Raymond Keene

Fifty glorious years

Fifty glorious years
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Whatever else you may say about it, the USSR certainly created the greatest national chess-playing machine the world has ever seen or is likely to see. The Soviet Union perceived itself to be regarded as a pariah by the international community. One way to counter this was by winning the World Chess Championship, as it would establish the state’s intellectual credentials.

In 1967 a great tournament was held to celebrate the first 50 years of the revolution. The USSR failed to survive the next half century, but the anniversary of that tournament, won by Leonid Stein ahead of such luminaries as Vassily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Boris Spassky and the reigning world champion Tigran Petrosian, is worth marking.

Stein-Filip: October Revolution, Moscow 1967; English Opening

1 g3 g6 2 Bg2 Bg7 3 Nf3 Nf6 4 0-0 0-0 5 d3 d6 6 c4 c5 7 Nc3 Nc6 8 Rb1 Rb8 9 a3 a6 10 b4 cxb4 11 axb4 b5 12 cxb5 axb5 13 d4 This is the only way for White to fight for the initiative. 13 ... Bf5 This is the wrong plan. Black should prefer 13 ... Bg4, intending to exchange on f3. An example is Keene-Cafferty, British Championship 1970 which continued 13 ... Bg4 14 d5 Bxf3 15 exf3 Ne5 16 f4 Nc4 17 Ne2 Qb6 and the game was eventually drawn. 14 Rb3 Ne4 15 Nxe4 Bxe4 16 d5 Bxf3 17 exf3 This recapture ensures that the front f-pawn can storm forwards to batter open the black king’s position. 17 ... Ne5 18 f4 Nc4 19 f5 Ra8 Capturing the f-pawn would be very risky as after 19 ... gxf5 20 g4 the white rook on b3 would be able to swing across to the kingside. 20 fxg6 hxg6 21 h4 Ra1 22 h5 (see diagram 1) 22 ... Bf6 After 22 ... Bb2 White should not play 23 hxg6 when 23 ... Rxc1 24 Qh5 Rxf1+ 25 Bxf1 fxg6 26 Qxg6+ Bg7 defends but instead 23 Rxb2! Nxb2 24 Qd4 with a crushing attack. 23 hxg6 fxg6 24 Qg4 Kg7 25 Be4 This assault on the light squares is the logical continuation of White’s kingside attack. 25 ... Qe8 26 Bb1 Ne5 27 Qe4 Rh8 28 Bb2 Ra8 29 Bxe5 Bxe5 30 Rc1 Ra1 31 Rc7 Bf6 32 Rf3 (see diagram 2) 32 ... Rh6 Black cracks under the pressure. The best defence was 32 ... Rh5, planning to meet 33 Rxf6 with 33 ... Rxb1+ 34 Qxb1 Kxf6 when Black retains equality despite his slightly exposed king. If 33 Kg2 then 33 ... Re5 34 Qc2 Qf7 is also fine for Black. 33 Rxf6 Rxb1+ If 33 ... Kxf6 34 Qd4+ wins. 34 Qxb1 Kxf6 35 Qe4 Qf7 36 Qd4+ Black resigns