Talk:Tigran Petrosian

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I'm afraid I can't make sense of this sentence:

Mikhail resigned from playing chess leaving Petrosian's title at his side for 6 years.

Petrosian played Spassky for the world championship in 1966 (as the article says), three years after he played Botvinnik, so I'm not sure where "6 years" comes from. It's true that Botvinnik didn't claim his right to a rematch the year after he lost, but that's not what this says, of course. --Camembert

" This led many to call his style boring, but this criticism is unfair." A rather weak comeback? -- CJWilly

Agreed. I have removed the lines discussing the "boringness" of his play. --Malathion 02:44, 17 May 2005 (UTC)


I've read somewhere that Petrosian's defensive skills may have made him the hardest chessplayer to beat to date. But I don't have a reference for this. Does anyone have a reference? Bubba73 (talk), 06:45, 14 February 2006 (UTC)

Well, stats show that Capablanca was about as hard to beat. Bubba73 (talk), 04:37, 15 February 2006 (UTC)
In the games in (which may not be complete, and may be a biased sample), of world champions Steinitz through Kasparov, Cabablanca and Kasparov had a smaller percentage of games lost:
  • Capa 7.16%
  • Kaspy 7.24%
  • Petrosian 8.4%
  • Karpov 8.6%
  • Fischer 9.4%
Bubba73 (talk), 02:10, 18 February 2006 (UTC)


Here are just three of the many references to "Iron Tiger" and "Iron Tigran": [1] [2] [3]

Botvinnik was also sometimes called "Iron" [4] but that doesn't mean that Petrosian wasn't. There are many references (409) to "Iron Tigran" in a google search. Bubba73 (talk), 23:44, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

I've got a published paper reference now. It is also said to be in Kasparov's My Great Predecessors, volume 3, but I don't have that book. Bubba73 (talk), 00:13, 18 February 2006 (UTC)
Here are some references to Iron Tigran by Kasparov:
In his best years, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian (17 June 1929 - 3 August 1984) used to lose so rarely, that each defeat of his became a sensation. For this truly legendary impregnability he was nicknamed `Iron Tigran' -- p.7.
But chess life was so arranged that `iron Tigran' had to begin the next world championship cycle... from a semi-final of the USSR Championship.' -- p.16
`Iron Tigran' plays with truly iron logic! -- p.62
In those years, it was easier to win the Soviet Championship than a game against `iron Tigran'. -- p.80 (attributed without citation to Polugayevsky)

Bubba73 (talk), 18:11, 21 February 2006 (UTC)

caro_kann variation[edit]

I have never seen the Nd7 caro kann referred to as the Petrosian-Smyslov system. I have only seen it referred to as the Smyslov, or occasionally the Karpov system. Any source on this? Perhaps its nomenclature in countries other than the US?


The article states "while trailing 3.5-1.5 (+3−1=1)" This is a bit confusing: three wins, one loss and one draw makes 3.5 points which presumably was Korchnoi's score. Better to state "while trailing 1.5-3.5" and give wins/losses/draws in brackets for BOTH players.

Nationality / genealogy[edit]

The article says "born in Georgia" and "lived there until the age of 9". But it described him as "Armenian", which is line with the chess mags of the 1960s and 1970s. The "-ian" ending of his surname is generally regarded as typically Armenian, e.g. Gulbenkian; likewise "-yan", e.g. Mikoyan (disambiguation). OTOH von Karajan seems to have been a descendant of one of the many Balkan-Caspian tribes, so names are not great evidence of ancestry in that region. Is there any material about Petrosian's genealogy? -- Philcha (talk) 11:51, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

I read an interview with Petrosian somewhere in which he answered a question along these lines by describing himself as "True Armenian!" It doesn't appear to be in Vasiliev's biography of Petrosian, though. Maybe it was in Chess Life & Review. Krakatoa (talk) 01:22, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
There was also a famous exchange between Fischer and Keres after Fischer had made some remark about how he was in the process of beating all the "Russians" in the tournament. Keres told him that there were no Russians in the tournament: Tal was a Latvian, Petrosian an Armenian, Geller a Ukrainian, and he, Keres, an Estonian. Fischer rejoined, "I don't care what states you're from, you're all Russians to me!" I can't find the source of that one, either. Sigh. For an un-authoritative source, see [5]. Krakatoa (talk) 01:37, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
I thought that the "True Armenian!" remark might be in Kasparov, My Great Predecessors, part III, but I didn't find it. It may be there somewhere. Bubba73 (talk), 04:32, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
"True Armenian" presumably because he was born to Armenian parents, albeit in the Georgian capital Tbilisi and moved to his 'spiritual' homeland after his parents were both killed in the war with Germany. Not sure about age 9 though, Sunnucks has this as late as 17. Brittle heaven (talk) 07:43, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
The October 1996 Chess Life article "The Tragedy of Paul Keres" has that Keres remark to Fischer. (Keres got a draw from Fischer, so one "Russian" got away.) Sjakkalle (Check!) 09:08, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
Great find, Sjakkalle! "The Tragedy of Paul Keres" is by Larry Evans, who has been severely criticised for historical inaccuracy by several chess historians, including Taylor Kingston. But Evans and Fischer were good friends, so I suggest we can trust him on this anecdote.
I suggest Sjakkalle should edit this into "Early life", which is the only section in which nationality is prominent. Please provide page numbers if possible, that makes the citation look really convincing.-- Philcha (talk) 10:04, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

You guys crack me up. Here is a source.[6]. You can find more here. Also, His middle name, Vartanovich, means that his fathers name was Vartan. I would expect the Armenian or not discussions to be on Kasparovs entry, but not here. Good day. VartanM (talk) 07:38, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Hi, VartanM. I've had a look at those of the sources you mentioned that are easily accessible on the Web, and I don't think they resolve the issue. If the article's current account of P.'s early life is accurate (but incomplete), P. was born in Georiga and learned chess there, and in his teens and early 20s played in both the Armenian and Georgian championships, and in other Trans-Caucasian championships. That leaves too many possibilities open, e.g.: (a) his parents were temporary residents of Georgia and most of his relatives lived in Armenia and were of solid Armenian descent; (b) his parents were of Armenian descent but lived all their lives in Georgia, and considered themselves Georgians; (c) his parents were of Armenian descent but lived all their lives in Georgia, and considered themselves Armenians; etc. At present the most that the evidence supports is "... is generally described as Armenian, but was born and grew up in Georgia, where he was taught chess, and in his teens played in both the Armenian and Georgian chess championships."
Can anyone provide evidence that supports a more precise statement, e.g. how P. described himself or how his fellow USSR GMs described him (like the Fischer-Keres anecdote Krakatoa quoted)? Such evidence would have to comply with WP:RS and WP:CITE if we are to use it.
The best I can find is NY Times obit of Fischer. I even looked though 10 pages of Google results for "tigran petrosian obituary". Perhaps I was using the wrong language and someone who search in other languages will do better.
While searching I found this amusing item. -- Philcha (talk) 08:42, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Comments like "you guys crack me up" don't help. We are (I think) all Western-based chess enthusiasts who've heard that he was Armenian, but we want a clear source. And Philcha, that link gave me a good laugh. Peter Ballard (talk) 11:49, 24 September 2008 (UTC)
I apologize if it sounded that I was making fun you. I have never heard of anyone calling him Georgian, not even by Georgians. He was known in Armenia and Soviet Union in general as an Armenain. We have all this sources calling him Armenian, are there any that call him Georgian? VartanM (talk) 03:36, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
That's OK. An anonymous editor at another article (World Chess Championship) changed his nationality to Georgian. I changed it back to Armenian, but it raised the question. And when I checked one of my chess books, all I could find was that he was a Soviet born in Georgia. Anyway, I have since found some good references (see below), so I think the question is settled now. Peter Ballard (talk) 04:07, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

What exactly is the question here though? He was an Armenian born in the Georgian SSR (Armenians in Georgia), part of the USSR. What's not clear?-- Ευπάτωρ Talk!! 23:35, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

The exact question is, "Where is a reliable reference stating that Tigran Petrosian was Armenian (rather than Georgian)?". It's not enough to say that his parents were Armenian. Many people identify with the country of their birth or residence rather than the country of their parents. Peter Ballard (talk) 05:22, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
His country of birth was the Soviet Union, not Georgia. His ethnicity was Armenian. It wouldn't have mattered one bit if he was born in Siberia or Latvia.-- Ευπάτωρ Talk!! 13:45, 25 September 2008 (UTC)
I have checked biographical entries by Sunnucks, Golombek, Hooper & Whyld, Gligoric & Wade, Hartston, Kotov and Schoneberg. As Petrosian was a Soviet, this is the term they tend to use and most writers shy away from the question of whether he was foremost Armenian or Georgian as they probably view it as fairly trivial, or of secondary importance. There are some inferences that he was Armenian in spirit, by his parentage and the fact that he moved to Erevan by himself in 1946. Schoneberg is the only one who specifically calls him "the cautious Armenian" without any real explanation, but later mentions how he (Petrosian) felt the warmth of his Armenian supporters, when he won their Championship. Other than that, I think you would need to pin down that "True Armenian" source to make it any clearer. Brittle heaven (talk) 07:08, 25 September 2008 (UTC)

Here are some reputable newspaper references which should settle it:

  • "Armenia has a fine chess tradition being the homeland of the former World Champion Tigran Petrosian" - Malcolm Pein in The Daily Telegraph.[7] He also quotes the Armenian Prime Minister saying "it is the land of Tigran Petrosian".
  • "the late Armenian world champion Tigran Petrosian." - Pein in the Telegraph again.[8]
  • "Fischer fumed after losing to the Soviet Armenian champion Tigran Petrosian at Curaçao." in a 2003 piece on Bobby Fischer in The Guardian.[9]

Peter Ballard (talk) 01:13, 26 September 2008 (UTC)

Those sources, plus the Evans quoting Keres cite that Sjakkalle found, are good enough for me, particularly since no one has cited any sources that describe Petrosian as Georgian. Good job, Peter Ballard and Sjakkalle! If anyone wants to cite the article by Larry Evans to which Sjakkalle referred, "The Tragedy of Paul Keres" begins on page 40 of the October 1996 issue of Chess Life, which is also the page that has the quote in question. Although I don't think it is a critical point, I am certain that Evans' article is not the original source for this anecdote. I know I read it long before 1996, but I haven't been able to find the original source. I have not found it in My 60 Memorable Games, the chapter by Keres in Wade and O'Connell's Bobby Fischer's Chess Games, the November 1961 issue of Chess Life, etc. Haven't looked at Chess Review yet. Krakatoa (talk) 06:06, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
It's not in the November 1961 issue of Chess Review either. Krakatoa (talk) 05:05, 27 September 2008 (UTC)
I've edited in the Fischer-Keres story and the newspaper refs - many thanks, guys. Can anyone supply the name & date of the tournament in the Fischer-Keres story? -- Philcha (talk) 08:10, 26 September 2008 (UTC)
Bled 1961 - I added it to the article. Krakatoa (talk) 04:41, 27 September 2008 (UTC)

Article used in Citizendium without notice[edit]

Maybe I missed something, but it seems that this article is without appropriate attribution used in the Citizendium. The basics of the article there was founded November 2006 as a simple copy-paste from then version of this article here. I do not know where the problems like this are solved. Thanks. Okino (talk) 17:48, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

Suggested for the Quotations section[edit]

Summing up a game between Petrosian and Spassky, Cozens makes this observation, “One watches Spassky take the initiative and mount lordly attacks on both wings. Nothing decisive emerges, and around moves 25-30 it begins to dawn that most of the good squares on the board are occupied by Petrosian’s pieces. A few more moves and Spassky can see nothing for it but to resign." -- Irving Chernev, The Chess Companion (1968)

I didn't want risk messing up the formatting syntax by trying to add it myself. One could render the name as [W.H.] Cozens, as that's probably who it was. WHPratt (talk) 18:39, 20 February 2010 (UTC)

Towards FAC[edit]

Gonna add things here as I think of them, feel free to add to the list. Sasata (talk) 05:57, 25 June 2010 (UTC)

  • needs much more info about the 1966 and 1969 matches; in general the "Later career (1969–1984)" section is terribly thin
  • check to ensure all images have proper licensing, fair use rationales, etc. Find pics of Botvinnik & Spassky we can use in here too.
  • find another example for the positional exchange sac section
  • anything relevant opening theory stuff we're missing? Would it be useful to expand the Petrosian KID section to a paragraph to talk about the history of the variation and mention some key games that Petrosian played to develop the ideas?
  • about the Petrosian QID, does Aagard really say "A common response for black is 4. ... c6" (just seems incongruous with personal experience)
  • Tournament and match record. I'm working on a sandbox version of this here, but the full list will be rather lengthy, and I'm worried how it's going to look in the final version. I'm reluctant to leave it out, as I think a complete record is an important part of a chess-player's encyclopedia entry, and many people will end up here looking for that very information. Any ideas how to handle this? Break it up into sections, like separate tables for tournaments, or separate by decade? Collapsible tables?
  • expand lead

Questionable sentence[edit]

"He seemed content drawing against weaker players and maintaining his title of Grandmaster rather than improving his chess or making an attempt at becoming World Champion."

Firstly, there is no need to maintain a GM title. Secondly, who felt that he "seemed content"?--Jrm2007 (talk) 22:41, 27 June 2010 (UTC)


Many years ago I read a Petrosian biography somewhere, where it was mentioned that he was deaf and wore a hearing aid, which occasionally led to strange situations during his games. E.g. I remember a story, when he offered a draw to his opponent, who quickly refused in surprise, but then changed his mind in seconds and re-offered the draw to Petrosian - however Petrosian already switched off his hearing aid in the meantime, and did not react at all, instead went ahead and won the game
I now looked around briefly, and e.g. this article seems to indicate that Hubner once even withdrew from his candidates match against Petrosian because the location was too noisy, which bothered him, but not the deaf Petrosian
I suppose this fact would worth mentioning in the article?
Gruen (talk) 15:08, 28 September 2010 (UTC)

1969 losing the title should be in a section by itself[edit]

Defending the title in 1966 is mentioned but a section about losing the title in 1969 should be clearly marked since it's almost not mentioned or at least appended to the section title "Reigning World Champion (1963–1969)" comon losing the title to Spassky is not worth mentioned? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:15, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

I agree with you; like many of Wikipedia's articles, this is a work in progress. Feel free to be bold and add info yourself if you have sources that you can cite. Otherwise, check back in a few months... there's a couple of interested editors who have this article on the backburner :) Sasata (talk) 18:48, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't have access to references about him, can you recommend one? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:05, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

"Armenian" world ches champion??[edit]

At the time Tigran was active Armwenia has no sovereignty and was part of USSR therefore he was soviet-armenian world chess champion. For comparison, Tal was born to jewish parents in independent latvia in 1936 and still he is rightfully called "soveit -latvian grandmaster" by wiki.Tigran was born in USSR to armenian parents. Why I say this is because all attempts at retrospective change of history do no good as to objective understanding of truth. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:20, 15 February 2011 (UTC)

Great chess player, failed human being.[edit]

No mention of his being a KGB agent and how he spied on and manipulated his fellow Russian players, even to the petty extent of stealing an airline ticket off Korchnoi. I will write this up further and amend the main article when i have time. Pdcoates (talk) 23:09, 12 October 2016 (UTC)

He did not manipulate his "fellow Russian" players since he wasn't Russian. If you are going to add anything along these lines a source is absolutely essential, and even then it should most likely be reported as allegations rather than facts. If your only source is Gulko and Korchnoi in The KGB Plays Chess it's probably not good enough to include. MaxBrowne (talk) 01:26, 14 October 2016 (UTC)
Fully behind MaxBrowne here. If you want to include it OK, but it will be considered controversial and will need really good sources, otherwise it'll be removed quickly.Jkmaskell (talk) 14:44, 14 October 2016 (UTC)