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Nikola Spiridonov vs Mikhail Tal
Tbilisi (1970), 14, rd 14, Jan-03
King's Indian Defense: Orthodox Variation. Positional Defense Closed Line (E94)  ·  0-1


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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: OK this is another suicide mission. I didn't "get" it because I decided (as it turns out correctly) that 27 ... b5 should not be met by 28 Qxb5. I didn't really work out the details of what follows myself, but I did know that 28 Qe4 was probably necessary. After that, I didn't see much that was exciting.

Here are the details I got from working with Rybka:

27 ... b5

is no better or worse than

27 ... Rxf3

because 28 Qxb5?? is a blunder.

27 ... Rxf3
28 gxf3 b5
29 Qe4

is just a transposition of

27 ... b5
28 Qe4 Rxf3
29 gxf3

The whole reason why white must play 28 Qe4 is that he needs to cover f3 and he needs to do it immediately.

So in the correct continuation there is no difference between b5 and Rxf3. I will give a likely continuation for Rxf3:

27 ... Rxf3
28 gxf3 b5
29 Qe4 Rxf3
30 Rxe3 Bxe3+
31 Qxe3 Rxe3
32 Rxe3 Qg5+
33 Kf2 Qf4+
34 Ke2 Qh2+
35 Kd1 Qxb2

and black is doing well, but the exchange was managed by white. I have given a pretty long continuation, but most of it doesn't have reasonable alternatives.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: hovik2003: "So 27...b5! 28.Qe4 b4! 29.Nb5"

No, in case

27 ... b5
28 Qe4 b4
29 Rxe3 Bxe3+
30 Rxe3 bxc3
31 Rxc3

black has a pawn and the initiative but no big win for black.

Dec-30-07  hovik2003: <zenpharaohs>
Well come on, OTB games by grandmasters giving up exchange and the initiative to the opposite side is enough for any GM to divert to the other branch of combination to avoid it. But anyway that was a good try, so now in your line black plays 31...Rf4 32.Qe3 Rd4 winning another pawn and the game eventually.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: hovik2003: "Well come on, OTB games by grandmasters giving up exchange and the initiative to opposite side is enough for any GM to divert to the other branch of combination to avoid it."

Tal can probably win in your line, but he does a lot better in the earlier exchange line I gave. Analysis is not about deciding what some GM would actually have played in a continuation, especially someone like Tal who in 1969 was already dealing with inconsistency due to health problems. He could have played really strong, or not.

Analysis or problem solving is not about what moves might or might not be played in some hypothetical continuation. It is about seeing if there is an objectively strongest line.

The line I gave appears more than a pawn stronger for black and still has the initiative. How would Tal have met Qe4? I don't know. But I do think the exchange is better than b4.

Premium Chessgames Member
  DarthStapler: Tal was the best ever
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <zenpharaohs>, I agree. I think b4 was a huge bluff on Tal's part, because the Q is better placed at e4 than at a4. (Rf4 does not drive the Q off, as I said, because the Ne3 then hangs.)
Dec-30-07  hovik2003: <zenpharaohs>
If you go to secend page on this forum, I have covered in extend immidiate exchange on f3, but on one line black ends up with sole queen and couple of pawns against two knights and rook, and seems white even holds the game for time being.
Dec-30-07  hovik2003: And by the way on your line you missed the next move which is 36.Nc3e2! now all the pawns are protected and queen doesn't have a good check. so how you assess this position better than ...b4! line? where black is exchange up and has extra pawn and the initiative.
Dec-30-07  RookFile: 27.... b5 was a brilliant conception by Tal, and is confirmed by Fritz10 to lead to a forced win.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zenpharaohs: hovik2003: "And by the way on your line you missed the next move which is 36.Nc3e2!"

You could play that. It doesn't have any advantage over 36 Rd3. I went and asked Rybka 2.3.2a and 22 plies in it has these values:

36 Rd3 : -2.36
36 N3e2 : -2.54
36 Rg3 : -2.77
36 Rf3 : -3.08

so as far as that goes, it's really a toss up between Rd3 and N3e2.

Dec-30-07  soberknight: Wow, what a combination!

Even for Tal, this is quite amazing. It takes a lot of foresight to see exactly how to hack into White's king position. I had barely a clue.

Dec-30-07  xrt999: If black plays 27.Rxf3 immediately (which is what I did), the move order is exactly the same. The white queen being on a4 or b5 does not affect the outcome of the ensuing move order. After my move 30.Qxh3+ (move 31 above) I decided to peek, since being Sunday and all I figured there was another 10 or 15 moves to go, but I think I got the point.

< znprdx: Since it is Tal to move 27....Rxf3 looks almost routine but the fireworks finally fizzle due to an eventual Qe8+ which forces the Bishop away from the attack>

The white queen is originally on the a4-e8 diagonal, and after 27...b5 28.Qxb5, the white queen is still on this diagonal. Either way, white never gets a chance to make the move Qe8+. On each move I see no possible way for the white queen to interfere in the attack.

< Chesstalesfan: I challenge everybody saying that 27..b5 is not the solution of this problem. There are lines of defence for the white. But he has to play very very exact. 27..b5 28Qe4 what is now black going to do?>

Exactly, thats why the solution is 27...Rxf3. Playing 27...b5 gives white a tempo to play 28.Qe4 and defend f3. On the other hand, black can then play 28...Rf4, attacking the queen. White's response might be 29.Qb1?, the only square which would interfere in the attack played above. But what a lame square for the queen!

Dec-30-07  xrt999: < zenpharaohs >

in your line, what happens after 28.Qe4 Rf4?

Dec-31-07  hovik2003: People forget that this puzzle was OTB game, this position was composed and riped for action by great attacking player like Tal during a game, now some of you are trashing both playing grandmasters's integrity by saying 27...b5! wasn't needed, b5 was part of a plan where Tal was excepting 28.Qe4 and I say again white made the task easier by 28.Qxb5?, but I am sure Tal had something against 28.Qe4 also, After lots of analysis I believe it was 28...b4! a logical continuation of his original ...b5 push, if he wanted immidiate exchange on f3 from beginning why he harrased the white queen to let her go to more defensive squere e4 , remember Tal never could have known for sure that queen will take the pawn and divert from 4th rank.
Dec-31-07  DukeAlba: Not even close... I went for the seedy 27... Nxg2..

Never even considered the quiet move of 27...b5

Dec-31-07  Chesstalesfan: ..trying to answer xrt999s question, (I suppose you mean the line after 27..b5) 28Qe4 Rf4 29Qxe3
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: <RookFile: 27.... b5 was a brilliant conception by Tal, and is confirmed by Fritz10 to lead to a forced win.>

Thanks for the analysis, which Toga 1.3.1 confirms, in the line 27...b5 28.Qe4 Nxg2.

<hovik2003: now some of you are trashing both playing grandmasters's integrity by saying 27...b5! wasn't needed>

I suspect Tal would probably prefer honest skepticism to the superficial analysis we have seen so far. The point of 27...b5 is that 28.Qe4 <misplaces> the Q for defense. In the Toga variations, 28...Nxg2 29.Rxg2 Rf4 pushes the queen back to e2, where it (and not the Re1) must sacrifice itself for the B after Be6+.

If anyone is interested in this unusual attacking theme, take a look at

Marshall vs M Fox, 1931

and guess White's 19th move. (By coincidence, Black just moved 18...b5 :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: I knew Tal was going to sacrifice-I just didn't anticipate the petie sacrifice via b4.

White has four possible moves. One results in a quick mate by queen and knight;the other three result in IMMEDIATE mate.

Jan-13-08  rusich: <M.D. Wilson>
Tal wasn't latvian,he was Russian with jewish roots,if you want to be precise.Tal was brought up in soviet(russian)environment since early childhood and he even chose to specialize in Russian literature.I think he didn't even know latvian.His contemporaries reffered to him as to russian,see Bobby Fischer interviews.The same thing Bobby Fischer has jewish roots bur everybody consider him to be american.

I am from Riga myself and know what the talk about is.There are many players in my chessclub who remember Tal personally.He taught many children to play chess while teaching in the Palace of Pioneers.

Jan-13-08  JYMMI: But <Tal> was born in Riga.
Jan-15-08  rusich: <JYMMI>I was born in Riga too but I am not latvian.Tal grew up in USSR.
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Finally, I figured out how to analyze perturbations like 27...b5 on a main variation starting with 27...Rxf3. See Kasparov vs Piket, 1997.

The trick is to analyze best play in the main variation with a computer, and then see where the perturbation helps. Here, the analysis follows the best play from Toga after 27...Rxf3 (omitting ...b5 in transpositions). <<>Double emphasis> indicates a saving move that becomes impossible with the deflection.

There are 2 possible deflections after 27...b5: (1) 28.Qe4 and (2) 28.Qxb5.

27...<Rxf3> 28.gxf3

(1) After 28.Qe4,

28...Rxf3 29.<<>Qe8+ with perpetual> is impossible.

(2) After 28.Qxb5,

28...Qxf3 29.<<>Qh4> is impossible.

Mar-12-09  Katu: Huh, I don't remember a game which had more "intermezzo" moves than this!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Garech: Superb game; surely a future GOTD.

- Garech

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Oh, to be a black pawn!
Jumping recklessly in to the fire,
Sacrificing oneself for the glory of victory,
First the f-pawn, then the b-pawn, then the e-pawn.

Unless you are the h-pawn.
Poor little guy sat there watching the greatest game of his life and didn't get to make a single move.

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