Understanding before Moving 169: Chess history in a nutshell (50)

by ChessBase
3/17/2024 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books on chess training and strategy. In the 169th episode of his ChessBase show "Understanding before moving" Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and continues to take a look at the unique style of Tigran Petrosian, World Champion fro 1963 to 1969. | Photo: Pascal Simon

Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2 Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2

In this two-part course the emphasis will be on typical pawn-structures.


Tigran Petrosian (2)

In the previous part of this series on chess history we discussed the Armenian Tigran Petrosian, who won the world title in 1963 by defeating Botwinnik in their match. Petrosian's particular style earned him the nickname "Iron Tigran". He seldom allowed himself to weaken; if danger loomed on the distant horizon, he anticipated it, and his sense of position was almost unsurpassed. He was also able to punish the slightest mistake with his excellent endgame technique.

Like his illustrious predecessor Capablanca, he had the reputation of being almost unbeatable. In 1971, Petrosian reached the final of the qualifying tournament for the 1972 World Championship with "minimal energy". He defeated both the German Hübner and his fellow countryman Kortchnoi, lulling them to sleep with 9 draws and striking out once unmercifully.

In the final of the Candidates' Tournament, he met the legendary American Bobby Fischer, who had done the exact opposite. Fischer had defeated the Russian Taimanov and the Dane Larsen twice 6-0. On the basis of these tennis results, Fischer was by far the favourite when the two super grandmasters began their duel in Buenos Aires 1971. In the first game, the Armenian surprised everyone with some razor-sharp play to get a winning position, only to lose it miserably in the endgame, which was played masterfully by Fischer.

But Petrosian bounced back in phenomenal fashion, winning the second game brilliantly to end Fischer's incredible run of 20 consecutive wins. Everyone held their breath, especially when the next three games ended in draws. But in the sixth game Fischer finally gained the upper hand in the match when he managed to overcome Petrosian's stubborn resistance in a difficult endgame.

The "Tiger", as Petrosian was often called, could not recover from this blow, and lost the next three games as well. Completely broken, he staggered down the stairs of the playing stage after conceding the match. Like Taimanov and Larsen, he never recovered from this blow. All too soon, at the age of 55, he died of cardiac arrest.

The diagram position below shows a position from the second game of the match against Fischer. Petrosian (with White) has sacrificed a pawn and will invest even more material soon. Do you see how he continued?

Master Class Vol.10: Mikhail Botvinnik

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