Spassky-Petrosian World Championship 1969: Najdorf Variation

Spassky-Petrosian World Championship 1969: Najdorf Variation

NM GreenLaser
Jul 17, 2011, 12:00 AM |
24 | Chess Players

Winning the World Championship was no walk in the park when Boris Spassky challenged Tigran Petrosian. Spassky earned the opportunity to meet Petrosian in 1966 in a 24 game match which required the challenger  to be ahead after 24 games. A score of 12-12 would result in the champion retaining the title. The first six game were draws. Petrosian won games 7 and 10. Spassky won games 13 and 19 to even the match. Then Petrosian won games 20 and 22 reaching the needed 12 points to keep his crown. However, Spassky had the chance to tie the match by winning the last two games and Petrosian had the chance to exceed 12 points. It was only a formality required by the rules that the match ends when a player has reached 12.5 or 13 points or the score is 12-12. Spassky won game 23, but game 24 was a draw. Petrosian won 12.5-11.5.

Spassky came through in the next three year cycle to play another match with Petrosian in 1969. Petrosian won the first game, but Spassky took the lead by winning games 4, 5, and 8. Petrosian evened the score by winning games 10 and 11. This restored Petrosian’s advantage of draw odds in the match which was enhanced by five straight draws. Spassky won games 17 and 19. This put Spassky ahead two points with five games left in the match. Petrosian needed 3.5 to reach 12 points. He responded with a fine win in game 20, but Spassky won game 21. Now, Petrosian needed 2.5 out of 3. This was no longer possible after games 22 and 23 were drawn. Game 23 was started on June 16th and adjourned to be resumed the next day, June 17th, when Petrosian became 40 years old. Spassky was ahead a pawn and had some winning chances. Since Spassky could easily draw the game, Petrosian offered a draw. Spassky held a 12.5-10.5 lead and game 24 was not played. After 47 games in two matches, Spassky had an advantage of one point overall. Spassky was the new World Champion at the age of 32.

From the second match, I have selected to show game 19. Petrosian was behind one point and opted for the Najdorf Variation of the Sicilian Defense for the only time in the match. The result was a win for Spassky in the shortest decisive game of the match.


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