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According to Wikipedia, the former world champion Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian has "almost impenetrable defensive playing style, which emphasized safety above all else".

Here defensive is by no means passive and emphasizing safety above all else is surely not a bad thing (see Petrosian's accomplishments). Which book would you recommend, if one wishes to play like Petrosian?

  • Good defensive player are paranoid. Read conspiracy theories. (Only half kidding.) – Mike Jones May 8 at 12:32
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    Maybe "My System" by Aron Nimzowitcsch for many of the same strategic ideas, although they seemed less convoluted when Petrosian played them. – John Coleman May 8 at 15:19
  • You really think reading some book is going to enable you to play like a world-class grandmaster?? Well maybe, if you are already a lower ranking GM. But in that case, do you really think anyone answering questions on this site is in a position to advise you on how to improve from GM to super-GM? – bof May 15 at 4:59
  • @bof I am not asking to about a book which will enable me to reach the level of Petrosian. I am hoping to find a book which enables me to play in a style which is similar to Petrosian's. – Zuriel May 15 at 5:07
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One of Petrosian's greatest strengths was his prophylactic thinking; i.e., identifying threats before they arise and neutralizing them. A book which discusses this concept would be good. For example, "Recognizing Your Opponent's Resources: Developing Preventive Thinking".

If you want to learn more about Petrosian himself, part 3 of Kasparov's My Great Predecessors series would be good. In this book he goes over the games of Spassky and Petrosian.

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    [+1] Kasparov's My Great Predecessors is a great recommendation! – Kortchnoi May 8 at 18:41
  • @Kortchnoi Yep I really like the series. – Inertial Ignorance May 8 at 20:15
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Petrosian's Best Games of Chess 1946-63 by P.H. Clarke, published by Bell & Sons is the obvious place to start.

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  • Thank you! I can also review the descriptive notation. – Zuriel May 9 at 4:46
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Shektman has a great two-volume set on Petrosian's games, but really, to play like Petrosian you need to get very good at tactics. One of the secrets to his playing style was the way he could sniff out the tactical possibilities inherent in the position and defang them before his opponent could take advantage of them. Daniel Naroditsky wrote a little something about that at https://www.chess.com/article/view/petrosians-tactical-side

Something to play close attention to in his games are the rooks; he was a master of the exchange sacrifice.

Maybe a good book for starters would be Petrosian, Move By Move, by Thomas Engqvist. It takes a look at several of his games and tries to explain every single move.

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  • Thank you! Since Petrosian is: 1. "one of the greatest tacticians of all time", 2. has "almost impenetrable defensive playing style, which emphasized safety above all else". Then Petrosian should be undefeatable. Does he have the lowest losing rate among all world champions? – Zuriel May 13 at 3:17

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