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Robert James Fischer vs Mikhail Tal
"Big and Tal" (game of the day May-21-2015)
Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959), Bled, Zagreb & Belgrade YUG, rd 27, Oct-26
Sicilian Defense: Fischer-Sozin Attack. Flank Variation (B87)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

FEN COPIED

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 9 OF 9 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-21-15  newzild: This game is in Fischer's M60MG and also Tal's autobiography, both of which I read about 15 years ago. Tal's account is the more colourful.

From memory ...

Fischer said that at a certain point in the opening he should have played Be3, with "every piece bearing down on Black's king" The move was found by Kevitz (??). Unfortunately, I don't remember the move number.

Tal said that 22. Rae1 was the best move. Fischer wrote it down and pushed the scoresheet towards Tal, who grinned. Fischer then played 22. Qc6+ instead. After the game, Tal asked Fischer why he changed his mind and the American said, "Well, you laughed when I wrote it down!"

May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <RandomVisitor: ...including, after 12...d5, this queen sacrifice by black> Nice post, very interesting idea

*****

May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Was Tal really ranked world no. 2 in 1982? After the 60s he was never a threat in the Candidates matches, was he?
May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <HeMateMe> Yes, Tal was ranked 2 behind Karpov...a remarkable statistic

*****

May-21-15  Howard: No, Tal was actually ranked #2 at the beginning of 1980, not 1982.

More specifically, he was #2, Korchnoi was #3, and Portisch was #4.

As for #1....well, it wasn't Fischer anymore !

Unfortunately, Tal didn't do well in 1980. He was blown off the board in the quarter-finals Candidates matches, and overall, he lost over 100 points that year in rating points.

Granted, his mother and brother both died that year---that obviously didn't help matters.

May-21-15  Howard: I wonder, by the way, how many people still get perplexed by that famous typo in the first edition of Fischer's M60MG, in which near the end of the game it looks like Fischer missed an "obvious win".....when he never did !
May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: Thanks <Howard> for the clarification
May-21-15  Howard: Well, you're talking to a diehard chess buff, including when it comes to chess trivia !

Besides, I've been a USCF member for 40 years.

May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <Besides, I've been a USCF member for 40 years.>

We won't hold that against you.

May-21-15  Petrosianic: <Granted, his mother and brother both died that year---that obviously didn't help matters.>

And also, Tal never did well against Polugaevsky, who he lost to in the quarterfinals, anyway. Even if we exclude that 1980 match, his record against Polugaevsky was +2-5=19. Adding the match in, it's +2-8=24.

Tal was a great player, but one unfortunate fact about him is that nobody can accept the idea of him losing. Any time he did badly, it just HAD to be his health or some external factor. He was the only chessplayer in the world with an excuse people would buy.

May-21-15  Howard: For the record, it was Pal Benko--not Tal--who mentioned the deaths of Tal's brother and mother. He did so in his coverage of the Polugaevsky-Tal, 1980 match.

Don't blame Tal, in other words.

May-21-15  Petrosianic: Oh, I don't blame Tal. He never made excuses himself.
May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Two giants...both winners...this time, it's Tal
May-21-15  A.T PhoneHome: Mikhail Tal most probably knew the road he was taking the moment he started drinking. He knew the risks, but he wanted to lead bohemian life which he did.

He was the last person to make excuses for losing, I think.

May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  ToTheDeath: <No one was better than Tal in 1959. No one.>
May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Karne: <ToTheDeath: No one was better than Tal in 1959. No one.>

And not even the Almighty Lord was better than Fischer in 1971.

May-21-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  jessicafischerqueen: lol good pun
May-22-15  reticulate: Help me out here. Why would Fischer not play 20. BxR? If 21....BxR, then 22. Qxe7+ and the Black King's fortress is breached. At the very least, the other rook falls and a mating net seems likely once the other rook gets to the D file. This seems so obvious that I feel I must be missing something.
May-22-15  reticulate: Now I see that I erroneously had the Black Queen on a4 rather than c6. That makes a big difference!
May-23-15  KID Slayer: Wasn't this GOTD earlier?
May-23-15  Howard: No, you're probably thinking of another game from the 1959 Candidates tournament that these two greats played.

It was from the third round, and it had Tal doubling his ranks on the 8th rank. It was GOTD sometime last year.

Jul-10-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: 17.Bf4 was a slip that allowed black to ease his position after 17...Qc6 with double attack against g2 and Na4. After simple 17.Rf2! white is better.
Mar-06-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Given that Tal was one point ahead of Keres with two games to play his accepting the gambit with 8..b4!? and 9..Nxe4!? was extraordinarily risky.

From My Great Predecessors:
"On the morning of the day of this game was played, Tal analysed this variation with Averbakh, Koblents and Petrosian, who had called in. 9..Nxe4 appealed to Tigran: 'Such a nice little central pawn...hmmm, hmmm...I think I would take it'. But Mikhail had his doubts, and it was only after sitting at the board and glancing at Fischer, that he mentally waived his hands: 'Ah, what the devil - I'll take it!'. Such preparation is not so much an indication of Tal's flippancy, as of the level of opening theory at this time."

10..g6 did nothing to inhibit f5. After 12..Rg8? Black was in serious trouble; better was 12..d5 13 Nh6..Bxh6 14 Bxh6. 17 c3 was the best way to deal with the threat of ..Qc6; instead after Fischer's 17 Bf4?! Black was better.

Tal on 18..Qxa4:
"I was faced with a choice: should I go into a slightly inferior endgame (18..Qxf3 19 Rxf3..Re2 20 Rf2..Rxf2 21 Kxf2)or, after accepting the piece sacrifice, subject myself to a very strong attack? I could not see a forced mate, it is true, but, perhaps, only because I wasn't looking for one. If I had been playing White, I would have considered the attack to be decisive. Nethertheless, I chose the second path."

Tal's play from that point on was quite impressive.

Jan-10-18  Petrosianic: Although Fischer looks very good early on in this game, the Opening Explorer shows White's results are very bad after 8. f4. The risky 8...b4 hasn't been played much, but White has awful results against it too. That doesn't prove much when there are only a few games, as a lot comes down to who played those games.

<plang> <10..g6 did nothing to inhibit f5.>

Right, it doesn't. And it's not really intended to (even though it looks like it is). The point of g6 is to exchange a wing pawn for White's f pawn, leaving his center pawns intact. Also, as you can see, Black needs to have the f5 square still under pawn attack a few moves later, when he plays 14...exf5.

Where Fischer maybe goes a bit too far is with 20. Bxb8. Maybe like Tal, he assumed the attack would be decisive, but it's not like Fischer to play speculatively. It was probably time to get out of the market with 20. Qxc6+ Nxc6 21. Bxe7.

It should be pointed out that this is not a typical Tal game. With Tal you think of him conducting the smashing SUCCESSFUL sacrificial attack. He's not usually the one who allows the other player to do it, hoping to come out with a better game when the attack fails. That's more of what you'd expect from a Korchnoi game (or Steinitz). It shows that Tal knew more than one way to play for a win.

Mar-25-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  hoodrobin: In my opinion (and I'm not alone) Tal and Fischer were the best players ever, because they had, more than others, the queen of every sport: phantasy.
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