Lessons from Petrosian

The wiliest, boringest, most elusive, most modern of world champions, Petrosian remains a difficult and contradictory figure. His play combines deft tactical awareness with an acute sense of prophylaxis , so that opponents have the greatest difficulty in laying a finger on him. And for his own part, he often seems content holding the margin of the draw than undertaking any heroics in pursuit of a win. In the analysis room, and in blitz games, Petrosian's abundant tactical skills were apparent to everyone, but to the spectator of his tournament games, these were far from obvious, and he was regarded as dull and perhaps relatively weak.

You don't get to be world champion without having something going for you, and I have included one game below designed to dispel the idea that Petrosian cannot attack. But like Ulf Andersson, his youthful attacking phase matured into a highly sophisticated positional style, where a web of small moves can bind and hold the opposing pieces, and his tactical skills were used to anticipate and avoid the attacking ideas of his opponent. He has embraced the hypermodern style, perhaps taking to another level Nimzovitch's ideas about prophylaxis and the centre. With this style, his tactical skills are always subservient to strategy.

A club player who is trying to decide what is going on in lots of Petrosian's games could well do themselves a mischief. But in his most accessible games, the play contains as much tension and drama as one could hope for. And also, for my purposes, as much instruction. By all means go to masters like Morphy and Capablanca to understand simple chess. But I don't think you will find clearer examples of how an apparently strong Pawn front can in fact turn out to be a hollow sham than in Petrosian's games against Korchnoi and Spassky, Also notable were his games with campaigns based on colour-complexes; he more than once reduced a strong GM like Mecking to useless shuffling.

Opening


What can a club player learn from a man who once opened as Black: 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 b6 5.Qg4 Bf8 6.Nf3 Qd7 7.Nb5 Nc6 and won? (Joppen,E - Petrosian,T [C16] Belgrade (11), 1954: 0-1, 56?)

(1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 b6 5.Qg4 Bf8 6.Nf3 Qd7 7.Nb5 Nc6 8.c3 a6 9.Na3 f5 10.Qg3 Bxa3 11.bxa3 Bb7 12.Ng5 0-0-0 13.h4 Nh6 14.Bd3 Kb8 15.Qf3 Nf7 16.Nh3 g6 17.Qe2 Ka7 18.Bg5 Nxg5 19.Nxg5 h6 20.Nh3 Qe7! 21.Nf4 g5 22.Nh3 [22.Ng6 Qxa3 23.Nxh8 Qxc3+ 24.Qd2 Qxa1+; 22.hxg5 hxg5 23.Rxh8 Rxh8 24.Nh3 g4 25.Ng1 Rh1 26.Kf1 Qh4-+] 22...Qxa3 23.Qd2 Qe7 24.0-0-0 Rdg8 25.Kb1 Na5 26.hxg5 hxg5 27.f4 g4 28.Ng5 Bc6 29.Qb2 Nc4 30.Qb4 Qd7 31.Bxc4 a5 32.Qb2 dxc4! 33.Qd2 Bd5 34.Rdg1 Qc6 35.Rxh8 Rxh8 36.g3 Qe8 37.Kb2 Qh5 38.Kc2 Qh2 39.Qxh2 Rxh2+ 40.Kb1 Ka6 0-1)

Petrosian is at his best in highly technical, flexible openings, which most of us should avoid like the plague, but there is one important opening where his mastery is well worth studying.


Petrosian,T - Rossetto,H [D35] Portoroz (11), 1958

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 d5 3.c4 e6 4.Nc3 Be7 5.cxd5 exd5


|rhb1k+.4|
|0p0.gp0p|
|.+.+.h.+|
|+.+p+.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.H.+N+.|
|P).+P)P)|
|$.GQIB+R|
+-----------------+

O'Kelly describes the Exchange Variation as one of Petrosian's main 'sources of income'. The Pawn structure suggests a minority attack for White.

6.Bf4 c6 7.Qc2 Na6 (idea Pc7-e6) 8.a3 0-0 9.e3 Nc7 10.Bd3 Ne6 11.Be5 g6 12.0-0 Ng7 13.b4 a6 14.Bxf6 Bxf6 15.a4 Bf5 16.Bxf5 Nxf5 17.b5 axb5 [17...c5!? 18.dxc5 Rc8 Gligoric, Matanovic] 18.axb5 Qd6 19.bxc6 bxc6 20.Na4+/- Rfb8 21.Nc5 Qe7 (idea Pd6-c4) 22.Nd3 Qb7 23.Nfe5! Bxe5 24.Nxe5 Rxa1 25.Rxa1 Ne7 26.g3


|.4.+.+k+|
|+q+.hp+p|
|.+p+.+p+|
|+.+pH.+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.).).|
|.+Q+.).)|
|$.+.+.I.|
+-----------------+

White's attack yields a weakness.

26...Qb2 [26...Qc7 Darga] 27.Qd1 h5?! 28.Rc1 Rb6 29.h3 Kg7 30.Kg2 Qa3? [30...Nf5! 31.Rc2 Qb3! Darga] 31.Ra1 Qb2


|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.hpi.|
|.4p+.+p+|
|+.+pH.+p|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.+.).)P|
|.1.+.)K+|
|$.+Q+.+.|
+-----------------+

32.g4! Opening a second front. 32...hxg4 33.hxg4± 33...Rb7 34.Rc1 Qb5? [34...f6 35.Nxc6? Rc7 Gligoric, Matanovic] 35.Qf3 f6


|.+.+.+.+|
|+r+.h.i.|
|.+p+.0p+|
|+q+pH.+.|
|.+.).+P+|
|+.+.)Q+.|
|.+.+.)K+|
|+.$.+.+.|
+-----------------+

36.g5! Nf5 [36...fxe5 37.Qf6+ Kg8 38.Rh1+-; 36...f5 37.Qh3+-] 37.gxf6+ Kxf6 38.Rxc6+ Ke7 39.Qf4 1-0

Middlegame


Petrosian,T - Mecking,H [B07] Palma, 1969

1.d4 g6 2.e4 Bg7 3.Nf3 d6 4.c3 Nf6 5.Nbd2 0-0 6.Be2 c5 7.dxc5 dxc5 8.0-0 Nc6 9.Qc2 b6 10.Nc4 Bb7 11.a4 Qc7 12.Re1 Na5 13.Bf1 Nxc4 14.Bxc4 Ng4 15.a5 Bc6 16.Qe2 Ne5 17.Nxe5 Bxe5 18.g3 Bg7 19.Bf4


|r+.+.4k+|
|0.1.0pgp|
|.0b+.+p+|
|).0.+.+.|
|.+B+PG.+|
|+.).+.).|
|.).+Q).)|
|$.+.$.I.|
+-----------------+

19...e5 20.Bc1

What has White achieved with his last two moves? Black has gained a move, but it is a move which does his light squares no favours. There is a second point, a psychological one: the complete retreat to c1 may lead Black to assume his opponent is not really trying to win, and can be attacked with impunity. The lunge of the e-Pawn perhaps suggests Black is losing patience, and might be tempted to further errors...

20...Kh8 21.Bd5 Bxd5 22.exd5 f5 23.c4 Rae8 24.Rd1 f4


|.+.+r4.i|
|0.1.+.gp|
|.0.+.+p+|
|).0P0.+.|
|.+P+.0.+|
|+.+.+.).|
|.).+Q).)|
|$.GR+.I.|
+-----------------+

Natural to an attacking player like Mecking, but Petrosian must have smiled quietly inside. White can now achieve a complete blockade of the light squares, after which the famous Petrosian grip never relaxes.

25.axb6 axb6 26.Qe4 Qd7 27.Re1 Qf7 28.Re2 g5 29.g4 Qd7 30.f3 Ra8 31.Rxa8 Rxa8 32.Bd2 Re8 33.Bc3 Qd6 34.Re1 h6 35.Ra1 Rf8 36.Ra7 Re8

Now it is Black who returns a piece to its original square, but not from choice, rather from lack of choice.

37.Qf5 b5 38.Rd7 Qf8 39.Qxf8+ Rxf8 40.cxb5 Rb8 41.Rxg7 1-0


Petrosian,T - Mecking,H [D03] Wijk aan Zee, 1971

I often think of Petrosian's style as conquering one square of the board at a time, taking perhaps 64 moves to win.

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5

Petrosian always had a fondness for these apparently toothless Bishop moves in the opening.

3...c5 4.e3 d5 5.c3 Nc6 6.Nbd2 cxd4 7.exd4 Be7 8.Bd3 h6 9.Bf4 Nh5 10.Be3 Nf6 11.Ne5 Nxe5 12.dxe5 Nd7 13.Bd4 Nc5 14.Bc2 a5 15.Qg4 g6


|r+b1k+.4|
|+p+.gp+.|
|.+.+p+p0|
|0.hp).+.|
|.+.G.+Q+|
|+.).+.+.|
|P)BH.)P)|
|$.+.I.+R|
+-----------------+

The outlines of the game are clearer: we have a blocked Pawn chain, like a French Defence, with White having the basis for a dark-square campaign.

16.0-0 Bd7 17.Rfe1 Qc7 18.a4 Na6 19.Qe2 Kf8 20.Nf3 Kg7 21.Be3 Nc5 22.Nd4 Ra6 23.Bc1 Raa8 24.g3 b6 25.h4 h5 26.Qf3 Qd8 27.Bd2 Qe8 28.Bg5 Qd8 29.Qf4 Rc8 30.Re3 Bxg5 31.hxg5 Ra8


|r+.1.+.4|
|+.+b+pi.|
|.0.+p+p+|
|0.hp).)p|
|P+.H.!.+|
|+.).$.).|
|.)B+.).+|
|$.+.+.I.|
+-----------------+

Petrosian shifts tack.

32.Qf6+ Qxf6 33.exf6+ Kh7 34.Kg2 Rae8 35.f4 Rb8 36.Ree1 Nb7 37.Rh1 Kg8 38.Nf3 Nd6 39.Ne5 Be8 40.Bd3 Rc8 41.Kf3

KUFTE, we say, King Up For The Endgame.

41...Bc6 42.Rh2 Be8 43.Ke3 Rc7 44.Kd4 Nb7 45.b4 Nd8 46.Rh4 Nb7 47.Ra2 Nd6 48.Rh1 Nb7 49.b5 Nc5 50.Bc2 Nd7 51.Ra3 Nc5


|.+.+b+k4|
|+.4.+p+.|
|.0.+p)p+|
|0PhpH.)p|
|P+.I.).+|
|$.).+.).|
|.+B+.+.+|
|+.+.+.+R|
+-----------------+

Petrosian has climbed to the top of the hill, and now charges down abruptly on his opponent's forces.

52.c4 Nd7 53.Rc3 Nxe5 54.Kxe5 dxc4 55.Be4 Rc8 56.Kd6 Rc5 57.Rhc1 h4 1-0


Petrosian - Korchnoi [A20] Moscow, 1971

1.c4 e5 2.g3 c6 3.b3 d5 4.Bb2 d4

Black makes a stake in the centre.

5.Nf3 Bd6 6.d3 c5 7.Bg2 Ne7 8.0-0 Nec6 9.e3 0-0 10.Nbd2 Be6 11.e4 Nd7 12.Nh4 g6 13.Bf3 Bc7 14.a3 Ba5 15.Bc1 Qe7 16.Bg4 f5 17.exf5 gxf5 18.Bf3 Nf6 19.Bg2 Rad8 20.Ra2 Bc8 21.Re1 Kh8


|.+b4.4.i|
|0p+.1.+p|
|.+n+.h.+|
|g.0.0p+.|
|.+P0.+.H|
|)P+P+.).|
|R+.H.)B)|
|+.GQ$.I.|
+-----------------+

At first glance, Black has the advantage because of the extra space. Petrosian goes on to show that White has much opportunity for play around the shell of Black's armour, while Black is overstretched.

22.b4 cxb4 23.Nb3 Bb6 24.Bxc6 bxc6 25.axb4 a6 26.Nf3 e4 27.c5 Bc7 28.Nfxd4 Qf7 29.Rd2 Bd7 30.Bb2 Kg8 31.Na5 Bxa5 32.bxa5 Rb8 33.Ba1 Rfe8 34.Rde2 Qh5 35.Qd2 Kf7 36.h4 exd3 37.Qxd3


|.4.+r+.+|
|+.+b+k+p|
|p+p+.h.+|
|).).+p+q|
|.+.H.+.)|
|+.+Q+.).|
|.+.+R).+|
|G.+.$.I.|
+-----------------+

Nothing is left of Black's centre.

37...f4 38.Nf3 Rxe2 39.Qxe2 Qxc5 40.Ne5+ Kf8 41.Nxd7+ Nxd7 1-0


Petrosian,T - Spassky,B [E66] Moscow (10), 1966

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.g3 g6 3.c4 Bg7 4.Bg2 0-0 5.0-0 Nc6 6.Nc3 d6 7.d4 a6 8.d5 Na5 9.Nd2 c5 10.Qc2 e5

[10...Rb8!?]

11.b3? [11.a3 b6 12.b4 Nb7 13.Rb1 «] 11...Ng4 12.e4 [12.Bb2 f5 13.Rae1!?] 12...f5 13.exf5 gxf5 14.Nd1!? [14.Bb2! Bd7 15.Rae1 b5 16.Nd1=+] 14...b5


|r+b1.4k+|
|+.+.+.gp|
|p+.0.+.+|
|hp0P0p+.|
|.+P+.+n+|
|+P+.+.).|
|P+QH.)B)|
|$.GN+RI.|
+-----------------+

I remember someone describing Spassky, the challenger, "mounting lordly attacks on both wings", playing as a future champion should.

15.f3? [15.Bb2 Rb8 16.f3 Nf6 17.Bc3 Bh6 18.Re1] 15...e4! 16.Bb2 exf3 17.Bxf3 Bxb2 18.Qxb2 Ne5 19.Be2 f4! [19...Ra7!?] 20.gxf4 [20.Rxf4 Rxf4 21.gxf4 Ng6 22.Ne4 Nxf4 23.Ndf2 Ra7] 20...Bh3?


|r+.1.4k+|
|+.+.+.+p|
|p+.0.+.+|
|hp0Ph.+.|
|.+P+.).+|
|+P+.+.+b|
|P!.HB+.)|
|$.+N+RI.|
+-----------------+

[20...Rxf4 21.Ne3 Qg5+ 22.Kh1 Rxf1+ 23.Ndxf1 Ra7÷]

21.Ne3! No Petrosian game is really complete without an exchange sac. 21...Bxf1 [21...Rxf4? 22.Rxf4 Qg5+ 23.Rg4! (23.Kh1 Qxf4 24.Rg1+µ) 23...Nxg4 24.Nxg4 Bxg4 25.Bxg4 Qxg4+ 26.Kh1 Qd4™ 27.Rg1+ Kh8 28.Qxd4+ cxd4 29.Rg4± ¬] 22.Rxf1 Ng6 ¹ [22...Nd7 23.Bg4 Qf6] 23.Bg4 Nxf4?


|r+.1.4k+|
|+.+.+.+p|
|p+.0.+.+|
|hp0P+.+.|
|.+P+.hB+|
|+P+.H.+.|
|P!.H.+.)|
|+.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

[23...Rxf4? 24.Be6+ Kf8 25.Rxf4+ Nxf4 26.Qh8++-; 23...Qf6!™ 24.Be6+ Kh8 25.Qxf6+ Rxf6 26.f5 Ne5 27.Ne4!±] 24.Rxf4! And again! But this is a position for centralised minor pieces. 24...Rxf4 25.Be6+ Rf7 26.Ne4 Qh4 [26...Raa7 27.Nf5 Qf8 28.Qf6+-] 27.Nxd6 Qg5+ [27...Qe1+ 28.Kg2 Qxe3 29.Bxf7+ Kf8 30.Qh8+ Ke7 31.Nf5+ Kxf7 32.Qg7+ and 33.¤xe3 +-] 28.Kh1 Raa7 [28...Qxe3 29.Bxf7+ Kf8 30.Qh8+ Ke7 31.Nf5+ Kxf7 32.Qg7+ and 33.¤xe3] 29.Bxf7+ Rxf7


|.+.+.+k+|
|+.+.+r+p|
|p+.H.+.+|
|hp0P+.1.|
|.+P+.+.+|
|+P+.H.+.|
|P!.+.+.)|
|+.+.+.+K|
+-----------------+

30.Qh8+! A splendid finish. Petrosian hadn't read the script, and went on to hold his title in this match. 1-0


Petrosian,T - Botvinnik,M [A46] USSR ch (9), 1951

An encounter with the World Champion! Not only of historical significance, but also shows the tenacity of the young Tigran. Petrosian has always been a wonderful defender; here's how it's done:

1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.Bg5 h6 4.Bh4 g5 5.Bg3 Ne4 6.Nbd2 Nxg3 7.hxg3 Bg7 8.c3 d6 9.e3 Nc6 [9...c5 10.dxc5 dxc5 11.Ne4 Qc7 12.Qd6 Qxd6 13.Nxd6+ Ke7 14.0-0-0=] 10.Bd3 Bd7 11.Qc2 Qe7 12.0-0-0 a5! White really has been too slow here. 13.e4 a4 14.a3 Na5 15.Rde1 0-0-0 16.Kb1 Kb8 17.e5 d5! 18.g4 Rc8 19.Qd1 c5 20.Bc2 Qe8 21.dxc5 Rxc5 [21...Bf8 22.Nxg5] 22.g3 Nc6! 23.Re3 [23.Bxa4 Nxe5 24.Bxd7 Nxd7] 23...Ra5 24.Rhe1 Bf8


|.i.+qg.4|
|+p+b+p+.|
|.+n+p+.0|
|4.+p).0.|
|p+.+.+P+|
|).).$N).|
|.)BH.).+|
|+K+Q$.+.|
+-----------------+

White now seeks some active play. 25.c4 Bc5 26.R3e2 Ne7 27.Ka1 Qd8 28.Rh1 [idea Nxg5] 28...Ba7 29.Qb1 Rc5 30.cxd5 exd5! 31.Bf5 Nxf5 32.gxf5 Bb5 33.Ree1 Rc7 34.Rh2 g4 35.Nh4 Qg5


|.i.+.+.4|
|gp4.+p+.|
|.+.+.+.0|
|+b+p)P1.|
|p+.+.+pH|
|).+.+.).|
|.).H.).$|
|IQ+.$.+.|
+-----------------+

White's position is critical, so he jettisons a Pawn for counterplay. 36.f4! gxf3 37.Nhxf3 Qxg3 38.e6 fxe6 39.fxe6 Rhc8 Returning the Pawn for the attack. [39...Bf2 40.Reh1 Be3+=] 40.Rxh6 Bf2 41.Reh1 Qg4 42.Rg6 Qf4 43.Rg5 Qd6 44.Qf5 Be3


|.ir+.+.+|
|+p4.+.+.|
|.+.1P+.+|
|+b+p+Q$.|
|p+.+.+.+|
|).+.gN+.|
|.).H.+.+|
|I.+.+.+R|
+-----------------+

White's position still looks precarious: the Bishops are firing in all directions.

45.Qxd5! Qxd5! 46.Rxd5 Bc6 47.Rhh5 Bxd5 48.Rxd5 Re7 49.Re5 Bh6 50.Re4 Rc6 51.Rxa4 Rexe6 52.Re4 Rf6


|.i.+.+.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+r+.4.g|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.+R+.+|
|).+.+N+.|
|.).H.+.+|
|I.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

White must still work for the draw.

53.Ka2 Kc7 54.Re7+ Kc8 55.Re2 Rc2 56.Kb1 Rcc6 57.Nd4 Rcd6 58.N2b3 Bg7 59.Ka2 Rf1 60.Nc2 Rf5 61.Rg2 Bf6 62.Nb4 Kd7 63.Rh2 Kc7 64.Nc2 Rg5 65.Nd2 Re6 66.Nb4 Bg7 67.Kb3 Re3+ 68.Ka2 Re6 69.Kb3 Re3+ 70.Ka2 Re8 71.Kb3 Kb8 72.Nb1 Re3+ 73.Nc3 Reg3 74.Rd2 Rg2 75.Rxg2 Rxg2 76.Nd3 Rh2 77.Kc4 Rd2 78.a4 Ka7 79.Nb5+ Kb6 80.b4 Rc2+ 81.Kb3 Rg2 82.Nc3 Rg3 83.Kc4 Rg4+ 84.Kb3 Rg3 85.Kc4 Bxc3 86.a5+ Kc7 87.Kxc3 Kc6


|.+.+.+.+|
|+p+.+.+.|
|.+k+.+.+|
|).+.+.+.|
|.).+.+.+|
|+.IN+.4.|
|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

Still no chance to relax.

88.Kc4 Rg4+ 89.Kc3 Kb5 90.Nc5 Rc4+ 91.Kd3 Rxb4 92.Nxb7 Kc6 93.a6 Kd5 94.Nd8 Rd4+ 95.Ke3 Re4+ 96.Kd3 Rf4 97.a7 Ra4 98.Nf7 Rxa7 99.Ng5 Ra3+ 100.Ke2 1/2-1/2

A thrilling draw.

Endgame


Petrosian,T - Chistiakov,A [A80] Riga, 1954

1.d4 e6 2.Nf3 f5 3.Bf4 Nf6 4.e3 Be7 5.Bd3 0-0 6.Nbd2 d6 7.c3 Nc6 8.Qc2 Qe8 9.h3 Bd7 10.Bh2 g6 11.e4 fxe4 12.Nxe4 Nxe4 13.Bxe4 d5 14.Bd3 Bd6 15.Qe2 Qe7 16.0-0 Bxh2+ 17.Kxh2 Rf4 18.Bb5 Qd6 19.g3 Rf5 20.Bxc6 Bxc6


|r+.+.+k+|
|0p0.+.+p|
|.+b1p+p+|
|+.+p+r+.|
|.+.).+.+|
|+.).+N)P|
|P).+Q).I|
|$.+.+R+.|
+-----------------+

Peter Clark picks this one out as a typical Petrosian game, featuring a good Knight against bad Bishop. "Purposeful yet unhurried".

21.Ne5 Raf8 22.f3 Be8 23.h4 c5 24.Rfe1 cxd4 25.cxd4 Qb4 26.Qf2 g5 27.hxg5 Rxg5 28.a3 Qe7 29.Rac1 Rg7 30.Qe3 Bh5 31.Kh3 Qf6 32.g4 Be8 33.Kg3 Qd8 34.Rh1 Qb6 35.Rh2 Qd8 36.Rh6 Qd6 37.Kg2 Bg6 38.Rc5 Qb6 39.Qc3 Qd8 40.Qc1 Qf6


|.+.+.4k+|
|0p+.+.4p|
|.+.+p1b$|
|+.$pH.+.|
|.+.).+P+|
|).+.+P+.|
|.).+.+K+|
|+.!.+.+.|
+-----------------+

Very gradually, Petrosian's pieces have attained their ideal squares. We now have another protracted manoeuvring phase, where White tries out several arrangements of pieces until he finds one he likes. This sort of cat-and-mouse play is frustrating to watch, torture to play against, and very effective.

41.Rc8 Qe7 42.Rxf8+ Qxf8 43.Rh1 Qd8 44.Qh6 Qd6 45.Qf4 Qb6 46.Rc1 Qd8 47.Kg3 Be8 48.Qh6 Bg6 49.Rc3 Qf8 50.Qc1 Be8


|.+.+b1k+|
|0p+.+.4p|
|.+.+p+.+|
|+.+pH.+.|
|.+.).+P+|
|).$.+PI.|
|.).+.+.+|
|+.!.+.+.|
+-----------------+

The final push begins.

51.Rc8 Re7 52.Qg5+ Kh8 53.Nd3 Qg7 54.Qh5 Qf8 55.Qe5+ Qg7 56.Qb8 Qf8 57.Qxa7 h5 58.Qb8 hxg4 59.fxg4 Kh7 60.Rc7 b5 61.Nf4 Kg8 62.Rxe7 Qxe7 63.Qe5 Kf7 64.g5 Bd7 65.g6+ 1-0


Kalantar,A - Petrosian,T [E11] Erevan, 1948

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nf3 Bb4+ 4.Bd2 Qe7 5.g3 Nc6 6.Bg2 Bxd2+ 7.Nbxd2 0-0 8.0-0 d6 9.e4 a5 10.Qc2


|r+b+.4k+|
|+p0.1p0p|
|.+n0ph.+|
|0.+.+.+.|
|.+P)P+.+|
|+.+.+N).|
|P)QH.)B)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

The wily Petrosian tempts White forward, by retreating!

10...Nd7 11.d5 Ncb8 12.Nd4 Nc5 13.Qc3 e5 14.N4b3 b6 15.Nxc5 bxc5


|rhb+.4k+|
|+.0.1p0p|
|.+.0.+.+|
|0.0P0.+.|
|.+P+P+.+|
|+.!.+.).|
|P).H.)B)|
|$.+.+RI.|
+-----------------+

White's position has gone nowhere over the last few moves, while Black has fixed the Queen's-side, and hampered the view of the Bg2. White decides on a pre-emptive strike.

16.f4 Nd7 17.Bh3 Re8 18.Rae1 Qf6 19.Bxd7 Bxd7 20.fxe5 Qxe5 21.Qxe5 Rxe5 22.Nf3 Re7 23.e5 Rae8 24.exd6 Rxe1 25.Rxe1 Rxe1+ 26.Nxe1 cxd6


|.+.+.+k+|
|+.+b+p0p|
|.+.0.+.+|
|0.0P+.+.|
|.+P+.+.+|
|+.+.+.).|
|P).+.+.)|
|+.+.H.I.|
+-----------------+

White has weathered the storm, but there is more to come. Black can count several advantages: (1) active majority, (2) entry route for the King, and (3) targets for the Bishop on the Queen's-side.

27.Kf2 f5 28.Ke3 Kf7 29.Nd3 Bc8 30.b3 g5 31.Kf3 Kf6 32.Ke3 Bd7 33.Kf3 Be8 34.Ke3 h6 35.Kf3 Bh5+ 36.Ke3 Bd1 37.Kd2 Bf3 38.Ke3 Be4 39.Kd2


|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.+.+.|
|.+.0.i.0|
|0.0P+p0.|
|.+P+b+.+|
|+P+N+.).|
|P+.I.+.)|
|+.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

Black now switches to a simple King ending. Clarke comments that Black is virtually a Pawn ahead, the a2 and b3 Pawns able to do nothing. [39.Nc1 Ke5 idea ...f4+]

39...Bxd3 40.Kxd3 Ke5 41.Ke3 f4+ 42.gxf4+ gxf4+ 43.Kf3 Kf5 44.Kf2 Ke4 45.Ke2 f3+ 46.Kf2 Kf4 47.h4 h5 48.a3 Ke4 0-1


Bondarevsky,I - Petrosian,T [E71] 1951

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 g6 4.e4 Bg7 5.h3 0-0 6.Be3 c5 7.d5 e6 8.Bd3 exd5 9.exd5 Na6 10.Nf3 Nc7 11.0-0 b5 12.Qd2 bxc4 13.Bxc4 Qd7 14.Bh6 Bb7 15.Bxg7 Kxg7 16.Rad1 Rfe8 17.Qf4 h6 18.Rfe1 Rxe1+ 19.Nxe1 Re8 20.Nc2 Re5 21.Ne3 Qe7 22.a3 a5 23.Ba2 h5 24.Kh2 Ne4 25.Nxe4 Rxe4 26.Qf3 Ba6 27.g3 Qe5 28.Rd2 Ne8 29.Bb1 Rd4 30.Rxd4 Qxd4?

[30...cxd4! rounds up the Pd5. 31.Ng2 Nf6 32.Nf4 Bc4 Clarke]

31.Qe4 Nf6 32.Qxd4 cxd4 33.Ng2 Nxd5 34.Ne1


|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.+pi.|
|b+.0.+p+|
|0.+n+.+p|
|.+.0.+.+|
|).+.+.)P|
|.).+.).I|
|+B+.H.+.|
+-----------------+

Black has a material and 'optical' advantage (more space and mobility, even with two pairs of pieces remaining). But to turn this into a win is no simple matter.

34...Kf6 35.Kg2 Nb6 36.Bd3 Bc8 37.h4 a4 38.Kf1 Ke5 39.Ke2 Kd5 40.Kd2 Kc5 41.Bc2 Nc4+ 42.Kc1 Bd7 43.Nd3+ Kb6 44.Nf4 Bc6 45.Bb1 Ne5 46.Kd2 Bb5 47.Bc2 Kc5


|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.+p+.|
|.+.0.+p+|
|+bi.h.+p|
|p+.0.H.)|
|).+.+.).|
|.)BI.).+|
|+.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

Black tries a re-grouping, although he will come back to this arrangement.

48.Be4 Bc4 49.Bc2 Kb5 50.Be4 Bb3 51.Bb1 Ng4 52.Ke1 Kb6 53.Be4 Bc4 54.Bc2 Ka5 55.Be4 Kb5 56.Bc2 Ne5 57.Kd2 Ka5 58.Be4 Kb6 59.Bb1 Bb5 60.Bc2 Kc5 61.Be4


|.+.+.+.+|
|+.+.+p+.|
|.+.0.+p+|
|+bi.h.+p|
|p+.0BH.)|
|).+.+.).|
|.).I.).+|
|+.+.+.+.|
+-----------------+

Knowing that he can squeeze no more out of the position with other tries, Petrosian grasps the nettle.

61...Ng4! 62.Ke1 d3! Opening a route for the King. 63.Bxd3 Bxd3 64.Nxd3+ Kc4 65.Nc1 d5 66.Ke2 d4 67.Nd3 f6 68.Kd2 Ne5 69.Nf4 Kb3 70.Kc1 g5? [70...d3!] 71.hxg5? [71.Nxh5!] 71...fxg5 72.Nxh5 Nd3+ (time control) 73.Kb1 Nxb2 74.Nf6 Nc4 75.Ne4 g4 76.Nc5+ Kxa3 77.Kc2 Ne5 78.Na6 d3+ 79.Kc3 Ka2 80.Nc5 a3 81.Ne4 Kb1 82.Kb3 Kc1 0-1


Olafsson,F - Petrosian,T [C16] Bled (11), 1961

A famous game of manoeuvre won from another master of the art. In fact, although it is reproduced in full in all the collections (O'Kelly, Clarke) it seems to me Petrosian achieves a winning game before move 20. The later stages show Petrosian crisply defending against White's desperate attack.

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.e5 Qd7 5.Qg4 f5 6.Qg3 [6.exf6 Nxf6] 6...b6 7.h4 Bb7!? [7...Ba6 8.Bxa6 Nxa6 9.Nh3 0-0-0 10.Nf4 Kb7 11.a3?! (11.Bd2) 11...Bxc3+ 12.bxc3 (12.Qxc3 c5) 12...Nb8 Zatulovskaya-Javanovic/Vrnjacka Banja/1965/] 8.Bd3!? [8.Bd2 Nc6 9.Nf3 0-0-0 10.0-0-0 idea Nc3-e2-f4 += Clarke] 8...Nc6 9.Nge2 [9.Nf3 0-0-0 10.Bd2] 9...0-0-0 10.Bd2 Nh6!


|.+k4.+.4|
|0b0q+.0p|
|.0n+p+.h|
|+.+p)p+.|
|.g.).+.)|
|+.HB+.!.|
|P)PGN)P+|
|$.+.I.+R|
+-----------------+

One of those clogged positions that make most club players go weak at the knees.

11.a3?! A sign of losing the plot. [11.0-0-0!?; or 11.Bxh6! gxh6 12.Qe3 idea g3, Nf4 Keres] 11...Be7! 12.Bb5 [12.Qxg7? Ng4] 12...Rdg8 [12...Kb8?! 13.Bxc6 Bxc6 14.Qxg7 Ng4 15.Bg5!; 12...a6?! 13.Bxc6 Bxc6 14.Qxg7 Ng4 15.Bg5± Clarke] 13.Qd3 Nf7 14.0-0-0 Kb8!


|.i.+.+r4|
|0b0qgn0p|
|.0n+p+.+|
|+B+p)p+.|
|.+.).+.)|
|).HQ+.+.|
|.)PGN)P+|
|+.IR+.+R|
+-----------------+

Clarke gives an instructive note here, explaining that before having chocks away on the King's-side, Petrosian improves his position as much as possible on the other side. 15.Nf4 Qc8! 16.Nce2 Ncd8! with the initiative 17.Qb3? Losing a pawn [17.c3 c5 18.Kb1 is still -/+ [Clarke]: White faces pressure on both wings.] 17...c6! Driving away the Bishop, to a square that perhaps a Knight would like to occupy. 18.Bd3 c5 19.dxc5 Bxc5 -/+ [19...bxc5?! 20.c4] 20.Nh3 Nxe5 21.Bf4 Ndf7 22.Bb5 a restless Bishop... [22.Ng5 Bd6; 22.Qc3 Bd6] 22...Ka8 23.Nd4 Ng6 24.Qa4 Bxd4 25.Bd7 Qf8


|k+.+.1r4|
|0b+B+n0p|
|.0.+p+n+|
|+.+p+p+.|
|Q+.g.G.)|
|).+.+.+N|
|.)P+.)P+|
|+.IR+.+R|
+-----------------+

Black has had to endure some congestion, but it's all under control. 26.Rxd4 doesn't help, but what else? [26.Bxe6!? Be5! 27.Bxd5 (27.Rxd5 Bxf4+ 28.Nxf4 Nxf4 29.Qxf4 Qe7! -+) 27...Bxd5 28.Rxd5 Qb8! 29.Qc6+ (29.Rd7 Bxf4+ 30.Kb1 Rc8) 29...Qb7 30.Qxb7+ Kxb7 31.Rd7+ Kc6 32.Rxf7 Bxf4+ -+ Clarke] 26...e5! Winning, 27.Rb4 [27.Rxd5 Nxf4!; 27.Bc6 Qc8] 27...exf4 28.Rxb6 Nfe5 29.Rxb7 Kxb7 30.h5 Qd6 31.hxg6 Qxd7 32.Qxf4 Nxg6 0-1

Postscript


Petrosian,T - Guimard,C [D37] Goteborg (14), 1955

This is Petrosian's favourite game -- in a style different to all those we have seen so far! In a tense position, Tigran lets rip with a series of attacking thrusts which leave his opponent's King spinning from pillar to post.

1.c4 Nf6 2.Nc3 e6 3.d4 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.e3 0-0 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 c5 8.0-0 a6 9.a4 Nc6 10.b3 cxd4 11.exd4 Nb4 12.Ne5 Bd7 13.Bb2 Bc6 14.Qd2 Nbd5 15.Nxc6 bxc6 16.Na2 Qb8 17.Nc1 Bb4 18.Qc2 Bd6 19.g3 Rd8 20.Qe2 Nb4 21.Rd1 Nfd5 22.Qe4 Be7 23.Ne2 Bf6 24.Kg2 a5 25.Ng1 Qb7 26.Nf3 Rab8 27.Rac1 h6 28.Kg1 Nb6 29.Be2 N6d5 30.Nd2 Bg5


|.4.4.+k+|
|+q+.+p0.|
|.+p+p+.0|
|0.+n+.g.|
|Ph.)Q+.+|
|+P+.+.).|
|.G.HB).)|
|+.$R+.I.|
+-----------------+

31.Rc5 Be7 32.Rxa5 Na2 33.Bd3 g6 34.Qf3 Qc7 35.Rc5 Bxc5 36.dxc5 Nab4 37.Bc4 f5 38.Re1 Qe7 39.Qe2 Re8 40.Nf3 Kh7 41.Qe5 Qc7 42.Qe2 Qe7 43.h4 Nf6 44.Bxe6 Ne4 45.Nd4 Rbd8 46.h5


|.+.4r+.+|
|+.+.1.+k|
|.+p+B+p0|
|+.).+p+P|
|Ph.Hn+.+|
|+P+.+.).|
|.G.+Q).+|
|+.+.$.I.|
+-----------------+

46...Rxd4 47.hxg6+ Kxg6 48.Bxf5+ Kxf5 49.Qh5+ Ke6 50.Qg4+


|.+.+r+.+|
|+.+.1.+.|
|.+p+k+.0|
|+.).+.+.|
|Ph.4n+Q+|
|+P+.+.).|
|.G.+.).+|
|+.+.$.I.|
+-----------------+

50...Kd5 [50...Kf7 51.Bxd4; 50...Ke5 51.Rxe4+] 51.Qf5+ Qe5 52.Qd7+ Kxc5 53.Rc1+ Nc3 54.Rxc3+ Kb6 55.a5+ Kxa5 56.Qa7+ Kb5 57.Qb7+ Ka5 58.Rc1 Rd1+ 59.Rxd1 Qxb2 60.Qa7+ Na6 [60...Kb5 61.Qa4+ Kc5 62.Qa5#] 61.b4+ Kxb4 62.Qb6+ 1-0

Chess Quotes

"The hardest game to win is a won game."
— -- Em. LASKER
" Actually, the hardest game to win is a lost game."