12.02.2007 V.Shishmarev. Learning from B.V.Spassky

B.Milic – B.Spassky   C94

Leon 1955

Students' World Team Championship

1.e4 e5 2.¤f3 ¤c6 3.Ґb5 a6 4.Ґa4 ¤f6 5.0-0 Ґe7 6.¦e1 b5 7.Ґb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3

Milic intended to play Chigorin variation of Ruy Lopez.


Instead of usual 9...¤a5 followed by с7-c5 Black returns his knight to the initial position with an idea of transferring it to d7, where it will securely defend the e5-pawn – a crucial point in Ruy Lopez.

Black plan clarifies after 10.d4 ¤bd7 11.¤bd2 Ґb7 12.Ґc2 c5, and, in comparison with the usual setup, the knight stands better than on а5. Besides, the d7-knight can at the proper time be used both for defense of the K-side (from f8-square) and for active operations on the Q-side (from b6- or c5-squares).

This defensive plan had been proposed by Leningrad masters G. Borisenko and S. Furman in the beginning of 1950s and won the recognition quickly enough. Boris Spassky had come from the Leningrad chess school and so was quite well acquainted with principal ideas of this variation. Much later it became known that the noted Hungarian master D.Breyer used to play this way as early as in 1911, so this system in Ruy Lopez bears his name now.


In this particular game White gains absolutely nothing by this attempt to immediately utilize his advantage in development (transferring the knight to d7 still leads to some loss of time) and a certain weakness and lack of development of Black Q-side.

10...Ґb7 11.d3

Refusing to begin operations in the center with 11.d4 Milic counts on gaining initiative on the K-side by a standard transfer of his Q-side knight via ¤b1-d2-f1-g3 (e3)-f5.

It has to be noted that 11.d4 ¤bd7 12.ab5 ab5 13.¦a8 Ґa8 14.d5 (otherwise White would not be able to utilize the b5-pawn weakness) is of no use to White after 14...c6!, and Black acquires powerful counterplay in the center. All that had already occurred in the games of Soviet players to that time. The theory of this variation was developing very quickly at this period of time, and even then the prevalent opinion was that the move combination 9.d4 and 10.а4 would bring nothing to White but will only serve to create additional weaknesses in his camp.

11...¤bd7 12.Ґc2

White has to retreat, as after the natural 12.¤bd2 he has to take into account 12...¤c5 (another benefit of the knight standing on d7), and on 13.Ґc2 there follows 13...¤a4 with good play for Black.

12...¦e8 13.¤bd2 Ґf8 14.¤f1 c5

"A single glance on the board is enough to understand that B.Spassky has won this opening battle. His pieces are developed harmoniously, and his spatial advantage is evident" (M.Taimanov).

15.¤g3 g6!

B.Spassky does not permit Milic to set his knight on f5. He understands perfectly well that utilizing the insignificant K-side weakening would be extremely difficult for White. 

16.Ґg5 Јc7

Black comfortably finishes the arrangement of his forces. The f6-knight and d5-square are securely defended, and this is another reason for d7-knight. Possibly16...Јb6 looks more active.


A crucial moment of the game. With this move Milic begins to carry out a typical plan of staging an attack on the K-side. But he fails to take into account the lack of any evident weaknesses in the black position and the fact that he practically yields the control of the center to his opponent. Thus White can hardly count on a successful attack.

"...It would be better to equalize the chances in the center with17.ab5 ab5 18.¦a8 19.d4" (M.Taimanov), although even in this case Black still retains a certain advantage.


An absolutely correct reaction. With this move Black increases his advantage in the center still more. 

18.Јf3 Ґg7 19.h4

Stubbornly sticking to his plan of a K-side attack. But if wishes were horses..., you should still have some weighty reasons, which, as we already know, White lacks.  


Spassky's play is very strong and confident. Black relieves the pressure in the center, increasing his spatial advantage even more and constraining the white pieces to a great extend in passing.


Quite logically...


It is absolutely evident by now that black play is much more effective than White's attempts to attack at the K-side. Black dominates in the center.


Trying to create at least some threat to black pawns.


With drawing his queen from c-file Black proves that the move ¦ас1 has been meaningless and created a threat of taking ba4 at any opportunity.


While attacking on the K-side, it is not exactly advisable to open the a-file for your opponent! But White has good reasons to fear both 22...cd3 with the following 23...ba4 and a simple positional strengthening by way of 22...¤c5.

22...ab5 23.Ґb1

"If you have to resort to such kind of a defense maneuver, then the omens are bad. But still it is necessary to ward off the threat of 23...¦а2 " (M.Taimanov).


Black has to desert the open a-file in order to defend his central pawns.

24.Ґa2 Ґa6

Now the Black's center is securely defended, and he is ready to begin some decisive action.  


This exchange surely makes it easier for Black to cash in on his great positional advantage. Probably White should try to alleviate his position with a series of exchanges. Of course even after 25.Ґf6 ¤f6 26.¤g4 ¤g4 27.Јg4 b4!  black advantage remains doubtless, but still it seems to be a best chance in this situation.

25...hg6 26.¦ed1 ¤h7!

B.Spassky immediately makes use of an unfortunate pawns exchange on the move 25.

27.Ґd2 ¤c5!

Here the knight is situated just excellently!

This position vividly demonstrates the meaning of a great advantage in the center. The board is simply stuffed with material, only a couple of pawns on each side are exchanged, and still White has practically no piece to move with. Black has seized the control over every important point and dominates both in the center and on the Q-side. Every following (practically forced) exchange serves only to increase the black advantage.

28.dc4 bc4 29.cd4 ¤d3!

A very strong intermediate move, a splendid combination of strategy and tactics. Threatens both 30...¤c1 and 30...Јb2.

30.¦b1 ed4 31.¤g4

White introduces his knight into play hoping to create threats on the K-side with it.


Depriving White from his illusions. His last hopes for an attack vanish after the g4-knight is exchanged.

32.¤e5 ¦e5!

Exactly with the rook! It will act successfully along the 5th rank.

33.¦dc1 ¤g5

Black play is quite consistent and purposeful.


In the difficult position White overlooks a simple tactical blow, but even after 34.Ґg5 ¦g5 Black most probably has a decisive positional advantage. Threatens both 35...¦a5! (utilizing the open a-file!), and White has great problems with a2-bishop, and simple 35...d3!, engaging his dark-squared bishop in a decisive way.

34...¤e4! 35.¤e4 f5 36.Јe2 ¦e4 37.Јf1 Јc6

Black position is absolutely won, so no further commentary seems necessary.

38.b4 Ґb5 39.Јd1 ўf8 40.Јf3 d3,

and in a few moves Milic resigned.

0 : 1

A splendid positional game! B.Spassky used his opponent's mistakes in an exemplary manner.

This game can serve as a fine educational example of utilizing the power of center, spatial advantage and limiting the mobility of opponent's pieces. In this sense it is no worse than widely quoted in many chess textbooks game Mason – Steinitz (London 1899).

Looking at this game now one can think that B.Spassky's opponent has not been a strong enough player. But it is not true enough or not true at all. Borislav Milic was even then a strong and experienced master, who had taken part in many international tournaments and played against many well-known opponents. Take, for example, the Belgrade tournament of 1954, where such renowned chessplayers as D.Bronstein, T.Petrosian, S.Gligoric, P.Trifunovic, V.Pirc, B.Ivkov and many others have competed.

By the way, Milic finished third in Yugoslavian championship of 1955, in which almost every best player of the country had taken part. He had just run up against an unfamiliar variation after 9...¤b8 (a very good choice of Spassky's in a psychological sense, the old D. Breyer's idea had only just begun to be revived in some games in the USSR), reacted in a most unfortunate way and failed to show his worth. In other words, it was a bad day for him. But all that depreciates very good black play not in the least.

And Breyer variation was in for some severe tests. After 10.d4 ¤bd7 in the games Arseniev - Krogius (RSFSR Championship, 1955) and Boleslavsky – Borisenko (XXIII USSR Championship, semi-final, Riga 1955) White employed an absolutely new arrangement of his forces, occupying the space and securing the c3-square for his Q-side knight by way of 11.с4! After that this variation had been considered a difficult one for Black for a long time. It had also occurred in an important game E. Geller – Spassky (XXV USSR Championship, Riga 1958), in which Black failed to solve his opening problems.

And only after Gligoric – T.Petrosian (Los Angeles 1963) this variation became very popular again.


B.Spassky – T.Petrosian    C11

Moscow 1966

World Championship Match, game 23

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.¤c3 ¤f6 4.Ґg5 de4

"Petrosian readily employs the French defense variations with pawn exchange in the center d5xе4. Black in most cases obtains a solid but rather passive position " (B.Spassky).

5.¤e4 Ґe7 6.Ґf6 Ґf6 7.¤f3

A most logical continuation. In 21st game of the match White had chosen 7.c3, but after 7...¤d7 8.¤f3 0-0 9.Ґd3 e5! 10.Јc2 ed4 11.cd4 g6 Black managed to obtain good play. It seems necessary to note that this variation had been considered safe for Black since Ragozin – Boleslavsky (XI USSR Championship, Leningrad 1939).


Not a very popular continuation. In 1950s German masters Berger and Teschner used to play this way, but this move attracted theoreticians' attention only after Keres – Polugaevsky (XIXX USSR Championship, Baku 1961), where after 8.Ґd3 Ґc6 9.c3 ¤d7 10.Јc2 Ґe7 11.0-0 0-0 12.¦ad1 ¤f6 Black obtained quite an acceptable play, as he had managed to solve the problem of developing his light-squared bishop.


Petrosian's hopes that the variation 7...Ґd7 would be a surprise for White are not justified. B.Spassky chooses the strongest course.

8...Ґc6 9.¤f6 Јf6

Almost every commentator suggests here 9...gf6 instead of the move in the game, taking under control the e5-square and depriving White of the move ¤е5 once and for all, although everybody mentions that after 10.Јf4 White still retains an advantage.

White play in Dolmatov – Lein (Moscow 1989) is worth to be mentioned. Here on 9...gf6 White had answered 10.Ґe2 and after 10...Јd6 11.0-0?! ¤d7 12.c4 0-0-0 13.¦fd1 Ґf3!? 14.Ґf3 ¤e5 Black obtained fairly good play. Instead of stereotyped 11.0-0 stronger is 11.c4! ¦g8 (11...¤d7 12.¦d1 … d5) 12.0-0 ¤d7 13.¦fd1±, and the threat of d4-d5 is very unpleasant for Black. This recommendation of Dolmatov's and Dvoretsky's leads to some re-evaluation of 9...gf6.

10.¤e5 0-0 11.0-0-0 ¤d7?

"In order to finish the development Petrosian allows weakening of his Q-side pawns. It is interesting that later on Black's position becomes lost almost automatically. The point is that counterplay along the now opened b-file, on which Petrosian has counted, comes in a bit late " (M.Tal).

"My mistake on the move 11 proved to be fatal" (T.Petrosian).

Practically every commentator used to suggest 11...¦d8!? followed by the retreat of the bishop to е8. Later this continuation occurred twice in B.Spassky's games: Spassky – Damjanovich (Sochi 1967) and Spassky - Donner (Leiden 1970). In the latter game White has employed the correct plan of actions and acquired a great advantage; after that the variation came to be estimated in theory as difficult enough for Black.

12.¤c6 bc6 13.h4!

"This aggressively looking move does not have an assault as its object at all. Spassky counteracts the attack along the b-file with a maneuver ¦h1-h3-b3. As it will turn out later, this move is not only a defensive one, but also serves to attack the weakened black Q-side. With 13.h4! White has created a positional threat of Јg5 with queen exchange and transposition into an advantageous ending" (M. Tal).


T.Petrosian had run the risk of creating pawn weaknesses in his own camp exactly for the sake of this opportunity of acquiring active play along the b-file. But, as the course of the game shows, Black, while playing 11...¤d7, has overestimated the importance of the open b-file. Of course, it was very difficult for Petrosian to foresee Spassky's brilliant play in this game during the game.

M.Yudovich Sr. thought that the best defense in this position is 13...¦fd8, trying to exert at least some pressure on the d4-pawn after the knight's retreat and thus to obstruct the plan, which has been employed during the game. After 14.¦h3 ¤b6 Black's defense idea was to answer on 15.Јg5!? with 15...¦d4, and now after 16.Јf6 he has at his disposal an important intermediary check 16...¦d1, and only then he plays 17...gf6.

After 15...¦d4 White can choose between two perspective continuations:

I.16.¦d4 Јd4 17.¦d3 Јb4 (weaker is 17...Јf6 18.Јf6 gf6 19.¦c3 ¦d8 20.¦c6 ¦d7 21.Ґb5! - White has won back the pawn, and his position is practically won) 18.¦d8 ¦d8 19.Јd8 Јf8 20.Јc7. White has regained the pawn, and black a7- and c6-pawns hang.  On 20...Јa8 there follows 21.Ґa6!, and Black has to cede one of the pawns, getting a lost position into the bargain.

20...g6! is better— Black cedes the pawn right away, reckoning to activate his queen later. 21.Јa7 [weaker is 21.Јc6 Јh6 22.ўd1 (on 22.ўb1?! looks good 22...Јd2!) 22...Јh4, after which White does not seem to have any advantage] 21...Јc5! (worse is the alluring 21...Јb4, threatening to mate on е1 and attacking the h4-pawn at the same time; still after 22.Јb8 ўg7 23.Јe5 ўg8 24.g3 Black does not appear to have any particular compensation for the pawn) 22.Јb8 ўg7 23.Јg3 (weaker is 23.Јf4 ¤d5 24.Јe5 f6, and Black manages to activize his forces; on 24.Јf3 there is a strong retort 24...Јb4!) 23...¤d5, and the fact that the queens are present on the board makes utilizing his extra pawn difficult for White.

II. 16.Јf6 ¦d1 17.ўd1 gf6. In this ending White, as a compensation for a conceded pawn, has an active rook, a fine bishop and an ideal pawn structure. Black pieces are, on the contrary, positioned not so well, and he constantly has to defend his numerous pawn weaknesses: a7, c6, c7, f6, f7 and, to a certain extend, h7.

After 18.¦c3 ¦d8 19.ўc1 ¦d6 Black, due to the check on move 18, manages to include the rook into the defense of his weaknesses. But even now after 20.¦a3 ¤c8 (otherwise the important a7-pawn is lost) 21.Ґa6 ¤b6 22.Ґb7, White should presently win one of the black pawns, and it will be really hard for Black to save this ending. For instance 22...¦d4 23.¦a7 ¦h4 24.Ґc6 ¤c4, threatening to mate along the 1st rank, but after 25.c3 Black is not to be envied in any way. If White for some reasons does not like this position, he can simply play 23.g3! defending the h4-pawn. After 23...¦a4 24.¦a4 ¤a4 25.Ґc6 he is a pawn up once more and enjoys fine chances to cash in on his advantage.

If this ending does not suit White, he can also choose 20.g3, and this quiet move, serving to defend the pawn and to take under his control an important f4-square, in all probability underscores even more the hopelessness of  black position due to the threats both of 21.Ґg2 followed by 22.¦a3 and 21.¦a3 ¤c8 22.Ґa6. A very important thing here is that the h4-pawn is safely defended.

14.¦h3! c5

"A natural desire to get rid of the double pawn and to liven up the play on the Q-side somehow.  White's task would be a bit more difficult in case of 14...¦b6 15.Јg5 ¦fb8. But even then after 16.Ґc4! (or as a preliminary 16.Јf6 and then 17.Ґc4) White retains an obvious advantage (b2-pawn is untouchable because of 17.Ґb3)" (M.Tal).

After 15.Јg5 Black cannot take the f2-pawn: 15...Јf2? 16.¦f3 Јg1 17.Јg3!, depriving the black queen of the h2-square, and now there is no defense against 18.Ґe2  — the black queen is inevitably lost.  Also solves no problem 16...f6 17.Јg4 f5 18.Јh3!, and the black queen is sure to be trapped presently.


"Quite in Capablanca's style. Simple, clear and arising no misgivings."  (M. Yudovich Sr.).

Also loses 15...Јf2 16.¦f3 Јg1 (on 16...h6 there is a very strong answer 17.Јe7! with a win) 17.Јg3! and 18.Ґe2!

On 15...¦fd8 there follows 16.¦hd3, and white rook is well in the game along the d-file. Once again, capturing on f2 is impossible because of 17.¦f3 etc.

15...cd4 16.Јf6 ¤f6 17.¦d4

"We may as well sum it all up.The а7- and с7-pawns are weak. White bishop is much stronger than the knight. The only more or less active black piece, the b8-rook, will vanish from the board after ¦b3. The black position after that is not difficult, it's just plain hopeless." (M.Tal).


Probably the best defense chance in this position is 17...c6!? suggested by T.Petrosian, even though after 18.¦a3 ¦b7 19.g3 Black is left with serious problems.


Rooks exchange makes the utilization of White's advantage still easier.


Now white advantage becomes decisive. On 18...¦b6, suggested by S.Gligoric, quite good looks 19.¦a4 ¦a8 20.g3 a5 21.¦ba3, and Black's defense is still extremely difficult.

19.ab3 ¦a8 20.¦c4!

"White has many tempting continuations — 20.g3, 20.Ґe2, 20.¦b4, but the way chosen by Spassky is the simplest and most precise" (M.Tal).


On seemingly active 20...¤d5 there is a very strong answer 21.¦c5!, and the threat of 22.c4 is most unpleasant for Black.


The rook maneuvers successfully along the 4th rank.

21...¤d6 22.g3!

A quiet move, preparing the bishop's development, underlines the hopelessness of black position.


There is no other defense either. On 22...a5 White plays 23.b4, and after capture on a5 the passed a-pawn decides the matter. And after 22...¤c8 23.¦c4 White wins the с7-pawn.


This move emphasizes the bishop's advantage over the knight. It is remarkable that the g2-bishop exerts decisive pressure on black position from afar.

23...¦c8 24.¦a7

White pressure has lead to the win of the a7-pawn.

24...ўe7 25.ўd2

Now the king also comes into play.

25...h6 26.c4

White begins to advance the Q-side pawns.

26...g5 27.hg5 hg5 28.ўc3

The decisive advantage on the Q-side has already been achieved.

28...ўd7 29.b4 ¦h8 30.b5 ¦h2

Now this intrusion of the 2nd rank is of no importance whatsoever. Also loses 30...¤c8 31.Ґc6 ўd8 32.¦a8, and Black has no satisfactory defense against 33.Ґb7.

31.Ґc6 ўd8,

and, without waiting for an answer, Black resigned. White easily wins by way of 32.c5 ¤f5 33.b6.

1 : 0

The whole game was conducted splendidly by Spassky. White's logical and consistent play is worth a thorough study. The game is surely a textbook one.

B.Spassky – T.Petrosian    C10

Moscow 1967

IV USSR Peoples' Spartakiad

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.¤c3 ¤f6 4.Ґg5 de4 5.¤e4 ¤bd7

Previously Petrosian used to employ against Spassky 5...Ґe7.


This exchange makes the play a bit easier for Black. Theory considers that 6.¤f3 meets the positional requirements to a greater extend; after that it is not advisable to play either 6...c5? because of 7.dc5 or 6...b6? due to 7.¤e5! — Black faces some serious problems. And only after 6...Ґe7 there follows a capture 7.¤f6.

And now we have a position where development of black dark-squared bishop is not the best continuation.

6...¤f6 7.¤f3 c5

Without delay Black attacks the white center. All that is a result of a small inaccuracy committed by White on move 6.


"Surely, 8.Ґd3 cd4 9.0-0 followed by 10.Јe2 and ¦ad1 leads to a sharper play, but I have meant to achieve, with the help of consecutive simplifications, a knight –against- bishop position with black double pawns on the K-side "(B.Spassky).

8...Ґd7 9.Ґd7 Јd7 10.Ґf6

B.Spassky consistently realizes his plan (see the commentary to the White's move 8).

V. Simagin has recommended in this position to play10.Јe2! and on 10...cd4 — 11.0-0-0, and Black cannot help but lose the d4-pawn, as on11...Ґc5 White has an answer 12.Јe5! with problems for Black. In Dolmatov – M.Gurevich (Germany 1991) on 10.Јe2!? there followed 10...Ґe7 11.0-0-0 0-0 12.dc5 Јa4  13.ўb1 ¦ad8 14.¤e5 h6 15.Ґf6 Ґf6 16.f3 ¦d4 17.¦d4 Јd4 18.¤d3 with a slight edge for White, but after more discreet 12...Јc6 white advantage is purely symbolic.

On the whole the light-squared bishop exchange in the French Defense is, as a rule, good for Black. This is also true for Rubinstein System, in which much time and effort is spent on solving this problem.

10...gf6 11.c3 cd4

Now it is Black's turn for a small inaccuracy. Stronger is 11...0-0-0, keeping up the tension in the center and shelving the exchange for the time being. In this case it would be extremely difficult for White to find a comfortable position for his queen.

12.¤d4 Ґc5

"Here Petrosian offered a draw" (B.Spassky).


Black, while playing 11...cd4, seemed to underestimate exactly this strong move. Here white queen is active enough, putting an unpleasant pressure on the weakened black K-side.


Petrosian does not wish to be involved in complications after 13...Ґd4 and so chooses the safest  course. Naturally, 13...Ґe7, defending the f6-pawn, does not look good at all. Was it worth its while to play 12...Ґc5 only to return the bishop to a less acceptable position in some moves? After14.0-0-0 0-0-0 15.Јh5!? the good d4-knight  and weaknesses on the black K-side define a significant white advantage.

Of most fundamental importance seems 13...Ґd4, and after 14.0-0-0! White, employing the pin, intends to take comfortably on d4 with the rook, retaining their considerable advantage. Most commentators break off their variations immediately after 14.0-0-0! without quoting any continuations and estimate the position as favorable for White. But in fact nothing is so very simple.

For the time being Black has an extra piece, and White is to waste some time and effort  to win it back. Maybe Black could take advantage of this in some way or other?

Let's try to investigate this and show some variations.

14...Јa4? won't do, although Black seems to get rid of the pin with a tempo and attack the a2-pawn at the same time: 15.¦d4 Јa2 16.Јb7, and Black might as well resign. On 16...0-0 there follows 17.¦g4 ўh8 18.Јe7, and the mate is unavoidable. In this variation Black, for the sake of winning the pawn, makes white pieces attack his king on his own accord. Here the adverse effect of lag in development and weaknesses on the black K-side is obvious.

14...¦c8!? — A pin along the c-file hampers White in winning back a piece. 15.ўb1 is the most logical answer.15...¦c4! (sacrifice 15...¦c3? is incorrect and after 16.bc3 Јb5 17.ўa1 Ґe5 18.¦d3 leads to a position with white material advantage, an exchange for a pawn, which he should gradually convert into a win on the assumption of precise play) 16.cd4. White has regained a piece, but now after 16...¦d4 17.¦d4 Јd4 18.¦d1 Јe5 the position is quite unclear. White could have attempted to retain the king in the center with 19.Јa3, but after 19...a5! I cannot see the way for White to cash in on the unfortunate position of the black king.

After 19.Јb7 0-0 Black still manages to finish development, and he already intends to create some threats along the b-file. In case of 20.Јf3 ¦b8 21.Јg3 Јg3 22.hg3 White, in all probability, has a slight edge at the expense of pawn advantage on the Q-side (two white pawns against a solitary black one), of weakness of the a7-pawn and of controlling the open d-file. Still all this is surely not enough for a win, and Petrosian would have drawn easily.

Probably, 16.¦d3!? would have made life a little more difficult for Black.

14.0-0-0 Јe7

"It is clear that Black ought not to exchange his bishop for a knight, as the bishop would be stronger in the endgame. So White should strive to squeeze as much as possible from his position during the middle game. His plan is to restrict the mobility of the black pawn structure in the center and utilize his pawn advantage on the Q-side" (B.Spassky).

In fact is not so easy to carry out Spassky's plan. Utilizing the pawn advantage on the Q-side, especially during the middle game, is rather difficult, as the white king is also situated on the same flank, and there are many pieces still left on the board into the bargain.

Instead of 14...Је7 a variation suggested by Teschner 14...f5!? has been worth serious attention, all the more so because literally at once White practically blocks this opportunity by way of 16.g4!. The tactical grounds for this move are as follows: on 15.¤f5 Black has in hand a fine retreat 15...Јa4!, taking the important a2-pawn. After 16.¤e3 Јa2 17.Јf7 Ґe3 18.fe3 Јa1 19.ўc2 Јa4 Black already has a perpetual check at least. This variation demonstrates black resources.

After 15.ўb1 Јa4 16.¤b3 Ґb6 Black is also quite OK.

Obviously, White should continue 15.¤b3!? Јc7 16.h3 and then17.g4, which gives him only a somewhat better play. It is also important to note, that after 15.¤b3 Јc7 White can play 16.¤c5, but this exchange without controlling the d-file is not at all promising for him.

15.¤b3 Ґb6 16.g4!

"After the game D.Bronstein came up to me and asked: "Do you remember my game against Fischer in Mar del Plata in 1960? I have blocked the black pawns exactly in the same way". And indeed, Bronstein had then gripped the 16-years-old Bobby in a steel vice, and only by a miracle Fischer managed to slip out and save himself" (B.Spassky).


"Probably by this time Black should have already considered the variation 16...f5 17.gf5 Јg5 18.ўc2 Јf5 19.Јf5 ef5, where he retains ample chances due to the strong bishop " (B.Spassky).

Indeed, in this variation Black voluntarily doubles his pawns along the f-file for the sake of opening up the play, hoping to utilize the strength of his bishop and rooks later. On 20.¤d4 there follows 20...¦h**g8! и 21.¤f5 ¦g2 22.¤d6 ўc7 with a good play for Black. On 20.¦hg1 Black replies 20...¦dg8 21.¦g3 f4 22.¦f3 ¦g2, and once again he has no problems.

But T.Petrosian has already after 16.g4 opted for the variation with exchanging a pair of rooks and opening the h-file for his another rook.

17.¦d1 h5 18.h3

"The modesty is forced. If 18.gh5, then 18... f5 with excellent game" (B.Spassky).

18...hg4 19.hg4 ¦h2

"This is the essence of the black operation, connected with the exchange of one pair of rooks and the h7-h5 move " (B.Spassky).


"In case of 20.¦d2 Black has had quite a good move 20...e5, constraining the b3-knight" (B.Spassky).


Black pawns are blocked, there are no active course of action for them, so they have to bide their time.

21.¦d2 ўb8 22.b4

"Now White sets about to utilize his pawn advantage on the Q-side " (B.Spassky). But during realization of this plan some weaknesses appear in the white camp, and Petrosian immediately tries to take advantage of this.


Biding his time is over; Petrosian returns his rook on the 8th rank, where it is ready to attack the weakened Q-side white pawns.

23.¤b3 ¦c8 24.ўb2 ¦c4

"Black's desire to obtain counterplay is easily understandable. Nevertheless, his last move is somewhat risky, as his rook sets off for a journey, weakening his king's defense. In all probability 24...¦d8 is safer, although even in this occasion White has, after the rooks exchange, the unquestionable advantage " (B.Spassky).


White consistently follows his plan of attack on the Q-side, refusing to take into account the weakening of his pawn chain once again.


A crucial decision!

Black limits the white knight's mobility and secures the f4-square for his rook, but this development weakens the d5- and f5-squares considerably. In this way Black somewhat lessens the value of his central pawns.

Black's attempt to take advantage of the weaknesses on the white Q-side immediately by way of 25...a5 fails after 26.Јd3! ¦g4 27.Јb5 ўc7 (still more rapidly lose both 27...Јc7? because of 28.ba5 Ґa7 29.Јe8, and 27...Ґc7 28.¤c5, and there is no way to parry White's threats) 28.ba5 Ґa7 29.a6, and his position collapses.

26.a5 Ґa7


Offering the pawn White, providing the offer is accepted, is going to organize an attack against the king. 


Black does not dare to accept the sacrifice.

27...¦c7 permitted the queens exchange; after 28.Јd8 Јd8 29.¦d8 ¦c8 30.¦c8 ўc8 31.f3! as a result of the massive exchanges Black gets a difficult endgame, in which the knight is clearly stronger than the bishop. That's where the drawbacks of e6-e5 advance become directly evident.

On 27...¦c8 there would have followed 28.f3!, and here the drawbacks of black pawn structure are evident as well; white advantage is indisputable.

The best decision in this situation is still 27...¦g4! 28.b5! (the move recommended by Spassky) 28...ab5 29.Јb5 Јe6! 30.¤c5 (of no use is 30.¦d7 Јc6!, and Black manages to parry the threats) 30...Ґc5 31.Јc5 ¦g8! A very quiet move! The rook joins in the defense of its king (31...Јc6? loses due to 32.¦d8 ўc7 33.Јe7). 32.¦d6 ¦c8 33.Јb4 ¦c4 34.Јb6 Јh3!? — Black reminds White of his weaknesses. 35.¦d8 ¦c8 36.Јd6 ўa7, and it would have been hard for White to fortify his position.

This variation shows convincingly that Black has good defense resources.

But let us return to the position depicted on the diagram. Instead of 27.Јd3 the move 27.Јe2! is worth serious attention; it also serves to drive the black rook away from c4, but permits to retain the g4-pawn. On retreat along the c-file (27...¦c7, 27...¦c8) there follows 28.f3! — White intends to block the black pawn mass in the center and thus to obtain a significant advantage. So Black has to be active, preventing White from fixing his advantage after f3, Јd3, ¦e2 and ¤d2.

Because of all this 27...¦f4! looks like the most logical move, and after 28.f3 there follows 28...e4!?

29.b5! White proceeds to a direct attack on the king with a threat of 30.b6. (An attempt to use a pin of the black rook by way of 29.Јh2?! would give but nothing to White because of Ґe3, and the black bishop gets into a fight successfully).

29...ab5 30.Јb5 Јe6 — the best continuation.

Bad is 30...ef3 due to 31.a6! (but not 31.¦d7 Јe2, and Black wins!). Now lose both 31...f2 and 31...Ґe3 because of 32.¦d7!; on 31...¦g4 there is a most unpleasant answer 32.¤a5 with multiple threats; on 31...b6 good are both 32.¤a5 followed by 33.¤c6 and 32.Јc6! with a threat of 33.¦d8.

On 30...Је6 looks rather tempting 31.a6!?, but after 31...Јc6! Black parries the threats: on 32.¦d8 there follows 32...ўc7, and on 32.Јb4 Black plays 32...Ґe3 or Ґb6, and there is no obvious way for White to continue with his attack!

But on 30...Је6 it looks quite good 31.Јb4! threatening with an unpleasant check on f8. Let's consider some variations.

А) 31...Ґe3 32.Јf8 ўc7 (32...ўa7 33.¦d8 with a win) 33.Јd8 ўc6 34.¤d4 Ґd4 35.¦d4 with an attack that seems impossible to repulse;

В) 31...Јc8 32.Јd6 Јc7 33.Јf8 Јc8 34.¦d8 with a win;

С)  31...Јe8? 32.Јd6 and 33.Јf4;

D) 31...Јe5? 32.¦d7.

28.f3 e4!

Practically forced decision. There is a very serious threat of 29.Јh7 with unpleasant threats along the back rank.

29.fe4 ¦e4

Obviously unacceptable is 29...Јe4 because of 30.Јd8....

"You can hardly assert that white position is won, but one can easily say that in practice black defense is rather difficult. Naturally this task became still more complicated with every next move because of the oncoming time trouble" (B.Spassky).


White transfers his rook to the back rank.

30...Ґe3 31.¦h8 ўa7 32.Јd5

White fails to find the best move order out of hand. He should have moved 32.¦g8! immediately.

32...¦e5 33.Јd3 ¦e4 34.¦g8!

"In this position, when White controls the back rank, things look pretty bad for Black!" (B.Spassky). It should be noted that the position is rather sharp and complex, both kings are not completely safe.


Brings the matter to a head, as now the white knight can come into the play with a decisive effect. Of course it is clear that on no account should Black have given up his control over the d4-square.

35.¤d4! Ґe3 36.b5!

Spassky chooses the most elegant way. Also good is 36.¤f5 Јe5 37.ўc2! (parrying the threat 37...¦b4) with an idea of 38.¤d6, with mate threats.


Allows the queen sacrifice, but there is no defense anyway. After 36...ab5 37.¤b5 ўa6 38.¦a8 White gives a mate.


Simple but really fine. Black resigned. On 37...¦d4 there follows 38.b6....

1 : 0

B.Spassky – I.Porat   C11

Lugano 1968

18Th Chess Olympiad

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.¤c3 ¤f6 4.Ґg5 de4 5.¤e4 ¤bd7 6.¤f3

A little more precise in comparison with the previous game. There White has played 6.¤f6 ¤f6 and only then 7.¤f3, and after 7...c5! Black acquired quite an acceptable game.

Theory has considered (and does so to this day) that 6.¤f36 is more precise, putting off the capture on f6 till the next move.


A practically forced move.

Bad is 6...b6? because of 7.¤e5!, and Black has no satisfactory defense against the threats of 8.¤c6 and 8.Ґb5. 6...c5 is not popular either due to 7.dc5, and Black faces certain problems trying to win back a pawn: after 7...Ґc5 (not every player would like to continue without a pawn after 7...Јa5 8.Ґd2 Јc7 9.¤f6 ¤f6 10.b4) 8.Ґf6 gf6 9.Јd2 White retain a certain advantage. Unacceptable, for instance, is 9...f5? because of 10.¤c5 ¤c5 11.Јc3, and White wins.


This move is considered the best.

Retreat 7.¤c3 is of no use because of 7...c5 8.d5 ed5 9.¤d5 0-0 10.Ґf4 ¤d5 11.Јd5 ¤f6, and Black achieves equality (Smyslov – Alatortsev, XIII USSR Championship, Moscow 1944).

Worth attention is 7.Ґf6 ¤f6 8.Ґd3 0-0 9.Јe2 Јd5, as it has occurred in Aseev – Polovodin (Dresden 1989). After 10.0-0 Ґd7 (10...¤e4 11.Ґe4І) 11.c4 Јa5 12.¤e5 Ґc6 (12...Ґe8 13.a3 c6 14.b4± – Polovodin) White could have obtained a minimal advantage by way of 13.¤c3!? Ґb4 14.¦fc1‚ (Polovodin). During the game White has chosen a weaker course: 13.¤f6, and after 13...Ґf6 Black obtained normal play.


"In case of 7...¤f6 Black would have carried out с7-с5 in conditions less favorable for him. Thus he decides to utilize the wasted tempo somehow " (S.Gligoric).


At present theory considers the best 8.h4!? (Gligoric's move); by the way, G.Kasparov plays this way. In Kasparov – Anand (Kopavogur 2000) there followed 8...0-0 9.Ґd3 c5 10.Јe2 cd4 11.Јe4 g6 12.0-0-0 e5™(worse is...¤c5 because of Јf4)13.Ґf6 Јf6 14.Ґb5 ¦d8, and White failed to obtain even minimal advantage. The most recent example on the subject is the game Glek – M. Gurevich (Zwolle 2002), in which White has moved13.Јd5, and after 13...¦e8 14.¦he1 ¦e6! 15.Ґb5 Јa5 16.Ґc4 Јc7! Black obtained good play.

In Kasparov – Shirov (Frankfurt 2000) Black chose another course: 12...Јa5? There followed 13.Ґf6 ¤f6 14.Јd4 ¤h5 (utterly bad is 14...ўg7 because of 15.h5ќ) 15.a3! ¦d8 16.Јe3 Ґd7 17.g4 ¤f6, and then after 18.h5! (during the game the poorer move has been employed — 18.Јf4) White could have got a considerable advantage.


Just in the same way I.Porat used to play against R.Byrne as far back as on the Chess Olympiad in Helsinki in 1952. After 9.Ґd3 0-0 10.Јe2 c5 11.Јe4 g6 12.0-0-0 cd4 13.Јd4 the position was approximately level.

9.Ґc4! c5 10.Јe2

"The most forceful way of strengthening for White is connected with a castling" (I.Boleslavsky, A.Konstantinopolsky).

10...0-0 11.0-0-0 a6!?

Quite a logical move! Black is going to begin an active action on the Q-side, all the more so because the bishop's position on c4 should facilitate the implementation of his plan for him.


A very good positional move. Spassky offers to his opponent to define the position in the center, which is undoubtedly advantageous to White. Besides White takes under his control the dark squares of the с1-h6 diagonal, also limiting the black potential to a considerable extent.


By this exchange Black on his own accord helps  White to seize all the crucial central points.

Here the question emerges: why has Black rejected 12...b5!?› (mark and evaluation by ECO), that  seems more consistent and logical, and only on13.Ґd3 — 13...cd4, which after 14.¤d4 Ґb7 would have given to him quite an acceptable play. Probably Black has seen in the nick of time that instead 14.¤d4? White could give a better answer, and particularly 14.Ґh7 ўh7 (14...ўh8 15.¦d4 is utterly poor) 15.Јe4 ўh8 (or 15...Јg6) 16.Јa8, and Black is left without any compensation for an exchange. In this variation the undefended a8-rook plays its negative role.

It has to be noted that for the same reason Black also ought not to move 13...c4 because of 14.Ґh7 ўh8 15.Ґe4 with a won position.

Somewhat better looking is 13...Ґb7, transferring the bishop on the h1-a8 diagonal, but even then after 14.¤g5! g6 (surely not 14...h6? 15.¤h7, and Black is down an exchange) 15.Ґe4!, and Black encounters certain problems, for instance: 15...cd4 16.¦d4 ¤c5 17.Ґb7 ¤b7 18.¤e4, and now а) 18...Јe5 (18...Јf5 19.g4 Јe5 20.f4) 19.Јf3 Јc7 20.¦hd1 ¤c5 (20...¦ad8 21.¦d7) 21.¤f6 ўg7 22.Јc3, and Black faces a very difficult defense, or b) 18...Јg7 19.¦hd1 ¦fd8 20.¦d7, and Black is in trouble again.


In this position White exerts considerable pressure along the g-file, leads in development (Black has problems with the c8-bishop development), a certain weakness of the dark squares (d6, e5, b6) in the center and on the Q-side begins to show. Black has to be very precise, self-possessed and patient in defense.


This abrupt move will, in all probability, still more complicate the black defense in future. Just as bad is 13...e5?!, which after 14.¦d2 would not do Black any good and add to the multiple weaknesses of the dark squares another one – on d5.

In the variation 13...¤b6 14.Ґb3 Ґd7 15.¦d6! ¤a4 16.¦d7 Јb2 17.ўd2 the problems of defense are not solved either, as on 17...¦fd8 there follows 18.Ґa4 b5 19.¦d8 ¦d8 20.ўe2 ba4 21.Јc5, and Black has no compensation for his piece. Of course, this variation is not obligatory, and white play could be strengthened somewhere.

Possibly, a little better looking is 13...¤c5 with an idea of deploying his forces by way of

14...b5 и 15...Ґb7, after which Black should have quite a normal play. Still after14.¦d6! ¤a4 15.¤e5 b5 16.Ґb3 Ґb7 17.¦hd1, tightening his control over the d-file (a rash 17.Ґa4 ba4 18.¤d7 Јe7 19.¦hd1 ¦fd8 leads to a position, in which, in spite of the menacing arrangement of the white pieces, something realizable is still to be found; it is hard for White to fortify his position: on 20.Јd4 there follows 20...Ґd5, cutting off the white pressure along the d-file).

And now the threat of18.Ґa4 ba4 19.¤d7 is quite real. Thus, in case of 17...Ґg2 18.Ґa4 ba4 19.¤d7 Јe7 20.¤f8 ўf8 (on 20...¦f8 will follow 21.¦a6, and on 20...Јf8 – 21.Јb6!) 21.¦d7! White should gradually convert his material advantage into a win.

After quite a logical-looking move 17...¦fd8 there follows not 18.Ґa4 ¦d6 (an important intermediary move) 19.¦d6 ba4, and White seems to have nothing here, but 18.¦d8! 18...¦d8 19.¦d8 Јd8, and now White has an attack 20.¤f7! Јf6 (the knight is not to be taken because of the mate: 20...ўf7? 21.Јe6), and after 21.¤e5 Ґg2 22.f4 White retains his positional advantage; the threats 23.¤g4 and 23.Ґa4 (creating the passed c-pawn) are unpleasant enough. But instead of 21.¤e5 White could play much more strongly, namely 21.¤g5!, not fearing a capture on b2 with a check. To give a graphic example, let us consider some variations. 21...Јb2 22.ўd2, and the powerful queen's position on e3 protects White against any trouble, while his own threats to the e-square are more than dangerous: а) 22...Ґd5 23.¤e6 Ґb3 24.ab3! with a won position; b) 22...Јf6 (everybody get back in a hurry!) 23.Ґe6 ўh8 (23...ўf8? 24.¤h7 loses right away) 24.¤f7 ўg8 25.¤d6 ўf8 26.¤b7.

If Black is unable to fight for the d-file by way of 17...¦fd8 or 17...¦аd8, then he is in for a very difficult defense. As to White, he, being in full control of the open file and constantly threatening at every opportunity with a take оn a4 followed by ¤d7, should, in all probability, convert his positional advantage into a win. For example, on17...¦fc8 there is quite a nice-looking move 18.¦d7!, and Black is done for. Another possible way is 17...¦ac8?! 18.Ґa4 ba4 19.¤d7, and Black is down an exchange.

14.Ґd3 g6

A serious K-side weakening. Black trouble is that, having played b7-b5 on move13 (and with a tempo at that!), he is unable to finish his development in a more or less normal way. The move 14...Ґb7 is impossible because the d7-knight hangs constantly.

Also impossible is 14...¤c5 due to 15.Ґh7 ўh7 16.¦h4 ўg8 17.Јc5, and White is a good pawn up in a practically won position (an attack along the h-file is possible). At the same time weakness of the h1-a8 diagonal and the fact that the a8-rook is undefended (a constant threat of bishop sacrifice on h7) force Black to make a move 14...g6.

15.¦d1 ¤c5 16.¤e5

White fortifies the position of his pieces with every next move.


"White's positional advantage, gained due to a consistent play, is doubtless. Probably, Black had to try and get his bishop into the game: 16...Ґb7!?" (I.Boleslavsky, A.Konstantinopolsky). Later absolutely every commentator (B.Ivkov in the 6th issue of the Yugoslavian "Chess Informant" and many others) instead of 16...Јe7?! used to suggest 16...Ґb7!? without investigating any variations at that. Of course, 16...Ґb7 is the most logical move. Black has been trying to develop this bishop for such a long time, and now, when he has an opportunity to do that at last, he rejects it. This is a crucial moment. We will return to estimation of a position, which would have arisen after 16...Ґb7 a little later.


Another first-class move. White withdraws his bishop from the d-file preventing Black from normal development. And the bishop will put a great pressure on the weakened black Q-side from the f3-square into the bargain.

Black has troubles with the development of his bishop once again. On 17...Ґb7 White can play either 18.¦d7!? or 18.¤d7! (Ivkov). Let us investigate variations just in this order.

I. 18.¦d7!? ¤d7 19.¦d7 Јh4 (19...Јb4 20.c3! Јa4 21.¦b7 Јa2 22.¤d7? and the weakness of dark squares should tell) 20.¦b7 Јh2 21.b3! (b2 is the best place for the king) 21...Јg2 22.Ґf3 Јf1 23.ўb2, and White retains a strong attacking position. Black will have a hard time parrying multiple threats such as ¤d7, ¤f7, ¤g4, ¦f7.

II. Still 18.¤d7!, recommended by Ivkov, is much stronger. After it Black can hardly avoid material losses. Naturally, he cannot take on d7 in view of the loss of a piece: 18...¤d7? 19.¦d7 with a win.

On 18...¦fe8 there follows 19.Јe5!, and the dark squares' weakness tells again. Black has not got any defense against 20.¤f6. On 18...¦fc8 follows 19.¤b6, and Black is down an exchange at best, and on 18...¦fd8 White simply plays 19.¤c5, and now on 19...Јc5? there follows 20.¦d8, and after 19...¦d4 20.Јd4! the c5-knight is defended, and Black is a piece behind.

Black appears to have missed an opportunity to develop his bishop already.


Driving the white bishop from the center, but weakening his own position still more. White after 18.Ґf3 intended to take advantage of the weakness of the black Q-side.


Instead of the expected retreat White invades the black camp.

18...Јc7 19.¦d8!

Spassky takes advantage of the K-side weakening and the hanging position of the black pieces brilliantly. Blow follows a blow; there is a threat of 20.¦f8 and of 21.Јc5 with a win.

On 19...Јc6 good enough is 20.Ґf3 Јc7 21.¦f8 ўf8 22.Ґa8, and White is an exchange ahead in a won position.

A really fine variation has been suggested by I.Boleslavsky and A. Konstantinopolsky: 20.Јh6!, and now on 20...¤d7 there is a winner 21.¦1d7, and on 20...¦e8 – a very strong 21.Ґf3!, after which Black cannot but avoid great material losses. Later a tactical defensive opportunity was found: 20...¤b3 21.ab3 (worse seems 21.ўb1 Јc5 22.¦1d6, and Black, having sacrificed his queen after 22...Јd6 23.¦d6 ¤c5 can still keep on resisting) 21...Јc5, but the ending after 22.¦1d6! Јg5 23.Јg5 fg5 24.Ґf3 ¦b8 25.b4 ўg7 26.¦f8 ўf8 27.¦d8 ўe7 28.¦h8 is completely hopeless for Black.

Also loses 19...Ґb7 20.Јc5 ¦ad8, and now  21.¤e7 leads to the win of the queen.


Losing at once is 19...¤a4? because of 20.Јh6!

20.¦f8 ўf8 21.Ґf3

Now that is the colorful position: a mass of black pieces on the Q-side is tied "hand and foot"!

Poor is 21...Ґd7 due to 22.Јh6 ўg8 23.¤e7, and Black can resign with a clear conscience.

21...ўg7 22.Јa3!

Another strong move! B.Spassky's game is stylish and sweeping, he plays all over the board. 


"There is a prosaic threat 23.Јe7 Јe7 24.¤e7, winning a piece" (I.Boleslavsky, A. Konstantinopolsky). This elegant variation emphasizes the utter helplessness of black pieces once again.


B.Ivkov in his commentary for "Chess Informant" puts even two exclamatory points to this move. After this quiet move all black pieces are almost completely stalemated. The h2-pawn hangs no more, and Black is deprived even of the check on f4, hard as it is to imagine Black grabbing a pawn in such a position.


This move gives some additional opportunities to White, but black position has been already hopeless for a long time! On 23...a5 there could have followed 24.¤d8!, just as it has occurred in the game, and now both 24...ўe8 (because of 25.Ґc6) and 24...ўg7 25.Ґb7 Ґb7 26.¤e6 lose instantly.

More stubborn is 24...ўg8, after which there is quite a fine-looking 25.Ґb7 Ґb7 26.¤e6 Јf7 (or else 27.Је7 with a simple win) 27.Јd6! (threatening 28.Јd8 Јe8 29.Јf6 and 30.¦d8 with a win) 27...¦e8 (on 27...f5 White would continue 28.Јd8 Јe8 29.Јf6 Јf7 30.¦d8 with an instant win) 28.¤d8 Јe7 29.¤b7 Јb7 30.Јf6, and two extra pawns must be enough for White to win on the assumption of precise and attentive game.

Possibly, a still stronger answer on 24...ўg8 is 25.Јc3!? (principal idea of this move is that in case of 25...Јc3 26.bc3 Black loses a piece, as on 26...¦b8 or 27...¦а6 there follows 27.¤c6, and Black has no defense against 28.¤e7, 29.¤с8 and 30.Ґb7) 25...Јe7 26.Јc6!, invading the black camp. After 26...¦b8 27.Јb5 Black faces further material losses. He fails to unravel the tangle of his tied pieces on the Q-side.

I would like to attract a particular attention to the sacrifice of exchange by way of 24...¤d8 (probably the best chance to prolong the resistance), but after 25.Ґa8 the black position is absolutely hopeless.

24.¤d8 ўg8

And here after 24...¤d8 25.Ґa8 there is no hope for Black.

In case of 24...ўe8 wins 25.Ґc6; on 24...ўg7 follows 25.Ґb7, and White wins a piece at the very least, as after 25...Ґb7? 26.¤e6 the queen is lost.


Black resigned. On 25...ўg7 there follows (just like in the previous variations) 26.Ґb7, and Black loses material.

1 : 0

B.Spassky – J.Donner   C11

Leiden 1970

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.¤c3 ¤f6 4.Ґg5 de4 5.¤e4 Ґe7 6.Ґf6 Ґf6 7.¤f3 Ґd7 8.Јd2 Ґc6 9.¤f6 Јf6 10.¤e5! 0-0 11.0-0-0 ¦d8

This move is recommended by almost every commentator as the strongest one in this position and has been successfully tested in Spassky – Damjanovic (Sochi 1967). There after 12.f4 Ґe8 (everything is according to recommendations) followed 13.Ґd3 ¤c6 (White is already in a kind of trouble over the d4-pawn) 14.¤f3. Now it is difficult for White to count on any advantage. Further there followed 14...a5! 15.ўb1 ¤b4 16.Ґe4 Ґc6, and the opponents soon agreed to a draw. Of course, instead of 14.¤f3 there is a better-looking 14.c3, but this development weakens white position to some extend, and after 14...Јe7 Black can hope for counterplay both in the center (after ¤е5 followed by7-е5) and on the Q-side after а5 и b5 — the c3-pawn gives some reasons for this course. In all probability, such development suited the Dutch Grandmaster, who had chosen in this game a rather difficult variation of the French Defense, just fine.


B.Spassky plays much stronger than he has done in his game against Damjanovic. The d4-pawn must be safe and sound.

12...Ґe8 13.g3!

White intends to place his bishop on the long diagonal, from where it would exert the unpleasant pressure on black Q-side. 

Here the knight on c6 would not have been as beneficial for Black as it has been in the above-mentioned Spassky-Damjanovic game, as the rook safely defends the d4-pawn! After 13...¤c6 14.Ґg2 White threatens to spoil the black pawn structure by way of an unpleasant exchange on c6. Thus Black has to limit himself to a more modest development of the knight.

13...¤d7 14.Ґg2 c6 15.f4

Fortifying his knight, which, being centralized, puts the unpleasant enough pressure on the black position. It is not so simple to get rid of it, and this fact defines the considerable white advantage. 


Straight forward 15...¤e5 16.de5 Јe7 leads after 17.¦d8! Јd8 (Black has to capture with queen, because the a7-pawn is undefended) 18.¦d1! to White's occupying the open d-file. 18...Јb6 19.Јd2!  (worse is 19.¦d4? ¦d8!, and White has to cede the d-file, as his queen is undefended). Spatial advantage and full control of the open file give White a guaranteed and stable positional edge. It should be noted that in case of the queens exchange 19.Јb6 ab6 white advantage would have instantly become minimal, and it would be rather hard for him to utilize the benefits of controlling the d-file. Black, having as a preliminary transferred his king to е7, would have an opportunity to maneuver freely along the a-file.


Occupying the space on the K-side and threatening to weaken the black position by a further advance of the pawn.


With a single move both driving away the white knight and hampering the h-pawn advance. There is only one drawback, but a significant one: a new weakness, the e6-pawn, has appeared in the black camp.

17.¤f3 Ґh5

Black attempts to simplify the play a bit with the help of exchanges (his position is still somewhat constraint) and thus to alleviate his position (black bishop can be considered bad). After 17.h5 Black would have lost the defense opportunity, which he acquired during the game.


Having an eye on the e6-weakness, White in fact forces Black to exchange on f3 immediately.


There is already a threat of19.g4 with an attack on the K-side.

19.Јf3 ¤f8 20.¦he1!

Spassky's logical and consistent play produces great impression. Now Black has to take into account the move f4-f5.


Preventing his queen from getting under a pin along the e-file just in case.


White keeps fortifying the position of his pieces all the time. His bishop would be most active on the a2-g8 diagonal! Black is powerless to prevent it, as at present he cannot make a move 21...b5? because of 22.Јc6.


Black begins to implement an erroneous plan of doubling up his rooks on the d-file in order to attack the d4-pawn.

He should have prevented once and for all a possibility of f4-f5-breakthrough by way of 21...f5!?. Surely, this move would have created other serious weaknesses in the black position, but that was the only opportunity to block the mounting white initiative at least somehow.

22.Ґc4 ¦ad8?

Now this is a blunder, after which the black position becomes hopeless. Here for the last time Black misses the opportunity to prevent White's breakthrough with 22...f5.  The move 22...b5? is impossible for him now because of 23.Ґb5.


After this breakthrough Black is already unable to repulse White's initiative. It will mount with every next move.


Black has carried out his plan to the hilt, and it did not alleviate his position in any way. He has grabbed the central pawn and attacked the bishop at the same time. In all probability Black has counted exactly on that, but he lacks time to enjoy the fruits of his alleged victory. 


White creates a dangerous passed pawn that Black would not be able to stop. It disorganizes the black defense utterly. All the subsequent combinational motifs will be connected with this pawn.


Unfortunately Black fails to bear the strain of struggle and loses literally in a few moves.

Undoubtedly, he should have immediately blocked the white pawn by 24...Јe7!?. It was also important to try and keep the control of the d-line. That would give better chances for a stubborn resistance, and Spassky would have spent a lot of efforts on utilizing his advantage. But let us investigate everything step by step.

On 24...Јe7 White has at his disposal a strong continuation 25.Јa3! — he wants to release his passed pawn. Black has different defensive opportunities:

I. 25...c5 (quite poor is 25...Јa3 26.e7! ¦c4, and now there follows a brilliant combinational blow 27.¦d8!! that practically stops the fight) 26.Јa7 ¦d1 [some rather fine variations could have arisen after 26...¦c4 27.¦d8 Јd8 28.e7 Јe8 29.Јb7 (White has no reasons to hurry with the capture on f8, which would have doubtlessly made the black defense easier) ¦d4 30.c3! ¦d6 (30...¦d7? 31.Јd7 with a win), and now 31.Јb3! ўh8 32.Јa4!! would have lead to a position in which Black was fated to resign with a clear conscience] 27.¦d1 ¦d1 28.ўd1, and now on 28...¤g6 there is a decisive 29.Јb7!, and in case of 28...¤e6 wins 29.Ґd5! — Black is bound to lose the b7-pawn into the bargain.

II. 25...¤g6!? 26.¦d4 [White also gains nothing by 26.h5 ¦d1 (surely not 26...¦c4?? 27.Јe7 ¤e7 28.¦d8...) 27.¦d1 ¦d1 28.ўd1 Јa3, and after 29.e7 ўh8 30.e8ЈЈf8 it turns out that the struggle has only just begun]26...¦d4 27.Ґb3 Јa3 28.e7 with a win.

III. 25...¦d1 26.¦d1 ¦d1 27.ўd1 ¤g6 28.Јa7 h5, and this is the best defensive chance for Black despite the fact that his position nevertheless stays poor.

But after the move made during the game everything is over!

25.¦d1 ¦d1 26.Јd1

Black resigned, as after 26...Јe7 27.Јd8!! he has no defense.

1 : 0

In this game B. Spassky was full of energy and very forceful, taking a good advantage of his opponent's mistakes. That was a serious blow for this difficult variation of the French Defense.

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