Arturo Pomar-Salamanca v Tigran Petrosian
Spain v USSR, Siegen Olympiad 1970
I don't remember exactly where I first saw this game, but judging from the comments on Chessgames, I have a suspicion that it may have been in Andrew Soltis' The Art of Defense In Chess , a book I read, many more times than once, in Stevenage Central Library when I was young. I wish I had a copy.
I was reminded of this game only the other day, having just acquired O'Kelly de Galway's old Pergamon book on Petrosian. It doesn't have the Pomar game (as it was published five years before Siegen, that would have been a little too much by way of anticipation) but by one train of thought or another, musing on how much I like Petrosian's games, I remembered this one, where Petrosian seems to win not just by doing nothing, but by doing nothing sensible.
The game was played in the Second Preliminary Round in a match which the USSR won 3-1. I don't know what precisely induced Petrosian to play this game quite the way he did: he could be provocative, but not, generally, quite as much as this. But noticing that the 1 was the result of Korchnoi oversleeping, I'm tempted to view the first board game in the same light, with Black playing, as long as possible, as if he were asleep. Certainly he plays as if unaware of his opponent. The fifteenth move, in which he shifts his rook to a square whose only obvious relevance is that it's on the same diagonal as White's g2 bishop, is one of the most remarkable I've ever seen.
If the point was to baffle Pomar, Petrosian surely succeeded, but you have to be world class to play like that without baffling yourself. If I tried it, I'm sure I'd lose in twenty moves. Not Petrosian. He plays as if asleep, but Pomar sleepwalks all the way into a smothered mate.
[My favourite moves index]