There were tremendous pressures on the competitors in the recently completed World Championship Candidates' semi-finals. Viktor Korchnoi was trying to earn the challenger's role once again in hopes of avenging three previous match losses to World Champion Anatoly Karpov. Gari Kasparov, the 20-year-old Soviet star who seems ultimately destined to become world champion, was eager to prove that ultimately is now. Hungarian Zoltan Ribli wanted to show that he deserves to be ranked with the other superstars.
Pressure may be the reason none of these three great grandmasters - even Kasparov in his 7-4 victory over Korchnoi - played up to his potential consistently throughout the month-long matches. Only Soviet veteran Vassily Smyslov had nothing to prove. A world-class player in the early 1950s and world champion in 1957, he had already shown he was No. 1.
Perhaps this is why Smyslov was the only one of the four who really played up to his ability. At 62, he shrugged off 30 years and played youthful, aggressive, confident chess to defeat the favored Ribli by 61/2-41/2. Disdaining recent innovations in opening theory, he played tried-and-true variations which have stood him well over the years and which he knows as well as anyone else in the world.
As a result of his victory, Smyslov will now play Kasparov at a site and date to be determined (probably next spring somewhere in the Soviet Union) for the right to meet Karpov in the world title match later in the year.
No one appreciates Smyslov's art better than I. When I was his opposite number on Board 2 in the United States vs. USSR match in 1955, he destroyed me 4 -0. Although I managed some draws in the next 25 or so years, I have never defeated him. Only Bobby Fischer has manhandled me in similar fashion.
The seventh match game which we examine today established an insurmountable 41/2-to-21/2-point lead for Smyslov.
Smyslov Ribli 1. P-Q4 N-KB3 2. N-KB3 P-K3 3 P-B4 P-Q4 4. N-B3 P-B4 5. PxQP NxP 6. P-K3 N-QB3 7. B-Q3 B-K2 8. O-O O-O 9. P-QR3 PxP 10. PxP B-B3 11. B-K4 (a) N(3)-K2 12. N-K5 P-KN3 13. B-R6 B-N2 14. BxB KxB 15. R-B1 P-N3 16. NxN NxN 17. BxN QxB 18. R-B7 (b) B-N2 19. Q-N4 QR-Q1 20. R-Q1 P-QR4 21. P-KR4 R-B1 22. R-Q7 Q-K5 23. Q-N5 B-B3 24. P-B3 Q-B4 25. R-R7 B-R5 26. R-K1 R-B7 27. P-QN4 B-N6 28. PxP PxP 29. R-K4 P-R3 30. Q-K3 R-N7 (c) 31. R-N4 P-N4 32. PxP P-R4 33. R-N3 P-R5 34. R-N4 P-R6 35. P-N6 (d) P-R7 ch 36. KxP R-R1 ch 37. K-N3 RxP ch (e) 38. KxR Q-B7 ch 39. Q-B2 R-R7 ch 40. KxR QxQ ch 41. K-R3 Q-B8 ch 42. R-N2 Resigns (f)
A. Until now the same as Game 5 of the match. Though Smyslov won that game with 11. Q-B2, he now plays 11. B-K4, which is probably stonger. For the record, he beat me in the Leipzig Olympics of 1960 by playing B-K4 in a virtually identical position.
B. This strong rook emplacement justifies the simplification of the previous moves. The rook cannot be harassed by 18. . . . Q-Q3 because of 19. RxP ch, RxR; 2O. NxR, gaining a pawn, since 2O. . . . KxN; 21. Q-B3 ch wins the exchange.
C. A clever try hoping for 31. R-B4, Q-B7; after 32. R(4)xP ch, RxR; 33. RxR ch, K-N1, Black wins handily, as White cannot defend K-N2.
D. A well-calculated winning move.
E. If Ribli counted on this pseudo-sacrifice to secure the draw, he is soon disenchanted.
F. Black runs out of checks after 42. . . . , Q-R8 ch; 43. K-N3, Q-K8 ch; 44. K-N4, and he will soon be helpless against the concerted attack of White's Rooks , Knight, and advanced pawn. The whole game is a splendid example of an attack successfully mounted with paucity of pieces.
Next week the chess column will appear on Tuesday.