Thursday, July 7, 2016

50 Years Ago Pt 1

This October comes the 50 year milestone in my life. These are the sort of things that get you looking back on things. So I checked Ozbase to see if there were interesting games, or encounters here in Australia in the year of my birth. However, I was very disappointed to see that the great repository of Australian chess games, doesn't have a single entry for 1966. It's like there were no games played in Australia that year.

Well, there wasn't an Australian Championships, and it was before the Australian Open came into being, but there would certainly have been some things happening in Australia on the chess front that year. This is something which needs further investigation....

I mean, 1966 was a vintage year for chess. It was World Championship year, with Petrosian holding off Spassky, it was also Olympiad year (Australia didn't play) with the Soviet Union winning in Havana. The line up of stars at the Olympiad was impressive: Petrosian, Fischer, Spassky, Tal, Larsen, Korchnoi, Portisch, Gligoric all played, but the star of the show was the Spanish genius Pomar who played an amazing game against Sweden's Johansson. Pomar unfortunately died earlier this year, but in chess terms he had an amazing life. Pomar's opponents included Alekhine (one draw), Botvinnik, Fischer (who he drew with), Karpov, Petrosian (draws), Smyslov, Spassky (draws), Tal (draws), and most of the elite of the times. Here's some interesting reading about Pomar, while here is the obituary on the FIDE site.

Pomar-Johansson Havana Olympiad 1966, the fun and games starts in this position. The game had started as a fairly standard Nimzo-Indian, and black has built nice pressure on long diagonal, which Pomar now just gives up 17.Ng5!? Black takes the bait, 17..Bxg2. A pawn's a pawn, and what is white doing anyway??

18.Bxe6!! What a move! White grabs back his pawn, hitting c8 twice! 18..Bxf1 And again, why not? Black threatens mate and the white queen. What is white doing?

19.Qf3!! Unbelievable! A deflection based on a back rank mate theme. White moves his queen from attack, blocks the mate and cranks up the tactical tension a degree higher. 19..Bg2! An X-Ray defence. 20.Qxb7 Bxb7

Amazingly, after white regains his rook, the position will still be materially level, but black has problems developing as white keeps piling on the pressure. 21.Bxc8! Bd5

22.e4!! White just doesn't let up, throwing another pawn on the barbie. 22..Nxe4 23.Nxe4 Bxe4

24.Re1 f5 Black's king has an escape square 25.Be6+ Kh8 No it doesn't

26.Bxf5 winning back the pawn 26..Bc6 27.d5 and black finally resigned as he is definitely going to lose a piece at least. An absolutely fantastic blaze of tactics!

There was also one of the greatest tournaments of all time played in 1966, the double round robin Piatigorsky Cup played in Santa Monica and featuring Spassky, Fischer, Petrosian, Larsen, Najdorf, Portisch, Reshevsky, Unzicker, Donner and Ivkov. Fischer started abysmally, but then had a brilliant second half of the tournament to finish a close second to Spassky.

And finally, a little teaser. It's white to play and draw from this position, composed in 1966!

White to play and draw! Enjoy :)

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