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Klaus Darga vs Boris Spassky
"Santa Klaus is Coming to Town" (game of the day Dec-25-2013)
Amsterdam Interzonal (1964), Amsterdam NED, rd 1, May-20
Queen's Indian Defense: Classical. Traditional Variation (E17)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
May-09-05  Milo: Good find Nikolaas. White's play has a profound logic to it: after the g3/a4 pawn trade, black's K-side pawn majority is immobile and his knight lacks squares, while white's Q-side pawns march on to victory.
May-09-05  Milo: 43...Re8 could evidently use improvement.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: This game was played in the first round of the Interzonal and Spassky lost.

Perhaps 51...Nf1 or 51...Kd8 instead of 51...g5 draws.

After 96.Ba4! Bf3 97.Kb4 Be2 98.Kc3 Bd3 99.Bb5 Be2 100.Bxc4 Bh5 101.Kd4 Kd7 102.Ke5 Bf3 103.Bf7 Bh5 104.Kf6 Kxd6 105.Bxg6 and White wins.

Nov-18-06  Rama: Boris tempts fate with 22. ... a4. Perhaps he forgot that his Nc5 had no good retreat since d7 is occupied, so it's on to b3! And waddya know he does it again with 36. ... Nb3. What is this strange attraction?

After that it is very hard to see how black can accomplish anything. I suppose 52. ... Bh5, was worth just about any cost; I could almost feel the relief.

Darga gets off to a good start in the tournament, it is a bad time for Spassky to blow one.

May-09-09  jerseybob: Spassky, even at his peak, was known for being sort of indifferent and sloppy in the openings, but he outdoes himself here. What's with 7..Bb4 after having played 5..Be7 only two moves before? And he was strangely restrained with his queenside pawn play, except for the Bridge too Far of his a-pawn on a4. At some point a QID demands either c5 or d5. But black is eventually left with no pawn levers whatsoever. To answer Milo, I think he just abandoned the a-pawn out of frustration. But with all that, a nice solid game by Darga.
May-10-09  Peter Nemenyi: <Spassky, even at his peak, was known for being sort of indifferent and sloppy in the openings> This is true, but only half the story. Spassky once declared, "I'm an artist, not a variation player like Geller"; I believe the quote may be in Darrach's book. Spassky often approached the opening unscientifically, as Fischer or Geller would have understood it, playing moves improvised at the board to get positions in which he could express his creativity. But this was a basic feature of his style, not just an element of carelessness he could have eliminated with a better work ethic; and it produced superb wins, for example the third game of his match against Byrne in 1974. Byrne relates that Spassky was criticized for that brilliancy in the USSR by commentators who thought he'd been "indifferent and sloppy" again despite the result.
May-10-09  AnalyzeThis: This is a fantastic game of chess.
Jul-30-09  whiteshark: "Die Partie kann man keinem zeigen, die ist zu lang." -- Klaus V Darga


Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Really nice ending. It looked like a closed endgame, where the knight and bishop team would be better than the bishop pair, but once the position opened and that knight was ripped, it seemed over for white.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: I wonder if Spassky was hoping Darga would play 66.Kd8? The reply 66...Bxc4 would then have come as a bit of a shock.
Dec-25-13  piltdown man: Hasn't he already been?
Dec-25-13  Chippymunka: merry christmas!
Dec-25-13  morfishine: White's King looks like Santa Claus flying around the whole world...I guess thats the pun
Dec-25-13  fishcat: If 92...Bc2 then 93. Bf3 Kd7 94. Bh5 and Black can't stop both pawns.

If Black has a chance to hold the endgame, it's got to be before 61...Bd3; Stockfish is showing +17 or more after that. I think it needs more RAM for transposition tables to back up much before that.

Dec-25-13  celtrusco: <"Santa Klaus is Coming to Town" > Yes, he's coming, but a bit late. More or less next year.
Dec-25-13  Gilmoy: I saw the title and expected a rook lift and a double-check ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Santa was on a path to circumnavigate the board, but realized at the last moment that not a creature was stirring after Spassky's 65...Be2. He reached and placed the King on d8

click for larger view

The Soviet contingent was deadly silent, but Santa could hear the pounding of hooves on the roof pounding out the code 66...Bxc4!! and without removing his hand pulled the King back to b7.

Dec-25-13  BEDRICH: 96 Ba4, Bd3 97 kb4, Be2 98Kc3, Bd399Bb5.Bd3 100 Kd2,Be1, 101 Ke1 Bd3, Kf2 and White wins the Bishop+
Dec-26-13  kevin86: White will win a pawn soon...and more later.
Jul-31-14  Howard: Interestingly enough, this game was in the first round---not a good start for Spassky, especially against a much weaker player.

But Spassky did much better the rest of the way, didn't he ?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Would have been a piquant stalemate if the 'much weaker player' had allowed it; guess he was strong enough, though.
Dec-16-14  drunknite: the first question is whether the idea of dropping the c pawn was figured out over the board or part of home analysis. The fact that he could have done it on move 91 suggests that he was waiting for a time control or maybe he just came back from adjournment. But its hard to say either way.

The second question is whether 85 ...Kd8 loses the game which so far a brief analysis suggests. The thing is its already been 32 moves since a pawn has been pushed or a piece captured, so he only has to survive for 18 moves to draw. I am not sure if the idea of dropping the c pawn can still work in that situation.

Feb-24-16  thegoodanarchist: Looks like Darga tried for a three-fold repetition in the 40s, and Spassky avoided the draw.

Then Darga converted his two-Bishop advantage to a pawn advantage, which he sacrificed to get the win.

Feb-26-16  Howard: This was played in Round 1, incidentally. Not a good start for Spassky, but by the end of the interzonal.....

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