CHESS

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I AM frequently asked by young players what they must do in order to improve their results. My answer is always the same: "Study the games of Tigran Petrosian, and make a solemn vow that you will never try to play like him yourself." Look at this game, and you will understand.

White: Tigran Petrosian

Black: Lajos Portisch

Candidates' match, 1974

1.Nf3 d5 2.d4 e6 3.c4 Nf6 4.Bg5 Be7 5.Nc3 0-0 6.Rc1 h6 7.Bh4 b6

Seven years later, Karpov demonstrated the efficacy of 7...dxc4! here.

8.cxd5 Nxd5 9.Nxd5 exd5 10.Bxe7 Qxe7 11.g3 Ba6 12.e3! c5 13.Bxa6 Nxa6 14.0-0!

Characteristically, Petrosian settles for the merest shadow of an advantage from the opening. 14.dxc5 Nxc5 15.Qxd5? was ruled out by Rad8 and Nd3+.

14...Nc7 15.b3 Rac8 16.Re1 Rfd8 17.h4!

What, you may ask, is this for, and why does it merit an exclamation mark? To the first question, I have no answer, and that is why it earns a mark of approbation.

17...Ne6 18.Qd3 Qf6 19.Kg2 cxd4

A weaker White player would long ago have given way to the temptation to play dxc5. Petrosian's plans are far deeper.

20.exd4 Rxc1 21.Rxc1 Qf4 (see diagram)

Falling into a trap of sublime subtlety. Black looks forward to an easy draw after 22.Re1 Qc7, but a surprise is in store

22.gxf4!! Nxf4+ 23.Kg3 Nxd3 24.Rc3 Nb4 25.a3 Na6 26.b4! Nb8 27.Rc7 a5 28.b5!

The bind is complete. Only Petrosian would enter an ending a pawn behind, with every intention of winning it.

28...Nd7 29.Kf4! h5

29...f6 30.Kf5 Kf7 31.h5! is equally uncomfortable and finally explains 17.h4!

30.Ne5! Nf8

After 30...Nxe5 31.Kxe5, all the Q-side pawns are ripe for pillaging.

31.Rb7 f6 32.Nc6 Ng6+ 33.Kg3 Rd6 34.Rxb6

The pawn that gave its life so nobly a dozen moves ago is avenged, and the game is strategically decided.

34...Re6 35.Rb8+ Nf8 36.Ra8 Re1 37.Nd8! Kh7 38.b6 Rb1 39.b7 Nd7 40.Rxa5 resigns.

A game beyond the dreams of anyone not blessed with Petrosianic gifts.

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