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USSR Championship Tournament

Lev Polugaevsky14/22(+7 -1 =14)[games]
Tigran V Petrosian14/22(+6 -0 =16)[games]
Mark Taimanov13.5/22(+6 -1 =15)[games]
Vasily Smyslov13.5/22(+6 -1 =15)[games]
Efim Geller13.5/22(+8 -3 =11)[games]
Leonid Stein13/22(+5 -1 =16)[games]
Yuri S Balashov12.5/22(+5 -2 =15)[games]
Ratmir Kholmov12.5/22(+5 -2 =15)[games]
Igor V Platonov12.5/22(+9 -6 =7)[games]
Aivars Gipslis12/22(+4 -2 =16)[games]
Vladimir Savon12/22(+7 -5 =10)[games]
Orest Averkin11.5/22(+5 -4 =13)[games]
Samuel Zhukhovitsky11/22(+5 -5 =12)[games]
Vladimir M Liberzon10.5/22(+3 -4 =15)[games]
Mikhail Tal10.5/22(+6 -7 =9)[games]
Evgeni Vasiukov9.5/22(+3 -6 =13)[games]
Igor A Zaitsev9/22(+2 -6 =14)[games]
Alexander Zaitsev9/22(+5 -9 =8)[games]
Anatoly S Lutikov9/22(+4 -8 =10)[games]
Eduard Gufeld9/22(+3 -7 =12)[games]
Vladimir Tukmakov7.5/22(+1 -8 =13)[games]
Semyon Furman7/22(+3 -11 =8)[games]
Viktor Kupreichik6.5/22(+3 -12 =7)[games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1969)

The 37th Soviet Chess Championship featured twenty-three of the Soviet Union's strongest grandmasters and masters competing. A number of players qualified from the four Soviet semi-final championships held earlier in the year, and the rest of the field was filled out by invitations sent to the very best of Soviet mastery. Among those invited was Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, who had lost his match for the world championship to Boris Spassky just a few months earlier. Petrosian remarked it was a great relief to have been defeated and actually later remarked that his years as world champion were some of the worst and most difficult of his life. As it turned out, being relieved of the world championship made Petrosian more dangerous as a player, as seen here in the largest non-Swiss style Soviet Championship ever held. He finished tied for first with Lev Polugaevsky, each with 14/22. A playoff match of six games was scheduled and held from February 20-28, 1970 in order to determine a sole victor for the zonal standings, and Petrosian defeated Polugaevsky by two points having only played five of the six games. Though Petrosian would never again challenge a match for the world championship, his win here was the third of an eventual four Soviet crowns he would earn over his long and successful career.

Moscow, Soviet Union (Russia), 5 September - 12 October 1969 (1)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 Pts =1 Polugaevsky * 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 0 14 =1 Petrosian * 1 1 1 1 1 1 14 =3 Taimanov * 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 13 =3 Smyslov * 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 13 =3 Geller 1 * 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 13 6 Stein 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 13 =7 Balashov * 1 1 0 0 1 1 1 12 =7 Kholmov 0 * 1 0 1 1 1 1 12 =7 Platonov 0 0 1 1 0 * 1 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 12 =10 Gipslis 0 1 * 1 1 1 0 12 =10 Savon 0 0 0 0 * 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 12 12 Averkin 0 1 0 1 0 * 1 0 1 1 11 13 Zhukhovitsky 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 1 1 1 1 11 =14 Liberzon 0 1 0 0 * 0 1 1 10 =14 Tal 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 * 1 1 1 1 0 1 10 16 Vasiukov 0 0 0 0 0 * 1 1 0 1 9 =17 Zaitsev, I 0 0 0 0 1 * 0 1 0 9 =17 Zaitsev, A 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 0 * 1 0 1 0 9 =17 Lutikov 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 9 =17 Gufeld 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 * 1 9 21 Tukmakov 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 * 1 7 22 Furman 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 * 0 7 23 Kupreichik 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 * 6

1st place playoff (in 1970):

1 Petrosian 1 1 3 2 Polugaevsky 0 0 1

(1) Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov, The Soviet Championships (Cadogan 1998), pp. 144-149.

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1969, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 11; games 1-25 of 258  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Balashov vs Kholmov  ½-½481969USSR ChampionshipC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
2. Tukmakov vs Smyslov 0-1411969USSR ChampionshipC93 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense
3. A Zaitsev vs Gufeld 0-1691969USSR ChampionshipA07 King's Indian Attack
4. Furman vs Polugaevsky 1-0341969USSR ChampionshipE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
5. Gipslis vs Averkin  1-0631969USSR ChampionshipB44 Sicilian
6. Taimanov vs I Platonov 1-0371969USSR ChampionshipE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
7. Stein vs I A Zaitsev  ½-½481969USSR ChampionshipA35 English, Symmetrical
8. Vasiukov vs Savon  0-1381969USSR ChampionshipC70 Ruy Lopez
9. Tal vs S Zhukhovitsky ½-½231969USSR ChampionshipC75 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
10. Kupreichik vs Lutikov  0-1391969USSR ChampionshipB04 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
11. Petrosian vs Liberzon  ½-½341969USSR ChampionshipD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
12. I Platonov vs Kupreichik  1-0281969USSR ChampionshipB03 Alekhine's Defense
13. Gufeld vs Petrosian 0-1241969USSR ChampionshipC46 Three Knights
14. Geller vs Taimanov 1-0421969USSR ChampionshipB42 Sicilian, Kan
15. Kholmov vs Tukmakov  1-0491969USSR ChampionshipB40 Sicilian
16. Lutikov vs Vasiukov  ½-½481969USSR ChampionshipC78 Ruy Lopez
17. Polugaevsky vs Tal 1-0371969USSR ChampionshipD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
18. Smyslov vs A Zaitsev  ½-½341969USSR ChampionshipA14 English
19. S Zhukhovitsky vs Gipslis  ½-½731969USSR ChampionshipA46 Queen's Pawn Game
20. I A Zaitsev vs Furman  1-0541969USSR ChampionshipC93 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense
21. Liberzon vs Stein  ½-½201969USSR ChampionshipB61 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, Larsen Variation, 7.Qd2
22. Savon vs Balashov  ½-½261969USSR ChampionshipD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
23. Kupreichik vs Geller 0-1291969USSR ChampionshipC77 Ruy Lopez
24. Tal vs I A Zaitsev  ½-½411969USSR ChampionshipC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
25. Stein vs Gufeld  ½-½201969USSR ChampionshipE62 King's Indian, Fianchetto
 page 1 of 11; games 1-25 of 258  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Dec-17-14  Petrosianic: <suenteus po 147>: <it's still humbling to see that Petrosian shared first being the only player out of 23 to go undefeated.>

It seems to be a tradition of sorts. You lose the world title, then run right out and win the Soviet title to prove that you've still got it. Spassky did the same thing in 1973.

Dec-17-14  suenteus po 147: <Petrosianic> Thank you for that thorough discourse on the complication of playoffs and when/where they occur. I'm inclined to view shared titles as being slightly less valuable than sole champion titles. Which I think is the source of <Lt.Surena>'s ire: He wants the record to stand that Petrosian was sole champion and didn't share with nobody. And yeah, after the playoff we can recognize him as that, but before that playoff (which might not have occurred had there been no zonal issue) it was shared. So while Polugaevsky has three titles, they are not quite as impressive as Keres three clear firsts.
Dec-17-14  HSOL: Why does it matter when the playoff/tiebreak is decided? If there is a playoff/tiebreak, there usually is one winner. Before the playoff is played, in my opinion, there is NO champion, rather than two or more co-champions.
Dec-17-14  Petrosianic: <He wants the record to stand that Petrosian was sole champion and didn't share with nobody.>

Well, he was sole champion... After the playoff was held.

What really mucks it up is ties that are left totally unbroken. Like 1967. Should we count that as half a title? It would get confusing if someone tied for first in 6 championships (no playoffs in any) and we called him a 3-time champion. (Or even worse, imagine having to call someone a 2 1/2 time champion).

But if we don't get into fractions, Polugaevsky did the exact same thing in 67 that he did in 68 and 69. The only difference is in playoffs that happened later and might not have happened at all (if funding had fallen through or some such).

The thing is that in those cases the playoffs were different events, with different organizers. If the playoff his held at the tournament site, that's different. Like no one would deny that the Kramnik-Topalov rapids playoff was part of the same event as the Kramnik-Topalov match. But if they hold a closing ceremony for a tournament or match, then any additional playoff is a completely different event.

In the US, they've occasionally had something totally weird. A playoff that did NOT break the tie. There were a few years where they had a championship ring or trophy made. Then when there was a tie, they had a playoff to see who got the Ring, but they specifically said that the title itself remained shared even after one guy had won and the other had lost the playoff. Totally weird.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: One wonders whether a playoff would have been held if Petrosian had retained his world title in '69, as he refused to play a match with Bronstein to break a tie for the Moscow championship held the previous year.
Dec-17-14  Petrosianic: Didn't they have something similar when Karpov and Kasparov shared the Soviet Title in 1988? I'd heard that a playoff was contemplated, but am not sure why it wasn't held.

For that matter, I'm not sure why it was held this time. Suenteus said to establish Zonal Standings, but Petrosian was already seeded into the 1971 Candidates, so Polugaevsky would have had the top Interzonal spot with or without a playoff.

Playoffs seem to be totally haphazard. In 1948, Bronstein and Kotov shared 1st. No playoff. In 1952, Botvinnik and Taimanov did and they played a match. Neither one was a Zonal year. Then in 1977, they DID have a playoff, but the title remained shared afterwards.

That's one thing I like sports like Baseball or Football, that play the same rules (almost) every time, so you can compare one season with another. Look at the headaches they had with Roger Maris from something as simple as going from 154 games to 162.

Dec-17-14  Petrosianic: It definitely seems wrong to combine the results from the playoff into the tournament itself.

In the actual tournament, Petrosian and Polugavsky both scored +6, to share first. But by going -2 in the playoff, that drops Polugaevsky to only +4 (+7-3=17, according to the crosstable at top). That would put him BEHIND Smyslov, Geller and Taimanov, who all scored +5.

Can anyone argue that by losing the playoff, Polugaevsky dropped himself down from 2nd to a tie for 5th? No, but that's what's implied if we combine the two events into one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Am not familiar with the circumstances behind the '88 result, only that there was no playoff. Both those titans had plenty of juice in their respective corners if they had no desire to pursue a playoff.

Am a bit surprised that <posuenteus> stated thus, as it is obvious that Petrosian was seeded in to the next cycle.

Dec-18-14  suenteus po 147: The introduction I wrote was the result of sources I consulted putting the collection together. I've since lost all my sources so I can't tell you now where I got it from, only that what I've written is what I read.
May-02-15  m.okun: Gold era of the Soviet chess!
May-02-15  kia0708: Polugaevsky was Nr 2 in Russia !!!

wow, what a player

May-02-15  m.okun: More likely, "small Leva" always played a supporting role.
Dec-06-15  Zonszein: I think that in 1988 there were a lot of discussions about whether to play a match of four games. But in the end there was no agreement.
Maybe neither Karpov nor Kasparov really wanted to play
Dec-25-17  ughaibu: What was the story with Tal, here?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: Life and games of M.Tal by himself is a very good book. I'd suggest you to read it if you haven't

Perhaps you have

Dec-25-17  ughaibu: I haven't, does it talk about this tournament?
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: I have it somewhere.

I'll read it again and tell you later...

What I do remember is that he mentions more than once the troubles with his kidneys and the operations he went through during that decade

Dec-25-17  ughaibu: <I'll read it again and tell you later... >


<What I do remember is that he mentions more than once the troubles with his kidneys and the operations he went through during that decade>

I have a memory of someone saying that he had a kidney removed in 1969, and that this was followed by a dramatic improvement in his results. But I also have a memory of these championships being played in December.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: I found it!

Page 350:
"I was then taken to Moscow, and the day for the operation was named. Then I found out that for six to eight weeks after it I would be confined to bed. Meanwhile the Championship of the Soviet Union would have started......and I decided to put off the operation until later. Nevertheless, in my condition it proved quite impossible to play...." etc etc M.Tal . Life and Games
Everyman Chess

Dec-25-17  ughaibu: Great, thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Petrosianic....It seems to be a tradition of sorts. You lose the world title, then run right out and win the Soviet title to prove that you've still got it. Spassky did the same thing in 1973.>

One wonders whether he would have played at all, had all the top players not been compelled to in the aftermath of what the Soviet bureaucracy regarded as a catastrophe on Spassky's watch the year before at Reykjavik.

Dec-25-17  Petrosianic: Maybe not. But forced to play or not, it looks like Spassky went into the 1973 Championship to prove something, and did.

Incidentally, that's the ONLY Soviet Championship Spassky played in after losing the title (he'd played 10 of them before becoming champion). Petrosian also played in 10 Soviet Championships before becoming champion, but played 6 as an ex-champion.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Spassky, of course, emigrated in 1976, prior to which he played one tournament in 1974 (along with his loss to Karpov in the Candidates semifinal) and only two in '75.
Dec-25-17  Petrosianic: He kept his Soviet Citizenship for a while after he emigrated (although you wouldn't expect him to play in a Soviet Championship then). But he didn't play in the 1974, or 1975 championships (1976 started in November), so it's not clear how long or how strictly they forced top players to play.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ZonszeinP: Hello,

Can a comment get deleted?
(I mean, by someone other then the author)

I can't find one of my old comments

Don't know where or who to ask

It's very odd

search thread:   
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