Boris Spassky played the type of chess game that both entertained and educated me in the fine art of attack and defense. His diverse opening knowledge made him one of the most feared Grandmasters in his prime years of the 60s and 70s with scalps gained from Petrosian, Fischer, Korchnoi, Tal, Portisch, Reshevsky, Geller and Larsen.
Candidates Match 1/2 final, Game 7, Malmoe 1968
White: Boris Spassky vs Black: Bent Larsen
Opening: Sicilian Closed B25
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 d6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 Nc6 6. f4 e6 7. Nf3 Nge7 8. O-O O-O 9. Bd2 Rb8 10. Rb1 b5 11. a3 11….f5. 12. Be3 Qc7 13. Bf2 Kh8 14. Re1 b4 15. a:b4 c:b4 16. Ne2 f:e4 17. d:e4 e5 18. Qd2 Be6 19. Nc1 (>Nd3) 20. N:e5.
Not quite accurate is 20. Ng5 Bg8 21. e:d5 N:d5 22. B:d5? Rbd8 with a tiny edge.
20. … N:e5 21. f:e5
Smyslov, a known specialist in the Sicilian Closed says 21. e:d5? Nc4 22. d6 N:d2 23. d:c7 Rbe8 24. Ra1 B:b2 25. R:a7 Nc8 and Black is better.
21. … d:e4 22. B:e4 Rbd8 23. Nd3 a5 24. Qe2 Bc4 25. Qe3 Nf5 26. Qc5 Q:c5 27. B:c5 Rfe8 28. Bb6 Rb8 29. Bc7 Rbc8 30. B:a5 Nd4 31. Nf2 Bf8 32. Bb6 Ne2+ 33. Kg2 R:e5 34. Rbd1 Re6 35. Be3 Rce8 36. Rd2 R:e4 37. N:e4 R:e4 38. Re:e2 B:e2 39. R:e2 Bg7 40. Kf3 Rc4 41. b3 Rc3 42. Ke4 h5 43. Kd5 Rc8 44. Bc5 Bc3 45. Re7 Rd8+ 46. Bd6 Kg8 47. Rb7 Bg7 48. Rb8! Resigns (1-0).
Avoiding 48. R:b4?? R:d6+ 49. K:d6 Bf8+.
Spassky played the Closed Sicilian 11 times in Soloviov’s Boris Spassky’s 400 selected games, handling the system in various ways. The next game is totally different from the above game.
White: Boris Spassky vs Black: Hjartarson
Sicilian Defense – Closed Variation
World Cup, Belfort 1988
1. e4 c5 2. Nc3 Nc6 3. g3 g6 4. Bg2 Bg7 5. d3 e6 6. Be3 Nd4?! 7. Nce2! b6?
This adventure by Black’s Knight is somewhat questionable in that it violates the principle of not moving the same piece twice in the opening stage unless forced through some threat. So is this also true of White’s Knight retreat to e2? One might call it academic but 7. Nce2 deserves ! because it’s retreat threatens to challenge the Knight outpost by the c-pawn. It also carries with it the tactical point in that if now, 7… N:e2 8. N:e2 B:b2 9. Rb1 Bg7 10. B:c5 Qa5+ 11. Bb4 Q:a2 12. O-O. In this line, 8…d6 instead is met by strengthening the center with 9. c3. In both cases, White is better developed.
8. B:d4 c:d4 9. e5 Rb8 10. f4 f6 11. Nf3 f:e5 12. f:e5 Qc7 13. Ne:d4 B:e5 14. Qe2 B:d4
If 14. … Bg7, White goes for active central play. Visualize a plan like, 15. Nb5 Qc5 16. d4 Qb4+ 17. c3 Qe7 18. Qc4 with White pressure building upon Black’s answers.
15. N:d4 Qc5 16. Nb3 Qg5 17. O-O Ne7 18. Rae1 Rf8 19. Nd2! R:f1+ 20. R:f1 Nf5 21. Nc4 Ke7?
This turns out bad because, 22. g4 b5 (Nh4 23. Qf2 Qe5 24. d4 Q:c4 25. Qf8#) ; 22….Nd6 23. Qf2 Ne8 24. d4 Ba6 25. Ne5+ and Black defense cannot hold. 23. g:f5 b:c4 24. Qe5 Resigns. (1-0).
The final example is from the Spassky-Fischer rematch.
White: Boris Spassky vs. Black: Robert J. Fischer
Rematch 20 years later–Game 20
1. e4 c5 2. Ne2 Nf6 3. Nbc3 e6 4. g3 Nc6 5. Bg2 Be7
Spassky playing Black in game 23 played 5….d5 6. e:d5 e:d5 7. d3 Be7 8. Bg5 d4 9. B:f6 B:f6 10. Ne4 Be7 11. Nf4 O-O.
6. O-O d6 7. d3 a6 8. a3 Qc7 9. f4 b5 10. Kh1 O-O 11. Be3 Bb7 (Bd7) 12. Bg1 Rab8.
Other moves have been tried here: 12….Kh8!?; 12. …Rfe8; 12….Rcc8–all seeming to fall short of equality.
13. h3 Ba8 14. g4 b4 (Kh8!?) 15. a:b4 c:b4 16. Na4 Nd7 17. Qd2 Rfc8 18. b3! a5 19. g5 Bf8 20. Ra2 Ne7?!
Perhaps missing any opportunity to complicate things by 20…Nd8 21. Nd4 g6 22. Nb2 e5! but 21. Ng3 g6 22. Be3 Bg7 23. Qf2 keeps the slight edge.
21. Nd4 g6
A bit slow. 21… Nc5 may have been more problematic according to some. But Fischer wants to reposition his Bishop on the long diagonal h8-a1.
22. Nb2 Bg7 23. Nc4 d5 24. N:a5 d:e4 25. d:e4 e5 26. Ne2 e:f4 27. N:f4 Ne5
Black is in a pickle to find a worthy defense. So is it close to a Zugswang position? Probably. Like Dr. Marchand used to say: You play different, you lose different! But he tries a little arsenic because if now, 28. Nd5? N:d5 29. e:d5 Rb5!
28. Nd3! Rb5 29. N:e5 Q:e5 30. Nc4 Q:g5 31. Be3 Qh4 32. Nd6 Bc3 33. Qf2 Q:f2 34. R:f2 Rbb8 35. N:c8 R:c8 36. Ra7 Kf8 37. Bh6+! Ke8 38. Bg5 f6 39. B:f6 B:f6 40. R:f6 Bc6 41. Kg1 Bd7 42. Rd6 Bc6 43. Bf1 Resigns. (1-0).
So concludes a little trip around the 64 squares examining different possible defensive plans over a two decade period with White choosing the Closed Variation against the Sicilian deployment. There have been many such games illustrating the types of patterns both players can utilize in plans that are alike or come through as quite different yet I categorize as a part of the Closed Variation.