Archive for November, 2010

Kindred’s Kaleidoscope Special: A Piece of Thanksgiving Pie for Your Thoughts

November 26, 2010

It never seeks to amaze me about the eternal truth being subject to repeat performances. I like to look at the current politic as being much like many pieces in a pie with slight differences in the size of each piece mealed out to those sitting at the table.  Just who sits at the table?  Our current political system embraces a number of economic philosophies–conservative, libertarian, progressive liberalism, and socialism. What bothers me most is the apparent force exerted by all parties at the table to influence usually with sharp tongues and vitral hatred often with fists pounding the table. Remember Krushchev when he removed his shoe and pounded the table like some cry-baby kid?

Some conservatives believe that President Obama is a socialist, tends to reflect a communist view in particular matters and appears to govern in that manner and so recognized as a cut of pie different from our National heritage.  But shooting off your mouth on TV talk shows that demean our office of the Presidency might attract higher ratings but just what effect does this have beyond those wanting to sell their most current book?  Most of these critics rarely come on unless they have a newly written book for sale and their rhetoric is always filled with generalizations giving repeated statements already recorded many times over TV and radio. Lacking of course is a rational form of discourse of a subject indepth enough for more than a three minute sound-bite. The so called “left” in America is often foreign born commentary and or beliefs of those who wail the injustice of our system we honor. From my perspective, if one is articulate, mature, and honest, you have every right for a seat at the table. I have a seat for you.

There have been some very lasting and wise words expressed, for example, about what we find loosely focused on these days.  David Hume noted, “It is seldom that liberty of any kind is lost all at once.”  And A. DeTocqueville espoused this memorable note, “I should have loved freedom, I believe, at all times, but in the time in which we live I am ready to worship it.”…F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom.  I recommend this literature of historical insight and relevant for us today. Well, our fighting men and women in our armies located round the world would, I believe, add a bit to this latter comment, “I love freedom and to preserve our liberties and freedoms for all people who either dream it or live it, personal sacrifice of family and self are necessary. Freedom is not free but must ever be the watch word against all tyranny by freedom loving people everywhere.”

Socialist belief is dream and wake reality. It cries out the virtues for the ideals for social justice, pressing upon people a false sense of equality and security.  Progressives embrace the concepts of socialism today, more than ever, openly for either curtailed or the more extreme abolishment of the capitalist system. Such a planned economy was illustrated by the efforts in China, Russia, Israel and other smaller nation states where socialist policies led down the same road of destitute lonesomeness, fear and self denial of everyday observances of street life often seen in individual democratic values being supressed that included personal, family and religious freedoms.  What replaced the other isms was controlled organization and forced conformity sometimes addressed as ‘re-education camps.

I remember the five-year agricultural farming plans that always seemed to fall short of goals mandated by a succession of leaders in the Soviet Union. In contrast, the American free enterprise system produced the vast majority of food for the world including it’s own population.  American goods of all kinds were found in all assortments of shops and stores abroad.  The biggest factor in why America has abundance in every field of endeavor known to the human race is due to both individual and collective team work to accomplish goals aimed at better work conditions, vast employment and quality workmanship and pride in products brought to market.  What the modern progressive social fabric introduced was internationalism of trade and outsourcing of technology and jobs to poorer nation states that harbored the belief in slave-like working conditions and low wages.  The so-called social justice concept of redistribution of wealth from the wealthy minority to the working class poor found the middle class having to be subsidized due to greed and corruption of open faced capitalism and cloaked corruption of government policies, both leading to our current high rate of unemployment for the past decade and financial woes for the national treasury.  Not that our leaders dropped the ball in such folly tinkering with economic principles and our journalistic highbrows failed to see the folly of poorly developed and executed programs from Congress with Presidental approval, we now find our economy adrift where uncertainty continues fear among business leaders and owners to expand and grow business in the private sector.

The so-called political left that journalists seem to quote often as fact finding truisms are often dead wrong in their appraisals.  Hate talk and outright condemnation of political conservatives and their views of governance are all over the internet.  The internet is useful to the left-wingers because they do not have to debate using that medium as a public forum. Any such debate exposes the arguements which are liberal or socialist in nature as pure bunk in most cases. I assume readers know what pure bunk means.

The United Nations and it’s pressing by a majority of states having little financial understanding of economics seem bent on internationalising the economic structure of the world by reconstructing it to the principles of socialism or communism.  It seems bent also on controlling the world ocean and sea travel.  It hopes to levy taxes on rich nations and corporations and redistribute such wealth to poor nations. The hope, of course, is to uplift those countries and improve the prosperity of peoples round the world.  Dream on. I think I can safely predict that it will not transpire with results that drafters of such folly will lead and make international policy and law ripe for revolution and conflict among nations directly affected.  History teaches us that the best governance is local and as it goes up the chain further from county, to state, to nation also comes a larger pot for distance from the average Joe and Jan in the street. The citizen loses control and voice where representatives often shed their campaign dialogue to personal whims and as proven by financially self-serving scandals galore as long as governments everywhere and in every age have existed.

In the past I have mentioned my own experiences with communism, the KGB, and my correspondent friend in Russia, Victor Lublinsky, who merely wanted the opportunity to become more adept at writing letters in English while playing chess without the official affairs of tournament regulations.  There was also the horrible beatings given the Czech Grandmaster Pachman by the socialist-fascist authorities.  Of course this pales in the annuals of historic butchery at the hands of Nazi Germany under Hitler, the estimated 20 million killed at the direction of Stalin in Russia that included the assassination of key rivals or dissidents who somehow leaped out of hotel windows to their deaths. Of course everyone probably knows the history of Alexander Alekhin who took up residence in Germany to continue his active chess career and his writings were altered to reflect a bias toward those not in Nazi favor.  Such put downs by Al Horowitz of Chess Review and others in the chessworld who condemned him for published writings in the German chess press illustrates once more the likelyhood of such fabrications by socialists in spewing political propaganda of every sort.

Both World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik and World Champion Tigran Petrosian lived by the rules of communist Russia (USSR) having reaped the rewards of honorisms given any chess hero in upholding the greatness of the Soviet School of Chess.  World Champion Boris Spassky left the USSR after losing to Fischer largely due to his ill treatment given him for not returning home after the dispute with Fischer during the match when he was ahead. GM Boris Spassky was an honorable man and a true champion for chess and gave with Fischer a truly wonderful series of battles.

The world is made up of a complex social structure with many differences from physical to economic pieces of a pie.  Nature says that those who receive a lesser slice of a pie are likely to complain about the unfairness.  This is the picture of a socialist behavior and consequently, too, with government power showing it’s love for social justice that covers the slice of pie with whipped cream to hide the shortchanging of the public sector with hidden taxes.  Thankfully modern technology makes it harder and harder to hoodwink the public.

As I sat giving thanks quietly to my Lord for blessing of family, friends, and a chance to find peace from a hectic week of caregiving, a memorable first 500 series for my bowling league team, my wife and I finished with  delicious pieces of pumpkin and mince pie slices loaded with whipped cream. On the way home, the theme of this article came to mind as I traveled along Route 104. All I can add is to say THE END. But the end is just the beginnning as year-end approaches of a new breathe of life given the chess scene as I see it!

Kindred’s Special: The enigmatic Armenian–Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian “Gathering Storm”

November 23, 2010

At what point can it be seen that Petrosian matured to a full fledged Grandmaster and Chess Champion of the USSR? Even his early games taken in my “apprenticeship” series showed a maturity of the highest order. Now, the period from 1956 on shows his dominance of peers and a deepening understanding of chess play. The following game is from the 1956 USSR Championship Semi-Final that was held in Tbilisi. Petrosian dominated this event winning with a score of 14.5 with no losses in the 20 round event.

White:  Polugayevsky   Black: Tigran Petrosian   Opening:  King’s Indian Defense (KID)

1. d4  Nf6  2. Nf3  g6  3. c4  Bg7  4. g3  O-O  5. Bg2  This is the fianchetto variation adopted here by White.


5. … d6  6. O-O  a6 7. Nc3  Nc6  I favored this variation in my own games and always happy to enter the Yugoslav which commences with 7. d5 Na5  9.Nd2  c5 with dynamic imbalance and active play on the Q-side.

8. h3  Rb8 9. a4  a5  A deep strategic concept from the more normal 9. … Na5.  Petrosian keeps an eye on the center for the moment and if now, 10. d5 Nb5 will follow.

10. e4  e5  11. Be3  Nd7  12. Nd5  Re8  13. dxe5  dxe5  14. Ra3  Nb4  15. Qd2  A positional mistake here would be 15. Nxb4 axb4 16. Rd3  Qe7 where Black has rid himself of the d5 Knight.

15. …Nf6  In order to meet the threat of 16. Nxb4 axb4 17. Qxb4 with Nxe4!

16. Bg5  Be6 Petrosian connects the major pieces on the back rank and senses the tactical trap 17. Qc3, luring him to try 17. … Nxe4? 18. Bxd8 Nxc3 19. bxc3 winning a piece. However, the object of 16. … Be6 was probably to reply to 17. Qc3 by Bxd5.

17. Rd1?  This move now lets Petrosian grab the e-pawn with advantage.

17. … Nxe4  18. Bxd8  Nxd2  19. Bxc7 Nxc4  20. Bxb8  Bxd5  21. Ba7  e4  22. Ng5  h6  23. Rb3  Bc6  24. Nxe4  Bxa4 !  Best. It keeps the momentum going.

25. Rxb4  axb4  26. b3  Bxb3  27. Rb1  Nb2!! Denying White of a possible drawing line that follows 27. … Bc2 28. Rxb4  Bxe4  29. Rxc4.

28. Nd6  Re7  29. Bc5  Bc2  30. Ra1 White is caught between a rock and hard place as they say. After 30. Rc1  b3  31. Nxb7  Rxb7  32. Bxb7  Nd3 wins. Oh those pesky Knights in chess!

30. … Na4  31. Rxa4  Bxa4  32. Bxb4  Bc6  33. Bf1  Rd7 With the nasty threat of …Bf8.

34. Nc4  Bb5  35. Nb6  Rd1 White resigns (0-1).

These were the days before computers were fashioned with software that equalled or bettered even Grandmaster game records. With the modern era (post 1980s especially) literature has produced some amazing opening analysis and tactics. Tournament and match play beyond the amateur level  delve deep into position structure and variational analysis, often deep into the middle game positions resulting. Years ago, the great Jose R. Capablanca stated that he thought chess was dead and suggested adding a square on the board. Dr. Max Euwe also wrote a series on the demise of chess as is played for the British Chess Magazine.  GM Robert J. Fischer introduced a patent on his so-called Fischer Random that had actually been discussed and examined by chess historians and players, suggesting the merits of such for years before but never gained interest by the chess public. In those times, chess was so complex and the surface of discovery so challenging that what we know as the game of chess and rules held supreme. Even today, despite the enormous record of games being contested, the game itself remains a part of mystery that continues to fascinate devotees.

Adios for now!

Kindred’s Special: The Enigmatic Armenian–Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian “Apprenticeship”

November 19, 2010

The 1952 (21-round) Interzonal was held in Saltsjobaden and Petrosian, “the Tiger,” finishing 2-3 tied with Taimanov with an impressive 13.5 points (7-wins, 13-draws) on the tail of Kotov with 16.5.  I chose the following game because it features some valuable lessons to learn from the game play.

White: Tigran Petrosian  Black: Pachman   Opening: Queen’s Gambit Declined, Exchange Variation

1. d4  Nf6  2. c4  e6  3. Nf3  d5  4. cxd5 exd5  5. Nc3  Bb4  Pachman wants to tell Petrosian that he is playing not to draw and willing to mix it up a bit. See my earlier columns that examine the Exchange Variation.  Petrosian enjoyed releasing central pawn tension by exchanging and defanging the opportunity for center counterplay while he goes about his strategic planning.

6. Bg5  As I noted numerous times, Capablanca’s  “combined development” (Bg5 as opposed here to a common alternative Bf4) in his famous Chess Fundamentals goes to the heart of my square count theory.

6. … h6  7. Bxf6 Again, the “Tiger” cunning is seen as he continues his merry way to provoke the enemy by blunting a fighting spirit in the struggle. It is called frustrating the opposition. White can play here with intention keeping the tension by retreating the Bishop to h4 and answering 7… c5 with 8. Rc1. But he would be playing into the dream world of Pachman who probably would be happy with the chances from that position.

7. … Qxf6  8. e3  O-O  9. Be2  c6  10. O-O  Bg4  Probably hoping to exchange Bxf3, or get in …Nd7 after developing this Bishop. The immediate 10. … Nd7 was better with a plan to get to e4 with say, support by f5. That would provide some comfort against the famous ‘minority attack’ by White on the Q-wing. Petrosian continues his strategy of simplifying the position further.

11. Ne5!  Bxe2  12. Qxe2  Qe7  13. Rad1  Re8? With the anticipation of hindering a possible f4 with …f6 and winning the e-pawn which is a bit of a stretch.  Still, Czech player was a powerhouse and to his credit his desire to play on the only half-open file he has access to is understandable. He misses his last chance to play… Nd7. Maybe you should look at …Na6 with the idea of Nc7 at some point.

14. Qg4! A strong move ala my square count! This cuts into the underbelly of Black’s position by denying Black’s access to his own d7 square! It also keeps f5 under wraps.

14. … Bd6  The alternative idea to reduce forces without wasting a tempo is blunted by 14. … Bxc3  15. bxc3 and if …Qa3 trying to work up some counterplay, White has the nice jump move threat of Rd3 > e4 > Rg3, an attack plan that is hard to parry.

15. e4!  As often seen in the games of Petrosian, his simply strategic plan set for an arrived position on the board makes possible such pawn advances where such pawn exchanges can only help his own position either leading to a superior endgame or middlegame attack on the King position.

15. … dxe4  16. Nxe4 f6 This looks like winner weakens the light squares around the King and Petrosian has foreseen a remedy to meet this devastating threat that is proven to be a mistake of pure misjudgement of the position. Do you see what Petrosian had prepared for this attacked Knight?

17. f4!  Making the Knight capture 17…fxe5 taboo. 18. fxe5 Bxe5 19. dxe5  Kh8 20. e6! Qxe6 21. Rf8+ Kh7 22. Ng5+ wins as hxg5 23. Qh5+ Qh6 24. Qxe8. Keeping the Bishop would end similar with 18. … Bc7 19. Nf6+ Kh8 20. Nxe8 Qxe8 21. e6 h5  22. Qh3 Na6 23. Rf7 the weakness of f7 shows itself again here as Kg8 24. Qf5 leaves no doubt about the outcome. It is such moves as f4 here that mirror image many of Petrosians finest games.

17. … Bc7  18. Ng3  fxe5  19. Nf5 Qf6 20. dxe5! This may be the winning move as capturing with the f-pawn would give Black more defense by Qg5.

20. … h5  Black is just about in zugswang. His only Queen move would be Qf8 whereby White finishes him off with 21. Qg6 Kh8 22. Rd3 Qg8  23. Rh3 Re6 24. Nxh6 Rxg6 25. Nf7 checkmate! Yes, the f7 square I called the opening position a square needing attention often into the middle or endgame by White as an attack point and Black as a defense priority.

21. Qxh5  Qf7  22. Qg4  Re6  23. Rf3 Rg6 24. Qxg6  Qxg6  25. Ne7+ Kf7  26. Nxg6  Kxg6 27. g4  Na6 Finally this Knight gets into the game but now White’s Rook gets to the 7th rank.

28. Rd7  Rd8  29. f5+ Kg5  30. Rxg7+ Kh4  31. e6  Bb6+ 32. Kf1  Rd1+ 33. Ke2  Rd5 Pachman has done admireably in defending a very precarious position for many moves and gives the “tiger” a chance to show his claws as he wipes away any hope of a prolonged struggle.

34. f6 Re5+ 35. Kf1 Nc5  36. Rf5 Resigns (1-0). Too many threats.

One must learn in studying chess and preparation for competitions that style has a great deal to give a game memorable moments. Perhaps that is the living force in chess attraction just as good poetry excites the pangs of love and exploration of emotional thought. This game by both players have exhibited such spirit. For many, chess is merely a game. For the multitude it remains a mystery because few view it any other way and, as such, find it of little importance to spend much thought about.  I think chess, like good literature,  like music, like love, has the power to help fulfill one’s joy for life. Emotionally, chess provides a playground for the mind to rest and recuperate from the emotional stress of everyday life. Combined with good diet, rest and exercise, it is a tonic worth sipping the fruits thereof.

Well, I came close to dreaming up another emotional bit of poetry but find my bed beckoning me so while I dream good dreams (I pray) my poem must be laid to rest for the time being. When that will return to my spirit, I never know. May our Lord bless you and give you encouragement until we meet again.

Adios for now!

Kindred’s Special: The Enigmatic Armenian–Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian Apprenticeship

November 13, 2010

USSR JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP, Leningrad, 1946 saw two future Grandmasters do battle on the 64-squares. The opening choice by Black was quite popular as it was one of Botvinnik’s weapons when he was out to win.  It suited Black who was always going for complex positions and fighting chess. So set up your pieces and be prepared to see the fur fly!  The initial moves of 1. d4 e6 is interesting because if White plays 2.e4, then Black can play the French with 2…d5. 

White:  Tigran Petrosian    Black:  Victor Korchnoi    Opening:  Dutch Defense -The Stonewall Variation

1. d4  e6  2. Nf3  f5  3. g3  Nf6  4. Bg2  d5  5. O-O Bd6 6. c4  c6  7. b3  O-O  8. Ba3 Forces the exchange so f4 fangs are pulled.

8. … Bxa3  9. Nxa3 Cedes a tempo to White, but even more, the pawn structure assures White more control over the dark squares and the glaring square e5 now becomes an outpost target for White.

9. Nxa3  Qe8 This thematic Queen sortie to the King-side ala h5 is too slow.

10. Nc2  Qh5  11. Qc1  Ne4  12. Nce1 g5  13. Nd3  Nd7  14. Nfe5  Kh8  15. f3  Nd6  16. e4!  White recognizes that opening the position through pawn exchanges will benefit only him because the black Rook and Bishop remain undeveloped. Korchnoi now attempts to release the crampt position by exchanging a Knight and then central pawns to relieve the tension but Petrosian is like a boa constrictor.

16. … Nf7  17. cxd5  Ndxe5  18. dxe5  cxd5  19. exd5  exd5  20. f4  Rd8  21. Qc7  b6  22. fxg5  Ba6  23. Nf4  Resigns. (1-0).

In this game, Petrosian meets Tolush, a famous ICCF player in the USSR Championship, Moscow, 1950. Tolush came 3rd behind Keres in this event.

White: Tigran Petrosian   Black:  Tolush   Opening:  Queen’s Gambit Declined

1. Nf3  Nf6  2. c4  e6  3. Nc3  d5  4. d4  c6  5. cxd5  Release of central tension was a common ploy of Petrosian who sets the pawn structure called the Carlsbad formation b7,c6,d5.  One plan of action against this pawn structure is called the ‘minority attack’ with a Q-wing pawn roll up.  However, Petrosian has a different idea in mind.

5. … exd5  6. Qc2  Bd6? Due to the later withdrawal of this Bishop to e7, it was appropo to play it here. Also feasible is 6. … Bg4, 7. Bg5 Be7 8. e3  Nbd7 9. Bd3 Bh5 planning Bg6. The point here is that Black saves a tempo as compared to this game line.  Time and space are important factors in chess.

7. Bg5  O-O  8. e3  Bg4  9. Ne5 A nice outpost for the Knight!

9. … Bh5  10. f4  Qa5 The Queen sets up the pin on the Knight but nothing else seems feasible. Maybe 10. … Qe8 eyeing e3 should White play 11. Bxf6? Black has to meet the strong pawn push g4.  After 10. … Qe8, best might be 11. Be2  Bxe2  12. Qxe2 with strong K-side action coming soon.

11. Bd3  h6?! Not a good choice, but no moves really offer adequate defense. Black might try 11. … Ne4 but runs into something like 12. Bxe4  dxe4  13. O-O with excellent prospects.

12. Bxf6! Removing this defensive Knight leaves the K-side almost naked of cover.  Also note that Black’s reply is forced which adds to White’s attack.

12. … gxf6  13. g4  fxe5 14. fxe5  Be7  15. O-O-O!  Bg5  16. gxh5  Kh8 Necessary is 16. … Qc7 intending to defend the 7th rank.

17. Qf2  f5  18. h4  Be7  19. Qf4  Resigns (1-0).

The London System is a solid line that builds slowly in dynamic force. Petrosian illustrates here in Gagra, 1952 one of Black’s defense plans that originally evolve from a fluid pawn structure.

White: Kotov  Black: Tigran Petrosian   Opening: London System

1. Nf3  Nf6  2. d4  g6  3. Bf4 White adopts the London System. In the 1924 New York tournament, Lasker vs Reti started 1. Nf3 d5 2. g3  Nf6  3. Bg2 Bf5 4. c4 c6 with curtailing the fianchetto’s mobility.  White ddopting the black plan there, has some choice here. One is to set up a pawn structure c3,d4,e3 that features a defensive set up initially with the aim of a central break and often leading to a K-side assault on the enemy King position.  The danger of the London System is shown here in this battle so artfully demonstrated by Petrosian.

3. … Bg7  4. e3  O-O  5. Nbd2 c5  6. c3  cxd4  7. exd4  Nc6  8. h3 Intending to preserve the Bishop while guarding g4.  A good alternative would be 8. Be2 which is a standard London System piece set up.

8. …d6  9. Nc4?! The problem with this Knight sortie is it is not in keeping with the principles of the London System.

9. …  b5  10. Ne3  b4  Putting pressure the Q-side. White should now retain the London System structure with 11. Bb5 or even 11. c4, intending to meet …d5 with c5. Instead, Kotov tries,

11. d5  bxc3!!  Suddenly facing the damage limit effect by 12. bxc3 Nh5 13. Rc1  Nxf4  14. dxc6 Qa5  15. Qd2 Be6, or; 13. Bg5  Bxc3+ winning the Exchange.

12. dxc6  cxb2  13. Rb1  Ne4! With the main threat of 14… Bc3+.

14. Bd3  Qa5+ 15. Kf1  Ba6  16. Nc4 Bxc4  17. Bxc4 Nc3  18. Qd2  Qa4 19. Bd3  Nxb1 29.Bxb1  Rfc8 21. g3  Rxc6  22. Kg2 Rac8  Black has control of the important c-file.

23. Bh6  Rc1  24. Bxg7  Rxh1  25. Kxh1 Rc1+ 26. Kg2  Rxb1  27. Qh6  The last breath of hope trying for Bf8 winning with Qg7 mate.  But Black has everything under control.

27. … Qd1  28.  g4  Qh1+  29. Kg3  Rg1+ 30. Resigns (0-1).

Is there no bravado in chess?  The pawn works it’s way to b2 and never gets a chance for promotion!

Kindred’s Special: A Western New York Chess Star Remembered

November 12, 2010

This morning I opened up the Democrat and Chronicle newspaper, section 5B, and found the obit for a good and old comrade in arms.  Dr. Rawle Farley and I knew each other for many years from his first entry into the Western New York Tournament Cycles. For, indeed, he participated whenever possible in our many events despite his own busy schedule and responsibilities at SUNY Brockport where he spearheaded development of an economics program and taught for many years, 1966 – 1995.  He was very much involved in numerous international aid projects and often was sought out to provide expertise in specific working areas of economic writings and programs. His great ambition was to encourage education. To this he wrote, “a large majority of the poor in America and overseas will continue to be poor unless the right kind of education is aggressively developed.”

His life began in Guyana, South America, his travels took him to London, England where he earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of London. While there, he told me he won the London chess championship. We often spoke about chess and its relationship to life and how it proved a stimulus of thought as well as provided relaxation and enjoyment in leisure hours. He once suggested I should consider going to college if at all possible.  Over the years, we crossed swords in many duels and resetting up the pieces to study the previous play and our joint thoughts and to try out some alternate ideas.

Dr. Farley and his wife, Ena, had four children–all who graduated from Harvard.

For several years now his devoted and beautiful wife Ena accompanied Dr. Farley to his chess matches at the Rochester Chess Center where the Community Chess of Rochester meets every Wednesday evening and on rare occasions on weekend tournaments.  Age creeps up on each of us and during his eighth decade of life began to slow physically but never mentally.

He lived a productive and kindly life as those who met him found him to be both a gentle and kind gentleman to all he met.  He was 88 years old this year. The chess community will miss you, our friend and chess devotee.

Kindred’s Special: The Enigmatic Armenian–Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian

November 9, 2010

Books written about chess players fill my library.  And non-chessplaying friends often ask me who, in my opinion, was or is the greatest chessplayer of all-time. That is not easy to answer because with each generation emerged truly remarkable players who exhibited enormous talent and made lasting contributions that have enriched the soul of chess.  If I name one, a dozen others will voice their own with, I am sure, equal zeal for their own chess hero.  In pure terms of accomplishment over a lifetime of chess activity, I would venture to say that Tigran V. Petrosian’s personal achievements both in individual tournaments as well as a member of USSR team matches and Chess Olympiads are unmatched. His string of lst place finishes in the highest rankings of tournaments and winning the gold medals in three Olympiads on lst board covers a span of years with almost no defeats while wracking up a host of wins and draws.  He reached the top of the chessworld in 1963 when he defeated GM Mikhail Botvinnik to win the world championship, defending his title successfully against Boris Spassky in 1966 until he was unseated by GM Boris Spassky in 1969.  Some of his greatest achievements followed as ex-world champion.

How to appraise such players.  Each has a growing period of development and autobiographies or biographies tend to show games from an apprentice period of chess development to full maturity and some cases decline of a chess career.  Some careers blast off like a rocket into the stars as in Mikhail Tal’s case and that of Bobby Fischer.  One can compare with these two and the three together side by side because they all three blazed a trail on the chessboard and in chess literature during a like period of time, although Petrosian came first.  But unlike the colorful behavior of his adversaries and public image, Petrosian was married and was rather quiet and unassuming, letting his skill at the board and results speak for themselves.  Perhaps noteworthy is a comparison with Fischer’s record in both candidate matches and in the Olympiads.  In both cases, Petrosian bests Fischer by percentage.  In ninety games through the Candidate matches, Petrosian lost only three games (3.33%) while Fischer lost four in his run for the title of 62 games (6.45%).  In the Olympiad playing lst board, Petrosian again bested Fischer’s record.  Petrosian percentage was 77.8% (31 wins, 22 draws, 1 loss) whereas his total Olympiad of 129 games winning 78, drawing 50, and suffering but 1 defeat shows a whopping 79.8%. By comparison, Fischer played a total of 65 Olympiad games with 40 wins, 18 draws and 7 losses for 75.4%.  Where Petrosian took few risks and always had control of the positions, he did what was necessary to achieve success.  Fischer, on the other hand, played much sharper opening systems, willing to take risks and possessed great mathematical precision. The contrast between the two styles may likely have been the cause of the difference in the percentages but also in the quality of the tournaments in America compared with that of the Soviet Union.  Of the two, Petrosian faced much tougher opposition throughout his career.

But beside this quality, Petrosian was very intelligent and recognized that a long number of rounds required some rest and sometimes took draws early where he could be best prepared in meeting particular opponents. This brought some accusations that the Russians cheated brought on by Reshevsky and later by Fischer.  The strategy of the whole Soviet team which, in the 17-round Olympiad, where teams were allowed four-regulars and two-reserves, had reserves who could easily be two former world champions!  The simple fact is that the Soviet School of Chess through its enormous membership and skilled coaching and training staff had given the USSR great advantage.  Soviet tournaments often found the tournament schedule having a  field of very  talented players and a new crop striving to prove their mettle against the old guard.  It was simply true that the team used all of the players and allowed others to rest.  The strength was such that any of the six could play equally well on any board.  And it was a longterm understanding that the Soviet method of chess was superior to the West in every respect, so much so, that it was thought that no American could ever compete to be challenger for the world title.  The shock heard round the world was the boy from Brooklyn who was already at the age of 12 setting his sights and goal on returning the World Championship title to America.

What was his style that made him so successful in such a huge array of talented GM and near-so-rans?  No international tournaments or national tournaments elsewhere could compare the talented fields that Petrosian met in tournaments.  His sometimes quiet play confused even annotators; his simplifying positions by choosing pawn exchanges that seemed to release the central tension early was a trademark but as the play progressed, the positions would turn into a whirlwind of tactics leading to superior endgame positions that he turned into wins.  This guy plays like a machine. I get the impression that he played to psyche his opponent by manipulating forces in directions that felt uncomfortable or mystifying but he himself was in tune with.

The next segment I shall provide some very interesting games.

Adios for now!