Kindred’s Special: 1966 — A CHESSIC TURNTABLE

AS CHESS GOES, THE YEAR 1966 saw perhaps the beginning of the breakdown of Soviet Chess supremacy. It was first seen in the Candidates Tournament when the Dane, Bent Larsen, defeated the great soviet GM Efim Geller by the score of  5-4. this being the first time victory came from a  non soviet controlled chess star. It was also the year that the famous Piatigorsky Cup took place in Santa Monica, California featuring an all-star lineup. lst was Spassky who scored an amazing 11.5. A strong run by Fischer who almost caught the winner with 11.0 followed closely by Larsen 10. Sharing 4-5 place came Unzicker and Portisch 9.5, 6-7 place tied were Petrosian and Reshevsky axed out 9, Najdorf chipped away with 8, and 9th position saw Ivkov snaring 6.5 and 10 was the Dutch star, Donner, with 6 points. The then world champion, Tigran Petrosian, lost both games to Bent Larsen.

Bent Larsen’s star rose slowly but steadily. The great boost to his chess understanding was the opportunity to annotate the 1953 Candidates’ Tournament held in Zurich for SKAKBLADET.  In the 1954 Olympiad he scored 71% which earned him the International Master title.  He defeated Fridrik Olafsson in a match to determine the Nordic Championship. Then, holding down board 1 for his Olympic team, he finished with the highest score at the 1956 Moscow Olympiad which nailed down the greatest honor as a Grand Master of Chess. In those days, there were only a handful of stars having earned that prestigious title.  Having made the 1965 Candidates event, Larsen reached the semi-final losing out to Mikhail Tal in a grueling match 5.5-4.5. The fact that he iced Tal in the lst game made the world take notice that Larsen was a threat to Soviet dominance.

The aggressive and tense struggle was always an earmark of Bent Larsen. Like Fischer, he played to create winable positions from either side of the board. In the example I give here is just a sample of opening philosophy that differentiated Petrosian’s positional style and the fighting spirit of Larsen who played black in this opening struggle at Santa Monica. White: Petrosian vs Black: Larsen; Opening: King’s Indian Defense.

1.c4  Nf6  2.Nc3  g6.

This may have surprised Petrosian since Larsen was not normally a KID opening specialist except from the white side. I would dare say that Larsen was using this defense as a counter to Petrosian’s usual solid opening play and wanted a fight from the start.

3.g3  Bg7 4.Bg2 O-O 5.d4  d6  6.e3.

I believe this is why Larsen chose the KID since Petrosian had employed it against Spassky in defense of their lst match and also Botvinnik had adopted it in his match with Smyslov.

6…c6  7.Nge2  a5  8.b3  Na6,

Larsen shows the value of my square count theory here with setting up counterplay and gaining space on the Q-wing. Most deploy this Knight to d7 as did both Smyslov and later Spassky. Note how flexible Black’s move remains as he keeps open the long Bishop diagonal.

9.O-O  e5  10.Bb2  Re8  11.a3  Rb8.

Larsen is aiming to challenge for the initative early on.

12.h3  h5!  13.Qc2.

Here, I was thinking 13.Rc1. But it could be simply transitional.

13…  Be6  14.Kh2  Qc7  15.Rac1  b5.

Again, I point to the idea of square count in planning. Note how the black Q-wing is gaining breathing and oxygen (space) for life. The minority attack motif executes a clear challenge and the exchange of the c- pawn for a wing pawn enables Black to realize a dream of sharpening tactics pending on that side of the board. Pawn exchanges open lines and Black is dynamically prepared to take advantage of that fact.

16.cxb5  cxb5.

Here, the famous prophylactic specialist forgets that MY SYSTEM is famous in Larsen’s Denmark as around the world in literature and teachings of Nimsowitsch.

17.Qd1  Qe7  18.Nb1  Bd7  19.Nd2  e4 20.Nf4.

I like 20.d5 somewhat here because it prevents Black consolidating in the center. In analysis of this game, Larsen did suggest 20.d5 Nc5 21.Rxc5 dxc5 22.Nxe4 breaking up the center with reasonable counterplay.

20….d5!

Cementing the center and closing the long Q-financhettoed Bishop diagonal.

21.Qe2?!

Although not bad, this number of Q-moves seems suspect. Perhaps Petrosian is satisfied with just drawing or it could be he was suffering from the beginnings of the illness that eventually claimed his life. In any case, his passivity on the surface is a common thread throughout his career of making something out of nothing at times as if magic came from his fingers as well as his brain, fails him here with the skillful and stubborn play as to squeeze every bit of juice from the fruit.  Sharper was 21.f3 which offers more risk perhaps but puts some hope into his own chances.  The text maintains a equalibrium in square count with only a slight edge for Black’s number count. Note now how Larsen increases that square count.

21…Qd6 22.Rc2 Rec8 23.Rfc1  Rxc2 24.Rxc2  h4  25.Nf1 hxg3+ 26.fxg3  b4  27.a4  Rc8 ! 28.Rxc8 Bxc8 29.h4.

Looking to exchange Bishops and hope to make Black work for any progress toward winning. The objective of any such tournament battle is to put stress and wear down the player where one or two points can make a big difference on the final standings.  Having achieved a possible winning advantage still requires a lot of work as this game demonstrates.

29….Nc7 30.Bh3 Bxh3  31.Nxh3  Bf8  32.Kg2  Qc6  33.Qd1  Bd6 34.Nf2  Ne6  35.Bc1  Ng7  36.Bd2

The bad Q-Bishop blocked in by its own pawns has no future other than to defend squares. In fact, I would come close to saying that Black has White in a near Zugswang position where  moves he makes improves his position and White minor pieces will eventually be forced into concessions by getting  them to lite on vulnerable squares. I give the rest of the game without comment.

36…Nf5  37.Kh3  Qc8  38.Kg2 Kg7  39.Nh1  Nh6  40.Be1  Qa6  41.Nf2  Nf5! 42.Qd2  Bb8  43.Nd1  Ng4  44.Kg1  f6  45.Kg2  g5  46.Nf2  Ngh6!  47.hxg5  fxg5  48.Nd1  Kg6  49.Nh2  g4  50.Qc2  Bd6  51.Nf1  Ng8  52.Nh2 Nf6  53.Nf1  Kh5  54.Nh2  Kg5  55.Nf1 Nh5  56.Bf2  Nf6  57.Be1  Nh5  58.Bf2  Qa8!! 59.Be1  Qh8! 60.Qc6  Bxg3  61.Bxg3  Nhxg3. Petrosian resigns at this point.

Lessons learned from this game:

  1. Modern chess strategy and tactics rely greatly upon the dynamic character of the position as it relates to pawn structures;
  2. The old school said that it was Black’s duty to equalize the position and chances as White had the advantage of the lst move;
  3. The advancement of both strategic and tactical motifs requires alert attention given almost every move as each relates to the overall plan;
  4. Try to make the best of every position and to try and formalize a plan that offers chances even if somewhat risky;
  5. The importance of endgame play is vital to achieving success in close games;
  6. Historical research into old masters and their games through current times is a valuable aid toward appreciation of every struggle;
  7. Progress comes from crediting your opponent with having workable ideas on the board and trying to enforce your own will in advancing a plan of operations;
  8. Recognition that every game presents a critical moment when the battle necessitates clarity and direction.

Adios for now!

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11 Responses to “Kindred’s Special: 1966 — A CHESSIC TURNTABLE”

  1. hoboduke Says:

    Enjoyed reading your blog, and I am taking time to review and appreciate the strategy of a great era. I play a lot of chess on line and don’t find any Russian players, but I do play Latvians and Lithuanians. The trust in honesty with on line chess is that neither players consults with computer software chess programs.

  2. kindredspiritks Says:

    Europeans have for a long time felt it acceptable to use their chess programs for analysis in their cc games. Our own Correspondence Chess League of America (CCLA) members have promised not to use the computer in move selection. A few of the very top players say they do avoid depending upon a program to play the best moves which suggests they do not rely upon their software programs. The question of ethics is always with the dark hole of reliability for honesty where some see nothing wrong with using such and point to the use of chessbooks as an example. Modern tech has enabled chessplayers the opportunity to have a ready training partner that tells the truth of possessed skills.

  3. kindredspiritks Says:

    Correspondence chess is mostly played over the internet. I recall playing in the USA vs USSR and met Mrs. Merkie Rytowa, a famous woman player from Estonia. That was the days of snail mail and we exchanged many pretty picture postcards as well as many friendly notes. At the time her son and daughter were 13 and 10 and both were teenagers when the match ended 3 years later! Both games were drawn. At times the mail delivery would be 15-20 days. The offset of this was a collection of very colorful postage stamps, the picture postcards and note exchanges and opportunity to really analyze each position thoroughly.

  4. hoboduke Says:

    I lacked the patience to get into snail mail play. But you’re right, I missed out on some of the human touches, like her picture postcards and the postage stamps. It’s human nature to embellish with artistic touches postage stamps, etc. I do like the feature of chatting on moves asking about your hometown, local music, etc. with online chess.

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