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Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Botvinnik - Tal World Championship Match (1960), Moscow URS, rd 9, Apr-02
Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation (B18)  ·  0-1


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Premium Chessgames Member
  refutor: a great example of tal playing his style and botvinnik playing his style as well. 11. Nxe6!? is not a move i would like to face over the board. Botvinnik dug his heels in and was able to hold on and win in the endgame. Admirable defense by Botvinnik
Feb-21-03  ughaibu: Talking about the post mortem analysis Tal said that from the position at move 19 he showed Botvinnik some interesting possibilities, Botvinnik replied with something like "that's very interesting but I take a different view, I just thought I should exchange the rooks but keep the queens on". Tal said he was amazed that Botvinnik could treat the position in such general terms but was even more amazed when he analysed and found that with queens off he could win quite easily but with them on his king gets too exposed when he tries to advance his pawns. This is the first time I've seen the full game and to tell you the truth I dont understand what either of them were talking about as the queens were exchanged just three moves later and Botvinnik won(?)
Feb-21-03  drukenknight: Is this from the world championship match? I have Tals book on the 61 match and I know he mentions this incident. But perhaps the game was played before the match and he was merely talking about the past. I'll look it up, I know Tal mentions this.
Feb-21-03  ughaibu: I read it in the text of a lecture by Tal on analysis. I think it was delivered at the Moscow Institute of something or other circa 1967. The text was published in Chess.
Oct-04-03  drukenknight: Okay Benzol this one just for you. You want to see bad Tal endgame? Here look at this. Except you know what? His end game looks bad only because at some pt you start counting the squares and realize he just can't make this end game situation work...

Okay but how did he get to that pt? He made a brilliant attack, it came within a whisker of success and then he over pushed and it falls apart.

Look at the end of the game, he just tosses the g pawn, he's not really trying at that pt. (its a fun endgame problem to count out if pawns on opposite sides of the board)

I think he could have kept it going at the end, but if you count it, he seems to be doomed: a lost game. So he plays a goof move hoping Botw. will flub up.

So the pt. is yes some Tal endgames look bad but this only because he has made some brilliant attack that has failed and "yes" he knows going into the endgame he has it bad but that was the risk....

So what do you think?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <drukenknight> 11.Nxe6 was probably irresistible to Tal. He got 2 pawns for the piece and good play for his other pieces. Exchanging off the white square bishops allowed white to obtain a good outpost for his knight at f5. It was a mistake, however, to exchange Queens at move 21 and allow his pawns to be doubled. Once this happened the endgame became difficult and possibly lost. Botvinnik played the endgame well and as you say it was probably just a matter of counting squares after that.
Oct-04-03  drukenknight: Yes. 21 Qg3 is weak and Tal says so in the book. But I think there is a better move than what he suggests.

Take a few minutes and look at that move. Then we'll see what Tal says, then will come up with something else.

20 Qd3 was a real nice move to continue w/ check on b3 or g6. Botwinnik's reply was quite good. It was this move that seemed to throw Tal off.

The Bishop sack on e6 is quite well known in the SIcilian it is also known in the Caro Kann. But here Botwinnik makes a move that forces(wellmaybe not) him to sac the N and not the B. See if you see it.

See what you come up with on move 21.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <drukenknight> I was thinking about 21.h5. Not quite sure what your talking about with the knight sac. Do you think Tal should have sacked the bishop instead?
Oct-04-03  drukenknight: Okay, when I said "N sack" I am referring to move 11. I'll get back to that...

Okay let's see what Tal says about move 21;

"Unquestionably the weakest move of the match. I frankly thought it was bad, but some how all the other continuation were even worse. Actually at this pt. white does not stand so badly. He only had to decide on the advance f4! and after 21...Rae8 to play 22 Re5! I did not like the fact that black can continue 22...c5 bla bla bla...."

he doesnt even mention 21 h5. You still want to challenge the great Tal on this move, Benzol...?

Okay,I am with you Benzol. 21 h5 sets up pressure against the K, that is what white has to do, yes? The Rooks will come off next...

Anyhow okay. Two more problems for you Benzol:

In the endgame, Tal messes up his pawn play and it's 39 a3 which Tal claims messes up because he claims the pawn should have been on a4 after a million moves later in the game. Whatever...

Just look at the moves around that pt. and I think you will see something intersting. Ask yourself why is he doing that? Two moves really.

Okay second question: how does Tal mess up this opening? I am talking about move 11, the N sack. Okay this is very common in sicilian and in carokann. But usually it is the B that is sacked and not the N!

Why? Because with a N on e6 (after Bxe6 fxe6) then the N can check the K. (There is a real nice game I can show with this but it's getting late)

So why the N? It gives check. Why check?

Becuase you have given up material and you must attack. Simple.

Okay Botwinnik play somethign tricky on move 10 and Tal has to use the N first. Already the opening is out of whack.

Look what Tal says on move 16 "This is or approximately this position was the one that we examined at home and evaluated as being extremely rosy."

Ha ha ha. Hee hee hee. That Tal is some joker isnt he? It's nice to see Tal has a sense of humor about things huh?

But look after move 11. Let's say okay we played the N sack, should have been the B, but it's over we cant take it back.

Do you see a better follow up? Try it and see.

I'll be back on monday Benzol, I am going to Pittsburgh and watch the Steelers on sunday so see you in a couple of days.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <drukenknight> Not quite sure what you've got in mind. Maybe white king can go after black g pawn then let black king deal with passed k-side pawns. While that's going on white king can trek over to q-side and eliminate black's q-side pawns.

If 11.Bxe6 perhaps black should just castle and let the pawn go maybe?

How'd the steelers go?

Oct-06-03  AdrianP: <Benzol> <Drukenknight> I can't see that 21. h5 goes anywhere,

21. gxh5 ...
or 21. Rxe1+ 22. Rxe1 gxh5 ...

both leave B with a slight edge.

Does Tal mention 21. Qb3 at all, eyeing the b7 pawn and getting his Q on the nice a2-h7 diagonal.

21. Qb3 Rxe1 22. Rxe1 Qxd4 23. Qxb7 and things are dangerous for B...?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <AdrianP> I agree 21.h5 really doesn't look that good but is there anything other than that or 21.Qb3 as you mention. These choices have got to be better than 21.Qg3.
I have Tal's book somewhere but I can't find it at the moment. He might mention 21.Qb3 but I'm not sure.
Oct-08-03  drukenknight: Adrian: are you making moves for black or white? If you are making moves for black then use "21...." to show that it is blacks move on move 21.

Okay you have made two suggestions, you cant play both you have to choose. 21...gxh5 looks like it will leave an open file for the K so I guess 21...RxR+ is best.

Earlier in the game, what about 12 Re1 doesnt this make more sense in order to put pressure on the K?

Dec-30-03  PinkPanther: 21.Qg3 is an absolute stinker of a move. The one thing Tal has going for him at that time was his pawn majority, which he irreparably cripples with 21.Qg3. It makes absolutely no sense to play a move like that. No wonder Fischer accused the Russians of cheating and playing dishonest games.
Dec-30-03  John Doe: I don't follow your logic...
Dec-30-03  ughaibu: John Doe: I think PinkPanther's thesis is similar to an idea of Drukenknight's. The latter can be found expounded at game 5 Fischer-Spassky 1972.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <ughaibu: Talking about the post mortem analysis Tal said that from the position at move 19 he showed Botvinnik some interesting possibilities, Botvinnik replied with something like "that's very interesting but I take a different view, I just thought I should exchange the rooks but keep the queens on". Tal said he was amazed that Botvinnik could treat the position in such general terms but was even more amazed when he analysed and found that with queens off he could win quite easily but with them on his king gets too exposed when he tries to advance his pawns. This is the first time I've seen the full game and to tell you the truth I dont understand what either of them were talking about as the queens were exchanged just three moves later and Botvinnik won(?) >

I think I can explain this from first principles, <ugi>: In order to complete his attack, Tal probably needs to bring more wood up the board. In the position after move 17, for istance, let's take the queens off the board. Although superficially it appears that White attack has disapeared, White probably has a strategically won position. The reason is that he can fairly safely start marching his pawns (and probably also king). After they arrive in the NE corner of the board, Black will be hard pressed to mount an effective defense. He just can not bring over enough of his own men.

With those queens on the board, however, Black sits smug like a bug, for the pawn march would expose White king too much. And after the strategically terible Qg3?, Black can even exchange the queens and play for the win, because the White pawns damaged during the exchange can not get going.

This, I think, is the pedestrian reason behind Botvinnik's etheral comment and his seemingly contradictory play.

(Although not at all at the same level, I recently ran into related motives while analysing the final position of Duras vs J Kvicala, 1902. I post the link for those who would like an alternative workbench for experimenting.)

Jan-13-05  noone2: DK - I don't understand your comments
21 h5 looks just bad - it simply surrenders a pawn. (Incidentally, I like Tal's suggestion of 21 f4! with the idea of Re5 - this looks like it will happen because black recapturing a rook will either result in a fork or a pin (regaining material with a menacing pawn structure).

Your other note suggests that the N sac was wrong - it should have been the B that was sac'd. If white played 11 B:e6 Botvinnik would simply play 11 ... B:f4 and the best Tal would get is 2 pawns for the piece with absolutely no compensation.

The text sac on move 11 results in an uncastled king position and 3 pawns.

Jan-13-05  drukenknight: Yes, noone. I think you are right, it looks like the Rooks have to come off first, what do you think of this line then?

21. Rxe7+ Qxe7
22. Qc3 Qf7
23. h5 gxh5
24. Re1 Rg8
25. Qb3 b5
26. Qg3 Kh8
27. Bxf6+ Nxf6
28. Qd6 Rf8

Jan-13-05  noone2: <DK> I don't understand why black would play 24 ...Rg8

After 23 h5 g:h5 24 Re1 I would simply respond 24 ... Re8 heading for the endgame.

Jan-13-05  drukenknight: I dont understand either, ask the crap computer ( I have enuf trouble keeping one side of this straight.
Jan-13-05  noone2: <DK> - I'm not using a board here and I haven't used

It seems clear that black's best course is to avoid complication and simplify - hence the choice of 24 ... Re8. It would seem that white will exchange and black defends all threats easily. I don't have Fritz - maybe someone can check the evaluation in your proposed line with 24 ... Re8

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 21.Rxe7+ Qxe7 22.Qb3 b6 23.Qc3 Re8 24.Qxc6 Qb4 25.Qc7 Qxb2=
Aug-01-05  Averageguy: Botvinnik displays excellent defensive skills in this game.
Dec-24-07  M.D. Wilson: Botvinnik would have been quietly pleased that Tal played 11. Nxe6!? in response to 10. Bd6. It's perhaps a good move for blitz, but not for a championship game against Botvinnik. With time to think, the surprise factor is less influential in deciding a game's outcome.
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