Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Petrosian (former world chess champion)

Tigran Petrosian, World chess champion 1963-69, interests me as a chess player because his games appeared to be so positional, so much the opposite to my patchy attempts at sharp tactics. So, I bought a book of his games, written by Peter Clarke, for enlightenment. The way I practice is to hide Petrosian's moves and try to guess them. I manage to get about one in three right, on a good day.

This passage from Clarke's book was inspiring:
(Petrosian is) one who does what is needed to meet the requirements of a position and, on the whole, makes no attempt to impose his own wishes on it

... the basic rule observed by Petrosian is flexibility ... He strives to obtain the maximum co-operation and efficiency from his forces, estimating this to be more important than attacking or even taking the initiative
Clarke contrasts Petrosian with another world champion, Tal in this way:
Of the three elements that comprise chess - force, space and time - Tal has a heightened awareness of the last ...(whereas) Petrosian's fundamental strategy consists in the fight for and conquest of key squares - and space in general
I realise that my attempts at sharp forcing tactics sometimes represent anxiety on my part. I'm afraid that I won't know what to do or I might be bored in a closed equal position so I push too hard too early. I'm trying to correct this by keeping calm and let the position develop through its own internal logic, rather than impose my will artificially on it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have only recently discovered Petrosian, but am rapidly beginning to enjoy his games and want to emulate his style ( in my modest and lowly-rating manner ).

I first heard mention of him in Gallaghers's "Starting Out: King's Indian", when the variation named after him was noted : not greatly in his favour in modern times, it has to be said.

However, I picked up a second-hand copy of Colin Crouch's "How to defend in Chess" and it analyses 25 each of Lasker's and Petrosian's games as brilliant examples of defence. I am hooked, to be honest. I want to play like this !

As a player, I still have difficulties with White, but wallow as Black in playing the Pirc ( and the Dutch, inviting that attack :).

I was the same in backgammon, always enjoying the "back game", so I think that I am really a player who wants to defend and let others make the mistake that I can exploit, just like Petrosian.