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A tale of two Mikhails
Compiled by Open Defence
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In 1961, two Mikhails, Mikhail Tal and Mikhail Botvinnik clashed again for the World Chess Championship. This was the rematch after Botvinnik's loss to Tal in the previous year. Ironically, the right to a return match was abolished after this and Tal was quoted as saying 'Would it have cost FIDE (the world chess governing body) anything to abolish return matches a year earlier?'

Judging by the score line this was a crushing victory for Botvinnik 12 1/2 to 5 1/2, but to judge an epic contest like this by the score line would be to do the game of chess an injustice.

Why did Tal lose? Tal jokingly offered a "journalist's" version saying, I had lost my lucky pen, maybe a supporter of Botvinnik had stolen it?. However Tal later on says, you must look into the form of the winner. In the first match Botvinnik tried to avoid complications, but this time he let the storm rage on if it was in his favour.

Botvinnik prepared well for this match. He used the Samisch variation of the King's Indian instead of the Classical formation with g3. Tal was "forced" to use his stand by defence to 1.d4 which was the Slav and allowed Botvinnik to play 3.cxd5 which led to dry positions in which Tal could not seek complications.

Nevertheless, Tal fought despite his ill health, (which was to dog his career,) and the games in this collection are very entertaining.

First blood
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E48) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5, 41 moves, 1-0

Tal fights back
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B18) Caro-Kann, Classical, 45 moves, 1-0

The 3rd decisive game in a row
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E48) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5, 43 moves, 1-0

The first draw
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 41 moves, 1/2-1/2

Only a "draw"
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E48) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Bd3 d5, 73 moves, 1/2-1/2

Tal counters the Caro-Kan
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 29 moves, 1-0

Black's achievement was to make this last 73 moves - Tal
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(A23) English, Bremen System, Keres Variation, 73 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 42 moves, 0-1

Now Tal tries the Slav
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(D14) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Exchange Variation, 42 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik switches to the French
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(C18) French, Winawer, 41 moves, 1-0

Pure Botvinnik
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E85) King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox Variation, 41 moves, 1-0

Tal keeps dropping points with Black
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E81) King's Indian, Samisch, 63 moves, 1-0

Tal holds the Carro - Kan
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 90 moves, 1/2-1/2

Two Bishops versus a Knight
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E80) King's Indian, Samisch Variation, 83 moves, 0-1

Now Tal loses with White
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 41 moves, 0-1

Some said Tal played the end game like an amateur
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E81) King's Indian, Samisch, 75 moves, 0-1

A monumental game
Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 121 moves, 1/2-1/2

Champion of the World
Botvinnik vs Tal, 1961 
(E24) Nimzo-Indian, Samisch, 33 moves, 1-0

18 games

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