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Fischer - Petrosian Candidates Final Match

Robert James Fischer6.5/9(+5 -1 =3)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian2.5/9(+1 -5 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
Fischer - Petrosian Candidates Final (1971)

The Fischer - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1971) and Petrosian - Korchnoi Candidates Semifinal (1971) was followed by a match between Fischer and past World Champion Petrosian, scheduled in Buenos Aires from September 30 - October 26, 1971. The winner would be the challenger for the World Champion title, in a match against Boris Spassky. The crosstable below gives a round-by-round summary:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Fischer 1 0 = = = 1 1 1 1 6.5 Petrosian 0 1 = = = 0 0 0 0 2.5

For the first game, Petrosian prepared 11...d5, an interesting improvement to three other tries: 11...♕b6 (W Schmidt vs Matulovic, 1964 0-1 - but the move doesn't appear in the database again before this match commenced), 11...♘e7 (Karpov vs Taimanov, 1971 1-0), and 11...♘d4 (the two prior games were Fischer vs Najdorf, 1966 1-0 and Fischer vs Taimanov, 1971 1-0). The feat in the first game by Fischer secured his streak at 20 consecutive wins - an exceptional performance for 20th century chess!

With his first white in the match, Petrosian placed a halt to the streak in the second game. They followed the opening moves of Petrosian vs Korchnoi, 1961 (1.d4 ♘f6 2.c4 g6 3.♘c3 d5 4.♗f4 ♗g7 5.e3). Fischer declined the Grunfeld, Grunfeld Gambit (D83) 5...0-0 by instead choosing 5...c5. Petrosian won, before securing three draws in games 3-5. The opening in the fourth game was a repeat of Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969 (by transposition).

Petrosian tested the Sicilian once more in the sixth game, but in the adjournment he struggled to hold. With Lothar Schmid overlooking, his lack of defensive resources in the games nearing the wane of the match decided the winner. During the week before Halloween, Fischer returned with a 4 game winning streak in games 6-9. Fischer agreed to tour Argentina to give simuls after this match was finished.

Fischer advanced to the Fischer - Spassky World Championship Match (1972). The next event that Petrosian took part in was Moscow (1971).

Based on an original game collection by User: TheFocus.

 page 1 of 1; 9 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Fischer vs Petrosian 1-0401971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalB44 Sicilian
2. Petrosian vs Fischer 1-0321971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalD82 Grunfeld, 4.Bf4
3. Fischer vs Petrosian ½-½341971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalC11 French
4. Petrosian vs Fischer ½-½201971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalA30 English, Symmetrical
5. Fischer vs Petrosian ½-½381971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalC42 Petrov Defense
6. Petrosian vs Fischer 0-1661971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalA04 Reti Opening
7. Fischer vs Petrosian 1-0341971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalB42 Sicilian, Kan
8. Petrosian vs Fischer 0-1401971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
9. Fischer vs Petrosian 1-0461971Fischer - Petrosian Candidates FinalC10 French
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Regarding the first half of this match, here's something Gligoric wrote in his book on the Fischer-Spassky match (in the introduction to game 5, before mentioning that Fischer suddenly put a huge amount of demands to the Icelandic federation - which was a sign that he was finally feeling at ease):

<As is well known, when Fischer met Petrosian for the candidates finals at Buenos Aires, Fischer won the first game but lost the second. This was followed by three draws. Fischer, it was learnt, was suffering from a cold and was taking drugs for it. He was unnaturally quite the first week. Then he started to complain about everything - his hotel room, the food, the playing conditions. His admirers who had been worried cheered up; this meant that Bobby was back on form.>

And here's Averbakh's assesement of Petrosian's state after the first 5 games: <Thus, after five games the scores were level. It would appear that Petrosian could have been satisfied with this result. But we, who were alongside him, were concerned about something else: despite an enormous playing advantage he had been unable to gain even a minimal lead. In addition I noticed in Petrosian's behavior the same signs that were observed towards the finish of his second match with Spassky. He became easily excitable and extremely irritable. The impression was that Tigran was finding it hard to endure the increasing tension.> ("Russians versus Fischer")

Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <He was unnaturally quite the first week.> Should be "quiet", of course...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Petrosian didn't seem that well prepped. He never repeated a line as Black ...>

Soviet grandmaster was well prepared for the match. But, from the sixth game on, he inexplicably avoided theoretical lines. Yet, according to his second A. Suetin, there was plenty of prepared theory up in Petrosian's sleeve.

V. Hort, "For the Chess Throne", Olympia, 1973.

Apr-25-13  Petrosianic: It didn't look that way. In Fischer-Petrosian as in Fischer-Spassky, the refusal to repeat lines looks like you're afraid of your opponent finding an improvement if you play the same line twice. The difference is that in the one match, Petrosian was afraid of Fischer's novelties, and in the other, Fischer was afraid of Spassky's novelties. That's why you saw Fischer playing things like the Pirc, that he'd never gone near in his life. The question is why didn't Petrosian have the same theoretical clout behind him that Spassky did. As incredible as it seems, it's possible that even at that late date they were still overconfident.
Jul-14-13  Xenomorphy: What a drubbing, Petrosian has always been one of my favorites...I can hardly believe its him getting handled like this. Fischer was really in his prime here.
Jul-14-13  RookFile: Fischer in his prime, Petrosian past his. Petrosian had a great career and successfully defended his title in 1966, which hadn't happenned in some time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In the picture you can see a big blue rosette pinned to the seat of his trousers saying "PRIME".
Jul-28-13  pericles of athens: Wow - playing 9 games against Petrosian and only losing once!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <pericles of athens: Wow - playing 9 games against Petrosian and only losing once!>

Losing once to Petrosian in nine games is not such a big deal.

Game Collection: WCC Index (Petrosian-Korchnoi 1971)

Beating Petrosian five times in nine games, now that's something.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <I haven't had any congratulations from Spassky yet. I think I'll send him a telegram. Congratulations on winning the right to meet me for the championship> (after defeating Petrosian in the '71 Candidates Final) - Bobby Fischer.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I am sure Petrosian was very demoralized after game 7. He had been playing well and still found himself 2-down. Also, he may have believed that he had <lost the crowd>. I am pretty sure most of the audience in Buenos Aires were Fischer fans. He tried to win games 8 and 9 but Fischer was far too strong in 1971. And Fischer, unlike almost every other GM in those days, was not prepared to draw his way to a match win. The result was a 4-in-a-row sequence for Tigran.

Tigran made some excuses in the Russian press but he was a realist and I think he knew that he had been fairly beaten. But he had to say something to explain such a big loss.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: < Eyal: <He was unnaturally quite the first week.> Should be "quiet", of course...>

OK, good, because weeks should be gender neutral, even if they are the first one.

Also, with the correction we are no longer left to wonder if the first week was first among equal weeks, or really the clear strongest of all weeks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett....isn't it amazing that Petrosian had nearly winning advantages in four of the first five games?>

In his match with Spassky, Fischer also displayed great tenacity during that phase which followed the swan song of the Najdorf Poisoned Pawn in the eleventh game, particularly in games 14-20, where Spassky undoubtedly held the initiative much of the time, but could not pull off a single win, which might have brought him back into the fight.

<....I mean, Fischer was rarely worse for a moment during his matches vs Larsen and Taimanov, yet Petrosian put him under intense pressure.>

Indeed; Fischer's one time of difficulty was the fifth game vs Taimanov, where he was worse throughout and had the draw in sight when Taimanov hung a rook.

Dec-06-15  Howard: True, the only game against Taimanov where Fischer had problems was Game 5--no argument there.

But with Larsen, Fischer probably stood worse during Game 2---Larsen certainly could have achieved a significant advantage had he played his cards right in that game.

For the record, I've always wished that Larsen had at least been able to notch a couple points in his match against Fischer, for two reasons:

1) Larsen was a great player and a true fighter at the board.

2) If Larsen had been able to put up a fight against Fisher before going down, that would have made Taimanov all the more embarrassed about his 0-6 shutout. And he truly deserved to be embarrassed considering the way he "earned" his spot in the Candidates. 'Nuff said !

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Eyal: ,,,And Fischer said:
<At the start I did not feel too well. But when in the 4th game, where he had White, right from the opening Petrosian avoided any "aggression", I realized that I would win the match.>>

I am certain that "4th" is a mistake for "6th".

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Sorry - it is me that is mistaken. He did mean the 4th game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <offramp> 4th or 6th, no matter, El Tigre got his arse handed to him, in truly shocking fashion


Jun-01-17  ewan14: I thought that Petrosian's better positions in games three and five arose because of his opening play
Jun-01-17  Petrosianic: <Everett>: <And after all that, isn't it amazing that Petrosian had nearly winning advantages in four of the first five games?>

I'm not convinced Black really had that in Game 5. A better game, yes, and Fischer had to play carefully, but I don't think Black was near a win.

Jun-01-17  Howard: For the record, the late Colin Crouch states in his excellent book How to Defend in Chess, that Petrosian missed a chance to gain a significant--albeit not winning--advantage in Game 5. Don't recall exactly where or how, though.

In Game 3, Petrosian almost certainly missed a win according to at least a few sources.

Jun-01-17  Petrosianic: Well, Petrosian had a noticeable advantage even in the moves that were played. But it's hard to see a win because Black loses his Queenside and is left with the 3 K-side pawns and two double D pawns. He had enough play to wipe out Fischer's queenside too, but how are you supposed to win with just that? It's hard to imagine.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: The article fails to give the scheduled length of this match.

Since they played on after Bobby got to 5.5 points, and ended the match at 6.5, we can deduce that it was scheduled for 12 games, not 10.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: The Final candidates matches of 1965, 1968 and 1971 were scheduled to 12 games
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Imagine this!

You are reigning world champion. You lose the championship, but OK, it was to an up-and-coming brilliant player.

Then 2 years later, just 2 short years removed from being champ, you are on the brink of achieving a rematch, to get YOUR title back!

You are Tigran Petrosian.

One step away, and.... You get your a$$ handed to you, by another up-and-comer, and an American, no less.

Not only do you lose, you get freakin' slaughtered! Demolished! Flat-out Embarrassed.

Karpov never lost like this to Kasparov.

Heck, even the "Massacre in Milan", where Karpov destroyed Korchnoi, was not this lopsided.

That just goes to show how EXTREMELY DOMINANT was RJF in his time.

Sep-02-19  RookFile: Petrosian was certainly a tough customer. He had very respectable scores against Karpov and Kasparov themselves even though he was in the twilight of his career.
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