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Mikhail Tal vs Johann Hjartarson
"Broken Hjarted" (game of the day Jun-17-2009)
Reykjavik (1987), Reykjavik ISL, rd 2, Feb-20
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense (C97)  ·  1-0


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Given 69 times; par: 57 [what's this?]

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sac: 38.Rb8 PGN: download | view | print Help: general | java-troubleshooting

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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 14 OF 14 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-28-12  Poisonpawns: This is the type of game that will make you quit chess, or make you will study your behind off.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Abdel Irada: What a knight!
Jan-21-13  Tigranny: This game looks way prettier than Tal vs Larsen. Not at all overrated in my view.
Jan-21-13  dehanne: Hard to believe Hjartarson didn't see what was coming when he played Ra1.
Premium Chessgames Member
  andrewjsacks: Well, for one thing, it was probably the last move before the time control...
Mar-09-13  sfm: <dehanne: Hard to believe Hjartarson didn't see what was coming when he played Ra1.>

Well, the pretty 41.Ng4+ 42.Nh6+ 43.Ng8+ 44.Ng5# is not that easy to see if time is short.

Maybe Black checked on the natural 41.Nxd7+?? where he wins.

And Black is beaten anyway. He can avoid instant mate, e.g. by 40.-,RxR, but now 41.Nxd7+,K.. 42.Nxb8 leaves him in a hopeless position.

So, as a "fast nice try", 40.-,Ra1 was quite an obvious move.

Jan-07-14  PJs Studio: While 36.Rc5 is a fantastic move, I can't fathom 39.Ncxe5!! After 39...Qd1+ and 40...Ra1 white is mated if he can't see the subsequent four knight checks ending in mate. (I couldnt see 43.Ng8+ on the move! Yet Tal HAD to see it at move 39. (!)) Tal's attack was brilliant.

I agree with sfm, I think Harjartarson couldn't see the mate. Might have thought he had a won game even?

It's games like this that make me feel like a wood pushing monkey.

Feb-23-14  SpiritedReposte: Let it be known Tal was a beast. Absolute boss. Exciting, razor sharp chess that bamboozled the best in the world!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Alex Schindler: I was following, it all made perfect sense, I was momentarily curious about the decision nxa1 instead of moving a rook onto the file, but OK, a knight was making its way from outpost to outpost so the move seemed justified, certainly more useful than possible rook swaps...

And then 36Rc5!, followed by ncxe5!! shortly thereafter and I realized, I'm hopelessly trying to understand the mind of a wizard.

Jun-05-15  SimplicityRichard: The Knight in shining armour!#
Oct-30-15  mikealando: Tal the magnificent
Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: This really is an incredible game by Tal. Remember that Hjartarson, around the same time, was strong enough to qualify for the Candidates matches - but Tal bamboozles him after the astonishing Rc5!!

As some people here have said -- the honest ones -- moves like this simply aren't on most people's radar. Masters included.

Even more impressive, in a sense, is Tal's positional maneuvering before he unleashes the tactical blizzard.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Dom....As some people here have said -- the honest ones -- moves like this simply aren't on most people's radar. Masters included.>

I'll sign that.

My internal reaction on seeing 36.Rc5 on playing through this game for the first time (only last night) was 'where the **** did <that> come from?'

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <perf> Yep, it's true. I'm in awe of this game -- which I think I first saw in Burgess's 'Mammoth Book of Chess Games' (which I no longer have, but the memory of this one stuck!).

Thanks for reminding me.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: BTW, have you seen Game Collection: 50 games better than that other Tal game. ...?

Hyperbole, of course ... though, as it's Tal, there are many brilliant games. I'm still inclined to put this one way up there -- the extended bout of positional maneuvering, which some people find dull or routine, makes the game even better in my eyes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Pawn and Two: It takes Fritz a while, 20 ply in fact, before it could confirm that Tal's move 36.Rc5!!, is the best choice.> For whatever it's worth todays F15 needs only 16 ply...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: The ending is a far better try but is it sufficient even to draw, much less win? 38...Rxb8! deserves at least one exclam for imagination. 39. Bxh6 Nxh6 and where do we stand?

click for larger view

I'm not sure I like this position for white. First of all, how is he going to progress? He has to play 40. b5, because black is threatening Bxc6 and Rxb4 which is really quite nasty. Now after b5 black has 40...Nc5 and is threatening to e pawn, which isn't an easy target to defend. Which probably has to play 41. Qb1, but then 41...Nf6 forces 42. Nd2. Then 43. h5!! and white is in zugzuang, as he can't let any of his pawns fall and he can't really do anything on the board. The queen is worthless, the passed pawn can't make a home run. I think black can win this position, but a draw would be sufficient and easy.

However, after this series of moves...

click for larger view

Where 39. Ncxe5!! is played instead of Bxh6, things look a little different. The first thing to note is that black cannot take because Bxh6 is now completely crushing. But black has a clever try that could make white think.

39...Rxb4!! Something about this move is stunning. White has to play very accurately to combat it. I'm almost tempted to give equal chances to both sides. 40. Qxb4? doesn't work as 40...Qa1+ Qb1 41. Qxb1 Bxb1 42. dxe5 Nxe5 Ba4 and the white b pawn is indefensible and white is down a rook. Instead white must play another completely brilliant move.

40. Qc3!

click for larger view

This brilliant and quiet move looks completely completely, but black has one last trick up his sleeve. 40...Rb1+!! 41. Bxb1
(41. Kh2 Qa1! Threatening both mate and the trade of queens. 42. Qxa1 is forced because white will lose his queen or his king on any other move. 42...Rxa1 and the position looks like this.

click for larger view

Ultimately, though white will pick the LSB, the exchange down makes the ending an easy win for black.)

41...Nb5 black must threaten the queen again, or there is no chance of holding the position. 42. Qb2 dxe5
43. Qxe5+ Qf6
44. Qb8

click for larger view

I think white is winning for one very important reason: The golden rule. Though black has an extra piece, white has a positional advantage, the two central pawns central barreling down. Let's confirm this with some analysis shall we?

Black's best try is 44...Qa1 which wins the bishop, but white may not even care, as after 45. e5!! Qxb1
46. Kh2 and white is safe. There is nothing black can do. White will queen his central pawns or black will lose all his pieces trying to stop them. Tal really was such a genius.

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: <Johnnysaysthankyou: The ending is a far better try but is it sufficient even to draw, much less win? 38...Rxb8! deserves at least one exclam for imagination. 39. Bxh6 Nxh6 and where do we stand?...>

Do you mean 38...Rxb8 39.Bxa6 Nxa6 ?

then 40.Nxb8 is most satisfying, isn't it?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Yep, I botched typing up my analysis and didn't realize till you pointed it out. Bxa6 Bxc6 Nxh6 b5 and I think white is probably winning. Probably.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Hell, Bxc6 Nxc7 is even better. This is over.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: I'm hallucinating sorry.
Jun-28-16  clement41: Rc5!! monster move in a seemingly positional ruy lopez
Mar-02-17  ProLogik: Hjartson didn't anticipate 36. ♖c5, which can be excusable when the game was positional up until that point and there may have been time pressure.

But he should have seen that white's queen, knight, and rook established a mating net around black's king. Based on the circumstances, 40. ... ♖a1 was a blunder.

May-20-17  Eduardo Bermudez: How wonderful was the white knight that went from b1 to g8 in twelve harmonic and very effective moves !!
May-20-17  Clement Fraud: <Eduardo Bermundez> Yes indeed... the white queen's knight finishing up on black's KN1 square; and in the final position, every single one of white's pieces is taking part in the mating attack! In this game, Tal really lives up to Bronstein's view of chess as "part science" and "part art".

I've a feeling that black's difficulties began when he overlooked that white could play 19.b4, thus preventing black from placing his knight on the intended c5 square (and the resulting queenside piece regroupment cost black too many tempi). A masterpiece from Mikhail Tal!

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