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Andronico Yap vs Mikhail Tal
Jurmala (1985), 12, rd 12, Sep-??
Modern Defense: Averbakh. Bronstein-Hug Variation (A42)  ·  1/2-1/2


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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-22-15  epistle: Toe to toe with toel
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Shut your yap or I will Tal Mommie!
Aug-23-15  NeverAgain: Cute. This game deserves a serious look, though.

Jurmala, a Latvian seaside resort on the Baltic, a favorite summer hangout of two Soviet Gensecs, Khruschev and Brezhnev; the future site of the Soviet version of the pop music festival Eurovision. August 1985, the first year of perestroika. In the penultimate round of a minor international tournament a 24-year old Philippino IM rated 2425 faces the tournament leader and eventual winner Tal, a living legend (*barely* living", as Tal quipped a few years earlier at a meeting with young talents, much to dismay of Petrosian who was also present), now at a modest 2565 but still quite capable of giving the best players of the day hell ... well, on a good day, at least.

Wedged firmly in the middle of the 2455-rated pack, the former Pinoy prodigy devised a cunning plan. When Tal made it clear with his choice of King's Indian Defence that he intended a full-fledged fight, young Master Yap made a wise decision and took the play into the quiet, innocuous Exchange Variation Classical System. The idea was clear: in dull semi-symmetrical positions that arise in that line the old fighter might get impatient and overreach himself. And that's exactly what happened!

Instead of securing the center and containing White's encroachment on the queenside, as the position merited, Tal launched into a half-baked kingside attack as if it were a regular Classic KID game.

<15...f4> was merely - <15...Kh8> and <16...b6> would have kept to the equality zone - a couple of moves later <17...a5> and <18...Nd4> would have helped to maintain the balance - and even as late as move 20 Black could have switched gears with <20...gxf3 21.Bxf3 Be6 22.Bh4 a5 23.Nd2 b5 24.a4 Nb7 >, although there would be no mistaking White's advantage:

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Instead, Tal went all-out at the enemy King and by move 22 ended up in a strategically lost position. At this point Yap displayed excessive caution by exchanging his fine d6 Knight that took three moves to get there for the perfectly harmless Bishop that never budged from c8. Presumably he didn't want any sacrifices on g4 after his planned pawn push there. He could have maintained his stranglehold on the position instead, with <22.gxf4 Nxf4 23.Bg3 Kh8 24.Bc4 b5> (note how Black's best moves are always the same and keep popping up in every improvement variation) <25.cxb6 axb6 26.a4 >

click for larger view

Tal kept to his attack plan and ignored the opportunity to stir up things on the queenside with the now-familiar <26...b5>, forcing an exchange of a couple of minor pieces - <27.Bxf7> (after 27.Bd3 or 27.Be2 White's Bishop only gets in his own way) <27...Rxf7 28.Ke2 Bh6 29.Qc3 Qg5 > - and thanks to his Bishop and the weakness of the dark squares in the opponent's camp Black is still not without chances.

Aug-23-15  NeverAgain: Instead, he launched his Queen in a raid against the enemy King, giving the young Philippino a chance to shine with a remarkable display of ingenuity. The cold-blooded King march from f1 to b3 is definitely the highlight of this unusual game. By the time Black realized what was happening, the wandering King found a shelter on the queenside and White only had to exchange off the heavy pieces, pick up a second pawn on g3 and cash in his material advantage. Black finally put his queenside pawns in motion with <30...b5> and again <33...b5> (isn't it ironic that this critical advance, neglected for so long, occurred twice in this game?) but at this point it was too little, too late.

Or was it? Fortunately for Tal, White stumbled at the last moment, just before the time control. <40.Qd5+?> - unnerved by the desperate counterattack, White throws away his advantage. He had to squeeze one last little bit of cool-headedness displayed during the King march out of himself and the game would have been in the bag: <40.Na1 Qd4> (hoping for <41.Qxd4? exd4> and a pawn steamroller) <41.Qh6!> (all of a sudden White cleans up with a threatened attack on the King> <41...Qd7 42.Nc2 Rc6 43.Qh5 Rd6 44.Ne3 h6 45.Qxe5>

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<45...Rd2 46.f4 Bc7> - (after 46...Qd3+ 47.Ka1 Qxe3 48.Qe6+ White's attack gets through first) - <47.Qf6> and Black has to acquiesce to a Queen exchange: <47...Qd6 48.Qxd6 Bxd6 49.e5 >, leaving White with two extra pawns a won endgame.

After the impulsive <40.Qd5+?> White is forced into a premature Queen exchange and Tal proves that attack is the best form of defence, cleverly boxing the white King in its corner. Faced with the necessity to guard constantly against the back rank mate threat, White with his two extra pawns has nothing better than to go in for a perpetual.

Remarkably, the engines keep insisting on an advantage for White until <45.Nf5>, recommending <45.a3> as a winning continuation. At this point it takes Komodo 6 (the latest free version) 21 minutes, 28-ply depth and 1600mN to go from +1.60 eval to 0.00; but what is really weird is that the latest Stockfish 6 - two years more up-to-date and supposedly much better at the endgame - takes nearly twice as long to reach the same conclusion: an ungodly 45-ply depth, 5400mN and 36 minutes! Any first-category player only has to visualize <45.a3 b3!> and the white King's position to see it's a draw.

lol on these engines. Tal would have had a good laugh there, no doubt. But it was a pretty close call for him, all the same. Lucky Tal. :)

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