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Boris Spassky vs Viktor Korchnoi
USSR Championship (1955), Moscow URS, rd 18, Mar-12
Gruenfeld Defense: Exchange. Seville Variation (D87)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Dec-06-05  lentil: <sneaky> the rook is not 'en prise': 41 gf?? Qxh3 mates. B threatened 41. ... Rxh3, mating and 41. Qh2 is an adequate defense in presumable time-pressure (41 Re2 seems much better). Note thatin the game continuation, W reincarnates at e8 with a winning attack.
Dec-06-05  RookFile: Weepingwarrior has a point. Spassky played 12. Bxf7+ first. But I don't think anybody meant to disprespect Spassky.... it's possible they simply were not aware of this game.
Dec-13-06  Brown: <lentil> The rook is in fact "en prise." Any piece that can be captured on the very next move, regardless of the ensuing consequences, is by definition "en prise."

41.Qh2 is best. Winning on the spot.

Dec-13-06  Runemaster: <Weeping Warrior> I have a Cadogan book of the 1987 WC match compiled from various Russian sources, in which this Spassky-Korcnoi is referred to.

However, the annotator says that in Spassky Kprchnoi 1955, the moves ...cxd4/cxd4 been played before Bxf7+. In other words, it was claimed that the position reached in the 1987 WC match was not exactly the same. According to the <chessgames> score, it was.

There seems to be some sort of blindspot here; if the annotations used in my book originate with Kasparov and/or Keene, that might explain why they gave the name "Seville Variation", under the [mistaken] impression that 1987 was the first time Bxf7+ had been played in that exact position.

Sep-06-07  MadBishop: Amazing! Korchnoi is four pawns down in the end and Spassky, with <5> passed pawns manages to lose! Though technically Spassky's queen was pretty useless so it could be said that the was forced to play a whole queen down!!!
Sep-01-08  jakecoul: <MadBishop> I am not exactly sure how Spassky loses this one. Spassky actually wins the game to a resignation by Korchnoi, based on the coming forced moves in which Spassky wins in all variations.
May-02-09  patzer2: Spassky blocks Korchnois attack and wins with the brilliant obstruction or interference Queen sham sacrifice 40. Qh2!

The move 40. ? (White to move) is listed as problem number 367 in Chess Informant's 1980 (Batsford) "Encyclopedia of Chess Middlegames/Combinations." In this work, the tactical theme of interference or obstruction is called "interception" in English and "interferenza" in Italian.

May-02-09  slomarko: okay 41.Qh2! is very nice but 41.e8N should win too.
May-16-10  M.D. Wilson: Qh2! is better.
Jul-30-10  M.D. Wilson: What do the computers say?
Jul-30-10  zanshin: <M.D. Wilson: What do the computers say?>

Rybka 4 says they are both good:

[+19.94] d=16 41.Qh2 Qh8 42.gxf3 Bxh2 43.e8Q Qxe8 44.Rxe8 Bf4 45.d5 Kxg6 46.Kg2 Bc7 47.d6 Bxd6 48.Bxd6 b4 49.Bxb4 Kf7 50.Re5 Kg6 51.Ra5 Kf7 52.h4 Kg6 53.h5 Kg7 54.Bc3 Kf8 (0:03:03) 48591kN

[+11.29] d=15 41.e8N Kh8 42.g7 Kg8 43.Nf6 Qxf6 44.gxf3 Qg5 45.Qxg5 Bxg5 46.Kg2 Kxg7 47.d5 Bh4 48.Re4 Bf6 49.d6 Bd8 50.Re8 Bg5 51.d7 Kf7 52.d8Q (0:02:31) 38960kN

Nov-30-10  M.D. Wilson: Good.
Jan-23-16  peterh99: Such a typically breathtaking Spassky ending, offering his Queen to a Bishop to gain a single tempo!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: Encountering the position after 40...Rf3 in the book Chess Tactics From Scratch, I found a win after 41.e8/N+, but Spassky's 41.Qh2! is prettier, and never entered my head.
May-14-17  edubueno: Muy Buena partida de Spassky.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: I don't get the point of 26...h6 (?). 26...Qe3+ followed by 27...Qxd4 should be okay for Black.
Jun-05-18  ChessHigherCat: <Mateo> You mean 26....Qf2+ followed by 27. ...Qxd4, right?

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  Mateo: <ChessHigherCat> Yes. Sorry for the mistake.
Jun-05-18  ChessHigherCat: That's okay, I just wanted to make sure. That's a good idea, you're right, h6 just weakens the castle for nothing and your move wins a pawn.
Jun-05-18  RookFile: Somebody above said that Korchnoi at the time of this game was one of the top 10 players. If that's true, he didn't show it in this tournament. He got slapped around pretty good and almost finished last.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Hard to credit Korchnoi being in the top ten as early as 1955; as to his disastrous result in this event, the loss to Flohr, in which he blundered, was a cold shower early on.
Jun-06-18  Howard: Personally, I can't believe Korchnoi was in the top-10 at the age of 24, in 1955. His results in the Soviet championships from that era hardly reflect that.

He wasn't even in the 1955 interzonal, for that matter---nor was he in the 1958 one!

To be fair, it was difficult for even the best Soviet players to qualify for the intezonals back in those days, given how super-strong the zonal tournaments were. But Korchnoi probably didn't break into the top-10 until at least the late 50's.

Jun-06-18  Strelets: <Howard> Korchnoi had an unusual career arc. He was overshadowed by Spassky as a junior in Leningrad, didn't reach the peak of his playing strength until he had already won the Soviet championship four times (Leningrad 1960, Yerevan 1962, Kiev 1964, Riga 1970), and continued to play at a high level for arguably longer than even Emanuel Lasker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Qualifying from the Soviet championships was almost on a par with a lottery; formidable as Korchnoi was, he only made +1 the year after winning at Kiev.

We shall never see the like of those events again.

Apr-25-20  Fanques Fair: Another brilliant game by the young Boris, which in addition was a theoretical reference to a opening variant that would be a repeated theme in a World Championship match 30 years afterwards ! In this 1955 USSR championship, his games are incredible, particularly against Taimanov and Geller, who would be the tounament winner, besides this classic against Victor the Terrible .
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