My Favorite Classic Games, Part 2

My Favorite Classic Games, Part 2

| 26 | Strategy

When discussing great games, many chess fans always think of slashing attacks and outrageous combinations. While every world-class player tossed out more than a few epic combinations at some point in his career, positional masterpieces are far harder to find.

In this series, I’ll take a look back at the classic games that affected me profoundly, and those games were almost always positional in nature.

This is strange in a way, because I was a very aggressive player in my youth. But perhaps it’s not so strange after all, since I could understand combinations and tactics (in other words, they weren’t that special), but the subtle positional magic the greats were capable of always left me dumbfounded.

This week’s example is a game played by one of my chess heroes, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, the ninth world chess champion (not to be confused with grandmaster Tigran L. Petrosian, who was born in 1984).

The game you’re about to see amazed me in my early teens, and it still amazes me today. After watching Petrosian weave his chess voodoo on Lutikov, who wouldn’t want to copy him? I certainly did!

I’ve played through this game many times, and as the years go by, I’ll play through it again and again!

Regarding Petrosian’s skill at moving his pieces to their best squares, let’s take a moment and see what Fischer had to say (from Bobby’s My 60 Memorable Games).


Petrosian via wikipedia

You know Petrosian was something special when even Fischer admitted to being amazed by his moves!


  • Petrosian’s chess philosophy: grab space and deprive the opponent of any and all counterplay.
  • If you have a piece that’s not doing much on the square it’s on, move it to be a better place!
  • When the center is blocked, both players have to seek counterplay on the wings. 
  • The side with more space should avoid exchanges.
  • In grandmaster chess, few things are better than the “I win or draw, but never lose” paradigm. Petrosian was considered to be the hardest (or at least one of the hardest) players to beat in the history of chess. This philosophy, and his amazing ability to kill off all enemy counterplay, explains why.
  • The “no hurry” credo is a common thread among all great positional players.
  • When you’re in charge of the game, why risk everything by entering a long, tactical sequence when you can grind the opponent down in a safe, controlled manner?


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