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Sukhumi 1972
Compiled by WCC Editing Project
--*--

Mikhail Tal had just won the <Ilmar Raud Memorial 1972>, and nobody knew it yet, but his loss to Gunnar Andreyevich Uusi in round 11 of that event would be his last loss for a very long time. He went undefeated in his next 86 games.1

Now, at the Georgian seaside resort of Sukhumi, Tal faced a diverse field of Soviets and international invitees.

Sukhumi (Georgia, URS) 16 Aug - 4 Sept 19722,3

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pts 1 Tal 2625 * ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 11.0 2 Savon 2595 ½ * ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 10.5 3 Taimanov 2590 ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 10.0 4 Mukhin 2420 0 0 ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 9.5 5 Beliavsky 2420 0 0 1 0 * ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 9.0 6 Liberzon 2540 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 7.5 7 Kholmov 2550 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 7.5 8 Murey 2380 ½ 0 0 0 0 1 ½ * 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 7.5 9 Espig 2435 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 1 1 * ½ 1 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 7.0 10 Hübner 2590 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ * 0 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 7.0 11 Honfi 2440 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 0 0 1 * 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 6.5 12 Gufeld 2525 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 * 0 0 ½ ½ 6.5 13 Suttles 2470 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 * ½ 0 1 5.5 14 Ree 2480 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 0 1 1 ½ * ½ ½ 5.5 15 Kirov Ivanov 2450 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ * 1 5.0 16 Jansa 2480 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 * 4.5

<Photo Sukhumi> http://www.music.umich.edu/1961symp...

Of the nine Soviets, veteran grandmasters Mark Taimanov and Ratmir Kholmov were the most well known after Tal. Taimanov was still living down an embarrassing 0-6 loss to Robert James Fischer in the Fischer - Taimanov Candidates Quarterfinal (1971). Kholmov narrowly failed to qualify4 for the USSR Championship (1971), an event won by the international master Vladimir Savon in a remarkable upset. Savon triumphed over Tal, Vasily Smyslov, Anatoly Karpov, Yuri Balashov, Leonid Stein, Lev Polugaevsky, David Bronstein and Taimanov, clearly establishing himself as a rising star.5 Vladimir Liberzon and Eduard Gufeld were solid grandmasters who had never broken through to the elite rank in domestic or international competition.6 Mikhail Mukhin had won the <USSR Junior Championship> in 1965, but had yet to earn a FIDE title. He had failed to follow up his early success, though he was still only 24 years old.7 Yacov Murey was a FIDE international master- in correspondence chess!!8 Alexander Beliavsky was still a junior.9

The West German Robert Hübner was the only international grandmaster among the foreign guests.10 He had recently qualified for the world championship cycle by finishing shared 2nd at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970), ahead of Wolfgang Uhlmann, Taimanov, Smyslov, Lajos Portisch, Polugaevsky and Svetozar Gligoric. 11 Karoly Honfi held both the FIDE international master and the Hungarian grandmaster title.12 Two-time East German champion Lutz Espig had recently finished 3rd at the <9th Rubinstein Memorial 1971> in Polanica Zdroj.13,14 Hans Ree was a three-time Dutch champion, and Duncan Suttles had won the Canadian championship in 1969.15,16 Tal's friend Vlastimil Jansa had won the Czechoslovakian championship in 1964.17,18 The Bulgarian Nino Kirov Ivanov had just been awarded the international master title in 1971.19

The tournament began in the middle of a sweltering heat wave in which temperatures reached 35 degrees celsius in the shade. According to Tal, Hübner suffered most of all, contracting a serious sunburn and peeling skin on his face and arms.20 The stakes were high for both Tal and Savon, since the Soviet Chess Federation had made it clear to both that their inclusion in the upcoming <Skopje Olympiad> in October depended on their results at Sukhumi.20 Tal got off to a slow start, sitting in shared 4th after six rounds. Undaunted, Tal was confident that only Savon presented a serious obstacle to a tournament victory.20

Nonetheless, rounds seven to twelve featured remarkable runs by the two youngest players in the field. Beliavsky, just 19 years old, defeated Taimanov and occupied sole first after eight rounds: Taimanov vs Beliavsky, 1972. Mukhin was playing fearless and aggressive chess and had wrested sole ownership of the lead with three rounds to go. Tal and Savon, however, sat a half point back, well within striking range. In their eighth round game Tal had been horrified to run into a variation prepared by Savon's Soviet Army Club teammates,20 and his prospects to hold after the adjournment looked dismal: Savon vs Tal, 1972. Tal recalls a bizarre incident after resumption of play:

We were playing with a clock of far from perfect construction, and on which the flag fell at nowhere near the time control. I saw that by rights White had at least a minute left, and to demand a loss on time in such circumstances seemed blasphemous to me. All these thoughts occurred in a flash, and before the controller had time to record the fall of the flag, I made a move and pressed my clock. The game subsequently ended in a draw.20

Tal was fortunate to hold, since this draw turned out to be the deciding result of the tournament. He won without losing a single game, but finished just a half point in front of Savon. Taimanov came 3rd, followed by Mukhin and Beliavsky. The Soviets dominated the event, filling the top eight slots in the crosstable. The Germans Espig and Hübner finished best of the foreign contingent, sharing 9th place.

Tal had earned a spot on 4th board in the <Skopje Olympiad>, which turned out to be as good for the Soviet team as it was for Tal.21 He won his board gold medal with a remarkable +12 -0 =4. Savon was also asked to join the Olympic team, on 2nd reserve board.20,21

Notes

1 Hilary Thomas, "Complete Games of Mikhail Tal 1967-1973" (Batsford, 1979), p.112

2 Khalifman et al, "Mikhail Tal - 8th World Champion" (PC-CD) Event Index, p.10; [rusbase-1]

3 Round numbers and game dates from <Rusbase>. Pgn download link-[rusbase-2]

4 Kholmov finished shared 3d with Shamkovich at the Ivano-Frankovsk <USSR Championship Semifinal 1971>, but Shamkovich, not Kholmov, was qualified for the <USSR Championship 1971>, likely on his higher Sonneborn-Berger score: [rusbase-3]

5 Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov, "The Soviet Championships" (Cadogen 1998), pp.154-156

6 David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, "The Oxford Companion to Chess 2nd Edition" (Oxford University Press, 1996), pp.161,225

7 Andrew Soltis, "Soviet Chess 1917-1991" (McFarland, 2000), p.115; Russian Wikipedia Wikipedia article: %D0%9C%D1%83%D1%85%D0%B8%D0%BD, %D0%9C%D0%B8%D1%85%D0%B0%D0%B8%D0%BB %D0%90%D0%BB%D0%B5%D0%BA%D1%81%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B4%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B8%D1%87

8 Jeremy Gaige, "Chess Personalia, A Biobibliography (McFarland 1987), p.295. In Wikipedia article: Jacob Murey#cite note-Gaige-1

9 Hooper and Whyld, p.34

10 Gaige, p.181. In Wikipedia article: Robert H%C3%BCbner#cite note-Gaige-1

11 Gino Di Felice,"Chess Results 1968-1970" (McFarland 2013), pp.320-321

12 Hungarian Wikipedia Wikipedia article: Honfi K%C3%A1roly

13 German Wikipedia Wikipedia article: Lutz Espig

14 Polbase http://polbase.w.interia.pl/rub71.htm

15 Hooper and Whyld, p.333

16 Wikipedia article: Canadian Chess Championship

17 Hooper and Whyld, p.186

18 Mikhail Tal, "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal" Cadogan 1997 ), p.331

19 Bulgarian Wikipedia Wikipedia article: %D0%9D%D0%B8%D0%BD%D0%BE %D0%9A%D0%B8%D1%80%D0%BE%D0%B2

20 Tal, pp.403-404

21 Olimpbase Skopje 1972 Soviet Team http://www.olimpbase.org/1972/1972u...

Original collection: Game Collection: Sukhumi 1972

Thanks to User: Paint My Dragon and User: Phony Benoni for Sonneborn-Berger calculations.

Round 1- August 16
Murey vs Tal, 1972
(B42) Sicilian, Kan, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 1
Gufeld vs Huebner, 1972 
(C04) French, Tarrasch, Guimard Main line, 52 moves, 1-0

Round 1
K Honfi vs Savon, 1972
(D78) Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O c6, 46 moves, 1-0

Round 1
Kholmov vs Beliavsky, 1972 
(A23) English, Bremen System, Keres Variation, 51 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 1
Jansa vs L Espig, 1972
(B83) Sicilian, 29 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 1
N Kirov vs Suttles, 1972
(A04) Reti Opening, 32 moves, 1-0

Round 1
M Mukhin vs V Liberzon, 1972
(B44) Sicilian, 58 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 1
Taimanov vs H Ree, 1972
(D11) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 30 moves, 1-0

Round 2- August 17
Beliavsky vs Jansa, 1972
(B03) Alekhine's Defense, 34 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 2
Huebner vs Taimanov, 1972
(A12) English with b3, 25 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 2
M Mukhin vs Kholmov, 1972
(E41) Nimzo-Indian, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 2
Savon vs N Kirov, 1972
(B29) Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein, 34 moves, 1-0

Round 2
Tal vs Gufeld, 1972
(B75) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 33 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 2
L Espig vs K Honfi, 1972
(A15) English, 60 moves, 1-0

Round 2
V Liberzon vs H Ree, 1972
(C94) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer Defense, 27 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 2
Suttles vs Murey, 1972
(A00) Uncommon Opening, 36 moves, 0-1

Round 3- August 18
Kholmov vs V Liberzon, 1972
(D79) Neo-Grunfeld, 6.O-O, Main line, 19 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 3
Murey vs Savon, 1972
(B95) Sicilian, Najdorf, 6...e6, 41 moves, 0-1

Round 3
Taimanov vs Tal, 1972 
(A77) Benoni, Classical, 9...Re8, 10.Nd2, 22 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 3
Gufeld vs Suttles, 1972 
(B06) Robatsch, 52 moves, 0-1

Round 3
K Honfi vs Beliavsky, 1972
(B93) Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.f4, 68 moves, 1-0

Round 3
Jansa vs M Mukhin, 1972
(B51) Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack, 33 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 3
N Kirov vs L Espig, 1972
(B83) Sicilian, 25 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 3
H Ree vs Huebner, 1972 
(A42) Modern Defense, Averbakh System, 86 moves, 0-1

Round 4- August 20
V Liberzon vs Huebner, 1972
(B06) Robatsch, 21 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 4
Savon vs Gufeld, 1972
(B32) Sicilian, 19 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 4
Suttles vs Taimanov, 1972
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 45 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 4
Kholmov vs Jansa, 1972
(D91) Grunfeld, 5.Bg5, 44 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 4
Tal vs H Ree, 1972
(A15) English, 28 moves, 1-0

Round 4
L Espig vs Murey, 1972
(B56) Sicilian, 31 moves, 1-0

Round 4
Beliavsky vs N Kirov, 1972 
(B44) Sicilian, 47 moves, 1-0

Round 4
M Mukhin vs K Honfi, 1972
(B41) Sicilian, Kan, 31 moves, 1-0

Round 5- August 21
K Honfi vs Kholmov, 1972
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 33 moves, 1-0

Round 5
Taimanov vs Savon, 1972
(A16) English, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 5
Huebner vs Tal, 1972 
(A10) English, 11 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 5
Gufeld vs L Espig, 1972
(B39) Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto, Breyer Variation, 35 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 5
Jansa vs V Liberzon, 1972
(B46) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 17 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 5
N Kirov vs M Mukhin, 1972
(A15) English, 39 moves, 0-1

Round 5
Murey vs Beliavsky, 1972
(A01) Nimzovich-Larsen Attack, 59 moves, 0-1

Round 5
H Ree vs Suttles, 1972
(A10) English, 17 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 6- August 23
Beliavsky vs Gufeld, 1972
(B32) Sicilian, 28 moves, 1-0

Round 6
Kholmov vs N Kirov, 1972
(B40) Sicilian, 31 moves, 1-0

Round 6
V Liberzon vs Tal, 1972
(B83) Sicilian, 24 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 6
Savon vs H Ree, 1972
(C45) Scotch Game, 22 moves, 1-0

Round 6
L Espig vs Taimanov, 1972
(A37) English, Symmetrical, 20 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 6
Jansa vs K Honfi, 1972
(B42) Sicilian, Kan, 87 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 6
M Mukhin vs Murey, 1972
(E60) King's Indian Defense, 73 moves, 1-0

Round 6
Suttles vs Huebner, 1972
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 29 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7- August 24
Huebner vs Savon, 1972
(A16) English, 38 moves, 1-0

Round 7
Murey vs Kholmov, 1972
(A18) English, Mikenas-Carls, 47 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7
Taimanov vs Beliavsky, 1972 
(A47) Queen's Indian, 67 moves, 0-1

Round 7
Tal vs Suttles, 1972 
(B06) Robatsch, 40 moves, 1-0

Round 7
K Honfi vs V Liberzon, 1972
(A36) English, 28 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7
N Kirov vs Jansa, 1972
(D76) Neo-Grunfeld, 6.cd Nxd5, 7.O-O Nb6, 43 moves, 1-0

Round 7
Gufeld vs M Mukhin, 1972
(E66) King's Indian, Fianchetto, Yugoslav Panno, 14 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7
H Ree vs L Espig, 1972
(E32) Nimzo-Indian, Classical, 42 moves, 1-0

Round 8- August 25
Beliavsky vs H Ree, 1972
(C69) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, Gligoric Variation, 27 moves, 1-0

Round 8
Kholmov vs Gufeld, 1972
(A48) King's Indian, 39 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8
M Mukhin vs Taimanov, 1972 
(B47) Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation, 62 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8
Savon vs Tal, 1972 
(B32) Sicilian, 69 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8
L Espig vs Huebner, 1972
(A04) Reti Opening, 84 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8
K Honfi vs N Kirov, 1972
(B46) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 31 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8
Jansa vs Murey, 1972
(B51) Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack, 56 moves, 0-1

Round 8
V Liberzon vs Suttles, 1972
(A42) Modern Defense, Averbakh System, 33 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 9- August 27
Huebner vs Beliavsky, 1972
(A28) English, 47 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 9
Murey vs K Honfi, 1972
(B42) Sicilian, Kan, 35 moves, 1-0

Round 9
Suttles vs Savon, 1972 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 57 moves, 0-1

Round 9
Taimanov vs Kholmov, 1972 
(A15) English, 42 moves, 1-0

Round 9
Tal vs L Espig, 1972
(B82) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 53 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 9
Gufeld vs Jansa, 1972
(B40) Sicilian, 33 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 9
N Kirov vs V Liberzon, 1972
(A15) English, 24 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 9
H Ree vs M Mukhin, 1972
(D81) Grunfeld, Russian Variation, 25 moves, 0-1

Round 10- August 28
Beliavsky vs Tal, 1972 
(B81) Sicilian, Scheveningen, Keres Attack, 27 moves, 0-1

Round 10
Jansa vs Taimanov, 1972 
(B46) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 38 moves, 0-1

Round 10
Kholmov vs H Ree, 1972
(A01) Nimzovich-Larsen Attack, 47 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 10
V Liberzon vs Savon, 1972
(B92) Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation, 31 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 10
M Mukhin vs Huebner, 1972
(E41) Nimzo-Indian, 63 moves, 1-0

Round 10
L Espig vs Suttles, 1972
(B06) Robatsch, 56 moves, 0-1

Round 10
K Honfi vs Gufeld, 1972
(B47) Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation, 55 moves, 0-1

Round 10
N Kirov vs Murey, 1972
(B53) Sicilian, 58 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 11- August 30
Huebner vs Kholmov, 1972
(A15) English, 53 moves, 0-1

Round 11
Savon vs L Espig, 1972
(B81) Sicilian, Scheveningen, Keres Attack, 31 moves, 1-0

Round 11
Tal vs M Mukhin, 1972 
(A16) English, 49 moves, 1-0

Round 11
Gufeld vs N Kirov, 1972
(D75) Neo-Grunfeld, 6.cd Nxd5, 7.O-O c5, 8.dxc5, 57 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 11
Murey vs V Liberzon, 1972
(B44) Sicilian, 45 moves, 1-0

Round 11
H Ree vs Jansa, 1972
(A10) English, 26 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 11
Suttles vs Beliavsky, 1972
(A00) Uncommon Opening, 56 moves, 0-1

Round 11
Taimanov vs K Honfi, 1972
(A48) King's Indian, 44 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 12- August 31
Beliavsky vs Savon, 1972
(B93) Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.f4, 54 moves, 0-1

Round 12
Kholmov vs Tal, 1972
(A04) Reti Opening, 42 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 12
K Honfi vs H Ree, 1972
(B84) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 46 moves, 0-1

Round 12
Jansa vs Huebner, 1972 
(C41) Philidor Defense, 29 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 12
N Kirov vs Taimanov, 1972
(E60) King's Indian Defense, 39 moves, 0-1

Round 12
V Liberzon vs L Espig, 1972 
(B81) Sicilian, Scheveningen, Keres Attack, 27 moves, 1-0

Round 12
M Mukhin vs Suttles, 1972
(A42) Modern Defense, Averbakh System, 42 moves, 1-0

Round 12
Murey vs Gufeld, 1972 
(B06) Robatsch, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 13- September 1
L Espig vs Beliavsky, 1972
(B89) Sicilian, 30 moves, 0-1

Round 13
Savon vs M Mukhin, 1972
(A15) English, 41 moves, 1-0

Round 13
Suttles vs Kholmov, 1972
(A00) Uncommon Opening, 53 moves, 0-1

Round 13
Tal vs Jansa, 1972
(A15) English, 41 moves, 1-0

Round 13
Gufeld vs V Liberzon, 1972 
(E64) King's Indian, Fianchetto, Yugoslav System, 51 moves, 0-1

Round 13
Huebner vs K Honfi, 1972
(C34) King's Gambit Accepted, 40 moves, 0-1

Round 13
H Ree vs N Kirov, 1972
(B29) Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein, 25 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 13
Taimanov vs Murey, 1972
(B08) Pirc, Classical, 51 moves, 1-0

Round 14- September 2
K Honfi vs Tal, 1972 
(B46) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 33 moves, 0-1

Round 14
Kholmov vs Savon, 1972
(A04) Reti Opening, 46 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 14
Murey vs H Ree, 1972
(C41) Philidor Defense, 22 moves, 1-0

Round 14
Gufeld vs Taimanov, 1972
(E19) Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3, 13 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 14
Jansa vs Suttles, 1972
(A40) Queen's Pawn Game, 52 moves, 0-1

Round 14
N Kirov vs Huebner, 1972
(B10) Caro-Kann, 24 moves, 0-1

Round 14
V Liberzon vs Beliavsky, 1972
(B92) Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation, 20 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 14
M Mukhin vs L Espig, 1972
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 46 moves, 0-1

Round 15- September 4
Beliavsky vs M Mukhin, 1972
(B84) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 41 moves, 0-1

Round 15
L Espig vs Kholmov, 1972 
(A13) English, 63 moves, 1-0

Round 15
H Ree vs Gufeld, 1972
(A10) English, 40 moves, 1-0

Round 15
Savon vs Jansa, 1972
(D42) Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch, 7.Bd3, 31 moves, 1-0

Round 15
Tal vs N Kirov, 1972 
(A15) English, 39 moves, 1-0

Round 15
Taimanov vs V Liberzon, 1972 
(D91) Grunfeld, 5.Bg5, 29 moves, 1-0

Round 15
Huebner vs Murey, 1972
(E97) King's Indian, 76 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 15
Suttles vs K Honfi, 1972
(A16) English, 63 moves, 1/2-1/2

120 games

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