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USSR Championship Tournament

Boris Spassky11.5/17(+7 -1 =9)[games]
Anatoly Karpov10.5/17(+5 -1 =11)[games]
Tigran V Petrosian10.5/17(+4 -0 =13)[games]
Lev Polugaevsky10.5/17(+4 -0 =13)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi10.5/17(+5 -1 =11)[games]
Gennadi Kuzmin10.5/17(+5 -1 =11)[games]
Efim Geller8.5/17(+3 -3 =11)[games]
Karen Grigorian8.5/17(+3 -3 =11)[games]
Paul Keres8/17(+1 -2 =14)[games]
Mark Taimanov8/17(+2 -3 =12)[games]
Vladimir Savon8/17(+2 -3 =12)[games]
Mikhail Tal8/17(+3 -4 =10)[games]
Vladimir B Tukmakov7.5/17(+2 -4 =11)[games]
Nukhim N Rashkovsky7.5/17(+2 -4 =11)[games]
Orest Averkin7/17(+1 -4 =12)[games]
Vasily Smyslov7/17(+1 -4 =12)[games]
Evgeni Ellinovich Sveshnikov6.5/17(+2 -6 =9)[games]
Alexander Beliavsky4.5/17(+2 -10 =5)[games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1973)

In the aftermath of Robert James Fischer 's victory over Boris Spassky in the 1972 World Championship, the Soviet Union had been humiliated and humbled by an American, and the 35+ year rule of the Soviet chess machine over the international chess world had finally been put to an end. The consequences of this result were felt in Soviet chess for months after. Mark Taimanov, Tigran Petrosian, and Spassky were all reprimanded for their failure to stop Fischer. Consequences continued into the 41st USSR Championship, held in the Soviet capital of Moscow, from October 2-26, 1973. The tournament was organized to be the strongest in a decade. In addition to the four qualifying players who had each won a semi-final (Orest Averkin, Karen Grigorian, Nukhim Rashkovsky, and Evgeni Sveshnikov), the very strongest grandmasters of the Soviet Union received forced invitations to participate. The list was a collection of former world champions, multiple Soviet title winners, and the very strongest of the Soviet school, including: Spassky, Petrosian, Mikhail Tal, Vasily Smyslov, Anatoli Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi, Efim Geller, Paul Keres, Lev Polugaevsky, Taimanov, Leonid Stein, Vladimir Tukmakov, Vladimir Savon and Gennadi Kuzmin. Victor Davidovich Baturinsky, the vice-president of the USSR chess federation, and a Colonel of Justice, explained clearly to all the participants that their attendance was not only obligatory, but their very future as Soviet chess players (and the favors imparted therein) depended on their performance in the championship. Stein died before the championship took place and he was replaced by junior world champion Alexander Beliavsky. In addition to the composed line up, it was made known that draws of thirty moves or less were 'discouraged' by the organizers. Although short draws did occur, the schedule of play and the intense combat among the contestants was arduous. It was Spassky, after failing in Reykjavik, who emerged victorious by a full point. This edition did have the desired effect of revealing future world title candidates, as Karpov and Korchnoi tied for second and would face each other the following year for what ultimately was the de facto world championship.

The final standings and crosstable:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts 1 Spassky * 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 =2 Karpov * 0 1 1 1 1 1 10 =2 Petrosian 1 * 1 1 1 10 =2 Polugaevsky * 1 1 1 1 10 =2 Korchnoi 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 10 =2 Kuzmin 0 * 1 1 1 1 1 10 =7 Geller * 1 0 0 1 1 0 8 =7 Grigorian 0 * 1 1 1 0 0 8 =9 Keres 0 * 0 1 8 =9 Taimanov 0 0 1 * 1 0 8 =9 Savon 1 0 0 0 * 1 8 =9 Tal 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 1 8 =13 Tukmakov 0 0 0 1 0 * 1 7 =13 Rashkovsky 0 0 0 0 1 * 1 7 =15 Averkin 0 0 0 * 0 1 7 =15 Smyslov 0 0 0 0 1 * 7 17 Sveshnikov 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 * 0 6 18 Beliavsky 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 * 4

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1973, by User: suenteus po 147.

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Keres vs Taimanov ½-½351973USSR ChampionshipA48 King's Indian
2. N Rashkovsky vs Smyslov ½-½581973USSR ChampionshipD85 Grunfeld
3. Polugaevsky vs Sveshnikov ½-½361973USSR ChampionshipD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
4. Geller vs Tal ½-½421973USSR ChampionshipB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
5. G Kuzmin vs Spassky ½-½411973USSR ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
6. Averkin vs Korchnoi  ½-½301973USSR ChampionshipA15 English
7. Tukmakov vs Beliavsky 1-0411973USSR ChampionshipB83 Sicilian
8. Petrosian vs K Grigorian  ½-½491973USSR ChampionshipA14 English
9. Karpov vs Savon 1-0411973USSR ChampionshipA15 English
10. Spassky vs Averkin 1-0351973USSR ChampionshipB44 Sicilian
11. Tal vs Tukmakov ½-½381973USSR ChampionshipC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
12. K Grigorian vs Smyslov 0-1511973USSR ChampionshipE38 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 4...c5
13. Taimanov vs Karpov ½-½201973USSR ChampionshipE54 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System
14. Sveshnikov vs Keres ½-½751973USSR ChampionshipC45 Scotch Game
15. Savon vs N Rashkovsky ½-½571973USSR ChampionshipB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
16. Beliavsky vs Polugaevsky 0-1351973USSR ChampionshipB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
17. Korchnoi vs Geller ½-½541973USSR ChampionshipE97 King's Indian
18. Petrosian vs G Kuzmin ½-½331973USSR ChampionshipE54 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System
19. Smyslov vs Savon  ½-½401973USSR ChampionshipB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
20. Averkin vs Petrosian  ½-½251973USSR ChampionshipA06 Reti Opening
21. Keres vs Beliavsky 1-0401973USSR ChampionshipE14 Queen's Indian
22. Geller vs Spassky ½-½241973USSR ChampionshipD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
23. N Rashkovsky vs Taimanov 1-0411973USSR ChampionshipD38 Queen's Gambit Declined, Ragozin Variation
24. Tukmakov vs Korchnoi 0-1391973USSR ChampionshipC81 Ruy Lopez, Open, Howell Attack
25. G Kuzmin vs K Grigorian  ½-½411973USSR ChampionshipD94 Grunfeld
 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-23-17  RookFile: Just reading over the names, this looks like a ridiculously strong event.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: This must surely be the only tournament to comprise nearly all (11 by my count) the Soviet GMs who competed at Candidates level from 1959-1982.

I say nearly all, because 10 year old Garry Kasparov didn't quite make the cut.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Tal narrowly avoided relegation, but went on to share first the following year, if in a clearly weaker version than this, with the aforementioned Belyavsky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <perfidious> Tal had a rather strange year in 1973. First places at Wijk, Tallinn, Sochi, Dubna, and Hastings, but sad disappointments at the Leningrad izt and this Soviet ch.

As you say, he did have a couple of further successes in both arenas ahead of him though.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Retireborn>, 1973 saw the end of one long undefeated string at Leningrad and the birth of another during this event, which would run until Tal vs N Kirov, 1974, played the following October.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <perfidious> It's very impressive, isn't it? But the mature Tal was always difficult to beat, even in his declining years.

Ulf Andersson vs Tal, 1989

Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: In his file van Reek thinks it was Levon Grigorian, not Karen, who played in this tournament.

Every source I have, including Russbase, contradicts him, and certainly the openings played seem Karenish to me.

Still can't help worrying that Spassky may have told him something the rest of the world doesn't know!

Mar-16-19  Helios727: Was this the tournament that qualified Karpov for the 1973 Interzonal? As for Fischer, he could not have won this tournament ever, because the Soviet players would have been ordered to throw games to the favorite pick of the Soviet authorities.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Helios> This tournament, not a zonal, was played *after* the 1973 interzonals!

I can't recall Karpov ever having played in a zonal tournament. I believe he qualified for the interzonal by virtue of winning the 1969 World junior championship; the 1971 winner Hug played in the Petropolis interzonal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: ***

That is correct, Karpov qualified because he won the 1969 Junior and played in the Leningrad Interzonal (1973)

The Russian zonal qualifier for this event was USSR Championship (1972) which was also the qualifier for the other interzonal Petropolis Interzonal (1973)

Korchnoi, Geller and Taimanov got into the Interzonals because they were in the previous candidates, A commission of Botvinnik, Najdorf, Kashdan and Trufuncvic also selected Polugaevsky, Smyslov, Keres and Stein to play in the Interzonals. Stein passed away and was replaced by Bronstein.


Mar-17-19  Helios727: So why did not the 1969 World Junior Championship place Karpov in the 1970 interzonal? Was there a rule that there had to be at least a two year wait?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Helios> World junior champions didn't get interzonal places in 1970; it was one of the changes made for 1973.

It didn't last though. Certainly the next set of World junior winners (Beliavsky, Miles, and Chekhov) did not get to play in the 1976 interzonals.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Is this the only tournament in history featuring five World Champions? Future, past and present.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Diademas> There is Linares 1994, if you're willing to count Topalov as a real World champ.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <Retireborn: <Diademas> There is Linares 1994, if you're willing to count Topalov as a real World champ.>

Not sure that I would :) But thanks anyway. I guess that could count.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: <Is this the only tournament in history featuring five World Champions? Future, past and present.>

Hard to foretell.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <MissScarlett: <Is this the only tournament in history featuring five World Champions? Future, past and present.> Hard to foretell.>

My poor English may have disguised my point. I'm sure a clever guy like yourself can figure it out anyway.

Dec-01-19  Olavi: <Diademas:> The well known ones are Nottingham 1936 and Moscow Alekhine memorial 1971. I'm sure that's it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Thank you <Olavi>. I forgot about Nottingham (1936) . Quite a field!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Not a bad lineup in Moscow (1971) either.
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: Yes,an extremely impressive lineup.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <moronovich>, for which we can thank Fischer's decisive win of the world championship the year before: the Soviet chess bureaucracy were in a furore over losing the title.
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: That is right-good point <perfidious> !

I remember.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: <perfidious: <moronovich>, for which we can thank Fischer's decisive win of the world championship the year before: the Soviet chess bureaucracy were in a furore over losing the title.>

If they only had forced Botvinnik out of retirement they could have made it six WCs.
I mean; what's the point of an oppressive dictatorship if you're not going to use it? ;)

Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: <I mean; what's the point of an oppressive dictatorship if you're not going to use it? ;)>

Ha-ha,but oth:If the threat is bigger than its execution !?

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