It used to be, if you were leading in a tournament, you took an early draw in the last round to guarantee a tie for first place.

This was the counsel of Mikhail Botvinnik of the USSR, who dominated chess from 1948 to 1963. His idea was, according to Robert Byrne, chess editor of the New York Times, that the last round was too nerve-racking, that anyone who went all out for a victory would blunder and lose.But just look what happened last week to the Yugoslavian grandmaster, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, when he followed this idea.

He was a half-point ahead of the world champion, Gary Kasparov, of the Soviet Union, in the prestigious Fourth World Cup Tournament in Barcelona, Spain. He took a 10-move draw with the British grandmaster, Nigel Short.

Kasparov, who was following a different drummer, defeated Boris Spassky of France, a former world champion, and equaled Ljubojevic's 11-5 score for a first-place tie.

The final blow for Ljubojevic was that Kasparov became the nominal winner on the basis of superior tie-break points.

Far from showing any signs of nervousness, Kasparov played a steady positional game in defeating Spassky in an exchange variation Queen's Gambit Declined.

The final standings were:

1-2. Kasparov, Ljubojevic, 11 points.

3. Salov, 10

4. Korchnoi, 9 1/2

5. Short, 9

6. Huebner, 8 1/2

7. Nikolic, 8

8-9-10-11. Yusupov, Vaganian, Ribli, Spassky, 7 1/2

12-13. Belyavsky, Speelman, 7

14-15. Hjartarson, Seirawan, 6 1/2

16-17. Illescas, Nogueiras, 5 1/2

-IVAN APPLESEEDS - As long ago as the 1978 Olympiad in Buenos Aires, a lesser player came up to the late Tigran Petrosian and inquired how the Russian team had done that day.

To which the former world champion from the Soviet Union replied, "Which Russian team?"

It was one of those jokes that brings to the surface everyone's unformulated thoughts. In this case, it awoke bystanders to the fact that defectors and legitimate Soviet Jewish emigres constitute a significant sprinkling of players in the ranks of the world's chess teams.

What would Petrosian say these days about the top French player, Boris Spassky, the player who led the Israeli team for a decade and stimulated the production of their grandmasters (Vladimir Liberzon), the third ranking player in the Nethelands (Gennadi Sosonko) and the horde of grandmasters who win many of the major prizes in the United States; all came from the Soviet Union?


May 5, 1989



White to move and mate in two.

Solution to Problem 2,670: 1. Q-R8 (Qh8)

Congratulations to the solvers! Ken Frost, Prof. Ardean Watts, Dean Thompson, Robert Tanner, Joan Schoen, Kay Lundstrom, Mark H. Timmothy, Paul R. Lindeman, Mel Puller, Mark Stranger, Allan Nicholas, Harold Rosenberg, Covert Copier, Keith Flower, David D. Kirck, Michael Marsch, Hal Knight, Raymond Linner, John Nielson, Brian Griffith, Wendell R. Hurst, Alan E. Brown, Hal Harmon, Erick DeMillard, Raeburn, Joan Nay, and Edwin O. Smith.