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Lajos Portisch vs Mikhail Tal
Moscow (1967), Moscow URS, rd 15, Jun-11
King's Indian Defense: Fianchetto Variation. Lesser Simagin (Spassky) (E62)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-30-06  Autoreparaturwerkbau: I see Lajos won exchange to Tal - knight over 2 pawns. But - is the position really so hopeless for Tal to resign after 24 moves??
Jan-30-06  sfm: <is the position really so hopeless,,> Sure. Black is even going to lose more pawns on the b-file. There are no tactical chances for Black, all pieces are effectively shut out. A rare rapid upset for Tal. 15.-,a6 is a blunder, after 16.b6! the knigth on a5 is lost.
Nov-15-07  Fezzik: I found 16.b6 almost instantly and realised that would be enough for Portisch to win even against Tal.

I would have played 16.b6 in a game, but I don't think I could have forced Tal to resign on move 24 even if I played exactly the same moves Portisch did!

Nov-15-07  mkrk17: Surprising to see Tal lose like this. White wins by 1.b6 Qxb6,
2. Qc3 and the knight is gone.

The give-aways to the solution are:

1. Definitely no mate in sight as there is no action near white or black king. 2. The only loose piece is the Na5. The Nh5 too may seem loose, but it is protected by a pawn and also has safe retreating squares. 3. Na5 also does not have a retreating square if it is threatened.

Hence, the solution shd be: "Search for a way to threaten the Na5 with more force".

Premium Chessgames Member
  dzechiel: White to move. Material even (it's all still on the board). "Medium". And Tal is black!

Once again it appears that we are not going for checkmate, and there's no real way to successfully attack the black queen or black rooks. But those knights on the edge of the board ("dim on the rim") do catch your eye.

A very forcing move is 16 Bxa5, but black does have a good reply, 16...Qxa5. Another forcing move is 16 Qc3, but once again black has 16...b6 or 16 axb5 to protect the knight. A little investigation and we see

16 b6!

The immediate threat is 17 Bxa5 as the queen no longer protects the knight. This move has also stopped both 16...b6 and 16...axb5. The knight has nowhere to run, so black must play


to save the knight. But now

17 Qc3

attacks the knight a second time, but it can not move without going en prise, and it can't be defended again.

It looks like black is dropping a piece here, leaving white a bishop up.

I really wonder how Tal got himself in this situation.

Time to check the game score.

Premium Chessgames Member
  arsen387: This weeks puzzles are very intersting bcz they do not lead to mate but just to win a piece or exchange. Maybe that is the reason that this week's puzzles take from me more time than usually. I think such puzzles are more helpful for learning to beginners like me. Thanks <CG>!
Nov-15-07  TrueBlue: saw it while I was half-asleep. Proud of my self :)
Nov-15-07  rhedrich: I'm thinking b6 followed by Qc3 to win the knight.
Nov-15-07  KnightOnEverest: didn't see b6 :( ..
Nov-15-07  vibes43: I sort of had the right idea with 16. Qc2 to threaten a5. If 16. ....b6, then 17. b2 but I now see that b7 became escape for black knight. Good puzzle.
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: It's a little astonishing that Tal would overlook something like this; note that White has no chance of winning a piece until *after* Tal's blunder.

However, Tal was definitely off form (possibly his chronic illness played a part?). After missing 12...b6, he's backpedalling for the rest of the game. Even after the best move 15...b6; 16.Bxa5,bxa5; 17.Na3!, with an eventual Nc4 will give White a nice bind on the Queen side.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: I looked at every possible way to win the ♘ on a5 except the right one.

If I had gotten myself into this mess as black, after 17. Qc3 I would have played 17...Nc6 18. dxc6 Qxc6, with some compensation and the ♕s still on the board.

Nov-15-07  arnaud1959: A puzzle and only 1 possibility, so the answer was quite easy to find but otb with so many strategical ideas and a closed position difficult to find a tactical trap. I'm sure, with white pieces Tal would find the same idea.
Nov-15-07  zb2cr: Took me about 2 minutes of staring at the
puzzle to see it. <Mkrk17> ably summed up the tactical features which I saw, and which eventually led me to see the proper approach.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: For today's puzzle solution, Portisch begins a trapped piece combination with the obstruction sacrifice 16. b6!, so that after 16...Qxb6 17. Qc3 the Knight is trapped by the overloading of White's Queen and Bishop (two against one) on the under-protected Knight (protected only by the lonely Queen).
Nov-15-07  outsider: glad got it in one minute. must admit that saw the knight issue immediately, but it took a bit to see the way of exploiting it. the most horrible thing is that if i did not know the value of 2,5 stars, i would never have seen b6+ qc3
Nov-15-07  Marvol: This one I got a lot faster than the previous two. Here it was SO obvious there was no mate, I just immediately stared at that knight astray on a5. Then is was pretty easy. I am very disappointed that <while the Tal Memorial is being played> you chose a puzzle that has Tal losing. Desecration! Heresy! Booooooo ;)

Nov-15-07  SickedChess: was easy to find 1. b6 i got in ten seconds!
Nov-15-07  znprdx: Well I was about to give up - it wasn't even a Tal combination - but seeing b6 was a pure delight - there is no way to save the errant knight! The cutest line is ...16.c4 17.Qc3 (not Qa3 ...c3) This is the kind fluke opening trap which probably occurs more often than we realize - well worth looking for.
Nov-15-07  awfulhangover: Must be very easy for a thursday puzzle?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Stonehenge: Not with an awful hangover.
Nov-15-07  alshatranji: 16. b6 was one of the first moves to come to mind, but initially I thought of it as a distraction, a way to force the black queen away from the king's side. But soon it became clear that there is really nothing there, and I started thiking what if I attack the knight: it's isolated and has no place to retreat to. At once b6 presented itself as the only way to stop black from protercting the knight. Pretty straighforward.
Nov-15-07  micartouse: Sorry to have missed this. I saw the trapped knight and even considered 16. b6 but couldn't put 2 and 2 together. It looks like a form of blocking. If a pawn can be used to protect a piece and you can put an enemy piece in front of the pawn ... very pretty and simple.
Nov-15-07  SickedChess: maybe 17..Nc6 giving horse for two pawns was better than 17..Qb5? but still black is hopeless
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: <sickedchess> Giving horse? Sounds like something rated NC 17.

The black knight is lost-"good-bye old paint,I'm leaving Cheyenne."

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