Karpov would have been proud to have won this game---not just Portisch.
Dec-26-18  woldsmandriffield: There is no win with 45 Bxa4 bxa4 46 f3. The flaw in the plan Kf2, Ra1, Ra2, Na3, Rh1 is that Black has the resource ..a3! sacrificing a pawn for counter-play.

A sample line runs 46..h5 47 Kf2 Bb5 48 Ra1 Rb7 49 Rh1 Rh8 50 Nb1 Ra7 51 Ra1 a3! 52 Rxa3 Rha8 53 Rxa7 Rxa7 and now 54 Rxh5?? loses to ..Ra2+

Dec-26-18  woldsmandriffield: 52 Nd2! is a draw but by no means an obvious one. 52..Rg5 53 Rg2! is an only move and now 53..Bd1 54 Rxg5 hxg5 55 f3 the b-pawn gives counter play after either:

a) 55..g4 56 fxg4 Rxg4 57 Ra1 Bb3 58 b5!
b) 55..Bd1 56 Kg2 Rh8 57 Ra1 Ke5 58 b5! and Black loses if he is suckered into 58..Rb8 59 Rh1 Rxb5?? 60 Rh6

Dec-26-18  Howard: Interesting, particularly since this was one of my own favorite games for 1977 !
Premium Chessgames Member
  fiercebadger: A you tube video of this game
note Spasskys hair and the Chair!
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