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Gilberto Garcia vs Borislav Ivkov
Havana (1965), Havana CUB, rd 20, Sep-23
Indian Game: Anti-Nimzo-Indian (E10)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-28-04  iron maiden: 36...d3?? has got to be one of the worst moves of Ivkov's career. Anyone doing a collection on blunders or on never resigning, here's a game for you.
Apr-29-04  capanegra: Yes, <iron maiden>, this is surely the worst blunder of Ivkov’s career. It is interesting the story told by Taylor Kingston:

“It's 1965, and Borislav Ivkov of Yugoslavia is riding high. The former world junior champion has taken an impressive clear 1st at Zagreb ahead of Petrosian, Portisch, Bronstein and Larsen. Now at the Capablanca Memorial in Havana, he's in the lead, having defeated, among others, Fischer and Smyslov. With only two rounds to go, he's facing one of the local rabbits, a Cuban named García. Pick a move for Black, any move - it's probably better than what Ivkov played: 36. ... d3?? 37. Bc3, 1-0. This not only cost him 1st prize (he finished equal 4th), but old Boris was never quite the same. In his next major tournament (Santa Monica 1966) he finished next to last.”

Sep-07-05  Runemaster: 36...d3 is of course a terrible move, but it's perhaps not so easy to find a good move for Black. Maybe 36...Rc8.
Sep-07-05  The beginner: <Runemaster>

Hmm i think the game is completely won for black before 36 ..d3 ?? there is at least 10 or more moves where black will win. Black is way ahead in material.

It seems any Queen move, that eather protect f3, or attack d2 is ok, or as you sugested Rc8, should also win, it might not be the strongest move, as it loses the f3 pawn, but it even after that black is still so far ahead in material it should be a easy won game.

May-10-06  MTal: <Runemaster: but it's perhaps not so easy to find a good move for Black. >

Pretty much any Queen move is better, even Qxf1. Most rook moves are not bad either and lead to a win. Fritz evaluates the position before the blunder at -11.5, you really have room for error and still win! But not Ivkov's move.

May-10-06  hrodriguez: I remember very well that game, because I was there in the audience. It was a terrible psychological disaster for Ivkov,who was in the top in that moment. The following day he lost a beautiful Ruy Lopez against Karl Robatsch and his last oportunity of winning the tournament. Smyslov won the Capablanca, with Fischer,Geller and Ivkov sharing second place.
Aug-21-06  WickedPawn: Hey, capanegra,
Gildardo Garcia is actually a Grand Master from Colombia
Dec-20-06  capanegra: <WickedPawn> This is Gilberto, not Gildardo.
Nov-06-09  Granny O Doul: Yes, Gildardo would have been a little young for this one. Lots of Garcias out there.
Sep-12-10  Cibator: The position after White's 36th and Black's blunder feature in Anthony Glyn's 1965 novel "The Dragon Variation" (one of several real-life games to do so). None of the lead-up play is given, and the opening cited in the "fictional" game is a Sicilian Dragon!
Dec-04-10  Tigranny: Why d3?? while overlooking a diagonal battery mate?
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Pachman writes of this tragedy in his book "Pachman's Decisive Games." Garcia had lost almost all of his games, and was completely lost here. Ivkov blundered away the game with 36...d3??, lost as White against Robatsch in the last round, and finished tied for 2nd-4th, a half point behind Smyslov.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <capanegra: ...Taylor Kingston: “... old Boris was never quite the same. In his next major tournament (Santa Monica 1966) he finished next to last.”>

Taylor was never one to let full representation of the facts get in the way of whatever point of view he wished to portray, as he oft demonstrated in his writings when we were members of the same club in the 1990s.

Anyone familiar with the two Piatigorsky Cups well knows that those events were nothing at all like the Capablanca Memorials of the 1960s, where visiting GMs got to run up massive scores against the tailenders. In the 1966 event, Ivkov, while a strong GM, was hardly likely to finish anywhere but minus over a fourteen-round event, facing the likes of Petrosian, Larsen, Fischer and Spassky.

Jun-12-11  bronkenstein: He actually won against Fischer and Smyslov @ Havana , speaking about elite. On the other hand , it was exactly the performance against the tailender that screwed him.

Additionally , in Zagreb , the same year , he won in front of <the likes> of Petrosian , Larsen , Portisch and Bronstein.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <bronkenstein: ..Additionally , in Zagreb , the same year , he won in front of <the likes> of Petrosian , Larsen , Portisch and Bronstein.>

As I stated, in Santa Monica, there were no outsiders-only strong GMs. This is rather different from a psychological point of view, and whilst you can take the two results you cited and extrapolate the idea that Ivkov was in the same class as the greatest players, at that very highest level, the small differences are significant.

Another consideration: the Piatigorsky Cups were double-round events, so a favourable draw, as one might have in an event such as Havana, goes out the window.

No doubt you will point out that Ivkov defeated Fischer with Black at Havana. Just curious: do you think Fischer would have managed to finish better than =2nd had he actually been present and not had the extra strain of longer sessions than his colleagues, who only had to endure it when facing him?

Jun-20-11  bronkenstein: I don`t believe that such speculations will lead us anywhere. There is more than enough arguments and possible POWs for either praising or belittling Ivkov , I just pointed out the (IMO) flaw in your previous logic.
Jun-29-12  scormus: This must have been a terribly bitter experience for Ivkov.

<Cibator ... "The Dragon Variation"> Good to know I'm not the only one to have read the novel. I thought it was very good, though a bit depressing. Perhaps should be required reading for anyone who wants to become a full time player ;)

Jul-30-13  TheaN: Very interesting story to read and yes, these are those kind of game where you check in retrospect and think "how in the name of GOD did I manage to give it away in one move?"

In fact, on move 36, black wouldn't need many moves to win: I'm pretty sure that 36....Qd1 37.Bh6 Rb8 with Qxf1+! is near impossible to parry.

Apr-07-14  ex0du5: 36.. a5 was killer. Qd1 was also crushing. Rb8 or Rc8 was strong, as equally was Qb2 or Qc3. Even Re8 was still a simple and huge win. d3 really was one of very few ways to lose, and probably the only that isn't sacking a major piece.
Jul-15-18  tinnderbox: This is what renowned Grandmaster and writer Hein Donner (Netherlands) wrote about this game in 1965 (translated from Dutch, of course) :

Ivkov was in time trouble, but that doesn't explain it. On move 36 Garcia had no threats anymore. Ivkov could just play four neutral moves. His time trouble would be over and Garcia would resign. He had to play move 36. Ivkov's hand hovered above the board. I stood next to the board. I saw that he actually didn't have any bad moves at all. Apart from putting his queen on a covered square any move would do. Then I suddenly saw an awful possibility. If he played the pawn the diagonal would be released for the bishop and he would be mated. At that moment Ivkov grabbed the pawn and played 36... d3??? Garcia immediately put his bishop on c3. Ivkov cringed, laughed, and fell back in his chair. He didn't play a move, couldn't really play a move, and lost on time. (...)
The audience gave Garcia an ovation, of course. But we, Ivkov's colleagues, we didn't congratulate him. Ivkov had played wonderfully in this tournament, and he had deserved to win it.

Jul-15-18  Granny O Doul: I suspect Ivkov missed something when he went in for 12...Ng4; perhaps that after 13. Na4, ...d3 is not on due to takes, takes, takes, takes (or if takes instead, then takes, takes, takes, and White is even slightly better off), takes, takes, takes. After that, he just tried to complicate in the hope his opponent would falter. And he did.
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