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Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Return Match (1961), Moscow URS, rd 12, Apr-14
French Defense: Winawer. Classical Variation (C18)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  drukenknight: Heres the first game of the 1961 match, Tal was to achieve the worlds championship in this match. This is a Winawer French the most popular variation. It features those famous poison pawns that we see in so many games: sicilian, even queens gambit.

Believe it or not Botwinnik is actually winning the game at the beginning. 11 Kd1!? does this actually save Tal's butt? I haven't studied it, maybe you guys can tell me. It looks odd huh?

Actual first question is why doesnt 8 Bb5+ work?

Aug-01-03  Brian Watson: 8.Bb5+ Kf1
Now white doesn't win the g-pawn. That this forces black's king to move is not important, since black will not castle anyway. Probably 8.Bb5+ is a valid move, but leads to a very different game.

At what point in this game is white winning? And what is wrong with 11.Kd1? It's just one possible way to avoid the quen fork at c3. I don't know the Winawer very well, but in many games white allows some or all of the pawns at c3, d4, e5 to drop.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: Isn't this the first game of the 1960 match ? I thought Botvinnik drew white in the rematch which was in 1961... hmmmmmmmmm
Nov-04-03  ughaibu: This isn't the first game of either match, I'll try to figure out which it is. Botvinnik won the first in 1961.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: Ok thanks ughaibu :-)
Nov-04-03  ughaibu: Looks like the 12th game 1961.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: I don't think so ughaibu, did Botvinnik ever play the French in the rematch ?
Nov-04-03  ughaibu: Botvinnik played the French once in each match losing both, otherwise he used the Caro-Kahn against 1.e4 Here's the first game from the 1960 match Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eggman: <Looks like the 12th game 1961.>

This is DEFINITELY the 12th game of the 1961 World Championship Match. Also FYI, in the 10 games in which Tal had White in this match, he always began with 1.e4, and Botvinnik replied with one French (this game, of course) and 9 Caro-Kanns.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Open Defence: Yeah my apologies, you guys are right, I thought Bots completely switched to Caro-Kan for the rematch. sowwie
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Heh, heh - nice queen trap by Tal to win the exchange.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: botvinnik missed a very strong continuation in this game namely: 16---a6 17Bb2-otherwise whites previous move is a pointless waste of time-17--axb5 18 Bxc3 dxc3 followed by moves like --b4 and --Ra1 is virtually winning for black. i discovered this very powerful queen sacrifice which in my opinion refutes whites play- in 1963.
Mar-29-07  slomarko: mr.Keene your "strong continuation" falls somewhat short. after 18...dc3 white simply plays 19.Bb5 and if Rg2 then 20.Ke2!. But i have another interesting idea for black 16..Qa1 and then 17...d3.
Jul-28-08  nimh: I hate to say that, but slomarko is right. Rybka points 16...Qa1 is the best coninuation here.

I'd like to know how much time mr Keene spent on this variation and how come he could miss such a natural move as 16...Qa1. It practically glues the bishop and the king on their squares for a while.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: i thought of this q sac for black when i was fifteen years old-seeing it more or less instantly- and i intended to play it but never got the chance. i never even considered --qa1 because i was so pleased with the q sac idea for black. i must say after 18--dxc3 19 bxb5 i wd play 19--rxa3 not ---19---rxg2 with the plan of playing --rg4 to e4 -whilst keeping the option open of --rxg2 according to how white plays-i think in the practical struggle i wd prefer blacks chances.anyway-if --qa1 refutes it then whites whole plan seems wrong!
Jul-28-08  nimh: Sorry about it, I didn't realize your age at that time. :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  Boomie: I tried to get GM Keene's interesting idea 16...a6 to work. The engine (Fritz 11) evaluations may be tainted by the material imbalance. The win from the diagram will not be easy.

16...a6 17. Bb2 axb5 18. Bxc3 dxc3 19. Bxb5 Rxg2

(19...Rxa3 20. Ke2 Ra2 21. Rc1 Rxg2 22. Qh7 b6 23. Kf1 Rg4 24. h4 Ra5 25. Bxc6 Nxc6 26. Ng5 2.05/22)

20. Ke2 Rg4 21. h3

(21. Qh7 Ng6 22. h3 Rh8 23. hxg4 Rxh7 24. Rxh7 fxg4 25. Nh4 Ngxe5 0.00/22)

21...Re4+ 22. Kf1 Nxe5 23. Bxd7 Kxd7 24. Nxe5+ Rxe5 25. Qf3

(25. Rg1 Rxa3 26. Rg7 Ra1+ 27. Kg2 Ree1 0.30/23)

25...Rxa3 26. Kg2 b6 27. Rb1 Nc8 28. Qh5 Ra6 29. Rb3 1.07/23

click for larger view

Premium Chessgames Member
  ray keene: i subsequently discovered that the soviet master moiseev also quite independently came up with the q sac-however we both missed the qa1 idea which really seems to leave white facing an uphill struggle
Sep-09-11  ProjectR: I really love to toy with this opening as black,but as white i find it a total knightmare !! The c3 knight defending the e5 pawn gets pinned which i hate,but if im playing a smilar rated player i always seem to win in this variation but only as black,with white im busted ! I must learn more about this variation using the white pieces,but seeing as im not tal with his crazy,yet mostly sound sacs,il not study this game lol
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Again in the French Defense, it is almost a blunder for either side to castle at any point.

All you French D players out there, is that part of the appeal?

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