I recently described how chess can be considered an art form so it makes sense that I should also write about one of my favorite chess artists.
Many artists had difficult childhoods and that can certainly be said of the ninth official World Champion Grandmaster Petrosian whose parents died before he was 16. Fortunately, Petrosian found solace on the chessboard and became one of our game grandest masters. Nicknamed “Iron Tigran” because of his solid playing style which at times (such as the entirety of 1962) made him impossible to defeat. However, Petrosian could suddenly switch to attack mode when his opponents overplayed their positions and Boris Spassky even described these sudden shifts by stating, “It is to Petrosian’s advantage that his opponents never know when he is suddenly going to play like Mikhail Tal.”
Petrosian consistently created beautiful masterpieces stemming from his trademark positional exchange sacrifices. On other occasions he would steer the game in the direction of stunning queen sacrifices such as today’s feature position. In doing so he popularized chess in his home country of Armenia and inspired chess fans globally.
Here there were several reasonable continuations for black including Rg8 and Ref8. However, Tigran chose the more beautiful Qxh2+!
Play continued as shown below until white resigned.