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Viktor Korchnoi vs Tigran V Petrosian
"A Move Late and a Dollar Short" (game of the day Aug-08-2012)
Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Semifinal (1974), Odessa URS, rd 3, Apr-16
English Opening: Anglo-Indian Defense. Queens Indian Formation (A17)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-07-09  WhiteRook48: the game looked so symmetrical and then Petrosian loses... hmm.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: At the end, throw in a black pawn on b6 and a white knight on f3, and you have the final position of the first game of the Lasker-Tarrasch WC match.

click for larger view

Aug-08-12  Abdel Irada: I wonder if Petrosian, having reached the final position, found himself wishing he could escape with 51. ...♔b4!, forcing a draw after the exchange of kings.
Aug-08-12  LoveThatJoker: According to Stockfish and Deep Fritz 13's opening book, Black's problems started as soon as he played 7...Bxf3.

Instead, 7...cxd4! would have assisted in establishing full equality for Black. Stockfish gives the following,

7...cxd4! 8. Nxd4 Nc6 9. Nxc6 Bxc6 10. Bd2 Ne7 11. O-O-O

Analysis Diagram - Position after 11. O-O-O

click for larger view

A) 11...Ng6 12. Kb1 Be7 13. h4 Bxh4 14. Ne4 O-O 15. g3 Be7 16. f4 Qc7 17. Bc3 Rfd8 18. Bg2 Rac8 19. Qh5 h6 20. Rh2 Bxe4+ 21. Bxe4 Qxc4 22. Bxg6 fxg6 23. Qxg6 <0.00/23>

B) 11...Rc8 12. Kb1 Qc7 13. Re1 Nf5 14. Qg4 Bc5 15. Bd3 O-O 16. f3 g6 17. Qh3 f6 18. Bxf5 exf5 19. exf6 Rxf6 20. Qh4 Re6 21. Bf4 Qb7 22. Rxe6 dxe6 <+0.04/23>

Aside from the above lines, Deep Fritz 13's opening book provides Portisch vs A Matanovic, 1965 as the earliest known game in which Black plays 7...cxd4.

Not only was this game played between two famous Grandmasters in 1965, but it was also played in Yerevan. Based on this, it is surprising that the 9th World Champion didn't go in for 7...cxd4.

One possibility is that he missed something in his preparations on this line and thought that GM Korchnoi would have an improvement ready for it - thus deciding to try something new and different OTB.


Aug-08-12  goodevans: After <14.Qxf4> black has traded off his only two active pieces and he is miles behind in development. Although he is a pawn up his central pawns are hardly pillars of strength.

I didn't think much of <14...g6>. Surely trying to catch up with development (e.g. <14...Nf6>) was more important than creating a few empty threats on h6.

Petrosian plays <...Nf6> a move later, but playing it then it costs him his two central pawns. Instead <15...Kf7> would have held on to the centre pawns. Black would have to weather a bit of a storm but white's attack doesn't look decisive.

Aug-08-12  Deji: Instructive Endgame
Aug-08-12  Tired Tim: 51.? Tuesday problem
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: The last move is a crusher-whichever was black goes,white takes the pawn and defends his own at the same time and pushes that pawn through.
Aug-08-12  sfm: 41.Bxe4!!, all to end with 51.Kb5. All forced. Absolutely lovely.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<Davolni: Thanks <Plato>. that is a WOW. I know he was/is good, but not that good.>>

Considering that the man came within a single victory of becoming Champion of the World himself, his plus scores against various world champions shouldn't be so surprising.

Aug-08-12  RookFile: Yes, he was almost as good as Keres.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <<Yes, he was almost as good as Keres.>>

I take it this was said partly in jest? Surely Keres' superiority is quite arguable, no?

Aug-08-12  The Rocket: Awful play by Petrosian
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < Eggman: <<Yes, he was almost as good as Keres.>> I take it this was said partly in jest? Surely Keres' superiority is quite arguable, no?>

Quite, in my opinion also-here's something I posted elsewhere a few years back.

Aug-09-12  SChesshevsky: <The Rocket: Awful play by Petrosian>

If I remember right, Petrosian wasn't in very good health for this match. In most games it showed and I think he had to quit the match early due to illness.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Petrosian retired ill after five games, down +1 -3 =1.
Aug-09-12  SChesshevsky: <LoveThatJoker: Based on this, it is surprising that the 9th World Champion didn't go in for 7...cxd4.>

While 7...cxd4 probably would've been better there are reasons why Petrosian would have passed.

Opening up the position with complications from 8. Nxd4 Nc6 9. N4b5 with maybe 9...a6 10. Nd6+ Bxd6 11. exd6 probably wouldn't be his preferred style w/ Black against Korchnoi whose strength is putting difficult problems out in complicated positions. Rather than face a bunch of tactical possibilites Petrosian probably hoped to simplify and hold the endgame.

Also Petrosian probably wasn't prepared for that kind of line and was hoping to get to something like the 30+ mover he lost in gm 1. I'm pretty sure Petrosian felt like he had some good chances in that game and maybe hoped for another shot.

Aug-09-12  LoveThatJoker: <SChesshevsky> What you stated regarding why the 9th WC didn't go with 7...cxd4! does not fall out of the realm of possibility.

It should be noted that, according to Stockfish, 7...cxd4! is indeed better (and not merely probably better).

Of course there is no way that the 9th WC and his team would have had recourse to Super-GM level Chess engines in the '70s, but it is unfortunate that they did not give the lines starting with 7...cxd4! more serious consideration - as they, at least on one notable occasion, had already proven successful.


PS. Stockfish confirms that 7...cxd4! 8. Nxd4 Nc6 9. Ndb5 a6 10. Nd6+ Bxd6 11. exd6 Nd4 12. Qd3 Nf5 is fully equal for Black.

Aug-09-12  The Rocket: <Petrosian retired ill after five games, down +1 -3 =1>

That makes sense. He played this game like a 2000 player.

Aug-09-12  Petrosianic: Not ill, exactly. There was a huge blowup that you would not believe if I told it to you, but you can read Jude Acer's version of it here:

But he did recover to win the next game in good style:

Petrosian vs Korchnoi, 1974

In fact, an oddity of the 1974 Candidates is that it seems that in several cases the best game of the match was won by the loser.

In fact, come to think of it, in my opinion, in the 5 matches in which the loser won a game at all, the loser had the best win every time. IMO, this happened in:


Aug-09-12  Absentee: In "Chess is my life" Korchnoi recounts a peculiar version of how this match played out: Petrosian had purportedly brought a "posse" of armenian fans to the stage, when Korchnoi objected Petrosian grabbed the chance to interrupt the match complaining that he had "insulted his nation and its people", and after losing this game faked an illness and withdrew. Knowing what kind of douche Korchnoi has always been, I don't know how much stock we can put in his chronicle, but it's still interesting even though it probably tells us more about Korchnoi than about Petrosian.
Aug-23-12  SChesshevsky: <Petrosianic: Not ill, exactly.>

I'm pretty sure Petrosian's health or related had something to due to his poor form in the match. It seems in general he wasn't playing at his usual even from game 1 and it was reported that after Korchnoi's request for postponement of game 6, Petrosian was in the hospital for kidney pains and had to resign.

I think Petrosian's poor form showed even in his best game 4, Gligoric noted that Korchnoi in a poor line and serious time trouble still had drawing chances.

But even if Petrosian's bad form in the earlier games weren't health related, I think it's doubtful that he quit the match because of some sort of personal conflict with Korchnoi.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: < The Rocket: <Petrosian retired ill after five games, down +1 -3 =1> That makes sense. He played this game like a 2000 player.>

As one who proclaims himself having a '2000+ Elo', you'd sure be one to know......

Sep-29-13  s0030135: Interestingly, I had a tournament game today which had exactly the same final position as this game.
Feb-07-18  SEVEN: Honza Cervenka told us A little deja vu with Jakovenko Alekseev. Its also one more with D Karatorossian vs J Blauert, 2005
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