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Tigran V Petrosian vs Vasily Smyslov
USSR Championship (1951), Moscow URS, rd 13, Dec-06
Slav Defense: Geller Gambit (D15)  ·  1-0



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Given 53 times; par: 94 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-20-03  aulero: This is a wordeful game! The 17th move shows the Petrosian's deep positional understanding. Such pawn sacrifices are quite rare because they are based on abstract strategic considerations: the d4 pawn hinders the development of the white play on black squares!

The end game is a classic master-piece.

How many of you are aware of basic similarities between combinations and finals? Both exploit tactical elements and both require profound calculation.

In this game it is quite possible that Petrosian foresaw the entire development of events at the 31st move!

Nov-16-04  Gowe: Yes, wonderful played by Petrosian. He won perfectly a very hard end game.
Mar-01-05  aw1988: Wow!
Apr-04-05  MUG: Interestingly, exactly thirty years later Petrosian would play this game again, but with the Black pieces! And being older and wiser, he was ready for the 17th move positional sacrifice of his younger self.

D Gazarek vs Petrosian, 1981

An excellent example of why to study your own spectacular wins from an unbiased point-of-view! In chess you sometimes have to face your own innovative play!

Apr-04-05  Kangaroo: To MUG:
You are a little bit unfair to Petrosyan and Smyslov. Compare the age: in 1981 TVP was over 50, while back in 1951 Smyslov was only 30! This explains the difference from one viewpoint.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Wow, MUG, thanks for finding that!
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The same round saw Geller vs Flohr, 1951, with the same variation. Geller and Petrosian were friends; Geller had worked out this line in the Slav but it went wrong for both of them. Geller did not play 17.d5 and at one point was in this position:

click for larger view

I think that black should still win after 17.d5 but it gives far more chances than the line Geller chose.

Oct-30-05  who: Incredible game - where does Smyslov lose the game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I have played it over and am not sure what moves I don't like. But a quick glance makes me think of these as possible candidates: a4, b4 (twice), Bc6 (seems a total waste of time, someone help me), and especially 0-0-0. That long castle was like putting a sign on the Rook's back saying, "Someone Pin a Piece Against Me and Then Kick Me". Can someone give me an idea of what would happen if Black had played 24.........Nxc3?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After 24...Nxc3 white would not have gone in for adventures such as 25.dxc7 Nxe2+ 26.Kh2 Nxg3 27.Kxg3 but would have played 25.Qxc3, where both black's queen and rook are attacked.
Jun-27-08  arsen387: 17..d5! pawn sac is a great execution of the law "counter attack in center when your oponent attacks you on the wing". Also black's O-O-O seems dubious. Well played endgame by Petrosian.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: <who: Incredible game - where does Smyslov lose the game?>

This is hardly a complete answer to your question, but 17. ... Bxd5! is suggested as an improvement (with some analysis) at page 54 of "Starting Out: Slav and Semi-Slav" by Glenn Flear, Everyman Chess (c)2005.

Oct-01-09  returnoftheking: According to Geller Smyslov erred at the 17th move and black should be winning even after 17.d5! The point is that black should keep control over e4.

Kasparov in OMGP takes this as an interesting example of Petrosian's understanding in comparison to Geller. This is a bit unfair. In reality Geller was the first to make his move. The cautious Petrosian waited, and only made a move after he observed Geller getting an inferior position.

Curiously Geller was involved in a similar situation when Spasky, Keres and he got the same position against 3 Argentinian players. At that time Geller, who is said to be prone to get into time trouble, was also the first to move.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: With respect to the comment by <returnoftheking:>, it should be noted that according to Geller in "The Application of Chess Theory" (Everyman, (c)1984, 1994) at pages 94-95, this game and Geller vs Flohr, 1951 were played in the same round and were identical through 16. ... a5!, where Geller played 17. Rb1 and got a bad position. Petrosian accordingly decided to vary and sought complications with his 17. d5!?.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Peligroso Patzer: As far as chances for Smyslov to save the game may be concerned, a quick thought (which I have not taken the time to attempt to analyze) is that even as late as move 48, a better drawing try might have been 48. … Kc5 – the idea being to capture the passed White b-pawn with the King and thereby mobilize the Bishop.

Admittedly, it is doubtful Smyslov (unless he was very short of time) would have missed this move if it really would have held, but the idea seems worth analyzing. (Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do so this evening.)

Feb-04-10  AnalyzeThis: 48.... Kc5 49. Kxh5 Kxb6 50. Kg5

click for larger view

With the h pawn running down the board, Black makes some desperate move like Be6 and Bg8. White eats the f pawn, and we wonder exactly how the bishop is going to stop 3 pawns.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: As noted by <Peligroso Patzer>, Geller in his "The Application of Chess Theory", had reviewed the critical position after 16...a5.

In his game, in the same round of the XIX USSR championship, with Flohr, Geller vs Flohr, 1951, Geller tried 17.Rb1 and lost. Petrosian who had delayed his decision, noted that Geller stood badly, and tried for complications with 17.d5.

In the position after 17.d5,

click for larger view

Smyslov played 17...Nxd5.

Geller was of the opinion that 17...Bxd5 was essential, and that 17...Nxd5 was a serious error, in that it would allow the white knight to reach e4.

Analysis by Fritz indicates that 17...Bxd5 was the better choice, but that both moves favored black: (-1.66) (21 ply) 17...Bxd5 18.Rd1 Qc8, (-1.45) (21 ply) 17...Nxd5 18.Rd1 a4. Deeper analysis of this complicated position indicates black's advantage decreasing after 17...Nxd5, which makes 17...Bxd5 the clear best choice in the diagrammed position.

After 21.Qxg5, Fritz indicates the position was still slightly in favor of black: (-.61) (21 ply) 21...a4 22.Qg3, (-.52) (24 ply) 22...Qa5 23.Nd6+ Rxd6 24.exd6 Rd8 25.Qe5 Rd7.

Instead of playing 22...Qa5 with a small advantage, Smyslov played 22...f5?, and after 23.Nd6+ Rxd6 24.exd6, the position favored white: (.44) (21 ply) 24...Qd7 25.Bf3 Rd8, then Smyslov erred again: (.94) (21 ply) 24...f4? 25.Qxg6 Qxd6 26.Bf3.

After Smyslov's errors 22...f5? and 24...f4?, Fritz's analysis indicates white has a strong advantage: (1.21) (21 ply) 26...Qe5 27.Rdb1 Bc6 28.Re1 Qf5 29.Qg7 Rd8 30.Re5 Qf8 31.Qxf8 Rxf8 32.Rxe6, (1.66) (22 ply) 32...Kc7 33.Bxd5 Bxd5 34.Re5 Kc6 35.f3 Rh8 36.Rd1 Rd8 37.Rxh5, (2.12) (24 ply) 37...a3 38.Ra1 Ra8 39.Rf5 b4 40.cxb4 c3 41.Rc1 a2 42.Rxc3+ Kd6 43.Rc1 a1Q 44.Rxa1 Rxa1+ 45.Kh2 Ra2 46.Rxf4.

Deeper analysis may find some better possibilities for both sides. However, in the above analysis after 46.Rxf4, Fritz indicates white, with rook and 4 pawns against rook & bishop, has good winning chances by advancing his king side pawns, even though black will then be able to win the b-pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: In my last post, I indicated that if 17...Bxd5 18.Rad1, Fritz preferred 18...Qc8. However, deeper analysis by Fritz indicates that after 17...Bxd5 18.Rd1, the best continuation is: (-1.90) (22 ply) 18...Qc7 19.Be3 Qc6, (-2.01) (20 ply) 20.Nf3 Na4 21.Rdc1 Nc5, with a strong advantage for black.

The line, 17...Bxd5 18.Rd1 Qc7 19.Be3, was also indicated by Kasparov in OMGP - Part III. Kasparov stated that this line provides white with strong pressure. Fritz's evaluation indicates that even with this pressure, black has a considerable advantage.

As indicated in my previous post, even after errors at move 22 and 24, by move 26, Smyslov's still had some chances for a draw with 26...Qe5. After 26...Bc6?, white's position was definitely winning: (2.21) (23 ply) 26...Bc6? 27.Ra2 Rd8 28.Qxh5.

Instead of 27.Ra2, Petrosian played another strong move 27.Re1, and after 27...Re8, he could have continued with a winning attack: (2.10) (20 ply) 28.Rad1! Kc7 29.Qxh5 Qf8, (2.94) (21 ply) 30.Qe5+ Qd6 31.Qd4 Kb8 32.Re5 a3 33.h5 Re7, (4.94) (18 ply) 34.h6! Rh7 35.Rg5 e5 36.Rxe5 Qxh6 37.Rh5 Qxh5 38.Bxh5 Rxh5 39.Ra1.

Petrosian could have played for a decisive attack by 28.Rad1!, instead, he played for an endgame win with 28.Bxd5!

Feb-28-12  LoveThatJoker: Guess-the-Move score on this game = 113

Par = 91


Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Petrosian likes to take gambits too.

He really uses his king nicely. First, threatening to capture the rook pawn, then destroying the kingside pawns.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: To clarify Petrosian's 17.d5, Petrosian at that point was already desperate, and did not know what to do, and he figured that his best shot at counterplay would have been 17.d5.
Aug-13-20  Justin796: D5 is ridiculous in the first place.
Jul-14-22  cehertan: 17.d5 was a great chess move. You are playing one of the great positional maestros of all time. If white does not achieve active play you can see what happened in Geller-Flohr earlier. Upsetting the opponents equilibrium has tremendous value. Chess is not (yet) a computer exercise. It is a battle of minds and wills.

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