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Boris Spassky vs Lev Polugaevsky
USSR Championship (1958), Riga URS, rd 2, Jan-??
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation (B94)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Nov-13-03  fred lennox: 20 Nf5 opens up queenside attack with moves for black...Nxb3...bxc3...Qxa2. These moves can be countered. My guess is Spassky was not attracted to exchange his better placed white sqr. bishop to black's dark sqr. bishop, better exchange is with the knight.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 20.Nf5 Nxb3+ 21.axb3 bxc3 22.Nxe7+ Kh8 23.Kb1 looks well for white, who is a pawn ahead with good position, but 20...bxc3 is probably much better than I have thought. For example 21.Nxe7+ Kh8 22.Bxf7 Be4 and white is in big troubles. 23.Rxe4 doesn't work for 23...cxb2+ (23...Nxe4?? 24.Ng6+ hxg6 25.Qh4#; 23...Rxd1+ 24.Kxd1 Qd8+ 25.Rd4 Qxe7 26.b4 ) 24.Kxb2 Rb8 25.Bb3 Rxf4 26.Nc6 Qc7 27.gxf4 Qxc6 and 23.Rxd8 Qxd8 24.e6 cxb2+ 25.Kxb2 Qd4+ 26.Kc1 Qc3 threatening Qxc2# or Nd3+ is hopeless for white. Spassky was absolutely right playing 20.Na4!:-)
Nov-13-03  drukenknight: or was he? what is wrong with: 20...Bxe4 21. Rxe4 Bg5?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <dk> Do you mean 20...Be4 after Spassky's 20.Na4? It is bad for simple 21.Nxc5, but black is lost even if white plays your 21.Rxe4 winning two minor pieces for the Rook.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: By the way, 21...Bg5 is hopeless: 22.Qxg5 hxg5 23.Nxb7 Qc7 (23...Qb6 24.Nxd8 Rxd8 25.e6 fxe6 26.Rxe6 ) 24.Nxd8 Rxd8 (24...Qxd8 25.Ne6 ) 25.e6 fxe6 26.Rd2 (threateming Nxe6) 26...Rb8 27.Nxe6 Qb6 28.Nxg5+ Kh8 (28...Kf8 29.Nh7#) 29.Re4 g6 30.Rh4+ Kg7 31.Rd7+ Kf6 32.Nh7+ with a mate in few moves.
Nov-14-03  drukenknight: no I mean in the game as played.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <dk> 20.Na4 was played in the game.
Nov-14-03  drukenknight: yes of course, I have to reset this.
Nov-14-03  drukenknight: ATTENTION CHESSGAMES.COM and HONZA: There's confusion on this game score. The site has this game with one essential difference, 20 Ne4 not 20 Na4 as in the data base.

All the rest of the moves are the same except for a slight tranposition at the end, chesslab has black transposing moves 39/40. Oh and also whites 38th is c4 not c3, but still the position doesnt change.

This game is the only game in the chesslab database for Spassky/Polugaevsky in 1958 it was played at Riga so it must be the same game they are referring to.

I had thought 39...K moves made more sense than moving the Rook. goes back to the same position at move 40 though.

Premium Chessgames Member Thanks, we'll look into this.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <> Spassky's 100 Best Games by B Cafferty gives the game score as you have it except that White's 38th move is c3 not c4.

Chess Stars' Boris Spassky's 300 Wins gives the score the same as the Cafferty book.

Feb-12-04  drukenknight: ATTENTION CHESSGAMES.COM have we figured out the discrepancy in the game scores on this one yet?
Premium Chessgames Member The best sources indicate 20.Na4 and 38.c3 are correct.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: A nice game ... it is annotated completely, <in fair depth> on my web site.

Take a look ... and please tell me what you think. (My personal opinion is that the game is very fine and extraordinary.)

Jun-02-04  clocked: Interesting is 14. ... gxf6 15.fxe5 b4 where some have suggested black is better, but white has a forced draw with 16.Ba4+! Nxa4 17.Nf5! Rd8 (box) (17 ... Nc5? and Bc6? both lose to Ng7+, Qh6, Nxe6+, Ng7+, exf6) 18.Ng7+ Kf8 19.Qh6 =
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Analysis of 20.Na4!! (From my webpage.)

[ Andy Soltis gives the following (somewhat superficial) analysis: 20...Nxa4; ('!') 21.Nf5!! Rxd1+!?;
This seems like a fairly natural move for Black, and it also follows general principles as well.

"When you are attacked, trade as many pieces as you can.")

<( One book gives the line of: 21...Rfe8?!; (but now) 22.Bxf7+!!, 22...Kxf7!?; 23.Rxd8! Rxd8; 24.Nd6+ Kg8; 25.Qf7+ Kh8; 26.Qxe7, ( ) but White is clearly winning here.

<One simple win is if Black plays ...Bc8; - to keep from dropping the Bishop on b7 - White simply plays QxR/d8+! and Nf7+.> )

22.Rxd1 Bc5!?; ('?!/?')
I guess Black is looking to activate this somewhat passive piece. *******

---> ( It seems much better to retreat the Bishop to the d8-square. >/= 22...Bd8!; An odd-looking move, but a play which is natural when you realize that if Black allows Qg5, he is simply lost.)

This is the <correct> move according to A. Soltis ... he even praises this play for White. ('23.Bxa4!' - Andy Soltis.)


( Much better is the surprising move - in this position, of: >/= 23.e6!!, "--->" and according to IM S. Soloviov, White will have a great - and possibly winning - attack. )


23...Qxa4?!; (Really - '?')

I guess this is the main idea - but Soltis does not discuss any alternatives here for Black. (Black blindly falls in with White's plan. But the second player has a better move that I wrote into the U.S. Chess magazine about ... but never got a reply.)


[ MUCH better was the move: >/= 23...h6!; "~" (in-between) and two week's worth of analysis never revealed any forced wins here for White. ('23...h6!!' - IM Sergei Soloviov.) ]


24.Rxd8 Rxd8; 25.Qg5, " " and thanks to the mate threat on g7, Black will pick off a whole Rook here. ) <---


23.Qg5 g6; 24.Nh6+! Kg7; 25.Ng4!, (" ") and White has a mating attack, despite Black's (useless) extra piece in this position. (If 25...Qb6!?; then White simply plays the thunderbolt, 26.Rd6!!, winning the house.) ]

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: (My analysis of this game.)
Nov-14-11  DrMAL: This Soviet Championship game has been used as representative for how to play against Najdorf, it is great historical example and source of much analysis from greats afterwards such as Kasparov himself. 13.e5?! was originally thought as strong but it was later shown to be error, with 13.Bxf6 shown as best move instead, here is computer eval.

Houdini_20_x64: 26/75 1:13:04 49,108,248,336
+0.32 13.Bxf6 Bxf6 14.Nf5 0-0 15.Nxd6 Rab8 16.e5
-0.29 13.Bd5 Bxd5 14.exd5 b4 15.Nb1 Nxd5 16.Nc6
-0.32 13.a3 0-0 14.Kb1 h6 15.Bxh6 gxh6 16.f5
-0.51 13.Qe2 0-0 14.Kb1 h6 15.Bh4 Qc7 16.e5
-0.61 13.e5 b4 14.Ba4+ Nxa4 15.Nxa4 Qxa4 16.exf6
-0.73 13.Qe3 0-0 14.a3 b4 15.axb4 Qxb4 16.Kb1 a5

Position with small advantage for white similar to 13.Bxf6 was arrived at anyway because of error 13...dxe5?! and 14...Bxf6 error, black could (should) have taken with pawn. For example, 14...gxf6 15.fxe5 0-0-0 16.exf6 Bxf6 17.Qf4 (or, maybe better yet 16...Bd6 17.Qf2) and black has comfortable game with slight edge, position is typical and should be familiar to Najdorf player. Interesting to see 14.Nf5 move (line above with 13.Bxf6) in light of recent kibitzing on Velimirovic vs Sofrevski, 1965 and related pages shown in links there.

Similarly, in game after 16...Be7 position looks familiar, all black has to do is castle short and have very nice game. But Najdorf positions with Bb7 have e6 relatively weak, and Spassky pounced on move 17.Bxe6! Polugaevsky castled 17...0-0 taking bishop 17...fxe6? has 18.Nxe6! probably losing for black (18...Qb6 and 19.Nd5! or 19.Nxc5 both likely win) but castling was not much better, best was 17...Qd8! unnatural move difficult to see. Here, 18.Bd5! was missed anyway and 18.Bb3 gave sharp but nearly equal game. Kasparov analyzed details here in several publications including OMGP book, so no need to repeat too much, it was great historical game, even if 13.e5?! was incorrect way to transition into middlegame attack.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ToTheDeath: Promising player, this Spassky. I predict he will go far.
May-05-15  offramp: Was any game more predestined to be a Sicilian?
Apr-28-16  andrea volponi: 20...Cxb3!!con parità
Jul-03-16  andrea volponi: 20Ca4!?(20Cf5 bxc3!-Cxe7+ Rh8=)20...Cxb3!!-axb3 g6=
Aug-27-17  The Kings Domain: 20) Na4! is excellent. Shows Spassky's admirable all around play and why prior to their championship match Fischer could not beat him.
Sep-02-17  andrea volponi: 20Na4! Nxb3!(=)
Jun-13-20  carpovius: Spassky beats Sicilian expert in the Sicilian (as before the Pirc expert in the Ufimtsev defence). Brilliant!
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