USSR vs the Rest of the World (1970)

March 29 - April 5, 1970

During the 1950s and 1960s, chessplayers from the Soviet Union who participated in international (FIDE) tournaments dominated these events. The dominance was not limited to individuals, Soviet teams had also dominated the Olympiads since the early 1950s.

Soviet dominance was not limited to tournaments. Since Botvinnik's victory in the 1948 World Championship Tournament, the final matches for the world championship had been contested solely by Soviet players:

1951 Botvinnik - Bronstein
1954  Botvinnik - Smyslov
1957  Botvinnik - Smyslov
1958  Smylsov - Botvinnik (rematch)
1960  Botvinnik - Tal
1961  Tal - Botvinnik (rematch)
1963  Botvinnik - Petrosian
1966  Petrosian - Spassky
1969  Petrosian - Spassky

 

The event took place in Belgrade from March 29 to April 5. In this event, dubbed "The Match of the Century" by its Yugoslav organizers, two teams of elite grandmasters contested a series of short (4-game) matches. The event seemed ideal for the Soviets. A victory in the overall match would confirm to the world the true strength of of the U.S.S.R. Should the Soviets be defeated, well, this was a team that represented the entire rest of the world!

The Soviet lineup was impressive, to say the least. In board order the team was composed of the following players:

Boris Spassky (reigning World Champion)
Tigran Petrosian (former World Champion)
Victor Korchoi
Lev Polugeyevsky
Efim Geller
Vasily Smyslov (former World Champion)
Mark Taimanov
Mikhail Botvinnik (former World Champion)
Mikhail Tal (former World Champion)
Paul Keres
Leonid Stein (reserve)
David Bronstein (reserve)

 

Members of the World team were selected by Dr. Max Euwe, a former World Champion from the Netherlands. He had chosen the team based on rating lists. This resulted in Robert Fischer (U.S.A.) on Board 1 and Bent Larsen (Denmark) on Board 2. Larsen protested this ordering claiming that his latest performances were superior to those of Fischer. In a surprise move, less than 24 hours before play was to begin, Fischer yielded Board 1 to Larsen. Perhaps almost as surprising was the fact that the Soviet delegation agreed to this change. This meant that Fischer would now be paired against Petrosian rather than Spassky. Would a sudden change in opponent have any effect on the Soviet players?

Bent Larsen (Denmark)
Robert Fischer (U.S.A.)
Lajos Portisch (Hungary)
Vlastimil Hort (Czechoslovakia)
Svetozar Gligoric (Yugoslavia)
Samuel Reshevsky (U.S.A.)
Wolfgang Uhlmann (Germany)
Milan Matulovic (Yugoslavia)
Miguel Najdorf (Argentina)
Borislav Ivkov (Yugoslavia)
Fridrik Olafsson (Iceland) (reserve)
Klaus Darga (Germany) (reserve)

 

Round 1: March 29-30

White Result Black
Larsen ½ - ½ Spassky
Petrosian 0 - 1 Fischer
Portisch ½ - ½ Korchnoi
Polugaevsky 0 - 1 Hort
Gligoric 0 - 1 Geller
Smyslov ½ - ½ Reshevsky
Uhlmann 0 - 1 Taimanov
Botvinnik 1 - 0 Matulovic
Najdorf ½ - ½ Tal
Keres ½ - ½ Ivkov

Round 1: U.S.S.R. 5.5 - World 4.5


Round 2: March 31-April 1

White Result Black
Spassky 1 - 0 Larsen
Fischer 1 - 0 Petrosian
Kortchnoi ½ - ½ Portisch
Hort ½ - ½ Polugaevsky
Geller ½ - ½ Gligoric
Reshevsky 0 - 1 Smyslov
Taimanov 1 - 0 Uhlmann
Matulovic ½ - ½ Botvinnik
Tal 0 - 1 Najdorf
Ivkov 0 - 1 Keres

Round 2: U.S.S.R. 6.0 - World 4.0

Cumulative: U.S.S.R. 11.5 - World 8.5


Round 3: April 2-3

White Result Black
Larsen 1 - 0 Spassky
Petrosian ½ - ½ Fischer
Portisch 1 - 0 Kortchnoi
Polugaevsky ½ - ½ Hort
Gligoric ½ - ½ Geller
Smyslov 0 - 1 Reshevsky
Uhlmann ½ - ½ Taimanov
Botvinnik ½ - ½ Matulovic
Najdorf 0 - 1 Tal
Keres ½ - ½ Ivkov

Round 3: U.S.S.R. 4.0 - World 6.0

Cumulative: U.S.S.R. 15.5 - World 14.5


Round 4: April 4-5

White Result Black
Stein 0 - 1 Larsen
Fischer ½ - ½ Petrosian
Kortchnoi ½ - ½ Portisch
Hort ½ - ½ Polugaevsky
Geller ½ - ½ Gligoric
Olafsson 0 - 1 Smyslov
Taimanov 0 - 1 Uhlmann
Matulovic ½ - ½ Botvinnik
Tal ½ - ½ Najdorf
Ivkov 0 - 1 Keres

Round 4: U.S.S.R. 5.0 - World 5.0

Cumulative: U.S.S.R. 20.5 - World 19.5

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