Understanding before Moving 172: Chess history in a nutshell (53)

by ChessBase
4/7/2024 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books on chess training and strategy. In the 172nd episode of his ChessBase show "Understanding before moving" Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and takes a look at the chess legacy of Boris Spassky, World Champion from 1969 to 1972. | 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.


Boris Spassky (1)

Boris Spassky was long considered "the youngest". He was the youngest First Class player (10 years old), the youngest Candidate Master (13 years old) and the youngest Master (all titles in the Soviet Union). In 1955, at the age of 18, he also became the world's youngest grandmaster of all time, a record that Bobby Fischer broke in 1958.

In 1955 Spassky reached the final of the Soviet Union Championship for the first time. That year he also became World Junior Champion and qualified for the 1956 Candidates' Tournament in Amsterdam at the Interzonal tournament in Gothenburg, where he left a good impression, which caused the chess world to believe that he might be a future world champion.

However, in the following years he did not immediately fulfil this promise. He won a number of major tournaments, such as the Soviet Union Championship in 1961, but did not play a role in the battle for the World Championship until he shared first to fourth place with Vasily Smyslov, Bent Larsen and Mikhail Tal in the Interzonal Tournament in Amsterdam 1964.

The following year he defeated Paul Keres (6-4), Efim Geller (5½-2½) and Mikhail Tal (7-4) in the candidates matches and became challenger of World Champion Tigran Petrosian. However, Spassky narrowly lost (11½-12½) the World Championship match 1966 against Petrosian.

But in the next cycle Spassky again won all his candidates matches, this time against Efim Geller (5½-2½), Bent Larsen (5½-2½) and Viktor Kortchnoi (6½-3½), which gave him the right to challenge Petrosian again.

In 1969 he defeated Petrosian 12½-10½ to become the 10. World Champion in the history of chess. But he reigned only three years. In 1972, in Reykjavik, he had to surrender the title to Bobby Fischer, who defeated Spassky 12½-8½ in a match full of conflicts.

The diagram position is from the crucial 19th game of Spassky's 1969 World Championship match against Petrosian. Spassky played with White and seems to have a promising attacking position. But is there a way to break through and get something tangible?

Master Class Vol.13 - Tigran Petrosian

Considered a master of prophylaxis, Petrosian sensed dangers long before they actually became acute on the board. In his prime, Petrosian was almost invincible. Let our authors introduce you into the world of Tigran Petrosian.

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