Nice attacking game by Spassky!
Spassky B. – Ree H.
1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5
3… a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. O-O Be7 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 Standard opening play. Now the question is whether Black wants to play a solid game or to sacrifice a pawn and fight for the initiative with the Marshall Gambit.
Ree decides to play a solid line against his famous rival. In 1967 Spassky was the strongest player in the world, even though he had not yet won the World Championship title (he succeeded in 1969) Spassky had a plus score against Fischer, and against virtually all the other top grandmasters in the world. His reputation as an attacker was feared, and so I suppose that Ree wanted to avoid those types of positions where White can easily gain an initiative.
8. c3 O-O 9. h3 One of the most important positions in all of opening theory. What modern master has not played this position from one side or the other?
9… Na5 The Tchigorin variation. Today modern praxis sees more often the Breyer Variation (9…Nb8) or the Zaitsev Variation (9…Bb7). However, the Tchigorin line has many adepts.
Today the modern GMs have experimented more with 12.Kh1 and 13.d5, but without coming to a clear consensus. It is a tribute to the inexhaustible possibilities of the game that more than 40 years since Keres introduced his idea (Nd7) we still haven’t arrived at a clear appraisal of it!
A famous game of Fischer against Keres continued
12. dxc5 dxc5 13. Nbd2 Diagram
Now Black should continue with 13…f6!
Instead, the Fischer game continued with….
13… Qc7?! 14. Nf1 Nb6 15. Ne3 Rd8 16. Qe2 Be6 17. Nd5 Nxd5 18. exd5 Bxd5 19. Nxe5 Ra7 20. Bf4 Qb6 21. Rad1 g6 22. Ng4 Diagram
22… Nc4 23. Bh6 Be6 24. Bb3 Qb8 25. Rxd8 Bxd8 26. Bxc4 bxc4 (Diagram below)
27. Qxc4! winning a key pawn 27…Qd6 28. Qa4 Qe7 29. Nf6 Kh8 30. Nd5 Qd7 31. Qe4 Qd6 32. Nf4 Re7 33. Bg5 Re8 34. Bxd8 Rxd8 35. Nxe6 Qxe6 36. Qxe6 fxe6 37. Rxe6 Rd1 38. Kh2 Rd2 39. Rb6 Rxf2 40. Rb7 Rf6 41. Kg3 Kg8 1-0, Fischer R – Keres P, Curacao ct 1962
A beautiful game, fully annotated in Fischer’s 60 Memorable Games!
Getting back to Spassky vs Ree:
16. Nf1 Spassky decides to follow the traditional plan of building up his forces on the Kingside. But this plan is not the only one available to White in this position.
Several years earlier, in a game with the Bulgarian GM Tringov, Spassky continued with the most critical line (atleast, according to theory):
16. a3 Na6 17. b4! (Diagram, right) Considered by theory as the best line; the idea is to limit the scope of the Knight on a6
17… axb4 18. axb4 Nb6 19. Qb3 Bd7 20. Bd3 Qb8 21. Nf1 Nc4 22. Rb1 Rc8 23. Ng3 g6 24. Qd1 Nb6 25. Ng5 Rc7 26. f4 Qd8 27. Nf3 f6 28. Kh2 Na4 29. Qd2 Rac8 30. Rf1 Bf8 31. f5 g5 32. Ra1 Nb8 33. Qe2 Be8 34. Be3 Qd7 Diagram below
35. Bxg5! tearing open the pawn cover of the Black King.
The game continued dramatically: 35…fxg5 36. Nxg5 Bh6 37. Ne6 Rc3 38. Qg4 Kh8 Diagram below:
17… Re8 ?! This move shows too much respect for the opponent! Ree did not want to weaken his King position against such a fearsome attacker as Spassky. Perhaps Ree was reminded of Lasker’s teaching that any attack against a well defended King is bound to fail against correct defence!?
This move is the cause of subsequent problems for Black. It was imperative to play 17… g6! to discourage the White Knight from goint to f5. Now Spassky builds up a strong bind on the Kingside.
18. Nf5! Ofcourse! Spassky does not need to be asked twice! From here the Knight exercises considerable pressure on the Black position, and the only way to get rid of this Knight will be for Black to give some concession.
18… Bf8 19. Bg5 ! A master move! Spassky realizes that for an attack to succeed he will need to create weaknesses in the Black position. It is a sign of a master when he takes the time to probe and tickle the weaknesses in his opponent’s position.
19… f6 While this slightly weakens the Kingside, sooner or later this concession will have to be made. If instead the immediate 19… Qb6 then White would continue 20. Nh2 with the idea of Re1-e3, similar to the plan used in the game.
21. N3h4! Pay special attention to how Spassky builds up his attack. The manner in which he painstakingly prepares each subsequent manoeuvre and then executes his attack is truly instructive. One of the really impressive qualities of this particular game is how Spassky builds up his attack from scratch.
23… Ra7! Ree is quite correct in avoiding playing the weakening …g6 move, which would only create another target in his position.
24… Bxf5 A practical decision, to exchange a piece. But it changes little from White’s perspective since another Knight takes its place! Now White’s positional advantage will include the famed bishop pair. 25. Nxf5
25… Kh8 it is understandable that Black wants to get out of the Nh6ch threat. 26. b3 ! White chases away the annoying Knight, and in doing so gets some space for developing his crowded Queenside.
Spassky realizes that he can not win by direct attack alone, and so he begins to develop and coordinate his Queenside pieces. He creates harmony in his position, and once that is achieved he will turn his eye back to his Kingside attack.
27… Qd7 Ree is careful not to weaken his position in the meantime. 28. Bd2 ditto last comment. Now the White Queen-Rook can move .
28… Rc8 29. h4 ! Now that his two Bishops have been developed, Spassky feels it is time for this move. The idea is to provoke further weakening in the Black position.
29…Qb7 30. h5 Qd7 31. Qf3! Spassky decides that the time is not right for advancing the pawn to h6. The real idea behind this move will soon become apparent. This is a logical move by itself, however, as it brings one more piece into the vicinity of the Black King.
31… Qf7 32. Bd1 ! A classy move! White intends to transfer this piece to g4 where it will really annoy Black. Karpov used this idea in many of his later games.
33… b4 This frees the Black Rook on a7 from guard duty 34. Nh4! I like this move.
Ree could have tried to complicate with 35… Nxe4!? Then after 36. Rxc7 Nxg3 37. Qxd7 (37. Rxc8 Nxf5 38. Nxf5 Qxd5; 37. Rxd7 Nxf5 38. Rxf7 Nxh4 39. Ra7 is also good for White, maintaining winning chances) 37… Rxc7 38. Qxf7 Rxf7 39. fxg3 reaching the following ending:
Getting back to the game continuation:
40… Na7 41. h6 ! Much as in the ancient sieges of castles, the battering-ram proved to be an effective weapon! Now a file will be forced open and the White pieces will flood into the Black position.
41… hxg6 42. Bxg6 Qe7 43. Qh5!
43… Rb8 44. hxg7 Bxg7 45. Qh7 Kf8 46. Bh6 Forced mate no matter how Black plays it. He resigns.
Despite being outclassed by his famous adversary, I.M. Hans Ree demonstrated remarkable patience and calm. Fighting to the very end, he was a worthy partner in creating one of the best games of the 60’s. This game is considered one of the models for how to play the attack and defence.
SPRAGGETT ON CHESS