Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A trap in the QGD Exchange Variation

In the first round of the 1949 Soviet Championship, the young Tigran Petrosian fell into an elementary trap against Alexander Kotov. Kotov's 7.Qc2! is an important finesse, since the natural 7.Bd3 allows Black to exchange pieces with 7...Ne4!, when White has little or no advantage. Petrosian, likely suffering from first-round jitters, played 7...Ne4?? anyway, but after 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 (the abject 8...Kxe7, immediately surrendering a pawn to 9.Nxe4 dxe4 10.Qxe4+, looks like a slight improvement) 9.Nxd5!, Black was losing at least two pawns, and could have resigned already. He did so on move 13, the shortest loss in the career of "Iron Tigran."

Petrosian later became known as one of the world's hardest players to beat. Of over 100 games in Chess Olympiads, he lost only one. He reigned as World Champion from 1963 to 1969. When he beat Spassky in 1966 to retain his title, he became the first sitting World Champion since Alekhine's victories over Bogolyubov in 1929 and 1934 to actually win a World Championship match.

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