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Yuri Averbakh vs Boris Spassky
"Knight Odds" (game of the day Feb-04-2017)
USSR Championship (1956), Leningrad URS
King's Indian Defense: Averbakh. Benoni Defense Advance Variation (E75)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-16-09  WhiteRook48: yeah, like play 69...Rd6+ 70 exd6
Apr-25-09  WhiteRook48: Taimanov: "I would rather resign the game than play such a move"
May-05-09  ToTheDeath: And that's why Taimanov was not world champion. Mental toughness and tenacity in lost positions is a characteristic of great players.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: The tournament situation adds some interest to Taimanov's remark.

This game is from the playoff for first place between Taimanov, Averbakh and Spassky. In the main tournament, Spassky and Averbakh had led most of the way. In fact, they were 1.5 points ahead of Taimanov with three rounds to play, but he won out and caught them.

The first part of the double-round playoff saw Taimanov draw Averbakh (Taimanov vs Averbakh, 1956) and defeat Spassky (Spassky vs Taimanov, 1956). Had Averbakh won this game, he and Taimanov would have been tied going into their second game, where Averbakh had White.

As it turned out, Taimanov kept his half-point lead, drew Averbakh (Averbakh vs Taimanov, 1956), then beat Spassky again (Averbakh vs Taimanov, 1956) to clinch the title.

Regardless of his personal assessment of <16...Nc6>, Taimanov must have been quite pleased that Spassky did not resign!

Apr-27-11  erniecohen: I was somewhat skeptical about 16...Nc6, which Houdini 1.5 shows leaving white around +3.0. However, 16...Nd7, which it rates as +1.0, leads to a position that is just about as bad by move 35. That said, Nc6 should perhaps be classified as a great swindle, rather than as a great move; either move loses with good opponent play.

It's actually pretty hard to find visually "surprising" moves from grandmaster games that are demonstrably better than what a good engine picks in 10 seconds or less. Anyone know of good examples?

Jul-29-11  kereru: Black was positionally lost by move 16. The centre is locked, white controls both wings and black has no counterplay at all. 16...Nc6!? was a desperation move, no more, no less. Obviously it won't work against a computer, but Spassky wasn't playing a computer. Averbakh (never the best clock manager) thought for ages before taking it, and as a result got into time trouble and messed up the middlegame.

I am also very curious about the move 48.e5?!, putting everything en pris. Rightly or wrongly, Averbakh was probably feeling a little desperate by now, so he set a trap, which Spassky fell for.

The position after 48...d3+? and 49...Rxf4 is drawn, and Averbakh knew this, being a noted endgame theoretician. Either 48...Bxe5 or 48...Rbxa5 probably wins.

Aug-06-12  Abdel Irada: <Phony Benoni>, are you a necromancer?

When you describe historical "tournament situations" from the 1940s and 1950s, you do so almost as if you'd actually been present. Bloody eerie, I'd call it, if it weren't so impressive.

Nov-01-15  Dilbertarian: This game appears in the 11th episod of the "Endgame" television series. The hostage taker follows Spassky's line (16...Nc6) when playing against World Chess Champion Arkady Balagan.
Feb-08-16  Timi Timov: What was that ...16. Nc6? I mean,maybe Spassky wanted to get many pawns on the queen side ?
Feb-08-16  Timi Timov: The first reason I thought was that black was stuck and Spassky tried a kind of desperate move to free the centre, get some pawns on the queen side and stop white increasing advantage
Feb-19-16  A.T PhoneHome: 19-year-old Spassky was close to winning that year's Soviet Championship going into this game. The fact he kept on playing shows his backbone and his chess premise that playing chess was not only a privilege, but also a way to have fun.

16... Nc6 simply is one of those entertaining things to do as opposed to resigning at that point.

May-10-16  ColdSong: 16...Nc6 is a great idea,of course.
I wonder if this kind of move happened sooner,or even later,in chess history.
Jun-02-16  posoo: Now one of da FEW ecumpled pf an HONOROSBLE DRAUGH.

Go SPUSSKO, fight da sovuet!!!

Jun-02-16  AlicesKnight: At least White tried to return the ...Nc6 compliment by putting his own N on d1 at move 21 and leaving it there for 30 moves. 48.e5?? Fatigue? For another example of "unintentional" sacrifice, try Tarrasch - Bogolubov, Gothenburg 1920.
Jun-02-16  Ironmanth: This is the type of game that at first run-through tends to really damage one's ego, I believe! At least for me. Tremendous complexity here at all phases and levels. Several times I had no idea what was transpiring. Gives me an idea how tough the Soviet championships could be, and the astonishing level of chess acumen displayed. Amazing. This one I feel will repay serious study. Thanks for this game!
Premium Chessgames Member
  SpaceRunner: Ahh great

I came first to knowledge of this game Through a great book by Danish player/author Erik André Andersen

"Den Sovjetiske Skakskole"

To put the knight "en prise" in this way was very creative by Smyslov... One of the greatest moves ever!!

Averbakh also a great player was stunned the rest of the game and lucky not to lose!!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Spassky gives away knight for no reason? At least none that I can see. Must be a bluff.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Presumably, if he had no compensation he would have been lost. Doubt it was for "no reason".
Jun-02-16  RookFile: Averbakh did well to save the endgame.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: 27 Rh8+ looks winning.

click for larger view

If 27...Bxh8 28 Rxh8+ Kg7 29 Rxb8 f3 follows, then 30 Nf4!

click for larger view

If 30...exf4 then 31 Qxf3!, below. 31 (Bxd4+ also works.)

click for larger view

Jun-02-16  Cheapo by the Dozen: I used to claim that I excelled at playing lost positions because I had so much experience being in them.
Feb-04-17  The Kings Domain: Tough and solid game by Spassky. For a moment his kingside seemed to be in danger, not to mention playing behind a piece in the middle game. The fact that he was able to equalize towards the end smacks more of blitz than on the board play.
Feb-04-17  Howard: Any comments on the above claim that 27.Rh8+ would have won for White?
Jun-24-18  LieutenantZipp: Spassky must have had a poker face that’d stump a poker player.
Jul-26-19  Chesgambit: Best mistakes ever
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