CHESS

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Who was the most stultifyingly boring world champion of all time? Ask that question to any ill-informed grandmaster, and you can confidently bet that the reply will be "Tigran Petrosian". Yet the Armenian champion should be extolled for the work he put into achieving such a reputation. Some men are born dull, others have dullness thrust upon them, but only Petrosian truly achieved dullness. As this game shows, he had to suppress considerable creativity to reach such heights.

White: Tigran Petrosian

Black: Leonid Shamkovich

Moscow 1966

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Nf3 Bg7 5.Bf4 c5 6.dxc5 Qa5 7.cxd5 Nxd5 8.Qxd5 Bxc3+ 9.Bd2 Bxd2+ 10.Qxd2 Qxc5 11.Rc1 Qf5

A naturally dull player would now play without much thought 12.e3 followed by Bd3 and 0-0. A supremely dull player would prefer 12.Qc2 forcing the exchange of queens. Now look what Petrosian did:

12.h4! Nc6 13.h5! Qf6 14.Rc4! Bf5 15.g4! Rd8 16.Qc1 Bd3 17.Rf4 Qe6 (see diagram)

Thanks to his imaginative play, White has his king stuck in the centre, one rook lumbering around drunkenly and his K-side still undeveloped. Don't worry, petrosian has everything under control.

19.Rh3! Ba6 20.hxg6 fxg6 21.Rxf8+ Rxf8 22.Qh6 Qf7 23.Rh2 Qg7

With 24.Ng5 threatened (23.Rh2 provided a defence for f2) Black had nothing better than to exchange queens.

24.Qxg7+ Kxg7 25.Ng5 Rh8 26.Ne6+ Kf6 27.Nc5 Ne5 28.f3 Bc4 29.Nxb7

White reaps the just rewards for his fine strategy, but his K-side is still a problem.

29...Bd5 30.Nc5 Kg7 31.g5 Bxf3 32.Rh3! Bd5 33.Re3 Nc6 34.Rd3 Bf7 35.Bg2

Not a bad bishop - just a late developer.

35...Rd8!? 36.Bxc6 Rc8 37.Rd7 Rxc6 38.b4 a5 39.Rxe7 axb4 40.axb4 Kf8 41.Rb7 Ke8

Here the game was adjourned but Black resigned without resuming play. He is only a pawn down, but after 42.Nd7 the threat of pushing the b-pawn combined with the idea of harassing the black king with Nf6+ convinced Shamkovich that it was not worth the trouble of getting up for the resumption.

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