Draw in chess: Petrosian defends the fortress…
The preliminary agreement of draw in chess had always been much criticized, as they are considered unsporting. And of course, they are but do exist. They have always existed. It can be difficult to avoid two players of agreeing to draw in chess when this result suits them or it is important for their interests. We must understand that for professionals, the result of a game might have significant sport and economic consequences.
What is worse than a preliminary agreement of draws, is that when a party decides to break it without warning the opponent. There are some cases that have come to light in that sense. In a recent team championship in Spain, for example, Ponomariov failed to keep his word when his opponent has made some careless plays, trusting in the pact. The explanation given by Ponomariov was that his team captain has forbidden it. But this was not mentioned to his opponent.
A very curious case took place in the Olympics in Lugano (1968), in the match of Romania-USSR. Gheorghiu vs Petrosian has agreed on a draw. And when leaving the opening, the worldwide champion looked at his opponent questioningly. The Romanian GM said to him, “Let’s make a few more plays, for the audience…” and Petrosian realized it immediately. His opponent made a move and went to the bathroom. Petrosian followed him and then, very calmly told him: “If you make one more move, I’ll blow your head up in public.” And Gheorghiu understood that. It was draw.
Does the position have a spirit?
If the called Soviet School was characterized by something (not for the style or play way of their members) it was for a rigorous study of the opening and the middle game theories. And that outstanding and canonical research, with which many generations of players were educated, gave rise to a technical language, which still lives today.
One of the most widely used expressions is “the position spirit (or character)”, something that would hardly be found in the chess literature, before 1930 or 1940.
In the tournament of Zurich (1953), at the eleventh round, Isaak Boleslavsky was playing against Miguel Najdorf. After the 8 Dxd8 (changing queens) of his opponent, the hyper-stimulated Najdorf asked him:
-Did you do that play looking for a draw?
-Does it mean you play to win?
-Did you do it to lose?
-I did the play required by the spirit of the position.
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