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Arturo Pomar Salamanca vs Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian
Siegen (1970), Siegen FRG, Sep-??
Modern Defense: General (A41)  ·  0-1

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-27-03
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Thanks Ben for the annotations. It's still almost impossible to see where Pomar could have improved. I still wonder why people think Petrosian was the weakest world champion.
Dec-27-03  Benjamin Lau: Annotations by John Watson

Pomar v.s. Petrosian, 1970

Position after 14. g4

"The opening is fairly typical of Petrosian, in that he has been deliberately provocative. Even by modern standards, his set-up looks a bit bizarre. It seems that you could give Black several moves and he wouldn't know what to do with them. But Petrosian is unfazed."

14... Rb8! 15 Rhe1 Rb7!

"There is an irony here, placing a rook vis-a-vis White's g2-bishop. But Black's last two moves are the essence of prophylaxis. As Soltis comments: "Look around for an immediate threat to Black's second rank and you won't find it. But Black is thinking about the near future." This use of the second rank for defensive purposes has been mentioned elsewhere in the book and it also occurred in the last example. Here the rook not only defends d7, but is ready to swing into the centre or to the kingside when appropriate. White now jumps at the chance to activate his pieces at the mere cost of giving his opponent an extra pawn which is isolated and doubled. But due to the prophylactic nature of Black's position, this also activates [Petrosian's] pieces, and in particular that rook."

16 e5?! fxe5 17 Ng5 o-o 18 Nd5 Nxg5 19 Bxg5 Be8! 20 Bh6 e6 21. Bxg7 Rxg7

"Black's last three moves prepared this!"

22 Nc3 Nd5 23 Rxe5 Rgf7

"Black is winning, the f-file pressure is too strong."

24 Ne4? Qc7 25 Rg5 Rf4! 26 Qd3 h6 27 Nd6 hxg5 28 Nxe8 Rxe8 29 Qxg6+ Kf8 30 Qxg5 Qh7+

0-1

Dec-27-03  Benjamin Lau: Hehe, now you look like a telepath Benzol. :-) I had to recopy and paste the previous post because I had a couple of obvious and stupid typos like "this rok" (rook) :-)
Dec-27-03
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: For my next trick I'll predict who'll be World Champion. LOL.
May-05-05  fgh: For those who don't see the end (I doubt there are many), 31. Ka1 Nc2+ 32. Kb1 Na3+ 33. Ka1 Qb1+! (obvious) 34. Rxb1 Nc2# or 31. Kc1 Qc2#. Any other moves, 31. Qg6, 31. Qf5+, 31. Be4 and 31. Rd3 lead into same lines and into quick mate.
Nov-03-08  sleepyirv: I always enjoy seeing one of the greats pulling off a smothermate- a reminder that it's a very useful theme.
Nov-03-08  Marmot PFL: <I still wonder why people think Petrosian was the weakest world champion.>

People were upset by the high number of short draws after he became WC. I wouldn't say he was weak at all, just one of the less ambitious.

Dec-16-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Marmot: People were upset by the high number of short draws after he became WC. I wouldn't say he was weak at all, just one of the less ambitious.>

There were a fair number of short draws before Petrosian won the title as well. Here is an example from his early days as a top player:

USSR Championship (1955)/Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian

Aug-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: Classic Petrosian - win a handful of games, draw the rest. See also, e.g., Gothenburg Interzonal (1955).
Aug-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Benzol.....I still wonder why people think Petrosian was the weakest world champion.>

Hard to imagine holding this view, come to the only player during the period 1951-1975 to win a match outright against his challenger.

For the uninitiated:

Botvinnik, 1951: managed to draw vs Bronstein;

In 1954, again 12-12;

In '57, Smyslov won as challenger, then lost as champeen the next year;

Botvinnik again lost as champ in 1960 and the next rematch in 1961;

Last go at it for the Patriarch in '63--he lost decisively to Iron Tigran;

Success for the titleholder came in 1966, with Petrosian winning by the odd point, before a resurgent Spassky defeated him three years on.

Reykjavik 1972 was not so kind to Boris Vasilievich, with a crushing loss to Fischer, who essentially never played top-level chess again.

Aug-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Sally Simpson: "...the weakest world champion."

Surely in general terms there can be no such thing. However if we go along with this idea and hold a poll I'm pretty sure poor Euwe will come out on top even though he held the title longer than Smyslov and Tal.

The Draws.
I've read many times that Petrosian played like a sleeping bear. If you woke him up you were in big trouble. A die hard Petrosian fan (count me out) could make a case that it was not Petrosian's fault for these draws, it was his opponents for being to scared to tackle head-on.

To play for a win in a levelish position involves a risk. Petrosian was not a risk taking type of player. If his opponent kicked things off then at his peak you would find no better player to tango with....and regret it.

Aug-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <perfidious> You could extend the numbers longer than that. Alekhine won two matches against Bogulyubow, in 1929 and 1934. Karpov beat Korchnoi in 1978. Between 1934 and 1978, Petrosian was the only champion to actually beat his challenger. All the others either lost (Alekhine '35, Euwe '37, Botvinnik '57, Smyslov '58, Botvinnik '60, Tal '61, Botvinnik '63, Petrosian '69, Spassky '72), drew (Botvinnik '51 and '54), or forfeited (Fischer '75).
Aug-25-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: <Sally> ISTR that Euwe did admit that he was the "weakest" World Champion, in a conversation with Nigel Short (which may not have been entirely serious!)

Petrosian was always extremely strong, but lacking in physical energy. He first played the candidates in 1953 and with more energy would have possibly have become WC some years before he actually did.

Aug-25-14  Petrosianic: <A die hard Petrosian fan (count me out) could make a case that it was not Petrosian's fault for these draws, it was his opponents for being to scared to tackle head-on.>

It was his fault, or rather the fault of his mindset. Petrosian treated chess as a science rather than as a competition, and was more concerned with finding "correct" play than in winning games at times. He grew up during World War II, lost his family, the whole world was crazy, so he tried to find reason and order in chess. He would always assume that his opponent would find the best move, no matter how much weaker they were, and avoided even speculative lines with a high probability of success, to try to play perfect games. When his opponent played "incorrectly", he wanted to win to demonstrate the incorrectness of the moves more than to score points. He'd rather not win at all than win incorrectly. It was a very odd mindset, but he did make it work for him.

Jun-15-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  fredthebear: <fgh: For those who don't see the end (I doubt there are many), 31. Ka1 Nc2+ 32. Kb1 Na3+ 33. Ka1 Qb1+! (obvious) 34. Rxb1 Nc2# or 31. Kc1 Qc2#. Any other moves, 31. Qg6, 31. Qf5+, 31. Be4 and 31. Rd3 lead into same lines and into quick mate.>

31.Ka1 Nc2+ etc. as you point out leads to Philidor's Legacy, a form of smothered mate. Of course 31.Kc1 Qc2# is sudden death. The queen and knight work well together.

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