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Pilnik - Olafsson 1957
Compiled by Chessical


This match played in Reykjavik in March 1957, was proposed by Herman Pilnik (1) during a visit to Iceland for the Reykjavik tournament in July. It was his opportunity to revenge his comprehensive 5 to 1 loss in Pilnik - Olafsson (1955). Once again, the two players played sharply in a ferocious match, with only one drawn game, but this time the result was much closer.

Fridrik Olafsson had been in good recent form at the Moscow Olympiad and at Hastings (1956/57)

Pilnik had finished last in the extremely strong Amsterdam Candidates (1956) (+1 -9 =8) but he rebounded and had come second at Beverwijk 1956

Progress of the match

The match was of six games, if the match was tied at that stage two more games would be played. (1)

Pilnik had white in the odd-numbered games.

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Total Pilnik 1 0 1 0 1 0 0 3 Olafsson 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 4

<Progressive scores:>

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pilnik 1 1 2 2 3 3 3 3 Olafsson 0 1 1 2 2 3 4 4

<The Games>

Game 1 In a Ruy Lopez, Olafsson was outplayed from an equal position by Pilnik. Olafsson shed a pawn and then a second for no compensation as Pilnik pressed on with his attack.

Game 2 This was the longest game of the match, a marathon of 105 moves. This time it was Pilnik who was outplayed, but deep into the ending.

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Pilnik lost his passed pawn and then sacrificed his knight for a R v R+B ending.

Pilnik held on for a long time but finally made a fatal move on move 98

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with <98...Rh4> which allowed Olafsson to weave a mating net.

Game 3 This is probably the best-known game of the match as Olafsson's blunder lost him a drawn game. By exchanging Queen's he was unable to deal with White's passed pawns on either wing and was a tempo short to queen his own passed <e> pawn successfully.

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The score was now 2-1 in favour of Pilnik.

Game 4 After the longest game of the match came the shortest. Pilnik suddenly lost the thread of the game. Olafsson smashed through to Pilnik's king with a queen sacrifice ending the game in only 24 moves.

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Game 5 Olafsson as black equalized using the Dragon variation of the Sicilian Defence, but once again a mistaken exchange of Queens led to problems, in this case, his Rook being trapped on the king-side.

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Despite losing the exchange, Olafsson fought on. When Pilnik returned the exchange for two powerful connected pawns on the king-side, the result was never in doubt. Pilnik now led 3-2 and would win the match if he could win the next game as black.

Game 6 This game resembled Game 4. Having lost the preceding game, Olafsson sprung back with a quick win against the Sicilian Defence. Once again Pilnik was overrun on the king-side.

Pilnik seemed to have problems defending positions where his king was vulnerable

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After <20..g6?>, Olafsson broke through in quick order. It seems surprising that he suffered such defeats in both games 4 and 6 as the Sicilian was his primary defence in his repertoire.

The score was now equal and the match went into overtime.

Game 7 Olafsson defence with the Alekhine Defence, which was not one of his usual defences. He had introduced a novelty in the 1955 match by deploying a Petrov and now he repeated his psychological ploy. Both players followed what is still mainline theory and the position was dynamically equal when Pilnik blundered away a pawn. He had to defend a Rook and pawn ending a pawn down, but despite both players queening pawns, his King was driven towards a mating net.

Game 8 In the final game, Pilnik with black again chose the Sicilian despite his lack of success with this defence so far in the match. He used the Richter-Rauzer variation and secured equality. He could not achieve any more and as material was exchanged his chances of tying the match slowly faded away. The game was drawn after 71 moves giving Olafsson the match.



User: Chessical - original text and compilation.

Game 1
Pilnik vs F Olafsson, 1957
(C79) Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred, 39 moves, 1-0

Game 2
F Olafsson vs Pilnik, 1957
(E66) King's Indian, Fianchetto, Yugoslav Panno, 105 moves, 1-0

Game 3
Pilnik vs F Olafsson, 1957 
(B59) Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3, 62 moves, 1-0

Game 4
F Olafsson vs Pilnik, 1957 
(B28) Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation, 24 moves, 1-0

Game 5
Pilnik vs F Olafsson, 1957
(B58) Sicilian, 63 moves, 1-0

Game 6
F Olafsson vs Pilnik, 1957
(B43) Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3, 33 moves, 1-0

Game 7
Pilnik vs F Olafsson, 1957
(B04) Alekhine's Defense, Modern, 61 moves, 0-1

Game 8
F Olafsson vs Pilnik, 1957 
(B62) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, 71 moves, 1/2-1/2

8 games

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