The King’s Indian According to Tigran Petrosian : Igor Yanvarjov
International Master Igor Yanvarjov is a professional chess coach. He has been a coach at the Moscow Chess Club “Spartak,” and has been on the coaching staff of a number of chess schools, including those of Petrosian, Geller, Karpov and Garry Kasparov. Grandmasters he has worked with include Lembit Oll, Rustem Dautov, Yury Piskov, among others. He currently teaches chess at the Anatoly Karpov Chess School in Moscow.
Tigran Petrosian, the ninth world chess champion was born to Armenian parents on June 17, 1929 in Tiflis Georgia. He was known as one of the deepest thinkers the chess world has ever seen. His handling of complex strategic positions was legendary. His play combined deft tactical awareness with an acute sense of prophylaxis, so that opponents had the greatest difficulty in laying a finger on him. For his own part, he often seemed content holding the margin of the draw rather than undertaking any heroics in pursuit of a win. In the analysis room, and in blitz games, Petrosian’s abundant tactical skills were apparent to everyone, but to the spectator of his tournament games, these were far from obvious, and he was regarded as dull. Petrosian responded to this criticisms by saying: “They say my games should be more ‘interesting’. I could be more ‘interesting’—and also lose.” Petrosian still remains one of the greatest players in the history of chess and if you were to consult the now defunct Chessmetrics Website, Tigran Petrosian was listed in the top 20 players of all time and was ranked at No 8 in the 20 year peak range category (1954 – 1973). He was an expert against the King’s Indian Defence and played the system that now bears his name (although he was far more successful with the Samisch variation).
This is the first book by Russian international master Igor Yanvarjov. He has put together a superb collection of virtually all the known games played by Tigran Petrosian – with both colours – in the King’s Indian Defence and other closely related Indian structures. He does this with the presentation of almost 300 deeply annotated, complete games. Although the material is organised by variations and tabias this is not an opening manual but it demonstrates the skill and nuanced handling of positions that Petrosian was known for. The author’s objective wasted reveal the richness of Petrosian’s chess world and to follow the strategic development of the King’s Indian Defence through the prism of Petrosian’s creative work.
The book is divided into three parts with each part being split into several chapters. preceded by a preface from Levon Aronian a forward from Igor Zaitsev and a note from the author.
They are as follows :
Part 1 Tabiyas (Tabia number in brackets)
Chapter 1 Classical Variation (A1 – A7)
Chapter 2 The Samisch System (B1 – B10)
Chapter 3 The Fianchetto Variation (C1 – C10)
Chapter 4 The Benoni (D1 – D10)
Chapter 5 Other Systems (E1- E10)
Part 2 Elements of Success
Chapter 6 Portrait of a Chess Player
Chapter 7 Lessons from Petrosian
Chapter 8 The Problem of the Exchange
Chapter 9 “Furman’s Bishop”
Chapter 10 “Pawns are the Soul of Chess”
Chapter 11 Playing by Analogy
Chapter 12 Manoeuvring Battle
Part III Experiments
Chapter 13 Realist or Romantic?
Chapter 14 The King’s Indian with Colours – and Flanks – Reversed
The bibliography in this book contains nearly 80 entries which will give the reader some idea of the amount of research that the author has carried out for the preparation of this book.
The games are all annotated to varying degrees of depth. Some have only light notes, whereas others have very detailed analytical variations. It is in this area Yanvarjov has done an excellent job. Many of the games contain quoted historical analysis or comments, whether by Tigran himself or his contemporaries. In addition the author goes into great analytical detail where it makes sense to do so. I also thought that IM Yanvarjov did an excellent job in getting the right balance between prose and variations to describe the action taking place within the positions. In some cases a verbal description is given which should be helpful to players of club level in particular.
The following game is considered to be one of Petrosian’s finest achievements
In my opinion this is a superb book, written as a labour of love to showcase the player who appears to have made the biggest impression on the author. It contains a splendid collection of annotated games that will have enormous appeal to King’s Indian players. Not only will it appeal to anyone who wishes to increase their strategic understanding of the game but also to anyone who wants a superb games collection from which any reader will derive a great deal of benefit and enjoyment.
Tony Williams, Newport, Isle of Wight, 17th April 2020
Book Details :
Softcover : 424 pages
Publisher: Russell Enterprises, Inc. (June 17, 2019)
Genna Sosonko emigrated from the USSR to the Netherlands in 1972. For the past 20 years or so he’s made a career out of writing essays and books about chess in the Soviet Union, and interviewing many of the leading players from that period.
This, following on from books about Bronstein and Korchnoi, which will be reviewed later, is the third of a series of memoirs. Whereas Bronstein and Korchnoi were strong personalities who had controversial careers, Smyslov was a much more balanced character.
The word most associated with Smyslov is ‘harmony’. He sought harmony in his chess games, always seeking the most harmonious placing of his pieces. He was also a talented opera singer: harmony again.
In the first part of this book, Sosonko introduces us to his friend. The life of a chess player in the Soviet Union must have been a mixed blessing. While you were living in a totalitarian regime, chess was valued and its exponents respected – as long as they toed the party line. Smyslov, we learn, was a man of profound and sincere religious convictions: a member of the Russian Orthodox church. Beyond that, he was also, rather unexpectedly, interested in all things paranormal. He seemed to believe in astrology and the prophecies of Nostradamus, and was convinced that chess originated on Atlantis. It always intrigues me how many strong chess players, who excel at thinking rationally over the chessboard, have totally irrational views on other subjects.
Perhaps it was this fatalism, the belief that everything in his life was pre-ordained, which enabled Smyslov to ‘go with the flow’ during his chess career.
At the end of this part, we have eight pages of photographs, before moving onto part 2
Now we turn the clock back to the 1953 Candidates Tournament, and, specifically, this game, from round 26.
The tournament was approaching its end: Smyslov was leading but Bronstein still had a chance to win the prize of a title match against Botvinnik. The Soviet authorities instructed Bronstein to play for a draw, which, as you can see, he did, choosing the Exchange Variation of the Ruy Lopez, long before Fischer rehabilitated it as a winning try.
Bronstein never forgot this, and, nearly half a century later, published an article about match fixing in the 1953 Candidates Tournament which angered the usually placid Smyslov. Bronstein’s article and Smyslov’s reply both appear here.
Sosonko then moves on to discuss, in more general terms, the Soviet Chess School, offering revealing insights as to what life was like for grandmasters from the USSR.
The final third of the book returns to Smyslov, and is based on conversations with the great man during the last eight years of his life: from 2002 to 2010. I’ll have a lot more to say about this when I review Sosonko’s memoirs of Bronstein and Korchnoi, but I’m not sure how much this adds to our knowledge of Smyslov, or how much he would have wanted to be remembered for his declining years.
If you’ve read any of Sosonko’s other writing you’ll know that he writes well, and, very often, poignantly. He tends to throw in a lot of cultural references, which you might find helpful, but, on the other hand, you might just think is showing off. Me: I enjoyed the musical references but mentions of Russian literature often mean nothing to me.
It’s not quite true that there’s no chess in the book: there’s just one game, played when he was 14, which, although Sosonko doesn’t mention it, is spookily similar to the Famous Game Rotlewi-Rubinstein.
If you’re looking for a book that will improve your rating, then, you’ll want to look elsewhere. If you want to know more about Smyslov as a person, you’ll probably enjoy the first third of the book. If you’re interested in the history of chess in the Soviet Union, particularly in the years following the Second World War, you might want to read the second part, but you’ll need to bear in mind that the author is an compiler of memoirs and anecdotes, not a historian. It’s the final section that leaves me with mixed feelings. A moving testimony of the final years of a much loved and respected champion, or just voyeurism? I’m in two minds: maybe you should read the book and decide for yourself.
Richard James, Twickenham 15 April 2020
Book Details :
Paperback : 199 pages
Publisher: Limited Liability Company Elk and Ruby Publishing House (5 Nov. 2018)
“Herbert William Trenchard (8 September 1857, Thorncombe – 15 April 1934, London) was an English chess master.
He took 11th and tied for 4-5th in London in 1886, shared twice 3rd at Cambridge 1890 and Oxford 1891, tied for 4-5th at Brighton 1892, took 2nd at London 1892 (B tourn), tied for 3rd-4th at Woolhall Spa 1893, and took 3rd at London 1896,
He also participated at Vienna 1898 (Kaiser-Jubiläumsturnier, Siegbert Tarrasch and Harry Pillsbury won) and took 19th place there.”
BCN wishes a happy birthday to Peter Markland born on Friday, April 13th, 1951
From the rear cover of “Sicilian:…e5 :
“P.R. Markland is a British Master, and a member of many English international teams, including those at the 1972 and 1974 Olympiads, and is also a British correspondence international”
Peter first qualified to the British Championship in 1967 (Oxford) and obtained an IM and GM norm at Hastings 1971.
In 1984 he became a Grandmaster for correspondence chess (GMC).
Peter became a banker and lives in Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP13.
Following excellent recent work by Paul McKeown, the English Chess Federation made a request to FIDE to grant Peter the much overdue title of FIDE Master. This was awarded in 2021.
From British Chess (Pergamon Press, 1983) we have this contribution from Peter himself:
“1951 seems to have been a vintage year for chessplayers and although I cannot claim to count myself in the company of Andersson, Karpov, Ribli and Sax we do all share the same year of birth.
Although I learned the moves at the age of 5, I only took any real interest in the game at 13 when I began to play schools chess. Compared with such as Nigel Short I was a very late starter!
I was educated at Bolton School and played for Bolton and Lancashire in my early years. This was fortunate in that all three of these teams enjoyed great success in the late 1960s. In all three teams I played along side Martyn Corden who was to precede my rise to international level himself by playing in the Siegen Olympiad team in 1970. In 1967, I qualified for the British Championship at my first attempt and I was pleased to score 5/11. The following year the school team won The Sunday Times tournament playing without Martyn Corden in the finals.
Up to this time I had concentrated chiefly on junior teams and had won the NCCU junior titles. Over Christmas and New Year of both 1966-7 and 1967-8 I travelled down to play at the Devon Junior Congress at Plymouth but in 1968 I decided to try my luck at Hastings. This proved to be one of the turning points of my career.
I was placed in the Challengers Reserves for 1968-9 and after the first round loss (to the eventual winner) my play gained momentum and I qualified for the Challengers the following year. The intervening year passed quietly with a trip to Ireland in the Glorney Cup. I went up to Balliol College, Oxford in October 1969.
The Hastings Challengers tournament 1969-70 began when I met the same opponent as in the previous year in the first round. This time I managed to come out on top. By the time the last round came, I had played most of the leaders and had 6/8 including two pleasing wins with my favourite defence at the time – the Sicilian Pelikan variation.
In the last round I was paired against de Veauce who had a reputation as a good strategist and whom I hoped to unsettle tactically. I had white and my plan failed. He outplayed me in the opening and middlegame and I sacrificed my isolated centre pawn to activate my pieces.
So I then had to wait had to wait to see the other results before I could confirm a somewhat lucky place in the Premier.
In 1970 I had the opportunity to travel with the student team to the Olympiad in Haifa. My score of 5.5/7 was reasonably pleasing but the standard of opposition was far from good.
At the end of the year came the Hastings Premier – a tournament which I can only describe as the highlight of my career. I began nervously and lost a nondescript game to Uhlmann in the first round. My confidence grew with two comfortable draws with Portisch (the eventual winner) and Keene. In round four I met the surprise leader, Mestrovic (who had 3/3) and perhaps partly due to the fact that this game was played on 1st January I won convincingly in 18 moves.
The next four rounds brought an uneventful draw with Wade and three exciting encounters with Byrne, Krogius and Gligoric all of which after several reversals of fortune ended in draws.
In the last round I was to play Hort who needed to to win to gain a share of first prize. He played a horribly passive opening and by move 14 I was already well on top. To try to compensate he snatched a queenside pawn and gave me the chance to play the type of move one can only dream about!
This victory meant an equal second on 5/9 with Gligoric, Hort, Krogius and Uhlmann and both a GM and IM norm.
As a result of this I became a regular member of the England side. During 1971 my results were erratic, possibly caused by too much play. I was pleased with my 3.5 score in my first Clare Benedict, although I lost my first game for England due to nervousness and I was first equal with George Botterill in the Slater Young Masters at Hastings (again). Here I declined a last round draw offer, blundered almost next move and lost to an up-and-coming junior by the name of Michael Stean! On the debit side my performances in the British Championship, The Oxford International Congress and the Robert Silk tournament left room for improvement.
Whilst playing with Bolton in the National Club Championship, we had never won the competition although we had reached the semi-finals many times. This year, 1971, playing for Oxford University, we won the tournament beating our old rivals Cambridge University in the final on board count.
The Hastings tournament of 1971-72 saw me firmly entrenched near the bottom. It is very difficult in this type of international tournament when one becomes marked as an out-of-form player. All the other players make extra efforts to beat you and this drains your strength further.
My main problem at Hastings was a lack of defence to 1.e4. I lost five games against this move. In the last round I had a very interesting struggle against Karpov who needed to win this game to tie first with Korchnoi who had beaten him in the previous round, but the strength of 1.e4 proved too much.
The summer of 1972 saw the advent of my University finals and thus I played very little for the first six months of the year – even I had to decline an invitation to the Teeside GM event. Later in the year I played in the student Olympiad in Graz and then in the Olympiad is Skopje.
In the preliminaries we had drawn Yugoslavia and Switzerland, who were the only other teams likely to qualify for the ‘A’ final. We missed qualification narrowly and I think that every team member had one poor result in the qualifying rounds – mine being a scraped draw against a Syrian team.
We won the ‘B’ final by beating the Israeli team in the last round and I felt pleased by my score of 11.5/16 with no losses. Indeed, in my last round game with Balshan I was quite rightly instructed to agree a draw in a winning position to secure the team’s first place.
I feel that this tournament from my point of view aptly demonstrates the difference in title norms in the early 1970s and today. I played five players who had no Elo ratings and only four titled players. Hence an IM norm would not have been available under any circumstances. The main reason for the lack of Elo ratings in 1972 was that the new system had only just been introduced and for many players this was their first Elo-rated tournament. In the last Elo list, all but one of the sixteen players are rated, there are now four GMs and five IMs amongst my opponents and the norm figures would be 10.5/16 and 12.5/16 for IM and GM respectively.
Here is my best game from the Olympiad. It is indicative of an early combination prevailing through into a winning ending.
In 1973 I was once more plagued by too many invitations and played indifferently throughput the year. The only bright spots were my score of 3/7 on boards 3 and 4 of the European Team Finals and second place in the Woolacombe International.
1974 was once again an Olympiad year. The England team won the Clare Benedict for the first time in Menorca and I was able to contribute 5/6 winning both a board prize and the best score prize. I was drafted into the Olympiad team as a late replacement and although we qualified easily enough for the ‘A’ finals this was in no way due to my efforts as I had a 50% score in the preliminaries.
We had qualified for the ‘A’ final with one round to spare and our last group match against the USE (from which the score was to be carried forward) began the final matches. It had been decided, as a tactical measure and in our view of our differing styles, that I should take black whenever we had this colour on the fourth board, so that Whiteley and Stean could utilize a greater proportion of whites. This worked to a limited extent and indeed, Stean obtained an IM Norm. Also, as it worked out I played in matches against seven of the top eight teams (being rested against Yugoslavia) and only three teams below us. In the end, I was pleased with my +3 =1 -4 with black in the finals to give overall a 50& score.
During 1973 and 1974 I was co-author of two books in the Batsford opening series, both with Tim Harding on Sicilian Defence variations.
I also wrote a best game collection of Karpov which was by far the most interesting of the three books to write.
At about this time, I decided to embark upon a career in banking and to abandon that of a professional chessplayer. Since then I have concentrated on correspondence chess.
Having received master certificate, I entered a European and World tournament in both of which I finished first. The second of these two results qualified me for the world Championship Semi-finals. But first attempt in the eleventh championship ended in failure to qualify.
As a result of an invitation received by the BPCF I played in the Eino Heilimo Memorial Grandmaster event. I have , however, qualified as a postal IM by scoring the required seven points and had an outside chance of trying for first place at one stage.
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