Salut­ing some greats of great­est gen­er­a­tion

The Washington Times Daily - - Life - DAVID R. SANDS

Chess is wit­ness­ing the pass­ing of its own “great­est gen­er­a­tion” of lu­mi­nar­ies who came of age in the years af­ter World War II and would re­shape and dom­i­nate the game for decades. In the past few years, we’ve lost two world cham­pi­ons — Bobby Fischer and Soviet star Vass­ily Smyslov — as well as such no­ta­bles as Ger­man GM Wolf­gang Unz­icker, Amer­i­can Larry Evans, and the Bri­tish player and au­thor R.G. Wade.

Of the great Soviet gen­er­a­tion of world ti­tle­hold­ers born be­fore the war, only Boris Spassky is still with us.

Two great vet­er­ans still on the scene are 89-year-old Ser­bian GM Sve­tozar Glig­oric, who en­gaged Fischer in some mem­o­rable bat­tles in the 1960s, and Rus­sian GM and endgame wizard Yuri Aver­bakh, who turned 90 last month and is the world’s old­est liv­ing grand­mas­ter. The two stars were in their prime when they met in a 1966 tour­na­ment in Yu­goslavia, with Glig­oric emerg­ing the win­ner af­ter a long and fas­ci­nat­ing fight.

Some of the great­est com­bi­na­tions lie buried deep in long games like this one, where a mag­nif­i­cent tac­tic by Glig­oric is fol­lowed not by mate but by an­other 47 tense moves in the endgame. Aver­bakh as Black holds his own in a Ru­bin­stein Clas­si­cal Nimzo-in­dian, and by 23. Qe3 Nxd3 24. Qxd3, the only ques­tion that mat­ters is whether White’s iso­lated d-pawn is a weak­ness or a strength.

Af­ter 30. d5 Rc1?! (the tini­est of in­ac­cu­ra­cies over­look­ing an as­ton­ish­ing re­source for White — bet­ter was 30. . . . Bxd5 31. Nxf5 Rc1 32. Ne3 Rxd1+ 33. Qxd1 Qf6, with full equal­ity) 31. d6 Bd5 32. Nxd5 exd5 33. Qxd5 Rxd1+ 34. Qxd1 Rc6 (see di­a­gram), Black must have cal­cu­lated that the White pawn was doomed. But Glig­oric has other ideas, em­ploy­ing a rook that ap­pears to be badly out of play.

Thus: 35. Rh6!! (the first point: 35. . . . gxh6 36. Qd4+ Kg8 37. Qd5+ Kf8 38. Qxc6, retaining the ex­tra pawn) Qd7 36. Re6! (the sec­ond point: tak­ing the rook clears the path for the pawn) Qxe6 (h6 37. Qd5 Rc5 38. Qb3, again emerg­ing a pawn ahead) 37. d7 Rd6 38. d8=q+ Rxd8 39. Qxd8 Qg8 40. Qxb6.

Queen-and-pawn end­ings are no­to­ri­ously tricky, but White has enough pawn shel­ter for his king to avoid end­less checks while he makes progress on both wings. With Black’s king pinned to the h-file, Glig­oric uses the con­stant threat of mate on h8 to keep the black queen oc­cu­pied. The final break is per­fectly timed: 77. Qe7+ Kh6 78. g4! (the queen nicely cov­ers the check on e1) hxg4 79. hxg4 g5+ (Black stop 80. g5 mate) 80. fxg5+ Kg6 81. Qf6+! (and now go­ing to the pawn end­ing White can win) Qxf6 82. gxf6 Kxf6 83. Kh5 Kg7 84. Kg5 (with the op­po­si­tion) Kh7 85. Kf6 Kh6 86. g5+ Kh7 87. Kf7, and Black re­signs as the pawn must queen.

Known as a po­si­tional spe­cial­ist, Aver­bakh could con­duct an at­tack when the po­si­tion de­manded, as Rus­sian NM Igor Platonov learned in their game from the 1968 Soviet cham­pi­onship tour­na­ment, an event Aver­bakh won or shared first twice in his ca­reer. In a QGD Semi-tar­rasch, Black’s 10. Bb2 b6? al­lows White to open up the game on his terms, with the two bish­ops soon rak­ing the Black king­side.

Af­ter 14. c4 dxc4 (Bg4 15. cxd5 Qxd5 16. Qc3 f6 17. Bc4 shows the dan­gers al­ready fac­ing Black) 15. Bxc4 Kh8 16. Qe4 Bb7 17. Rfd1, White has a beau­ti­ful at­tack­ing po­si­tion and prob­a­bly al­ready has a won game, but Aver­bakh fin­ishes things off with panache.

The win­ning com­bi­na­tion: 21. Rd7 Be7 (Nd4 22. Kh1!) 22. Rxb7! (one just knew a queen sac­ri­fice was lurk­ing in this po­si­tion) Bxh4 23. Nxh4 Qg5 (White also dom­i­nates af­ter 23. . . . Qh7 24. Bd3 Rad8 25. Bxf5! Rxf5 26. Rxg7 Re5 27. Rxh7+ Kxh7 28. Bxe5 Nxe5 29. Rc1, with a win­ning endgame) 24. f4! Qg4 (Qxh4 25. Bxg7+ Kh7 26. Bf6+) 25. Be2!!, and the final de­flec­tion forces res­ig­na­tion as 25. . . . Qxe2 (Qxh4 26. Bxg7+ Kg8 27. Bc4+ Rf7 28. Rxf7, leav­ing no de­fense against a slew of threats) 26. Ng6+ Kg8 (or 26. . . . Kh7) 27. Rxg7 is mate.

Glig­oric Aver­bakh

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