World Chess Championship 1954

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The 1954 World Chess Championship was played between Mikhail Botvinnik and Vasily Smyslov in Moscow from March 16 to May 13, 1954. Botvinnik retained his title.

1952 Interzonal tournament[edit]

An interzonal tournament was held at Saltsjöbaden in Stockholm, Sweden, in September and October 1952. The top eight finishers qualified for the Candidates tournament.

1952 Interzonal Tournament
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Total Tie break
1  Alexander Kotov (Soviet Union) x ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 16½
2  Mark Taimanov (Soviet Union) ½ x ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 13½ 125.50
3  Tigran Petrosian (Soviet Union) ½ ½ x ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 13½ 125.00
4  Efim Geller (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ x ½ 1 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 ½ 13
5  Yuri Averbakh (Soviet Union) ½ ½ ½ ½ x 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 12½ 115.25
6  Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden) ½ ½ ½ 0 1 x 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 0 1 1 ½ 1 12½ 115.00
7  László Szabó (Hungary) 0 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 x ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 12½ 114.25
8  Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia) 0 ½ ½ 1 0 0 ½ x 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 12½ 105.50
9  Wolfgang Unzicker (West Germany) 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 x ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 11½
10  Erich Eliskases (Argentina) 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ x ½ 1 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 10½
11  Herman Pilnik (Argentina) 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ x 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 10 93.75
12  Ludek Pachman (Czechoslovakia) ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 x ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 10 92.50
13  Herman Steiner (United States) ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ x ½ 0 0 1 1 ½ 1 1 10 88.50
14  Aleksandar Matanović (Yugoslavia) 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ x 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 9
15  Gedeon Barcza (Hungary) 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 x 1 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 8
16  Gösta Stoltz (Sweden) 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 x 0 1 1 ½ 1
17  Luis Augusto Sánchez (Colombia) 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 x ½ 0 1 1 7
18  Robert Wade (Great Britain) 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 0 0 ½ 1 0 ½ x ½ 0 1 6
19  Paul Vaitonis (Canada) 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 0 1 ½ x ½ 0 5
20  Harry Golombek (Great Britain) 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 ½ x 0 39.25
21  Lodewijk Prins (Netherlands) 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 1 1 x 38.00

Only the top five were supposed to have qualified for a 12-player Candidates Tournament, but four players were tied for fifth place, and since the Sonneborn-Berger tie-break margins were so small, all four were included.[1] The tournament was surrounded by some controversy as the five Soviet players took the top five spots - having drawn every single game amongst themselves, several of them after suspiciously few moves.[1] Originally, the 1952 Interzonal was supposed to have featured 22 players, but Julio Bolbochán of Argentina suffered a hemorrhage and had to withdraw after a first-round adjournment.

1953 Candidates tournament[edit]

The Candidates tournament was held in Zürich, Switzerland, from August to October 1953, with the winner qualifying for the championship match against Botvinnik.

The field consisted of 15 players: The top eight from the 1952 Interzonal, the top five from the previous Candidates Tournament (Bronstein, Boleslavsky, Smyslov, Keres, and Najdorf), and the last two players from the 1948 championships not already qualified (Reshevsky and Euwe).

After 22 rounds, Smyslov and Reshevsky were tied for the lead on 13.5 points out of 21, followed by Bronstein on 12.5 and Keres on 12.[2] Smyslov took a decisive lead in the next few rounds:

  • In round 23, Kotov defeated Reshevsky while Smyslov had the bye. Bronstein and Keres moved up to 13 points.[2]
  • In round 24, Smyslov defeated Keres with black,[2] while Reshevsky drew with Geller[2] and Bronstein also drew.
  • In round 25, Smyslov defeated Reshevsky,[2] while Bronstein lost to Geller[3] and Keres had the bye.

So in those three rounds, Smyslov scored 2/2 while Reshevsky scored ½/3. After round 25 the leaders were: Smyslov 15.5 with a game in hand, Reshevsky 14, Bronstein 13.5, Keres 13 with a game in hand. Smyslov drew his remaining games, beginning with Bronstein in round 26.

Smyslov qualified as challenger by winning the tournament.[4]

# Player 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Total Tie break
1  Vasily Smyslov (USSR) xx ½½ 11 ½1 ½½ 11 ½½ ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 11 18
2  David Bronstein (USSR) ½½ xx 11 ½½ ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 01 ½½ ½½ 16 224.00
3  Paul Keres (USSR) 00 xx ½½ ½1 ½1 ½½ ½½ ½½ 11 ½1 ½½ 11 16 210.75
4  Samuel Reshevsky (USA) ½0 00 ½½ xx ½½ ½½ ½½ 10 ½½ ½1 ½1 ½1 11 16 210.25
5  Tigran Petrosian (USSR) ½½ ½½ ½0 ½½ xx ½½ ½½ 00 ½½ ½½ 11 ½1 11 15
6  Efim Geller (USSR) 00 ½1 ½0 ½½ ½½ xx 11 ½0 01 ½½ 01 ½1 01 ½½ 14½ 198.00
7  Miguel Najdorf (Argentina) ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 00 xx ½0 ½½ ½½ ½½ 11 14½ 197.75
8  Alexander Kotov (USSR) ½1 ½½ ½½ 01 ½½ ½1 xx 10 00 10 01 14 198.75
9  Mark Taimanov (USSR) ½½ ½½ ½½ 11 10 01 xx 10 ½½ ½½ ½0 11 14 191.75
10  Yuri Averbakh (USSR) ½½ ½½ ½½ ½½ 01 xx ½½ ½½ 11 00 13½ 194.00
11  Isaac Boleslavsky (USSR) ½½ ½½ 00 ½0 ½½ 10 ½½ 11 ½½ ½½ xx ½0 ½½ ½1 ½½ 13½ 185.75
12  Laszlo Szabo (Hungary) ½½ 10 00 ½½ 01 ½½ ½½ ½1 xx ½½ 13
13  Svetozar Gligorić (Yugoslavia) ½0 ½0 ½0 ½0 ½½ ½1 ½½ xx ½1 11 12½
14  Max Euwe (Netherlands) 00 ½½ ½½ 00 10 00 ½0 ½½ ½0 xx 11½
15  Gideon Ståhlberg (Sweden) ½½ 00 00 ½½ 00 10 00 11 ½½ 00 xx 8

Allegations of Soviet collusion[edit]

There have been allegations of Soviet collusion in the Candidates tournament. Most sensationally, writing in the early 2000s, David Bronstein alleged that certain players were pressured to ensure Smyslov would win ahead of Reshevsky. He alleged that Keres was pressured to make a quick draw with white in his round 24 game against Smyslov, but that Keres resisted this, but the pressure made him in no fit state to play (and he lost).[2] He also alleged that he (Bronstein) was pressured to make a draw with white against Smyslov in round 26, and he complied by playing the unaggressive Ruy Lopez exchange variation.[3]

Soon after the article emerged, Smyslov replied, criticising the allegations; though Andy Soltis read that as meaning he didn't deny them.[3] Yuri Averbakh said that Bronstein "cannot be 100% objective" on his world championship attempts.[5]

Books[edit]

The tournament is famous for the strength of the players, the high quality of the games, and books on the tournament by participants David Bronstein[6] and Miguel Najdorf that are regarded as among the best tournament books ever written.

1954 Championship match[edit]

The match was played as best of 24 games. If it ended 12-12, Botvinnik, the holder, would retain the Championship.

World Chess Championship Match 1954
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 Points
 Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union) 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 1 1 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 12
 Vasily Smyslov (Soviet Union) 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 12

Botvinnik retained the Championship.[7]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b 1952 Saltsjobaden Interzonal Tournament, Mark Weeks' Chess pages, quoting Chess Review, November 1952, p.322
  2. ^ a b c d e f Andy Soltis (2002). "Treachery in Zurich, part 1" (PDF). Chess Cafe. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  3. ^ a b c Andy Soltis (2002). "Treachery in Zurich, part 2" (PDF). Chess Cafe. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  4. ^ 1953 Zurich Candidates Tournament, Mark Weeks' Chess Pages
  5. ^ Taylor Kingston (2002). "Yuri Averbakh, An Interview with History, Part 1" (PDF). Chess Cafe. Archived from the original (PDF) on 13 June 2006. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  6. ^ Bronstein, David (1979) [1960], Zurich International chess tournament, 1953 (2nd ed.), Dover Publications, ISBN 0-486-23800-8
  7. ^ 1954 Botvinnik - Smyslov Title Match, Mark Weeks' Chess Pages