Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The underestimated Spassky

Spassky is sometimes underestimated after having lost clearly in the title match against Fischer. Still he had some very good results, not only during his peak years. Spassky's scores, only counting decisive games, in candidates matches 1965-68:

vs. Keres (1965) 4-2
vs. Geller (1965) 3-0
vs. Tal (1965) 4-1

vs. Geller (1968) 3-0
vs. Larsen (1968) 4-1
vs. Korchnoi (1968) 4-1

Spassky's opponents in the finals (Tal and Korchnoi) were both ranked number 2 in the world by Chessmetrics (less than 10 points from first place), and they were both beaten 4-1.

Even if Spassky lost the first title match against Petrosian, in 1966, this came after participating in the most exhausting cycle ever. When Spassky had played 117 games he still had a bit left of the title match, and the score was even. In the end Petrosian won with the smallest possible margin, but in the next cycle Spassky was again victorious in the qualification and also won the title match.

Spassky wasn't as good in the 1970s but won candidates matches against among others Hort and Portisch. He won the very strong Soviet Championship in 1973 (Karpov, Korchnoi and Petrosian shared second and much further down were players like Tal, Smyslov and Geller). In 1983 Spassky was also sole winner of Linares, ahead of World Champion Karpov.