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Tigran Petrosian

Tigran Petrosian was the ninth World Chess Champion. He held the title for six years amongst difficult competition, and is known for his ultra defensive style. Tigran Vartonovich Petrosian was born on June 17, 1929 in Tbilisi, capital of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. He learned to play chess at the age of eight. At the age of twelve he began playing at the Tiflis Palace of Pioneers. He began training with experienced Soviet players and began reading chess books. He was greatly influenced by writings and the positional styles of Aaron Nimzowitch and Jose Capablanca. In 1947 Petrosian competed in his first Soviet Championship and n doing so earned the title of national master. Petrosian would later move to Moscow where he would continue to play against stronger opposition.

Petrosian continued to improve quickly and in 1951 he would place second in the Soviet Championship to Paul Keres and earning him the title of international master. Two years later he would earn the title of international grandmaster and qualify for the Candidates Tournament for the World Championship. Petrosian would place fifth in the candidates tournament and therefore would not earn the right to play for the title. The 1950's were somewhat of a slow growth period for Petrosian. His defensive style produced many draws which he did not seem to mind. As his tactical abilities sharpened and his technique became slightly more refined, Petrosian rose to the top of Soviet chess by winning his first Soviet Championship in 1959. He would go on to win a total of four USSR Championships (1959, 1961, 1969 & 1975).

In 1962 the surging Tigran Petrosian once again qualified for the Candidates Tournament. Petrosian won the tournament with a stellar field that included: Bobby Fischer, Mikhail Tal, Pal Benko and Paul Keres. By winning the tournament Petrosian earned the right to face Mikhail Botvinnik for the world championship. Petrosian and Botvinnik would play for the title in 1963. The younger Petrosian employed his meticulously patient defensive style. The two battled to 15 draws, but in the end it was Petrosian who was able to capitalize on Botvinnik's inaccuracies and win the match by a score of 12 ½ to 8 ½ . Tigran Petrosian became the ninth world chess champion.

Name

Tigran Petrosian

Country

Georgia

Born

June 17, 1929

Death

August 13, 1984

Title

Grandmaster

Peak Rating

2645

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In 1965 Petrosian defended his title against up and coming Soviet grandmaster Boris Spassky . The two would have seventeen draws in their match, but Petrosian would win four games to Spassky's three and hold onto the title with a final score of 12 ½ to 11 ½ . Spassky would earn the right to rematch Petrosian three years later n 1969. This time Spassky would emerge victorious 12 ½ to 10 ½, becoming the tenth world chess champion. Petrosian continued to play with success in major tournaments, but never regained the world championship crown. Bobby Fischer would soon come into his prime and became an obstacle in the path to the world championship that Petrosian could not overcome.

Tigran Petrosian, the predominant world chess champion of the 1960's died on August 13, 1984 of stomach cancer. Today, he remains largely underappreciated. This is most likely due to his defensive style. Most chess fans prefer to see an aggressive attacking style, and often overlook the subtle beauty of Petrosian's play. Most notably Petrosian was a spectacular endgame player. Petrosian's legacy will be that of perhaps the greatest defender in the history of the game. He would methodically reinforce his position, making sure not to have any weaknesses and wait for his opponent to provide him with the right moment to strike. While he frequently gave draws, Petrosian was one of the hardest men to beat. He was given the nickname "Iron Tigran" for his almost impenetrable defensive schemes.

Some famous Petrosian Quotes:
"Turning chess into Poker and hoping for a bluff is not one of my convictions"

"The criterion of real strength is a deep penetration into the secrets of a position"

On Petrosian:
"He is not the most talented or the strongest player, but certainly the most inconvenient player in the world! His ambition is not to play actively, but to paralyze his opponents intentions" – Mikhail Botvinnik





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    German chess journalist Andre Schulz tells the stories and the history of the World Chess Championship fights in fascinating detail: the historical and social backgrounds, the prize money and the rules, the seconds and other helpers, and the psychological wars on and off the board.
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