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Mijail Tal: the Magician of Chess.

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Mijail Tal was the chessplayer most of us wanted to be like and I never managed to.–  The author.

I still don’t know why during those my first years I was mainly interested in positional chess and players like Karpov or Petrosian…  One of the eternal questions when you speak of Chess, art or music is if these disciplines help to build your character or if they simply show  what it is like… Some people believe that the truth may lie in the middle. Perhaps your character is revealed by the way you play Chess and also the study and practice do exert a strong influence on your character. Since I learnt on my own in -solitude and loneliness-, I think I developed a pathological fear to losing. Then, I felt myself more secure in a “safe-above-all” approach than in its opposite. Yet at the bottom of my heart, at home, I played and replayed Fischer’s , Tal’s and Keres’s games.

In 1981 I was High School Team Championship in my home town. I also took part in other local tournaments. In 1982 I began my university studies and in 1984 I had to continue them far away from home. In 1985 I got acquainted with correspondence chess and I discovered a wonderful New World. That was perfect to meet strong opponents, play serious events, qualification tournaments within the ICCF, matches, CC clubs , new friends, people with whom I could exchange ideas, try all sort of openings, etc. My whole life changed. For the first time I could say I had a Chess Trainer…

When you see a Tal sparkling combination for the first time many people simply think “that’s not possible” and hurry to replay the game again to see how it can have happened. We all have read that combinations do not appear out of thin air, that a mistake must take place or simply the amount of continuous pressure a certain position is able to stand comes to an end and the player is unable to defend himelf against all the threats so causing the position to collapse, breaking  itself by its weakest spot. O.K. We all have read things like this one a hundred times. But in Chess definitions hardly ever teach you what to do… And what is even worse: how can I reach the positions for the tactical possibilities/combinations to appear?.-

Much has been written about the genius from Riga. Apart from his life (there are excellent books starting by his own biography, Bjelica’s book in the collection “Kings of Chess”, etc.

You will find that some of their combinations contained failures, that the loser could have saved the game, etc. Yes, the same happens with Alekhine, for instance. But we must remember Tal was a practical player. He played against the man and he used his tactical skills to provoke tactical and combinational whirlwinds to try to sweep his opponents out f the board and win the game. This was his approach to Chess. Tal was obssessed with Chess and he could spent nights on end playing blitz after an official game in a tournament. He was always in bad health, undergoing operations and with frequent ins and outs of hospitals.

Mischa Tal was born in 1936 in Riga, Latvia. He died in Moscow in 1992. He became an IGM in 1957. In 1958 he won the Portoroz Itz. with 13.5 out of 20. In 1959 he played in the Candidates’ Tournament with a result of 20 out of 28 and became Botvinnik’s challenger. In 1960 he beat Botvinnik  12.5 -8.5, but lost the title the following year in the return match.

He was 6 times Soviet Champion : 1957-1958-1967-1972-1974 and 1978, and took part in 7 Chess Olympiads .

Tal won tournaments in dazzling style steamrolling over the rest of participants. Among his tournament record you can have a look at the following:

Bled 1961, Miskolc 1963,Amsterdam ITZ. 1964 , Hastings 1964, Rejkjavik 1964, Palma de Mallorca 1966,Week aan Zee 1973, Halle 1974, Leningrad 1977, Sochi 1977, Tblisi 1978, Montreal 1979, Riga Itz. 1979, Sochi 1982, Buenos Aires 1991. In 1988 he even became World Champion of Blitz.

(Note: as ever remember these post are aimed at offering hints for the reader to start his/her own investigations. And concerning the selection of games I always choose the ones I like trying to include lesser known ones.)

The Games

First of all, two positions:

W.: Tal  (1) : Kg3 – Ra2 – Bf1 – f4 – e5. c5 – b4

B.: Trifunovic (0) : Ke7 – Be7 – Rh8 – c6 – f6 – h3

Palma de Mallorca 1966

A clockwork masterpiece:

45. e6!! Be6: 46. Ra7 Bd7  47. Kh2! Rh5  48. b5! Rc5: 49. Bh3: f5 50. bc6 Rc6:  51. Bf5:  Rd6  52. Kg3 Ke8    53. Rd7: Rd7:  54. Bd7: Kd7:  55. Kg4 Ke6  56. Kg5  Kf7  57. Kf5  and Black resigned.

W.:  Tal  (1) :     Kg1 – Qa4 – Nc4 – Bd3 – Bh4 – Ra1 -Rf1 – a2 – c3 – e5 – f3 – g2 – h2

B.:  Hecht (0) :   Ke8 – Qe6 – Nf6 – Ng6 – Bb7 – Ra8 – Rh8 – a7 – b5 – c5- c6 – f7 – g7 – h6

Varna (Ol) 1962

19. ef6: ba4: 20. fg7: Rg8 21. Bf5 Nh4  22. Be6 Ba6  23. Nd6 Ke7           24. Bc4 Rg7  25. g3 Kd6  26.Ba6 Nf5   27. Rab1 f6 28. Rfd1 Ke7               29. Re1 Kd6 30. Kf2 c4 31. g4 Ne7 32. RB7 rag8 33. Bc4 Nd5                  34. Bd5: cd5:   35. Rb4 Rc8 36. Ra4 Rc3 37. Ra6 Kc5 38. Rf6 h5           39. h3 hg4: 40. hg4: Rh7  41. g5 Rh5: 42. Rf5 Rc2   43. Kg3 Kc4           44. Ree5 d4  45. g6 Rh1  46. Rc5 Kd3 47. Rc2 Kc2 48. Kf4 Rg1                49. Rg5  Black resigned.

W.: Tal (1)

Black : Larsen (0)

Montreal 1979

This event was a super-tournament featuring Karpov, Tal, Spassky, Portisch, Ljubojevic, Timman, Larsen, Hort, Kavalek and Hübner. Karpov and Tal tied first.

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cd4: 4. Nd4: Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. Bg5 e6 7. Qd2 Be7 8. 0-0-0  a6 9. f4 Qc7 10. Be2 Nd4:   11. Qd4: b5 12. e5 de5: 13. fe5: Nd5 14. Be7: Nc3: 15. Bf3! Nd1: 16. Bd6 Qc4 17. Qb6! Nf2                             18. Bc6 Bd7     19. Bd7:  Kd7: 20. Qb7 Kd8 21.Qa8: Qc8  22. Qa7 , Black resigns.

W.: Gurgenidze (0)

B.: Tal (1)

USSR Chess Championship 1957

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 c5 3. d5 e6 4. Nc3 ed5:  5.cd5:  d6  6. Nf3 g6  7. e4 Bg7  8. Be2 0-0  9. 0-0 Re8  10. Nd2 Na6      11. Re1 Nc7 12. a4 b6  13. Qc2 Ng4 14. h3 Nf2: 15. Kf2: Qh4 16. Kf1 Bd4 17. Nd1  Qh3:  18. Bf3 Qh2  19. Ne3 f5   20 Ndc4 fe4: 21. Be4: Ba6 22. Bf3 Re5 23. Bf3 Re5 24. Bd2 Nd5:  25. Bd5: Rd5: 26. Ke2 Be3:27. Re3: Bc4:  0-1

W.: Tal (1)

B.: Krupeichik (0)

Moscow 1981

1. Nf3 Nf6 2. g3 d5 3. Bg2 Nc6 4. 0-0 e5 5. d3 Bg4 6. h3 Bf5 7. Nc3 Qd7 8. Kh2 h6 9. e4 Be6 10. ed5:  Nd5: 11. Rel Nc3: 12. bc3: Bd6 13. d4 ed4:  14. Nd4: Nd4: 15. cd4 c6 16. c4 0-0 17. d5 cd5: 18. Bb2 Bc5 19. cd5: Bf5 20. Qd2 Rc8 21. Rac1! f6 22. Bd4! Ba3 23. Rc8: Rc8: 24. Ba7: Qa4       25. d6 Kh8  26. Qd5 Bd7 27. Be3 Qc4 28. Qb7! Be6 29. Bh6: gh6:             30. Qe7 Bf7  31. Qf6:  Black resigned.

The following game was one very especial to him:

W.: Tal (1)

Black: Panno (0)

Portoroz 1958

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 a6 4. Ba4 Nf6 5. 0-0 6. Re1 b5 7. Bb3 d6         8. c3 0-0 9. h3 Nd7  10. d4 Nb6 11.Be3 ed 12. cd Na5 13. Bc2 c5              14. e5?! de!  15. Ne5 Nbc4  16. Qd3 f5  17. Bb3! f4  18. Bd2 Nb3!               19. Nc6 Na1  20. Nd8 Bf5  21. Qf3 Rad8  22. Re7 Bb1  23. Bf4 Rd4           24. Qg4! Bg6  25. Qe6 Bf7  26. Qf5 Nc2  27. b3 Bg6  28. Rg7 Kg7           29. Bh6 Kh6 30.Qf8 Kg5 31. bc bc 32. g3 Be4 33. h4 Kg4 34. Kh2 Bf5! 35. Qf6 h6 36. Qe5 Re4  37. Qg7 Kf3  38. Qc3 Ne3  39. Kg1 Bg4             40. fe4  h5  41. Qe1 Re3  42. Qf1 Ke4  43. Qc4 Kf3  44. Qf1 Ke4                 45. Qa6 Kd4  46. Qd6 Kc4  47. a4 Re1  48. Kf2 Re2  49. Kf1 Ra2               50. Qa6 Kd4  51. a5 c4  52. Qb6 Kd5  53. a6 Ra1  54. Kf2 c3 55. a7 c2 56. Qb3 Kd6 57. Qd3,   1-0


Written by QChess

March 29, 2012 at 7:18 am

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