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Mikhail Botvinnik vs Mikhail Tal
Botvinnik - Tal World Championship Match (1960), Moscow URS, rd 12, Apr-12
Tarrasch Defense: Symmetrical Variation (D32)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 31...Reh4 wins. It is strange that Tal should have missed that, but he seemed intent on a draw in this game.
Apr-23-05  samvega: Is it definitely a win? I can imagine some painful squirming: 31..Reh4 32.gxh4 Qg4+ 33.Kh1 Qf3+ (to prevent f3 or f4) 34.Kg1 Rxh4 (threatening Rg4#) 35.Qd7 Qf4 36.h3 Qf3 (or is ..Qxd2 a win?) 37.Qe7 Qxh3 38.Qxg4+... or am I missing a haymaker?
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I was thinking 31...Reh4 32.gxh4 Qg4+ 33.Kh1 Qf3+ 34.Kg1 gxh4 35.Re1 Rg6+ 36.Kf1 h3 and here I thought mate was unavoidable...
Apr-23-05  samvega: Right of course, 34..gxh4 is much more logical... and now the threat is ..Rg1+. Cool!
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <31...Reh4 wins>

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What a pity! In ♕♖♖ middlegames it's often possible to sac a rook to get the opponents King.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Besides, <33...Rb6> would have been a nice 'defelectionary' move

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with the idea of <34.Qd3 Rbb1 35.Rdf2 Rxf1+ 36.Rxf1 Rb2 37.Rf2 Rxf2+ 38.Kxf2 Qxh2+ 39.Kf1=>

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At least it would have avoided the upcoming ♕ endgame torture.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: The idea with the unusual plan initiated by 12..a5 was to develop the queens rook via the 3rd rank. Bad for White would have been 18 Nb4..Rh6 19 Qxd5..Qh4. Botvinnik avoided the complications that arise after 28 dxe..Nf3+ 29 Kf1..Nxe5 (29..Qa6+ leads to a perpetual). Botvinnik offerred a draw when he played 29 Qc8+ which Tal declined due to Botvinnik's time pressure. Instead of 31 Rf1? Tal recommended 31 Qb1..Qh3 32 f3..Re3 with Black having some pressure. Tal had calculated 33..Rb6 34 Qd3..Rbb1 to a draw but did not play it because he had forgotten that he was a pawn down. Tal felt that 41 Kg2 followed by 42 h4 would have given White better winning chances. Tal complicated his effort to draw by not playing 54..Ke7 and by then helping to activate White's King but in the end the game ended peacefully.
Oct-30-09  WhiteRook48: I probably would have tried 31...Rh3...
Dec-24-14  DrGridlock: 31 ... Rexh4 (missed by Tal) does indeed win immediately.

The rook is immune to capture since after 32 gxh4 there follows:

32 ... Qg4+
33 Kh1 Qf3+
34 Kg1 gxh4

and now to avoid mate by 35 ... Rg6 white must find a way to interpose something (only his queen works) on the g-file. 35 Re1 (or anywhere along the first rank, to give the king an escape on f1) leads to a forced mate in 9 or 10.

White's alternative at move 32 to gxh4 is f3, which also leads to white sacing his queen to avoid mate. In one variation:

32 f3 Qe3+
33 Kh1 Qxd2
34 gxh4 Qe2
35 Rg1 Qf3+
36 Rg2 Re6
37 Qb1 Re2
38 Qg1 Qe4
39 hxg5

Mikhail Botvinnik - Mikhail Tal (variation)

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Black has "herded" (and pinned) white's pieces into the squares h1, g1, h2 and g2.

Tal gave some insights into his oversight:

"But now after Reh4!, the game could be over very quickly. One psychological detail is interesting: the continuation Reh4 was examined by me a move ago. Then it gave Black nothing as White's King could get over to the queenside. But now Black, simply having forgotten this move, focuses his attention on another possibility."

Position after White's move 31 would make a good Wednesday puzzle.

Jan-20-15  ColdSong: That queens'ending must be winning here and there.
Sep-27-15  rookpawn101: 31. Rf1? Re1?

One of the few double blunders we have seen the world championship matches.

Mar-29-16  QueensideCastler: After 49. Kxg4 it's draw according Lomonosov Tablebases | 49...f6 or 49...f5 is enough for draw.
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