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Boris Spassky vs Lajos Portisch
"A Thrust to the King's Gambit" (game of the day Mar-25-2009)
HUN-RSFSR (1967), Budapest HUN, rd 3
King's Gambit: Accepted. Fischer Defense (C34)  ·  1-0

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Apr-18-07  Brown: Spassky plays "unclear" positions better than anyone perhaps ever. But when others "clarified" things, things sometimes didn't go his way. Players like Karpov and Fischer are prime examples of these players. Only an arch-tactician with positional savvy like Kasparov could take on Karpov in his prime.
May-02-07  M.D. Wilson: I agree. But Spassky also had a very strong positional backbone. Many of his exchanges left him with winning endgames. Still, he is probably a rung below Karpov and Fischer in terms of being a master strategist or cold-blooded technician; the difference isn't enormous, though. I certainly think Spassky's imagination was greater than his successors.
May-02-07  Billy Ray Valentine: This game is not easy for me to grasp quickly--and I have studied the King's Gambit extensively.

I'd be very curious to see computer evaluation of this game. Given what the game looks like early on, I'd never guess that White would pull out the victory...

Fascinating!

Jan-18-09  Xeroxx: Three major mistakes by Portisch

26...f5

38...Ng8

and

44...b6

Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: Black won an exchange on move 15 and lost 40 moves later. Go figure.
Mar-25-09  UnsoundHero: I don't think white has enough for the exchange. But 19...Nd8 is too passive. I like 19...h5, trying to make use out of the passed pawn.
Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: "A Thrust to the King's Gambit" is obviously a play on Fischer's famous article "A Bust to the King's Gambit" (American Chess Quarterly, Vol. 1, No. 1, Summer 1961, p. 3). Fischer advocated 3...d6! in that article, stating unequivocally, "In my opinion the King's Gambit is busted. It loses by force." Id. at 4. (He later played the King's Gambit himself in three tournament games, winning all of them!)

The first five moves of this game follow Fischer's analysis. 6.g3 is not mentioned by Fischer. According to Korchnoi and Zak, it had been played in Herter-Kapic, Zagreb 1955, which ended quickly with 6....g4 7.Nh4 f3 8.Bf4! Nd7 9.Qd3 Qf6 10.Nc3 c6 11.0-0-0 Nb6 12.e5 dxe5 13.dx5 Qe7 14.Bxf7+ 1-0. Korchnoi and Zak, The King's Gambit, p. 21.

Korchnoi and Zak say Portisch's 6...Nc6! is an improvement. They give a question mark to Spassky's 7.gxf4? and say that he should instead have transposed to the main line of the Hanstein Gambit with 7.0-0 Bg7 8.c3.

In the game continuation K & Z say that 13...Qg3! (Keres) was "even stronger" than Portisch's 13...Qxh2+ winning the exchange. Interesting how Spassky played the King's Gambit against both Fischer and Portisch, got objectively lost positions where he was down material (a pawn against Fischer, an exchange against Portisch), yet won both games anyway. He also crushed Seirawan (who defended with the odd 3...Ne7) with the King's Gambit many years later.

Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Spassky really was a giant of the King's Gambit. He played it against the world's strongest players (Fischer, Portisch, Bronstein, Korchnoi, Najdorf, etc.), but apart from a simul game against Gary Lane, he never lost with it (+18 =13 -0) - an amazing record. See http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ches...
Mar-25-09  KingV93: This is an interesting game. I love the kings gambit and play it frequently but must admit I aim for a tactical blitzkrieg using the Bxf7 motif as much as possible. If the game goes more than 30 or so moves I've probably lost. Lots of players seem unprepared to face it and it can lead to some smashing wins.
Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: One of Spassky's better games.
Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: It's important to realize that the idea behind the King's Gambit is not to sacrifice a piece or two. Instead, it's positional: securing a strong pawn center and free, quick development for the pieces. These are conditions that are favorable for heavy sacrifices, and the flashy games that result are more likely to be published, remembered and treasured. But deep down the King's Gambit and the Queen's Gambit are played for the same strategical reasons.

There are huge tactical differences, of course. The move f4 exposes White's king, so the King's Gambit is more likely to be double-edged. And the lines that open up generally zero in on the kings. Black's counters also vary. In the King's Gambit, ...d5 is normal, but in the Queen's Black can rarely play ...e5 early. On the other hand, Black's ...c5 counter in the Queen's would be ...f5 in the King's, and obviously quite risky.

Spassky's play in this game is essentially positional. He loses/gives up/sacrifices/whatevers the exchange, but gets a huge pawn center behind which he can manuever peacefully. Black's knight in particular has a terrible time trying to find something to do. Eventually, Portisch feels he must break up the pawn center, even at the cost of concessions elsewhere.

Doesn't look much like a King's Gambit at the end with all those White pawns on the f-file!

Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <deep down the King's Gambit and the Queen's Gambit are played for the same strategical reasons.>

Indeed, <1.e4 e4 2.f4...> was the favorite switch-up of a king of positional play, <Akiba Rubinstein> himself; and he played it much like a mirror of QG.

Repertoire Explorer: Akiba Rubinstein (white)

Mar-25-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: 44...b6 looks like the losing move. Is there a win if 44..Rf7 for black?


click for larger view

Mar-25-09  WhiteRook48: so Spassky is the king?
Mar-25-09  Samagonka: White really put up a big fight to win this game.
Mar-25-09  chillowack: I am surprised to find that several kibitzers here seem to believe Spassky deliberately sacrificed the exchange, and was equal or better in the ensuing position.

My feeling was that Portisch outplayed Spassky in the opening, found a clever combination (13...Qh2+!!)which won the exchange by force, and gained the advantage.

Spassky, being brilliant and at the height of his powers, then gradually fought his way back to win the game, in the true style of a champion.

That was my take on this game, but of course it's all very complex.

Apr-27-09
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <chillowack> I think your assessment is about right, although as I said above Korchnoi and Zak say that Keres' suggestion 13...Qg3! is even better than Portisch's 13...Qxh2+.
Jan-16-12  King Death: <FSR> I don't know the analysis that Korchnoi and Zak offer after Keres's 13...Qg3 but it looks like either White loses the exchange anyhow or has to go in to a mess with 14.Nd5 Ng4 15.Qe2 Qh2+ 16.Qh2 Nh2 17. Nf6+ Kd8 18.Ng8. White could try 14.Be2 Ng4 15.Bg4 Bg4 16.Qf1 Nd4 17.Rg2 Qh4+ 18.Rh2 Qd8 but I don't like his position then either.
Mar-31-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  sleepyirv: <Phony Benoni> Perhaps that's what attracted Boris Spassky to the opening. It can lead to very sharp tactical melees, but can also reward players who understand strategic nuisances. The perfect opening for a universal player who feels comfortable both in the tactical and positional worlds.
Mar-31-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Spassky was a very creative player - The Kings Gambit is ideal for him because there are so many uncharted lines.
Mar-31-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I think that if you're going to offer a gambit, and if you're not Boris Spassky, then this is the wrong one.

GO BACK YOU ARE GOING WRONG WAY!!

There are better gambits for white. I like the Scotch Gambit or the Göring Gambit, or the Vienna Gambit.

But the King's Gambit? No!

Do not take me down that road, brothers!

Mar-31-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <sleepyirv> GOod points, But I'm assuming you meant "strategical <nuances>". Though for many players -- myself included -- strategical play is a nuisance.
Mar-31-16  ewan14: Arch tactician with positional savvy

Petrosian

latter day Tal

Mar-31-16  ewan14: Spassky was king in 1969

(partly due to playing the Tarrasch !
against Petrosian's Q.G. )

Mar-31-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <PB> Given your comment on positional chess at your forum, that is not at all surprising. (laughs)
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