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Tigran V Petrosian
Number of games in database: 1,966
Years covered: 1942 to 1983
Highest rating achieved in database: 2660

Overall record: +713 -159 =1074 (64.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 20 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 King's Indian (121) 
    E92 E81 E80 E60 E91
 English (95) 
    A15 A10 A13 A16 A14
 Queen's Indian (80) 
    E12 E14 E19 E17 E15
 Nimzo Indian (78) 
    E41 E40 E46 E55 E54
 Queen's Gambit Declined (67) 
    D37 D30 D35 D31 D38
 Queen's Pawn Game (57) 
    A46 A40 D02 E10 D05
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (141) 
    C07 C16 C11 C18 C15
 Sicilian (133) 
    B52 B94 B84 B40 B81
 Caro-Kann (79) 
    B18 B17 B11 B14 B12
 King's Indian (79) 
    E67 E81 E63 E60 E95
 Nimzo Indian (59) 
    E54 E32 E56 E46 E52
 French Tarrasch (54) 
    C07 C05 C03 C09
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Petrosian vs Spassky, 1966 1-0
   Petrosian vs Pachman, 1961 1-0
   Spassky vs Petrosian, 1966 0-1
   Petrosian vs Botvinnik, 1963 1-0
   Fischer vs Petrosian, 1959 1/2-1/2
   Kasparov vs Petrosian, 1981 0-1
   Petrosian vs Fischer, 1971 1-0
   Petrosian vs Smyslov, 1961 1-0
   Reshevsky vs Petrosian, 1953 1/2-1/2
   Keres vs Petrosian, 1959 0-1

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Botvinnik - Petrosian World Championship Match (1963)
   Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Match (1966)
   Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Match (1969)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   URS-ch sf (1956)
   USSR Championship 1961a (1961)
   USSR Championship (1959)
   Curacao Candidates (1962)
   Keres Memorial (1979)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   Venice (1967)
   USSR Championship (1969)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1952)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1962)
   Bled (1961)
   USSR Championship (1960)
   Zagreb (1965)
   Palma de Mallorca (1968)
   USSR Championship (1957)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Match Petrosian! by docjan
   Match Petrosian! by amadeus
   Petrosian Games Only by fredthebear
   Python Strategy (Petrosian) by Qindarka
   Biggest Heritor of Nimzo by Gottschalk
   Tigran Petrosian's Best Games by KingG
   Veliki majstori saha 27 PETROSJAN (Marovic) by Chessdreamer
   Tigran, Tigran, burning bright by sleepyirv
   Power Chess - Petrosian by Anatoly21
   Road to the Championship - Tigran Petrosian by suenteus po 147
   Exchange sacs - 1 by obrit
   Exchange sacs - 1 by Baby Hawk
   Petrosian v. the Elite by refutor

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Tigran V Petrosian
Search Google for Tigran V Petrosian

(born Jun-17-1929, died Aug-13-1984, 55 years old) Georgia (federation/nationality Armenia)
[what is this?]

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was the World Champion from 1963 until 1969. He was born in Tiflis (modern day Tbilisi) in Georgia to Armenian parents, but eventually relocated to Armenia in 1946 before moving to Moscow in 1949.

Petrosian was an avid student of Aron Nimzowitsch 's theories. His play was renowned for its virtually impenetrable defence and patient manoeuvring, a technique that earned him the nickname “Iron Tigran”. Despite this, his capacity for dealing with tactical complications when the need arose prompted Boris Spassky to comment that: ”It is to Petrosian's advantage that his opponents never know when he is suddenly going to play like Mikhail Tal ”, and Robert James Fischer to observe that "He has an incredible tactical view, and a wonderful sense of the danger... No matter how much you think deep... He will 'smell' any kind of danger 20 moves before!" Petrosian’s pioneering use of the positional exchange sacrifice underscored both his positional and tactical grasp of the game. Moreover, he has two major opening systems named after him: the Petrosian Variation of the King's Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Nf3 O-O 6.Be2 e5 7.d5) and the Petrosian System in the Queen's Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 b6 4.a3).

National Championships: Petrosian's first major win was the championship of Georgia in 1945 when he was 16. He won the 5th USSR Junior Championship in 1946 with a score of 14/15, won or came equal first in the championships of Armenia held in 1946, 1948, 1974, 1976 and 1980, won the Moscow championship in 1951; and shared first place with Vladimir Simagin and David Bronstein in the 1956 and 1968 Moscow Championships respectively. He gained his International Master title in the 1951 Soviet Championships, and went on to win the Soviet championship outright three times in 1959, 1961, and 1975, sharing the title with Lev Polugaevsky in 1969.

World championships: Petrosian won his Grandmaster title when he came equal second in the 1952 Interzonal tournament in Stockholm, which also qualified him for the 1953 Candidates tournament in Zurich. An eight time Candidate for the World Championship in 1953, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1971, 1974, 1977 and 1980, he won the Curacao Candidates Tournament of 1962 without losing a single game. The following year, he won the Petrosian - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1963) to become the 9th official World Chess Champion. He retained his title by winning the Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Match (1966), the first time since the Alekhine - Bogoljubov World Championship Rematch (1934) that the World Champion had succeeded in winning a title match. This feat was not repeated until Anatoly Karpov ’s success at the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship Match (1978). He also advanced to the Fischer - Petrosian Candidates Final (1971) semifinals, but lost, thereby losing the opportunity to qualify to the 1972 championship.

Team Play: Petrosian played in ten consecutive Soviet Olympiad teams from 1958 to 1978, winning nine team gold medals, one team silver medal, and six individual gold medals. His overall performance in Olympiad play was +78 =50 −1, the only loss being to Robert Huebner. He also played for the Soviet team in every European Team Championship from 1957 to 1983, winning eight team gold medals, and four board gold medals.

Classical Tournaments: Soon after becoming champion, he shared first place with Paul Keres in the first Piatagorsky Cup in Los Angeles in 1963. He won the tournaments at Biel and Lone Pine in 1976, the Keres Memorial in 1979, and took second place in Tilburg in 1981, half a point behind the winner Alexander Beliavsky. He was ranked among the top 20 players in the world until he died in 1984.

"Chess is a game by its form, an art by its content and a science by the difficulty of gaining mastery in it. Chess can convey as much happiness as a good book or work of music can. However, it is necessary to learn to play well and only afterwards will one experience real delight." - Tigran Petrosian

References: (1) (Petrosian often required a hearing aid during his tournaments), (2) Wikipedia article: Tigran Petrosian

 page 1 of 79; games 1-25 of 1,966  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Petrosian vs Kopelevic 1-0241942TbilisiC97 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
2. Petrosian vs Flohr 1-0451942SimulA52 Budapest Gambit
3. Petrosian vs A A Smorodsky ½-½401944GEO-chA28 English
4. Petrosian vs Nersesov 1-0161944GEO-chC42 Petrov Defense
5. Bakhtadze vs Petrosian 0-1271944GEO-chA28 English
6. Petrosian vs V Mikenas 0-1411944TbilisiB05 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
7. Petrosian vs N Sorokin 1-0231944TbilisiD33 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
8. Petrosian vs Kelendzheridze 1-0191945Training TournamentC17 French, Winawer, Advance
9. Petrosian vs N Sorokin 1-0391945TbilisiD14 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation
10. Petrosian vs A Arutiunov 1-0411945GEO-chD51 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. Petrosian vs M V Shishov ½-½511945Tbilisi-chE06 Catalan, Closed, 5.Nf3
12. Lolua vs Petrosian ½-½361945TbilisiC34 King's Gambit Accepted
13. Petrosian vs Zeinalli 1-0201945LeningradA33 English, Symmetrical
14. Petrosian vs Mirtsaev 1-0411945Final I Category TournamentE00 Queen's Pawn Game
15. Petrosian vs Y Rudakov 1-0321945LeningradD10 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
16. Petrosian vs A Ebralidze  1-0481945Tbilisi ChampionshipA28 English
17. A Blagidze vs Petrosian ½-½401945Final I Category TournamentE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
18. Petrosian vs A Reshko 1-0391945LeningradC07 French, Tarrasch
19. Petrosian vs Chachua 1-0361945Training TournamentD05 Queen's Pawn Game
20. Petrosian vs V Korolkov 1-0181945LeningradE10 Queen's Pawn Game
21. Petrosian vs Grigoriev 1-0131945TbilisiB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
22. Grigoriev vs Petrosian 0-1261945TbilisiB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
23. Aganalian vs Petrosian 0-1341945TbilisiA54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
24. Petrosian vs Dzaparidze 1-0141945TbilisiC36 King's Gambit Accepted, Abbazia Defense
25. Seceda vs Petrosian 0-1571945TbilisiA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
 page 1 of 79; games 1-25 of 1,966  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Petrosian wins | Petrosian loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 88 OF 88 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Aug-10-18  Howard: It's worth noting that Petrosian died 34 years ago this Monday (August 13). I was living in Wisconsin at the time, and still remember rather vividly seeing it in the paper.

One thing I thought was actually rather touching was that both Newsweek and Time magazines, also noted this death! How many Americans would have recognized Petrosian's name?! But, I was more than pleased that they gave notice of his premature passing, at 55.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Love the picture.

Just how you expect a Hero of the Soviet Union to look like.

Apr-03-19  Caissanist: From Jeremy Silman's weekly column (, a nice quote from Petrosian from a 50th birthday interview on how he dealt with aging:

<Q: There is a widely-held opinion that the only players that enjoy competitive longevity are those who base their play not on the calculation of concrete variations but on positional understanding. In short, their play is founded on general positional considerations. Such a method allows a player to expend less energy, and hence to withstand better the tension of a tournament game. Is this true?

A: I do not share this point of view. Positional understanding is indeed a sign of the great practical strength of a player. But with the years this skill also becomes blunted. It must be constantly stimulated and modernized; in other words a player must work on chess art and analyze.

But on positional understanding alone you will not go far. Without sharp tactical vision there is no chance of success. But as a player grows older his calculating capacity is markedly reduced, and he has somehow to compensate for this deficiency. Why did Botvinnik retain for so long his great fighting ability? Because he was able to recognize this irreversible process earlier than others and to ‘reprogram’ himself. In what way? In the same way as I am doing now.

Although I have never been assigned to the category of ‘chess calculators,' in my youth I used to work out at the board an enormous amount of variations. I used to calculate them quite quickly and quite deeply. Today too I can calculate deeply and well, only not for five hours at a stretch. I can now switch on my ‘calculating apparatus’ at full power only once or twice during the course of a game. Therefore I try to choose my openings and build up my play so that there is no need to analyze variations move after move. But if at a critical moment such a necessity suddenly arises, I can cope with this no worse than I used to.>

Jun-17-19  Pyrandus: He was the Greatest "Defending Style" Player of all Time?
Jun-17-19  SaitamaSeason2: <Pyrandus> yes of course, but he was more than that
Jun-17-19  gars: A truly great player. His games will last forever. Happy Birthday, Grandmaster!
Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: I read somewhere that one of the books that influenced Petrosian was Rudolf Spielman's The Art of Sacrifice.

I'm not surprised at this. For a player with a "boring" reputation he sure sacrificed a lot!

Aug-12-19  Howard: Petrosian left us 35 years ago, as of tomorrow (August 13).
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <His overall performance in Olympiad play was +78 =50 −1>

Very impressive! very.

Sep-09-19  Howard: And his one loss in the Olympiads was to Hubner, at the 1972 one. He lost on time, and claimed that the clock was defective.
Sep-09-19  Parachessus: There was an old guy who would come into my local post office years ago to check his P.O. Box and he looked so much like Petrosian I would think "Great to see you again, Tigran!" whenever I saw him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gezafan: <Parachessus: There was an old guy who would come into my local post office years ago to check his P.O. Box and he looked so much like Petrosian I would think "Great to see you again, Tigran!" whenever I saw him.>

Maybe Petrosian, like Elvis, was still alive...

Oct-19-19  Chessonly: Queen Sacrificed by Petrosian!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: currently lists 8 Petrosians and 4 Petrosyans.

Four of those are Tigrans, including this one, the daddy of them all (metaphorically).

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I only found out today that Petrossian is a famous bottler of caviar.
Feb-22-20  Turm Eric: They had loads of Petrossian's caviar with Spasskaya Vodka before a fisherman came and spoiled everything
Apr-22-20  The Rocket: Interesting how chess history views Petrosian as the hardest player to ever win a chess game from being that Kasparov, known for "fighting chess", had a lower loss percentage.

Petrosian had a lifetime loss percentage in standard chess of 8.294209702660407 %

Kasparov had a lifetime loss percentage in standard chess of 6.828334396936822 %

The math doesn't lie.

Apr-22-20  The Rocket: I declare 24.Qh1 bot the ugliest and weakest intentional (non oversight) move in grandmaster chess history

Petrosian vs Gligoric, 1970

I have tried the position even with 90s engines rated around 2000 and they don't even consider it and think it's horrible.

Apr-22-20  ewan14: I thought Kaspy in OMGP thought it was o.k.
I will have to find my book
Apr-22-20  The Rocket: I doubt Gary Kasparov advocates locking in your own queen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  andrewjsacks: Happy birthday to a worthy World Champion whom we were quite fortunate to host in Southern California in the 1960's.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Breunor: Stockfish does. The analysis at 34 ply views 24 Qh1 as The best move, although he is already badly lost and it scores as -7.
Sep-16-20  jenspetersson: In the new Petrosian DVD within ChessBase's Master Class series (which I enjoy a lot) Yannick Pelletier asks some open questions on why Petrosian switched openings as black against e4 the way he did in his matches against Spassky. Does anyone know if Petrosian commented on this himself? Or any ideas on books etc which analysed similar thoughts?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <jens>, while I have no idea whether Petrosian ever had anything to say on this, in the Wade/O'Connell collection of Fischer's games, the remark cited below was written:

<In reference to game 17, followed by this effort, the following was once written: 'It is the author's thesis that if Petrosian had retained the nerve to bore his audiences, he might have retained his world championship'.>

Spassky vs Petrosian, 1969

Sep-16-20  SChesshevsky: <jenspetersson: ... Yannick Pelletier asks some open questions on why Petrosian switched openings as black against e4 the way he did in his matches against Spassky. Does anyone know if Petrosian commented on this himself? ...>

Don't know if much has been written about Petrosian's specific defenses against e4.

Only thing's I saw maybe related are: "If the 1966 match had begun and continued rather cautiously, then the 1969 match was marked by very sharp play from the start. Petrosian abandoned his French and Caro-Kann, and placed his main hopes on the Sicilian, backed by the Petrov and even the Ruy Lopez." From Vasiliev's "Tigran Petrosian - his life and games."

"As for me, I always preferred schemes which are played rather seldom. For example, the Saemisch attack in the King's Indian Defence was considered rather unpromising for White when I was young; nevertheless, I played it often. I played the Caro-Kann Defence which is considered (quite justifiably) to be a difficult opening, also I played some "frivolous" French lines." - from Petrosian's article, "Drawing lots and the candidates matches." in the book "Petrosian's Legacy".

Appears Petrosian had the most confidence in, in no particular order, the French, Caro-Kann, Accelerated Sicilian, and Sicilian Kan - Taimanov. So it makes sense for him to go with those Sicilian's in 1969 if he wanted to make a change.

Why make the change? Guessing he might not of been 100% happy with what he got with French and Caro-Kann as the 1966 match progressed. And he must've expected Spassky would be fully armed to face them again in 1969. And might've wanted to try to surprise Spassky by playing more actively.

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