The Gazette - August 2020

Sponsored by The Ulverscroft Foundation
Edited by Julie Leonard
The views expressed in the Gazette do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the BCA, nor those of the editor.

Recollections of 7th World Student Chess Championship, Leningrad 1960

From July 15th to August 1st 1960 the 7th World Student Chess Championship took place in Leningrad, now known as St. Petersburg, in the USSR. Fourteen of the best student teams from higher educational establishments on three continents took part, representing: Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, England, Finland, German Democratic Republic, Hungary, Mongolia, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, USA, USSR, and Yugoslavia. The teams battled it out over thirteen rounds.

Two BCA members were in the England team at that event! Peter Gibbs was on the top board and David Mabbs was the second reserve.

Peter scored 4 points from ten games. David describes this as “a brilliant result given that Peter’s opponents included Boris Spassky (World Junior Champion in 1955) and William Lombardy, USA, (World Junior Champion in 1957) to name but a few!”

David played seven games and scored 3.5 points. He didn’t get the chance to play Spassky, but he does have a treasured photograph that they’re both in! David’s opponents included Florin Gheorghiu (who became World Junior Champion in 1963) and Edmar Mednis (who finished second behind Spassky in the 1955 World Junior Championship): both of them scored wins against Bobby Fischer!

Peter writes about his encounter with Boris Spassky as follows: “Whilst I thought the game was extremely complex I found him a most charming person. It was almost a pleasure to come second to him!”

Here is the game with annotations by Peter.

White: Boris Spassky

Black: Peter Gibbs

King's Gambit. Throughout his career Boris won many victories with the King's Gambit. It is an extremely complex opening but it depends on a chess player's style whether his nerves can bear it!

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4 3. Nf3 h6

This was around about the time that attempts were made to refute the gambit by moves such as 3. … h6 or 3. … g5.

4. d4 g5 5. Nc3

Theory also considers a number of alternatives for White such as 5. h4 or 5. g3 or 5. Bc4.

5. … Bg7 6. g3 fxg3 7. hxg3 d5

There was no need to return the pawn. The sensible move was 7 … d6.

8. Nxd5 Bg4 9. Bc4 Nc6 10. Ne3 Qd7 11. c3 0-0-0 12. 0-0 Nf6 13. Qc2 Bh3 14. Re1 Ng4 15. Nf5 Bf6

16. Bb5 Qe8 17. e5 Be7 18. Kh1 Nf2+ 19. Kg1 Ng4 20. Kh1 Nf2+

White had plenty of time on his clock. I could not work out whether he was teasing me because I was quite sure he would not be wanting only a draw by perpetual check.

21. Kh2 Bxf5 22. Qxf5+ Qd7 23. Qxd7+ Rxd7 24. Kg2 Ng4 25. Bd3 1 – 0

Peter describes the scene in the tournament hall for us:

“During the game I could see that the large audience of chess players was following this game with avid interest. At this stage I wished to resign as I felt I had a lost position but my illustrious opponent was not in the playing hall. I thought that in his absence it would be rude simply to knock my king over. Therefore I awaited his return and then turned my king over on the board and shook his hand. In spite of the language barrier we did some analysis of the game, which was followed by the spectators.”

The tournament was won by the USA, with the USSR finishing in second place. Peter comments on the rivalry between the two top teams:

“At the time it was mortifying for the Soviet team on home ground to lose to the USA with Lombardy on top board defeating Spassky. I became quite friendly with one of the USA players, Raymond Weinstein. He borrowed from me a book which was in Russian by Taimanov on the Nimzo. When he returned the book he had written in it ‘August 1 1960 - To the top board of England's student team with best wishes for a successful chess career.’ Signed Raymond A Weinstein

“Sadly, things did not turn out so well for the members of the USA team. Lombardy, in spite of his huge chess talent went downhill and died in 2017 in a penurious state. He was formerly a Catholic priest. In 1963 Weinstein developed mental problems and the following year he murdered his room mate, suffered from schizophrenia and since then he has been in an institution.” David observes that with hindsight, it was tragically prophetic that the British Chess Magazine, commenting on Weinstein's games, remarked that Weinstein had a “killer instinct”.

For editorial balance, I asked Peter to select one of his wins from the tournament to share with us and he chose his Round 7 game.

White: Peter Gibbs

Black: Vladimir Sokolov (YUG)

1 e4 e5, 2 Nf3 Nc6, 3 Bc4 Nf6, 4 d4 exd4, 5 0-0 Bc5, 6 e5 d5,

The Max Lange Attack - due to its intricacies I think that Black is either intrepid or possibly foolhardy.

7 exf6 dxc4, 8 Re1+ Be6, 9 Ng5 Qd5, 10 Nc3 Qf5, 11 Nce4 0-0-0, 12 g4 Qe5, 13 Nf3 Qd5, 14 fxg7 Bxg4,

15 gxh8=Q Rxh8, 16 h3 Bxh3,

Black should have played 16 .... Bh5.

17 Nfg5 Rg8, 18 Qh5, Bf5, 19 Nf6 1-0

Peter remarks, “To think these two games showed how I played 60 years ago. Would that I could play like that today!”

I also asked David for a few more comments about the tournament, and perhaps a game. He kindly obliged and the remainder of this article was written by him.


We were all, I think, a bit anxious about quite what to expect when going behind the “Iron Curtain” during the Cold War - but the tone was set upon our arrival when we were all hailed as ‘Visiting Sportsmen’ and were awarded a monetary allowance! Two of our six-strong squad were not entirely what they seemed, and their ‘secrets’ were never shared with their colleagues: one was a member of the Young Communist League, and one was the son of the Director General of MI5. I imagine that the Soviets would have been only too aware of this information, but to the best of my knowledge they never acted upon it.

Julie asked me for one of my games from the event, but I fear that they are too technical and too unexciting for publication. So I'm offering a game that I played just a couple of months before, during my preparations for the Leningrad event.

David Mabbs v L Alexander, played for Cedars against Athenaeum in the London League, 1960.

1 d4 d5 2 e4 dxe4 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 f3

The infamous Blackmar-Diemer Gambit. At the time, I was quite well-known for it, and introduced various technical novelties. It poses a lot of problems for a careless Black, but of course it is fundamentally unsound and today's generation are well aware of how they should reply.

4 ... exf3 5 Qxf3 c6 6 Bd3 Qxd4 (Bold) 7 Be3 Qg4 8 Qf2 e5 9 h3 Qh5 10 Nge2 Bd6 11 O-O-O

White has a very formidable position now. Black hopes that his next move, giving back material, will free his game and bring counterplay, but he has miscalculated.

11 ... e4 12 Bxe4

Black expected 12 Nxe4, but capturing with the Bishop leads to a position that is already probably won for White.

12 ... Nxe4 13 Nxe4 Be7 14 Nf4 Qa5 15 Qg3 O-O

FEN: rnb2rk1/pp2bppp/2p5/q7/4NN2/4B1QP/PPP3P1/2KR3R

White would love to play 16 Nh5 now, but of course the Black Queen would snap the knight up. So to clear the way, White blocks the rank with his next move.

16 Rd5!

It's highly unusual to see a straight rook sacrifice like this so early in the game. I had pondered it for ages [I love whimsical stupid-looking moves] and I convinced myself that with the aid of a later straight Bishop sacrifice I could force mate in eleven. Indeed, this is the way that the game unfolded - but my analysis was flawed.

16 ... cxd5 17 Nh5 g6 18 Nhf6+ Bxf6 19 Nxf6+ Kg7

If 19 ... Kh8, 20 Qh4 wins quickly.

20 Qe5 Kh8 (avoiding the double-check)

21 Bh6 (planning 22 Bg7+ re-instating the double-check - this was my original idea when contemplating 16 Rd5) 21 ... Nc6

A better defence would be 21 ... Qd8 - which I had overlooked - and now White may no longer be winning.

22 Bg7+ Kxg7 23 Ne8+ Kh6 24 Qf4+ Kh5 25 Ng7++ 1-0.

In case you're thinking “hey, that Rook sacrifice was unsound” it wasn't. But I should have ignored the flashy Bishop sacrifice, and instead played the simple 21 Nh5+ f6 22 Qe7 with a quick mate to follow.

Sixty years on, most of my games are at best very stodgy, and at worst highly inaccurate, as I spiral down and down towards oblivion!

Best wishes to all in our community, and hoping to see you over the board before too long.

David Mabbs

Editor’s note: Many thanks to Peter and David for sharing these wonderful memories and games with us!