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Mikhail Tal vs Boris Spassky
Spassky - Tal Candidates Final (1965), Tbilisi URS, rd 11, Nov-24
Spanish Game: Closed Variations (C84)  ·  0-1
ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-10-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <aw1988>
Did you have a specific followup in mind here after 20...Bxb4 21. Nxh6+ gxh6?

20...Bxb4 21. Nxh6+ gxh6 22. Bxh6 Bxe1 23. Qxe1 Re8 24. Qe3 Nh5 25. Nf5 Qf6 looks fine for Black, as does here 22. Bd2 Bxd2 23. Qxd2 Nxe4 24. dxe4 Qxh4 or 22. Re3 Kh7.

Feb-10-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: Another interesting try is 20...Bxb4 21. Nxg7. If then 21...Bxe1 22. Nxe8 is good for White, so 21...Kxg7 22. Bxh6+ Kxh6 23. Nf5+ Kg6, but again I haven't found a clear followup for White.
Feb-10-05
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: But maybe Tal could play 20...Bxb4 21. Re3! with a good attack, for example 21...Kh7 22. Rg3 g5 23. Bxg5 hxg5 24. axb4 Rxa1 25. Qxa1 Nh5 26. Rg4 gxh4 27. Rxh4.
Jan-27-07  morphyvsfischer: My, what a model example to the rule "The best defense to a flank attack is a counterattack on the center! 20...Bxb4 does win a pawn, but Black will have to retreat the B to f8, losing two tempi in his counterattack. White has something for a pawn after this, but Spassky's choice makes white's attack much less dangerous. No analysis needed; the counterattack more than works, and Black does not have clear sailing after 20...Bxb4 so much.

Also notable is the ...Nc5 maneuver. 12...Re8 13 Ng5 is annoying, while 12...h6 is unnecessarily commital at the moment. 22... cxb3 23 Nxh6+ Kh7 24 Nxf7 gives white a ridiculous initiative for the B. The sac on move 25 is unsound; White needs to bring up the remainder of his forces with Bd2 and Re1. One of Tal's not so good sacs.

Jun-06-08  Akavall: The game went well for Spassky, but Tal seemed to have a lot of practical chances.

Maybe black could play 18...g6 not allowing white knight to get to f5? This should limit white's attacking potential.


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Dec-22-08  notyetagm: Game 6. Tal - Spassky

from Steve Giddins' 50 Essential Chess Lessons by Inius Mella

Dec-22-08  notyetagm: 24 ... ?


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24 ... ♖a8-a6!


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Spassky (Black) defends his kingside <LATERALLY> across the 3rd rank with his Queen's Rook, a <DEFENSIVE ROOK LIFT>.

RULE OF THUMB: if an enemy rook goes on the attack (22 ♖e3-g3), then one of your rooks needs to go on the defense (24 ... ♖a8-a6!).

This simple RULE OF THUMB would have saved me a whole 1/2-point in one of my club games last week. I should have defended my kingside <LATERALLY> with a <DEFENSIVE ROOK LIFT> just like Spassky did here (24 ... ♖a8-a6!) but instead I chose an inferior piece setup and lost my three extra pawns fending off a vicious opposite-colored bishop attack.

Jun-01-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  scutigera: After this game, Spassky lost his touch vs. Tal; the score henceforth is +5=17-0 in Tal's favor. Interestingly, comments to the two games before this last game of the match claimed that each of those was Spassky's last victory over Tal, but until now, no one has mentioned here that this one was.
Jun-01-14  Olavi: The score henceforth is +4-0 in Tal's favour. The 1988 game is 5 minutes.
Apr-09-15  A.T PhoneHome: Spassky wins and will play against Tigran Petrosian for the World Championship!

I know, I'm 50 years late with this message.

Apr-09-15  Petrosianic: <Spassky wins and will play against Tigran Petrosian for the World Championship!>

And will never again win a game against Tal.

Apr-09-15  A.T PhoneHome: Mikhail Tal was so strong even up to the 80's. Wasn't he ranked #2 briefly behind Karpov?
Apr-09-15  Petrosianic: He and Karpov were #2 in December 1973, I remember that (Mainly because Chess Life & Review published the rating list on the cover of their magazine that month!) Not sure about the 80's. Maybe.
Apr-09-15  Nerwal: Tal was number 2 on the 1980 list (a remarkable one; only one active player of the Top 10 besides Karpov was born in the 50s). He was still number 6-8 in january 1988, aged 51.
Apr-09-15  A.T PhoneHome: Remarkable feat... And you know, it would be too easy to say about him that "he was so good only because he played so odd moves". Tal must have had a solid feeling for positions to play such moves to begin with. I guess that same feeling enabled him to "tone" down his style as he aged.

Thanks for answering my question <Petrosianic> and <Nerwal>!

Apr-09-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Of course Tal was up and down...you could find a lot of lists where he was lower.

<Tal was number 2 on the 1980 list (a remarkable one; only one active player of the Top 10 besides Karpov was born in the 50s).>

The 1920s (Euwe excepted) and the 1960s-70s (Karpov excepted) seemed to be really awful for the development of young talent. World War I is an obvious explanation for the 20s, but I don't understand the 60s and 70s.

Lasker is famous for being a great old player, and rightly so, but when he won New York 1924 he was facing pretty much the same field he would have faced in 1911 or so.

Apr-09-15  A.T PhoneHome: Yeah, Tal had a poor spot around the late 60's, like 1968-1969 if my memory serves me well here. Plus other spots where he wasn't in top 5 or so which is nothing odd.

As for 1960's-70's, Korchnoi was reborn in the early 70's; very tough customer. You can find similarities in his and Fischer's willpower. I may be wrong here but I wondered if even Soviet Union didn't come up with many new strong players because after Fischer won, players may have been less well-paid and so. Just speculating but I had in mind that Soviet government thought that Soviet players got "soft" or something due to losing against American.

I always found it funny how Alekhine became extremely good when he was in his forties by the way.

Apr-09-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <A.T PhoneHome: ....
As for 1960's-70's, Korchnoi was reborn in the early 70's; very tough customer. You can find similarities in his and Fischer's willpower. I may be wrong here but I wondered if even Soviet Union didn't come up with many new strong players because after Fischer won, players may have been less well-paid and so. Just speculating but I had in mind that Soviet government thought that Soviet players got "soft" or something due to losing against American.>

Korchnoi worked hard on his health and his game in the 70s, I understand, but one explanation for his "Renaissance" in the 70s was that the greats of his generation were fading away, and no one (except Karpov) was stepping into their place.

I don't think you can "credit" Fischer for the decline, because the USSR was ceasing to produce super-GMs before he won the title...that's why the Soviets were so relieved when Karpov showed up. I think the Soviets viewed Fischer's win partly as a freak occurrence (sort of like the Mule in the Foundation series...you can't plan for everything) and partly as a wake-up call. But even so, after Karpov, you have to wait another dozen years for Kasparov.

Apr-09-15  A.T PhoneHome: You're right, I totally forgot to talk on the 60's as well. But Fischer's victory probably made things a bit harder for Soviet players financially at least. Didn't Soviet government start to take bigger cuts off of players' prizes, reasoning that it was to "improve sports" and "show loyalty" on behalf of the players?

And of course Fischer's play had nothing to do with Soviet chess school and new Soviet players (Fischer-Soviet chess connection seems ridiculous when I think about it now) but one can speculate on the "privilege side". I think that when Karpov emerged, he got government behind him very quickly.

Apr-09-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <A.T PhoneHome: You're right, I totally forgot to talk on the 60's as well. But Fischer's victory probably made things a bit harder for Soviet players financially at least. Didn't Soviet government start to take bigger cuts off of players' prizes, reasoning that it was to "improve sports" and "show loyalty" on behalf of the players?>

Yes, at least according to a Karpov interview I read. But that would only affect players who were already elite. At least theoretically it meant more resources would be ploughed into developing young talent. Maybe it would make chess as a profession less desireable to a budding master, but I think, even with the government taking a big cut, chess had to be one of the more attractive professions available in the USSR (even leaving out of account the fact that in the 70s, Spassky, Korchnoi, and Karpov earned sums that no Soviet GM before them had ever approached).

Apr-09-15  A.T PhoneHome: I think that between 1960-1970 it was harder to find a definitive answer to "Who is the best now?" whereas, when Karpov and Kasparov were at their peak, it was simply between them.

Karpov had to live under Fischer's shadow. Fischer declined to play against Karpov yet some conclude that "Fischer didn't play against Karpov, therefore Fischer would beat Karpov with a big margin".

I'm glad Karpov dominated the way he did. He didn't need to live under anyone's shadow or succumb to that belief and he knew it. He was a hard worker and modest too.

Kasparov on the other hand, was the guy who started to create his own "cult" from early on. He was brash and all. And there you have an interesting World Championship pairing; modest and sedate positional mastermind versus brash and young tactical genius.

I simply don't think one can conclude Kasparov was superior to Karpov. Had their 120 WC games been tournament games, no one would necessarily call Kasparov the better player. Kasparov leads in format (3.5-0.5 in matches + one match called off) but cut that into components and you'll have +21 -19 =104 for Kasparov.

Aug-13-16  mandor: Can someone explain the point of Qa8?!
Aug-13-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <mandor: Can someone explain the point of Qa8?!>

The reason for this is that, given time, Black is threatening to play ....cxd3, then capture at e4 depending on circumstances. If he can break through on e4, White's attack collapses.

Mar-14-17  Ricosupercapo: Interestingly, this was the last Game Spassky ever won against Tal. After 1965 they met many times and there were 5 decisive Results; all Victories for Tal.
Mar-14-17
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <A.T PhoneHome....I simply don't think one can conclude Kasparov was superior to Karpov. Had their 120 WC games been tournament games, no one would necessarily call Kasparov the better player. Kasparov leads in format (3.5-0.5 in matches + one match called off) but cut that into components and you'll have +21 -19 =104 for Kasparov.>

Why ever not?

Dominant as Karpov was during his purple patch, Kasparov's tournament record was still more impressive.

If you are referring to lifetime results head to head, <of course> there is no clear superiority--these were two of the very greatest players ever.

By an extension of logic, we might infer that Kramnik's plus score over Kasparov made him the stronger player, same as that of Boris Gulko: I have yet to see a coherent argument to that effect for either player which has merit.

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