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Boris Spassky vs Efim Geller
"Give 'em the Runaround" (game of the day Jan-31-2017)
Spassky - Geller Candidates Quarterfinal (1968), Sukhumi URS, rd 6, Apr-13
Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation (B25)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-31-17  The Kings Domain: Impressive attacking game by Spassky. 25) Nxf7 was a particularly nice touch which sent Geller's kingside crumbling irreparably.
Feb-01-17  kevin86: Black tries to run, but can't fast enough.
May-30-17  Howard: Would someone please verify that 29.e5 would have won quicker? Kasparov--if I remember correctly---doesn't mention this move in MGP.
May-30-17  Retireborn: 29.e5 is evaluated higher by Houdini, but both moves win quickly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: 29 e5 or 29 g5 is like choosing either a smash or a placement when your opponent has thrown up a defensive lob, and is in the neighboring court flat on his back.

29 e5 is faster, mainly because it attacks the bishop on b7 and threatens to take on f6 with the pawn with mate coming.

The best Stockfish can see is 29...d5 30 exf6 Qe6 31 Qxb7 and the rout is on.

But 29 g5 is a sure win also. There is still a threat of exf6, and 29...fxg5 30 Bg5 is mate in 5. So Black has to delay the inevitable with 29...f5 when White takes the K-side pawns and queens his g pawn

Jun-17-17  edubueno: Una brutal paliza.
Dec-13-17  Howard: To be honest, I just don't understand why 14.b3 is an improvement over a different move that Spassky played in Game 4. Kasparov states that it saves a tempo--but exactly how?
Dec-13-17  WorstPlayerEver: SF gives 14... e6
Mar-01-18  tgyuid: its a completely different style of play; one wonders....
Premium Chessgames Member
  FreeRepublic2: I played through the closed Sicilians of this match. Spassky won the first three, and drew the final game to win the match. Very impressive.

It seems to me like Spassky improvised for his first two victories. Good examples of gutting it out, and that is something one has to do sometimes in the closed Sicilian.

Only in this game does it seem that Spassky powered his way to victory. This is the way white players want to play.

Aug-28-18  Howard: Spassky played the closed Sicilian six times in the 1968 Candidates, and he scored 5.5/6 !
May-15-19  N.O.F. NAJDORF: One of hundreds of master games in which Black's queen goes wandering aimlessly on the queen's side, thus facilitating a successful kingside attack by white.

What on earth was the point of putting the queen on a6?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Knightf7mate: Here is an interesting fact. The only database entries for Spassky OR Geller ever playing the closed Sicilian (B25) are in this match and this match only!

I think Spassky's team decided to use this variation against Geller, based on a shrewd insight into Geller's strengths and weaknesses. Just like Kramnik's choice of the Berlin defense against Kasparov many years later.

Geller just could not cope with it in the limited time available for the match.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Knightf7mate> <The only database entries for Spassky OR Geller ever playing the closed Sicilian (B25) are in this match and this match only!>

Something must be wrong with the search you cited, because Spassky has a lot of other examples of closed Sicilians (B25) here, like Spassky vs Larsen, 1968, Spassky vs Timman, 1982, Spassky vs Portisch, 1977 to name a few.

(My search was

Dec-02-19  edubueno: HOWARD, in order to answer your question: "To be honest, I just don't understand why 14.b3 is an improvement over a different move that Spassky played in Game 4. Kasparov states that it saves a tempo--but exactly how?" The big advantage of b3! instead of De2?! is that the Tower in a1 will go directly to the defensive line in c1. At the same time, the Queen will go to h4 without hesitation.
Dec-02-19  Carrots and Pizza: After 15.Rc1, it's interesting to see how Spassky prosecutes the kingside attack, because his position looks a little passive at this point. We know g4 is coming and then it's up in the air. Will it be an eventual f5 or g5? Will White take on g6 or push to f6? How will White coordinate the dark square attack without giving Black the tempos to counter on the queenside? Spassky's attack was very instructive to me from this perspective.
Jun-21-20  carpovius: <edubueno: Una brutal paliza.> cierto.... y mortal
Dec-10-20  Ulhumbrus: One alternative to 8...Rb8 is 8...Ne8 playing for ...Nd4 before White can play d4 as in the game H Wolf vs Lasker, 1923
Feb-15-21  Gaito: The position after White's 21st move was a critical moment of the game (see diagram):

click for larger view

It is clear that Black is ready to undertake a Q-side offensive where the first target would be White's pawn on c2. And that explains Geller's curious knight tour ...Na7-b5 whereupon this knight is bound to land on a3. But what about White's possible K-side offensive? If White's K-side attack should come first, then most of Black's pieces would be found too far away and unable to assist their attacked king. Instead of being cautious with moves like 21...Nh7 or 21...Qc6 (bringing Black's Q closer to the threatened flank), Geller decided to throw caution to the wind and played 21...Na3??, which turned out to be the decisive mistake. After 22.Qh4! it became clear that White's K-side attack would come much faster than Geller probably had expected. Thus we witnessed the same old story of a king being merciless threatened, while most of his pieces were far away in Siberia and unable to come back in time to be of any assistance in the defence of their attacked king.

Feb-16-21  Gaito: Efim Geller is one of my personal chess heros. I have made a deep study of many of his best games, and some of them I have even commented as a kibitzer in this site: chessgames dot com. He was exceedingly strong in some aspects of chess, e.g. in the art of preparing and executing a dirct attack against an unclastled king and also against a castled king. I have noticed, however, that in some other aspects of chess he was way less strong, and his Achiless' heel, as it were, was that he was comparatively weak in the art of defense. As far as the handling of endgames is concerned Geller was not too strong (at least not as strong as Korchnoi, for example). But several of Geller's most famous losses went in similar lines as in this game vs. Spassky. One example that comes to my mind now was the 8th match game against Paul Keres in 1962. See the following diagram:

click for larger view

Notice the similarity with the game Spassky vs. Geller: White (Keres) had previously sacrificed a piece for two pawns and some real chances of attack on the K-side, but we observe that three or four of Black's pieces are scattered very far away from the defense of his threatened king; and particularly useless is the Black knight on a5. Moreover, Black's bishop on b7 is (to use Capablanca's words related to another game) "posted on a square that would be good if attacking but useless if defending". I find a striking resemblance with the game Spassky vs. Geller: White (Keres) has a free hand on the K-side while a number of Black's pieces are far away on vacation in Siberia, without any chance to come back and help his king. The game ended as follows: 23.Rd3! Bd6 24.f4! Qh8 24.Qg4 Bc5+ 25.Kh1 Rc7 (too little, too late) 26.Bh7 double check! Kf7 27.Qe6+ Kg7 28. Rg3+, and mate next move. 1-0. You can see the game in this link:
Keres vs Geller, 1962

Jul-05-22  N.O.F. NAJDORF: 27...Bxh6 28. Nxh6 Ke8 29. e5 Rb8 30. e6 Bc8 31. Qf7+ Kd8 32. e7+ Kc7 33. e8=Q+ Kb6 34. Qd8+ Kb5 35. Qfe8+ Bd7 36. Qexd7+ and mate next move

27...Bxh6 28. Nxh6 Ke8 29. e5 Rb8 30. e6 Bc6 31. Qf7+ Kd8 32. e7+ Kc7 33. e8=Q+ Kb6 34. Qxb8+ Bb7 35. Qbxb7+ Qxb7 36. Qxb7+ Ka5 37. Bc6 and mate next move

Dec-18-22  Misha709600: Take the A file and solidify your position with another prophylactic move 15(Rook to C1). Classical SSC!
May-08-23  N.O.F. NAJDORF: 27...Bxh6 28. Nxh6 Ke8 29. e5 Rb8 30. e6 Bc8 31. Qf7+ Kd8 32. e7+ Kc7 33. e8=Q+ Kb6 34. Qd8+ Kb5 35. Qc4+ Nxc4 36. dxc4#

27...Bxh6 28. Nxh6 Ke8 29. e5 Rb8 30. e6 Bc6 31. Qf7+ Kd8 32. e7+ Kc7 33. e8=Q+ Kb6 34. Qxc6+ Ka5 35. Qfc7+ Qb6 36. Qa4#

May-29-23  Allderdice83: Geller never did figure out Spassky's Closed Sicilian Fianchetto Variation.

After 14. b3, Stockfish recommends 14 ... Qc7, putting pressure on the c2 pawn, followed by 15. Qd2 e6 to keep a hold on f5.

Geller's first real mistake is 18 ... Na7?! It's too slow. He should play 18 ... Nd7 so as to meet 19. f5 with 19 ... Nde5 (0.00).

As already pointed out, 21 ... Na3? is a serious error (not quite "??"). Black should play 21 ... Qc6. Now 22. Qh4 Rb8 23. Rxf6 exf6 24. Qh7+ Kf8 25. Nxf7 Kxf7 26. g5 f5! doesn't work for White (can't take on f5 due to Qxg2# -- the point of 21 ... Qc6). Of course, White can improve on this line (27. Nf4, or better yet, 23. Nf4), but Black's still in the game.

May-29-23  Allderdice83: 22 ... Re8 gives Black a better defense. 23. Rxf6 exf6 24. Qh7+ Kf8 25. Nxf7 Kxf7 26. Bh6 Ke7 27. Qxg7+ Kd8 28. Qxf6+ Kc8 and the king has escaped (+1.4).

However, White can instead play 23. e5! Now 23 ... Bxg2? 24. Rxf6! (24. exf6 is less good) exf6 25. exf6 Rxe3 26. Qh7+ Kf8 27. fxg7+ Ke7 28. g8=Q.

23 ... dxe5 24. Rxf6 exf6 25. Qh7+ Kf8 26. Bxc5+ Re7 27. Bxe7+ Kxe7 28. Qxg7 fxg5 29. Qxe5+ wins easily (Stockfish says +2.3 but White is up a whole rook)

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