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Istvan Bilek vs Mikhail Tal
Moscow (1967), Moscow URS, rd 3, May-23
Formation: King's Indian Attack (A07)  ·  0-1


explore this opening
find similar games 2 more I Bilek/Tal games
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Kibitzer's Corner
Mar-30-06  zev22407: A combinational masterpiece.
Whith 15)..d5 Tal goes for complications.
21)..g6! and 22)..d4:c3! and 23)..b3:c2! one blow after another.
May-25-06  LIFE Master AJ: According to this db, Bilek - a fair GM - is "oh-and-three" against Tal.
Jun-25-06  notyetagm: My goodness, does anyone play more in-between moves (<zwischenzug>) than Tal? In this game it seems that Tal never, ever makes the obvious move or recapture.

Threaten to win the two bishop advantage (14 ♘b3), Tal embarrases your e2-queen (14 ... ♖fe8). Take Tal's knight (21 ♗xe7), Tal embarrasses your f5-queen (21 ... g6). Take Tal's knight (23 ♖xe4), Tal pushes a pawn from the 6th to the 7th rank (23 ... cxb2). It must have been unbeliebably difficult to play against this tactical genius.

Jun-25-06  dakgootje: Look at whites pieces after 28. Rf1 =)
Jun-25-06  notyetagm: <dakgootje: Look at whites pieces after 28. Rf1 =)>

click for larger view

Clearly the White pieces are huddled together for their own protection.


Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Bilek was a really creative GM but he always played against Tal as if he were hypnotised, wide-eyed, just waiting for the next surprise. Zwischenzug city about sums up this wipe-out.
Jun-25-06  notyetagm: <IMlday> Yes, it almost seems that Bilek is afraid of where the next zwischenzug is going to come from. :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Tal's position was healthy after 12..♕b6 and better after 15..d5-d4, the standard piece-activating break in isolated d-pawn structures. Maybe already 15.♕f1 was forced? But the modest Bilek was ga-ga faced with the legend.
Jun-26-06  dakgootje: What about 15. Be3? Think black pieces are mostly pointed towards whites king so i think it is best to keep the queen in the kings neighbourhood by playing Qf1 or Be3.

Though im not sure it works because of ideas like <Ng4> and/or by first playing <a4 and/or b4 with the idea of d4>. But i think white might just hold on. then again white can play Nxc5, so maybe some of black attacking ideas might not work...

Yes i think it is going to be a close call but that white can survive with 15. Be3

Jan-08-11  jmboutiere: 20.Qd7 better than 20.Re1
21.Re4 Ne4 22.Qe4 h6 23.Nbd4 and if 23...hg5 than 24.Ng5, and if 24.g6 than mate in 5 starting with 25.Qh4
Jan-08-11  jmboutiere: 26.Ng5 better than 26.Nbd4
God save Tal for his performances.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Interesting to see how Tal prefers to capture a pawn rather than a piece with 22...dxc3 and 23...cxb2. The general rule is to capture the strongest piece, but this game shows that there exceptions to every rule.
Nov-08-12  Naniwazu: 21...g6! is a wonderful zwischenzug which drives the queen away. If Black plays the more obvious 21...Rxe7 then 22. Nfxd4 Re5 23. Qd7 Nf6 24. Rxe5! Nxd7 25. Rxb5 Bxg2 (25...Qd8 26. Rxb7 ) 26. Rxb6 Nxb6 27. Kxg2 Nc4 and White wins.

If 23...Bxe4 then 24. Ng5 h5 and now 1.) 25. Bxe4 Bxe7 26. Nf3 Bc5! 27. Qf1 (27. Nxc5 Qxc5 28. Bd3 c2 ) 27...Rxe4 and Black wins. 2.) 25. Qd7 Rxe7 26. Qc8+ Kg7 27. Nxe4 cxb2 28. Qc2 Be5 and Black wins. Therefore White has to play 25. Nxe4 cxb2 26. Nf6+ Kh8 27. Be4! Rxe7 28. Qc8+ Kg7 29. Ne8+ Kh6 when White has nothing more than perpetual (29...Rxe8 is more unclear).

Instead of 26...Bxf3 Black has 26...Qc5! 27. Rf1 (27. Rxb2 Qc1+) Qc1 28. Ng5 h5 29. Bxb7 b1=Q and Black wins.

According to Tal, White's mistake was playing 21. Bxe7 when he should have sacrificed his queen with 21. Rxe4! Nxf5 22. Rxe8+ Bf8 followed by Ne5. Bilek dismissed this because he had only looked at 23. Nfxd4 which Tal claims is refuted by 23...Nd6 (The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, p. 362).

Feb-09-13  pescau: Most of the time with Tal brilliancies, I'm like "I'd never thought of that".

But sometimes I don't understand what's going on even when I see the move. For example 15. ... d4. What's up?

If black was planning to take the dark squared black bishop, why not to do it right now? (instead of 16. ♕f5, 16. ♘xc6).


Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Bernard Cafferty analysed this game in his work on Tal; pity I haven't my copy anywhere near to hand, because he came up with some interesting stuff, and cited some published analysis of the time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: A wonderful game. Most of the interesting analytic points have already been posted here, so I'll just go "Wow!" and pass on ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: OK, one point re the opening: 2...b5 vs the King's Indian Attack has sometimes been credited to Spassky. As here, it is often a means to use clever move-order tricks to create a large aggressive pawn mass for Black, with ...d5, ...c5, and even ...a5 following.
Jan-16-14  grelf: Praise Tal.
Aug-02-14  SpiritedReposte: This is one of Tal's best.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: <notyetagm: My goodness, does anyone play more in-between moves (<zwischenzug>) than Tal? In this game it seems that Tal never, ever makes the obvious move or recapture>

I have a hypothesis that zwischenzugs are what separate the greats from the rest of us chess players.

Aug-20-14  Mating Net: This is an underrated Tal masterpiece. Some great comments by all the kibitzers.

So many tactical motifs used by Tal, intermezzo, discovery, promotion. The opposite Bishops favoring the player with the initiative played a large role in the attack as well. The g2 Bishop was useless against the discovery and the b2 pawn as it journeyed to the 7th rank.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <thegoodanarchist> -- <I have a hypothesis that zwischenzugs are what separate the greats from the rest of us chess players.>

Yes, but ... perhaps it is more accurate to say that *technique* separates ordinary chess players from grandmasters, and then zwischenzugs separate GMs from the greats ...?

Sep-28-14  parisattack: <Domdaniel: OK, one point re the opening: 2...b5 vs the King's Indian Attack has sometimes been credited to Spassky. As here, it is often a means to use clever move-order tricks to create a large aggressive pawn mass for Black, with ...d5, ...c5, and even ...a5 following.>

Its a good setup against the KIA, perhaps especially useful to French Defense players. Compare with this game: Bologan vs Ivanchuk, 2010

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <parisattack> Yes, indeed. Coincidentally, I'd just been looking at how an early ...b5 v6 1.Nf3 (as in Tal-Bilek '67) can transpose into the French Def line of the King's Indian Attack ... I've often used this system as Black after 1.e4 e6 2.d3 etc, but I don't think I ever tried to transpose into it after 1.Nf3 ... although, playing white, I've sometimes reached analogous positions.
Apr-07-15  zydeco: A few more notes from Tal's Life and Games, in addition to what <Naniwazu> has already posted:

Tal says that, in a tournament with consequences (e.g. an Interzonal), he wouldn't have played 2....b5, but the Moscow 1967 tournament had an exhibition feel to it, and Tal felt free to take risks.

Tal thinks that white was getting the better of it until 21.Bxe7? and maybe black should have improved with 19....dxc3!?

The queen sacrifice line continues 21.Rxe4! Nxf5 22.Rxe8+ Bf8 23.Ne5 Qc7 and then Tal planned to meet 24.Bxb7 with 24....h6 and "persuaded [himself] that [he] had some compensation" although felt that he was probably losing - and was certainly losing after 24.....Qxb7 25.Nc5.

After the game, it was discovered that black could improve on Tal's variation with 24....Nd6! but white could improve a move earlier with 24.Bd8!

Tal says that 21.Bxe7 was what he was "secretly hoping for."

White's last chance was to return material with 26.Rxb2.

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