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Boris Spassky vs Efim Geller
Spassky - Geller Candidates Quarterfinal (1968), Sukhumi URS, rd 4, Apr-09
Sicilian Defense: Closed Variation (B25)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Feb-11-03  ughaibu: Spassky throws away his queens rook yet again. These games almost play themselves, if you know how to play like Spassky.
Jun-24-03  drukenknight: Spassky and Geller again in the closed sicilian. This game 4 in the candidates match between these two, and therefore the second closed sicilian of the match. Here is the previous game we looked at, game 6..

Spassky vs Geller, 1968

THese guys have apparently really hammered out a certain pattern in the closed sicilian that they want to get their forces into. There are probably lots of ways the opening can go so maybe not worth too much time.

Spassky in fact is in a formation that would do any hypermodern proud. Usually it is black players that you see with all their forces in a little bunch and then they break out on you. Ultimate hypermodern play vs a hypermodern defense.

Spassky plays 14 Qe2 in this game, later on in game 6 he played 14 b3 which is interesting. THe Q movements in the two games are somewhat different but Geller never really gets his out. Even though it is nice to have the Q on e8 to protect f7 from the mate, maybe it ties down the Queen too much? SOmethign to think about.

Evans makes this a big deal in his comments on game 6. Saying that RPxN is a mistake. Maybe a small one, but it can't be a huge deal and Geller has apparently worked out a whole plan for the sicilian based on certain moves; he plays them repeated in all the games in the series , and this recapture w/ RP is probably one of them.

IT is probably too much to ask a human player to make one tiny improvement in his game when he has probably adopted a style of play that is best for him and maybe adopted to the way his opponent thinks.

Geller is actually playing much better here in the early going he does not waste too much time on the queen side. Instead of extra knight maneuvers (in game 6) here he moves the QR up and down, but only twice and it's no big deal.

NOte how the mating threats against the fianchetto'd K are different than in game six because the Q is back there to protect f7. So the enemy Q or R cannot go to h7 and then f7 w/ check. This was a problem in game 6. Since this threat dwill not allow the B to capture the N on f6.

In this game 4; it is possible to first capture the N w/ BxN.

Well okay think about that; and also think about how black is going to use that wall of pawns on the queen side.

Jun-24-03  drukenknight: I meant capture the pawn on f6 w/ the B in this game.
Jun-24-03  drukenknight: Here is an interesting little possible line. It gives a better glimpse into what actually happens when I try to play white against the closed sicilian, I get buried by his pawns. It also gets a glimpse into the world of computer chess where you never know where some combination will lead to till until your computer read out informs you:

Look at the capturing that goes on d5. WHy not start with the N?

29. Qh4 Nf6
30. exf6 exf6
31. Qh7+ Kf8
32. Bxb7 fxg5
33. Qxg6 Bd4+
34. Kh1 Rxc2
35. Bxg5 Rh2+
36. Kxh2 Qe2+
37. Kg3 Qxf1
38. Bh6+ Ke7
39. Bg5+ Kd7
40. Qf5+ Qxf5
41. Bxc8+ Kxc8
42. gxf5 b3
43. Bc1

THis is a line on the chessbase computer w/ a non computer move that starts it off. It goes from small time bad to big time for white by move 40 or so. At least according to its numbered score.

Now this is not prove that geller should have won this game. Or that I can play chess with a computer.

It is a good example of how it can all go wrong for white. And may give us some idea of how Geller could have kept his game alive for a lot longer.

In addition the computer also shows how tricky playing the fianchetto'd sicilian is for black THis concerns the tactical problems of blacks fianchetto'd k side: Start with the same sequence but retake w/ the Bishop on f6

29. Qh4 Nf6
30. exf6 Bxf6??

ANd it's mate in 3!

Or so my solid state partner informs me. This is also an example of computer chess.

Me big stupid, me mess up fianchetto big time.

Jun-25-03  drukenknight: oh another thing. He needs to capture on c2; but when exactly? There were probably lots of chances to do this.
Jun-21-04  Calli: Geller's 35...Rc6? is the turning point of the match. 35...Rd8 wins because the white queen can't remain on h8 after the Bishop exchange and check. Interesting, the computer still thinks Rc6 is fine at a 13 ply depth. However, when the move was transmitted to Moscow from Georgia where the match was being played, Petrosian thought it was some kind of mistake in communications, so poorly he thought of the move.
Sep-03-13  phil6875: Spassky was completely lost after his 35th move. As Calli says 35...Rc6? was a huge mistake, maybe time trouble? Certainly after he made this error Black's play deteriorated fast. Here's a variation with 35...Rd8 for a Geller win.

35...Rd8 36. Bh6 Bxh6 37. Qxh6+ Ke7
38. Qh4 Rxc2 39. Nxf6 Qxd3 40. Re1+ Re2 41. Nd5+ Kd7 42. Rxe2 Qxe2 43. Nb6+ Kc7 44. Nd5+ Kc6 45. Qxd8 Kxd5.

Spassky was extremely fortunate not to lose this one.

Mar-09-15  zydeco: Notes from Cafferty's book on the Candidate Matches:

Spassky varies from the second game with 9.h3.

14.Qd2 was the first think of the game.

"Nobody in the press room noticed that black could now reply 16....d5, nor did Geller himself. If then 17.e5 d4 when black stands well. This calls to mind the story that Gufeld mournfully walked up and down the foyer of the playing hall at Sukhumi saying 'I told him to play in the center."

17....Qb6 "The queen moves give one the distinct impression that black is still feeling for a plan."

23....Qe8 "White seems to have played more exactly than black."

Bondarevsky suggests 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Qh4. Spassky goes in for a committing attack with 24.Ng5 which should have been refuted.

On move 33 Spassky had eight minutes left - to Geller's 45.

Geller had 15 minutes left when he blundered with 35....Rc6. "35....Rd8 was the first move to come to his mind. Then looking at 36.Bh6 Bxh6 37.Qxh6+ Ke7 38.Nxf6 Ra1! he suddenly thought that it made no difference where the rook guarded the QP from and that, after 35....Rc6, he could advance the QP and so guard f7. Without further thought he played the text."

Geller missed 37.Qh8+!.

Apr-11-15  A.T PhoneHome: One can understand Spassky for not wanting to spend too much time studying chess.

But when he did bother at it, he gave it a brilliant go! It's respectable to try something new that isn't to your nature; Spassky did that and it helped.

Apr-12-15  Howard: Just looked up this game in Kasparov's MGP. Yes, Geller should have won this game--not Spassky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Zhbugnoimt: Geller should have won most of the games in this match. Objectively. People are not engines, they get tired, have emotions and these factors can lead to ruin even for great tacticians. It didn't help Geller that in winning positions he saw winning moves but rejected them in favor of "better" ones- losing moves. When you see a good move- play it!
Feb-10-16  john barleycorn: <Zhbugnoimt: Geller should have won most of the games...>

Well. he did not win most of the games and that is all what counts.

Jun-17-17  edubueno: Una Paliza de aquellas.
Mar-08-19  cunctatorg: On the edge!!!!!
Jul-07-21  carpovius: Spassky mocks Geller in this game)
Oct-04-21  Misha709600: Interesting discussion.
Dec-18-22  Misha709600: Magnificient move 12 by Spassky to open the A file.

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