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Tigran V Petrosian vs Mario Bertok
Stockholm Interzonal (1962), Stockholm SWE, rd 8, Feb-07
Queen's Gambit Accepted: Classical Defense. Alekhine System Smyslov Variation (D29)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Dec-31-05  ThunderStorm: Queen skewer!
Dec-31-05  syracrophy: -<13...Ng4 was a mistake> It does nothing and allows a quick white developing and attack. Black should have continued with this opening's theory by playing <13...Qc7>

-After the move <15.Nd5!?>, the knight cannot be taken because of the sequence: 15...exd5 16.exd5+ Kf8 17.d6! Bxd6 18.Bf4 Bxf3 19.Qxf3 Bxf4 20.Rxd7 Ra7 21.Qxg4 with a large advantage for White.

-<19.Rh3?!> The rook its not good on this square. <Correct was 19.Rdd1>

-After 34...Kc8 35.Rc6+ Bxc6 36.Be6+ Kb8 37.Bxg8 Rxg8 38.Qxh7 with an easy win for white

Aug-19-14  zydeco: Interesting that Petrosian passed up the chance to win the queen with 24.Rd8+ Rxd8 25.Rxd8+ Qxd8 26.Bxd8 Bxf2+ 27.Kh1 Kxd8.
Mar-30-15  fispok: I don't think that Rh3 was necessarily a mistake. It prevented the capture of one of his rooks, and only slightly delayed his overall goal.
Dec-14-20  Malfoy: <syracrophy>, actually 19.Rh3 was the strong way to go, since it obviously prevents Black from castling.
Dec-14-20  RookFile: It took somebody of Petrosian's caliber to demonstrate it, but black's basic mistake was going for middlegame complications before he castled his king into safety.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Blimey. I've seen games where one side plays maybe 3 moves on the trot on the theme of stopping his opponent castling. But here it's 10!
Dec-14-20  Malfoy: <Rookfile: It took somebody of Petrosian's caliber to demonstrate it, but black's basic mistake was going for middlegame complications before he castled his king into safety.>

True. In such an open, dynamic position, a lot of subtlety is required by both players. At the time I first studied this game the rather artificial 10...Qb8 was suggested as the way to go instead of 10...Bd6, with the idea that after 11.e4 cxd4 12.Rxd4 Black plays 12...Bc5 in a single tempo, which he gained to put his queen out of danger off the 'd' file. One could question its role on b8, of course...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 17...Nxf2 18.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 19.Qxf2 Rc1+ 20.Bd1 Nc5 was worth of consideration.
Dec-15-20  Malfoy: <Honza Cervenka: 17...Nxf2 18.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 19.Qxf2 Rc1+ 20.Bd1 Nc5 was worth of consideration.>

Agree. At least Black would have displayed a certain degree of consistency. Since taking on f2 is the obvious follow-up to Black's play, I wonder what Petrosian had in store: would he dive into the complications arising from the wild (and perhaps better) 19.Kxf2!? or would he somehow shift to technical mode? I suspect he would have stuck to attacking mode, otherwise he would have already played something more circumspect like 16.Bh4 instead of 16.Rf1 (which indeed brings the last piece into the fray)...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <Malfoy> 16.Bh4 looks fine but there was nothing wrong with 16.Rf1. The problem is that 17.Nf4 interferes the cover of c1 by Bg5. 17.Rdd1 was more careful. Of course, 19.Kxf2 is possible too but then black can play 19...Nc5 20.Nh5 Nxe4+! 21.Kg1 0-0 with playable position.
Dec-16-20  Malfoy: <Honza Cervenka: 16.Bh4 looks fine but there was nothing wrong with 16.Rf1.>

16.Rf 1 is a less economical defense, since after 16.Bh4 the lqueen rook could have found a more active role. Besides, vacating g5 could have benefited White's king knight.

<The problem is that 17.Nf4 interferes the cover of c1 by Bg5. 17.Rdd1 was more careful.>

Yeah, but also rather computeresque. 17.Nf4 is a human move, which suddenly forces Black to ponder over all sort of sacrifices on e6 and also redirects that knight towards h5. However it is puzzling that Bertok, after choosing such an ambitious and risky plan, did not follow it to the extreme.

Dec-16-20  SChesshevsky: Think the answers to the questions around the 16. Bh4 or the 17...Nxf2 possibilities probably revolve around blacks Bc5.

It's such a nice piece that I can see how Bertok is actually reluctant to go through with the 17...Nxf2 threat. In addition to the two pieces for the rook trade being something you probably want to be sure of before undertaking. Given black would appear to need some tempo to coordinate afterward, not at all clear that he would end up being happy with the decision later on.

Blacks very nice Bc5 probably also plays into Petrosian deciding on Bh4 or not. Unsure whether he already decided that he wanted his B available to exchange off Bc5 or just wanted it mobile on the diagonal. Maybe both. He also might've wanted to tempt some sort of weakening on the king side. Plus, as noted, Rf1 probably doesn't hurt.

As it played out, Petrosian was able to concentrate on the king in the center and light square e6. Blacks only real counter was the dark square pressure from Bc5 , so trading it off on e3 could only be good for White.

Dec-17-20  Malfoy: <SChesshevsky>, I find your remarks quite appropriate. It should be added that maybe the position was too complex and dangerous for Black''s tactical abilities: just think that he had to find over the board that after 17...Nxf2 the crazy retort 18.Rxd7, to which 17.Nf4 paved the way, does not work, or that after 18.Rxf2 Bxf2+ 19.Kxf2 Rc1+ White might reply 20.Bd1 with another bunch of wild complications after, for example, 20...Nc5 21.Rd4 Nxe4 22.Qe3 Ra1 23.Nh5 0-0 24.Nxg7, when, indipendently from the final outcome, which seems not unfavourable to Black, we appreciate en passant a good combinative reason why White wanted his bishop to stay on g5. So a lot of stuff not easy to extricate over the board, while behind in development and against a renowned calculator as Petrosian was when at his best. And yet resorting to dynamics would have been Black''s best bet, since otherwise he is simply strategically lost.
Dec-17-20  RookFile: Personally I think you go 13....0-0 before you start mixing it up. That being said what black did might have succeeded against a lesser player.
Dec-17-20  Malfoy: <RookFile: Personally I think you go 13....0-0 before you start mixing it up.>

It was actually tried some years later, but to no benefit either. At least, the difference of strength between the players was again a good excuse:

[Event "GEO-ch"]
[Site "Georgia"]
[Date "1970.??.??"]
[Round "?"]
[White "Tal, Mikhail"]
[Black "Giorgadze, Tamaz"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "D29"]

1.Nf3 c5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 e6 4.e3 d5 5.d4 dxc4 6.Bxc4 a6 7.Qe2 b5 8.Bb3 Bb7 9.O-O Nbd7 10.Rd1 Bd6 11.e4 cxd4 12.Rxd4 Bc5 13.Rd3 O-O 14.Bf4 b4 15.Na4 Qa5 16.Nd2 Qb5 17.Nxc5 Nxc5 18.Bc4 Qa5 19.Rd4 e5 20.Bxe5 Ncxe4 21.Bxf6 Nxf6 22.Qe7 Bc6 23.Bf1 Rab8 24.Nc4 Qh5 25.Rad1 Rfe8 26.Qc7 Bd5 27.Ne3 Rbc8 28.Qa5 Be6 29.Qxh5 Nxh5 30.Bxa6 Ra8 31.Bb5 Rf8 32.Ra1 Rxa2 33.Rxa2 Bxa2 34.Rxb4 Rb8 35.Ra4 Kf8 36.Be2 Bb3 37.Rd4 Nf6 38.Kf1 Ne8 39.Ke1 Nc7 40.Kd2 Ne6 41.Rh4 Nc5 42.Rxh7 Kg8 43.Rh5 Ne4+ 44.Ke1 Ra8 45.Bd3 1-0

<That being said what black did might have succeeded against a lesser player.>

Surprisingly, 13...Ng4 had already been tried the year before Petrosian-Bertok was played and even all the same moves, the Tal-like sacrifice on d5 included, but Black countered it with a different reply and eventually managed to grab a draw:

[Event "URS-ch29 Semifinal"]
[Site "Novgorod"]
[Date "1961.08.??"]
[Round "12"]
[White "Veresov, Gavriil N"]
[Black "Suetin, Alexey S"]
[Result "1/2-1/2"]
[ECO "D29"]
[PlyCount "59"]
[EventDate "1961.08.07"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "17"]
[EventCountry "URS"]
[Source "ChessBase"]
[SourceDate "1999.11.16"]

1. d4 d5 2. c4 dxc4 3. Nf3 Nf6 4. e3 e6 5. Bxc4 c5 6. O-O a6 7. Nc3 b5 8. Bb3 Bb7 9. Qe2 Nbd7 10. Rd1 Bd6 11. e4 cxd4 12. Rxd4 Bc5 13. Rd3 Ng4 14. Bg5 Qb6 15. Nd5 Bxd5 16. exd5 e5 17. Bh4 O-O 18. Ng5 Ngf6 19. Ne6 fxe6 20. dxe6 Kh8 21. exd7 Bd4 22. Rh3 Rad8 23. Bc2 Rxd7 24. Bf5 Rc7 25. Rd1 h6 26. Rf3 Nd5 27. Bb1 Nf4 28. Qe4 g5 29. Bg3 Qc6 30. Bxf4 1/2-1/2

Yet he got out of the opening more or less lost. Incidentally, a good illustration of how tactically beneficial could be to free the g5 square to a knight. So Bertok's 15...Qa5 was his intended "deprovement"? :-)

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