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Mikhail Tal vs Ingvar Asmundsson
Reykjavik (1964), Reykjavik ISL, rd 13, Feb-02
French Defense: Winawer. Petrosian Variation (C16)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-23-12  drukenknight: another Tal another French, the norwegian holds out for quite a while in a closed game. 38...c5 holds on a bit longer but cannot save it. Tal must have seen about 7 moves deep as time control approached.
Jan-23-12  drukenknight: 33...Qf4 was overlooked and looks about equal; but still a nice combo utilizing the power of B in a closed setting.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <drukenknight>
An interesting comment. Did one of the players annotate and comment that 33...Qf4 wasn't considered?

After 33...Qf4 34. d5 is an obvious try, but I didn't find a win after 33...Qf4 34. d5 Rxd5 35. Rxd5 exd5 36. Qa1 Qxh6 37. e6 <Re7> 38. Bxe7 Kxe7. Maybe 37...Re7 is what was overlooked here.

Otherwise, probably 33...Qf4 34. Bg7 Rd5, and maybe you are right that it's <about equal>. It's hard for either player to break the blockaded position without taking big risks.

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: By the way, I really doubt Black is lost after 34...Qd5. It's a natural move to blockade the d-pawn.

Does White have anything after simple back-rank defense with 35...Ra8?

Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <beatgiant> I think that you are right. Houdini 1.5a doesn't calculate that White has any advantage after 35...Ra8. It evaluates the position as essentially even at [-0.09], d=31 after each of the following moves by White: 36.Qb1, 36.Rd3, 36.Kh1, 36.Bf6, and 36.Kh2. It may be that it's evaluations are not that good in this type of closed position as chess engines typically aren't.

But Houdini does recognize the weakness of the move actually played by Asmundsson, 35...Rfd7, evaluating it at [+0.57], d=29 and suggests the continuation 36.Rcxc4 c5 37.Qd2 bxc4 38.Rb8+ Kf7 39.Be7 Rdb7 40.Rh8 Kxe7 41.Qg5+ Kd7 42.Rd8+ Kc6 43.Rxd5 Kxd5 44.dxc5

click for larger view

Whether this approach is better than Tal's game continuation is open to question as I think it's doubtful that White can make any progress against Black's rooks doubled on the 7th rank and controlling the only open files.

And Houdini also recognizes the vulnerability of Black's back rank, selecting as it's PV 35...Ra8 as you suggested, and evaluating the position as slightly superior for Black, but it doesn't know how to make any progress after 36.Rd3 Kf8 37.Qa1 Kg8 38.Rb1 Rc8 39.Re1 Rb8 40.Red1 Ra7 41.Rb1 Rab7 42.Bf6 Nb6 43.Re1 Rc8 44.Red1 Rd7 45.Bg5 Qc4 46.Rc3 Qe2 47.Qc1 Nd5 48.Rc5

click for larger view

But, as usual, I'm sure that Tal would have figured how to make progress along the way, probably with a sacrifice or two.

Jan-31-12  drukenknight: First off, thank you bg for taking interest in my comments. WHen I make a post it is usually my own ideas as I look at the game, if I use a computer I will say I used the "Crap pc" (the one found on the internet I forget the domain name but use google). So these are my own ideas as I run through the games. I choose this move to make comments because my goal is usually to find the last chance for the losing party to save the game, as the above comments indicate it is by no means clear at exactly what pt. the game was lost.

I choose black's 34th as my own best guess, using my own human intuition and this is then the starting pt for others, both human and computer to see what happens that is what makes it fun. I have learned a lot from the other people's comments here and sometimes I have made terrible blunders, and that is chance I take, if I use a pc I will say so, if I used someone else's notes I will note it.

2) this is typical of Tal. Most people know he played in sacrificial style but of course he only does this when he sees that the clock is low or he is ahead in time trouble. As you know the time control was often 40 moves, and so many games includes sacrifices near the time control. It is very likely Tal looked at the clock at some pt and tried to figure out when to make his move. If you ever play blitz chess you know what that is like.

Also thsee French defense games are very interesting to me because that is my favorite defense as black and I want to learn more. THe patterns produced by the computer may give us an idea in a real life game about how to save a bad position. So finding interesting avenues of approach is what I like.

Finally, this month, I was going to make comments on all the Tal French defense games but after awhile it gets tiring. So PLEASE any more elaboration on my recent comments please do so. you can click on my user name to find comments, I think I had done about a dozen games this month. Each one I try to study and find out where the losing move was made.

Off the top of my head there are a number of French defense games that remain mind numbing. There is a Smyslov/Botvinnik game that I still cannot figure out. Also Tal/Botvinnik game one of the first match up between them. I hope someone will figure that one out.

Jan-31-12  drukenknight: As follow up to my last post, I think what is going on is at moves 33-35 Tal can see his opponent has no clue on how to keep the game active.

blacks move 33 moving the Q on the long diagonal cannot possibly improve its position because it is already on the long diagonal, there is nothign more to do. As you can see, Tal is shuffling the B in response, both sides are proving they can shuffle back and forth; Tal is playing a wait game. with moves 34/35 black moves rooks sideways which cannot hlep because there is no open file, black is making weak moves and Tal knows this...

WHen both players play odd moves the position is often mind numbing.

If you want to play this out as a correspondence game, I will make my move right now, without the pc, spending a few minutes looking at, we can play it with computers one move at a time, but you should reference it.

Okay I get to move first and this time I choose move 32, this my gut instinct....


Anyone who wants to play can suggest their own response for white's 33rd. We can go down more than one line, starting with 32...RxB, but you have to stay on whatever line you first chose.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Picture from this game:
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