Tigran Petrosian - the Iron Man

  • billwall
  • | May 26, 2008

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian (1929-1984) was a Soviet Grandmaster (1952) and 9th world chess champion (1963-1969).  He was Armenian champion at the age of 17.  In 1964, he won the championship of the Trade Unions in Moscow.  Between 1968 and 1975 he never lost more than a single game in any tournament.  He drew more than half his total games of chess, a higher fraction than any other World Champion.  He was known as Iron Tigran due to his safe playing style and strong defense.  He was considered the hardest player in the history of chess to beat.  He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship eight times from 1953 to 1980.  In 1963, he defeated Mikhail Botvinnik for the world championship.  In 1966, he defeated Boris Spassky for the world championship.  He received less than $2,000 for winning the world chess championship in 1966 against Spassky.  When Petrosian defeated Spassky in 1966, it was the first time a World Champion defeated his challenger in 32 years (Alekhine defeated Bogoljubov in 1934).  In 1972 at the Skopje Olympiad he lost a game on time to Huebner, his first loss on time in his whole career.  When he was later told that the incident had been shown on TV, he said, "If I had known that, I would definitely have smashed the clock."  His first official match that he played was for the World Championship, which he won when he defeated Botvinnik in 1963.   When he lost his match with Fischer in 1971, Petrosian's wife, Rona, put the blame on his trainer, Alexey Suetin, and slapped him.  Petrosian was unbeaten in 6 USSR championships and won the Soviet Championship four times (1959, 1961, 1969, and 1975).   He only lost one game out of 129 in chess Olympiad play.  Before Rona married Petrosian, she was flirting and dating both Efim Geller and Tigran Petrosian.  In 1952, when both players went to Sweden for the Interzonal, she said she would marry whoever performed better in the Interzonal.  Petrosian finished ½ point better than Geller, and Petrosian and Rona Avinezer were later married.  Petrosian died of stomach cancer in 1984 at the age of 55.

Here is a nice game of his where he throws everything at the enemy king, threatening mate a few times.  His opponent finally resigns after the option of getting checkmated or losing the queen.



  • 4 years ago


    Nobody can complain about this master of the defense.

  • 7 years ago


     a masterpiece!!!

  • 7 years ago


    Two very beautiful games by the Iron Man..! I love the Queen sac flushing out the King! Smile

  • 8 years ago


    Who said he is a boring defence player????
  • 8 years ago


    I don't understand why people (not necessarily chess.com people) complain about Petrosian's games being boring.  Yes, he did draw a lot, but his games seem so artful.  I'm always impressed.
  • 8 years ago


    I believe I once played like that before I got sick.Laughing
  • 8 years ago


    He looks a little like Count Drakula in that photo :).
  • 8 years ago


    Tigran Petrossian was my first GM  I liked! It was called the tigre and some called  him the greenhouse python because he tightens  his "grip"
  • 8 years ago


    Sad to say, he only won 2 games vs. Bobby in their candidate matchup
  • 8 years ago


    Sacrificing is an art, who know it well, they can force to lose. thank you

  • 8 years ago


    Thism is the famous game Petrosian 1-0 Pachman, Bled 1961. Enjoy! I´m sorry that I´m not skillful enough to enter adequate commentary.
  • 8 years ago


     Very nice posting. Thanks! Smile
  • 8 years ago


    Simple and beautiful game, I agree there was a black's mistake, but Petrosian was famous because his defense... Thanx for posting. 
  • 8 years ago


    I've looked at a few of his games and my favorite is in Irving Chernev's book The Most Instuctive Games of Chess Ever Played

    Petrosian vs. Pachman Bled 1961

    Which I will put up on the site sometime. Unless someone else does first.Laughing

  • 8 years ago


    wow.  looking back after the game ended, every move in his opening seemed to set up that devastating finish.  Its as if he knew his opponent would allow it.
  • 8 years ago


    Sharp and swift moves with an uncastled king!

    Very dangerous for amateurs to try.  Needs a mastery at the postions and tactical twists!

    Great learning.  Just 23 moves! 

  • 8 years ago


    Tigran would certainly fit in my top10 of best ever chess players.

  • 8 years ago


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