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

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!

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

  1. kindredspiritks Says:

    I just learned the sad news that former 5 time US Champion Larry Evans died on November 15 of complications from surgery while recoverning in hospital in Reno, NV. He was a prolific writer of and on chess and a hero to me from my childhood. Some of my columns have covered Evans achievements and his indepth knowledge of chess, chessplayers, and his art in play enriched my own spirit.

  2. apartamenty Says:

    This is amazing poste for a long time i ‘ve ever read. Can i have your contact please? I have somthing to communicate. Spasiba.

    • kindredspiritks Says:

      Tigran Petrosian was one of the finest blitz players if I recall correctly. Few could match his talent for chess. By contact I do not know what you mean. My library and over 60 years of reading and studying chess magazines, and chess literature probably is what enables me to communicate with the general public about chess personages and provide a chance to offer my views, own analysis of the people and the times inwhich they live and play./Don.

  3. norway hermes bags Says:

    hermes bags canvas mtu Kindred’s Special: The Enigmatic Armenian–Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian “Apprenticeship” | Kindred\’s Kaleidoscope

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