While most of the excitement in the semifinals of the current World Championship series will be focused on the spectacular Viktor Korchnoi-Gari Kasparov pairing, we should not overlook the other match, which features two great grandmasters of positional play, Vassily Smyslov of the Soviet Union and Zoltan Ribli of Hungary.
Smyslov, who won the World Championship in 1957 when he defeated another great Soviet champion, Mikhail Botvinnik, by a 12 1/2-9 1/2 score, is undoubtedly the sentimental favorite. A marvel of staying power at 62, he will be spotting Ribli 30 years.
Stylistically there are many similarities between the players: They both enjoy accumulating small advantages culminating in a superior ending, where their technique is exceptional.
In the period 1954-57 the caliber of Smyslov's play was magnificent and might even be favorably compared to that of the great Cuban world champion of the 1920 s, Jose Capablanca. We shall soon see whether he can effectively turn back the clock almost three decades to defeat a tough adversary 30 years his junior. That he can on occasion perform this feat is seen by today's game, in which he outplays a current co-US champion, Walter Browne, at Las Palmas, Canary Islands, in last year's qualifying event leading up to the candidates' series.
Of special note is the odyssey of the Black King, which would have gladdened the heart of that doughty old warrior of bygone days, the apostle of the fighting King, Wilhelm Steinitz.
Bogoljubov Defense Browne Smyslov 1. P-Q4 N-KB3 2. P-QB4 P-K3 3. N-KB3 B-N5 ch 4. B-Q2 P-QR4 5. P-KN3 P-Q4 6. B-N2 PxP 7. Q-B2 N-B3 8. QxBP Q-Q4 9. QxQ PxQ 10. N-B3 B-K3 11. R-QB1 P-R5 12. N-QN5 BxB ch 13. KxB K-Q1 14. N-K5 R-R4 (a) 15. NxN ch PxN 16. N-B3 K-K2 17. N-Q1 K-Q3 18. P-B3 P-B4 (b) 19. PxP ch RxP 20. RxR KxR 21. N-B3 K-N5 22. R-QB1 P-B4 (c) 23. P-K3 P-Q5 24. PxP PxP 25. P-R3 ch K-N6 26. N-Q1 B-B5 27. N-B2 N-Q4 28. N-K4 N-K6 29. N-B5 ch K-R7 (d) 30. B-R3 B-N6 31. B-Q7 N-B5 ch 32. Time forfeit (e)
A.The Black strategy had depended on this move, whose soundness is based on the variation 15. RxN RxN 16. RxB PxR 17. N-B7 ch K-K2 18. NxR RxP ch 19. K-Q3 RxRP, when Black has the advantage with two passed pawns for the piece, while the White Knight at R8 is out of play and is probably lost.
B. Black undoubles his pawns and prepares to bring his King powerfully into play.
C. Much better than 22. . . .P-Q5 23. P-R3 ch 23. K-N6 24. N-N5.
D. Much better than 29. . . .KxP 30. NxP ch. Now 30. NxP is met by 30. . . .B-N4, and Black wins a piece.
E. Here White overstepped the time limit in a hopeless position. After his intended 32. K-Q3, N-K4 ch 33. KxP NxB 34. NxN R-Q1 35. R-B7 B-K3, Black wins a piece.