Monday, May 17, 2010

Boris Spassky

Boris Spassky was the 10th World Chess Champion (from 1969 to 1972). He was born in 1937 in Leningrad, Russia. He learned chess as a youngster in the Urals where he lived during the Second World War. He became international master in 1953, and junior world champion in 1955 and received his grandmaster title in the same year. He won the World Championship against Tigran Petrosian in 1969 and became one of the most popular of all champions with his naturally polite, friendly disposition.

In 1972 American Bobby Fischer challenged Spassky for the title of World Champion which was held in Reykjavik, Iceland. This most publicized world championship in chess history took place during the Cold War between the USA and the USSR. As a consequence both players were under considerable pressure to win. When Fischer defeated Spassky, 35 years of Soviet domination of the world championship also ended. Spassky returned to his homeland in disgrace.

After this match Spassky continued to play at top level and won the 1973 Soviet championship and other international tournaments. He still plays occasionally today and is a frequent participant in the annual Ladies vs. Veterans competitions.

(Extracted from the Chess Corner.)

The following game is one of Spassky's Immortal Games.

URS Championship 1960
King's Gambit Accepted; Modern Defense

1. e4, e5
2. f4, exd4
3. Nf3, d5

Recommended variation. This allows Black to free his two Bishops for defense.

4. exd5, Bd6

If 4. ... Qxd5, 5. Nc3 Qd8, 6. Bc4 ... Black's move 4 prevents the White Bishop from going to c4.

5. Nc3, Ne7
6. d4! ....

The double-pawn served to strengthen White's control of the center.

6. .... 0-0
7. Bd3, Nd7
8. 0-0, h6
9. Ne4, Nxd5

Black took the poisoned pawn, not knowing of an impending attack at the center board.

10. c4!!, Ne3
11. Bxe3, fxe3
12. c5!!, Be7
13. Bc2 ...

A preparatory move, allowing White to move its Queen to an attacking position.

13. .... Re8
14. Qd3!, e2

Intended for White's consumption. If 15. Qxe2, f5!; 16. Knight move, Bxc5!

15. Nd6!! ....

A real shocker! GM Soltis commented that this is one of the deepest sacrifices ever.

15. .... Nf8

What happens if the queening pawn takes the rook? Let us see... If 15. .... exf1, 16. Rxf1 Nf8, 17. Nxf7!! Kxf7, 18. Ng5++ Kg8, 19. Bb3+ Kh8, 20. Nf7+ and wins the Queen. If 17. .... Qd7, 18. N3f5 Qe6, 19. Bb3!! with a tremendous attack.

16. Nxf7!!, exf1=Q+
17. Rxf1, Bf5

This move is intended to free Black's Queen. It looks like a useless move, but Black has nothing better. If 17......Qd2, then 18. Bb3 attacks the King.

18. Qxf5, Qd7
19. Qf4, Bf6
20. N3e5, Qe7
21. Bb3!!, Bxe5
22. Nxe5+, Kh7

If 23. .... Kh8, then 24. Qe4 followed by 25. Rxf8 with an attack we see at the end of this game.

23. Qe4+, Resigns

Black loses his Queen after 23. ....g6, 24. Qd5!! Qe6  (Not 24....Ne6, 25. Rf7+), 25. Rf7+ Kh8  (Not 25....Kg8, 26. Qxb7 and White wins by a fork.); 26. Rxf8 enabling capture of the Black Queen.

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