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Mikhail Tal vs Andrei Sokolov
Brussels World Cup (1988), Brussels BEL, rd 12, Apr-15
Catalan Opening: Open Defense (E04)  ·  1-0


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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Skoosh: I find it really hard to understand the reasoning behind some of the moves in the early part of this game. Then, all of a sudden, the answer is there for all to see. Pure Tal, pure genius!
Jun-05-05  PARACONT1: Sokolov's main problem was that he had a very limited opening repertoire that allowed others to really prepare against him. One wonders how far he could have maintain his status among the top players had he been more flexible. But great game by Tal. These old masters somehow make the win look more beautiful and clear as compared to some of the over-complicated wins of today!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: <PARACONT1> This also affected Robert James Fischer, especially in the 1959 Candidates' Tournament when his Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4 (b11) approach to the Caro Kann had been anticipated by the Russians.
Jun-05-05  Ernest van der Sar: Great winning combination starting with 14.Nxf7!
Dec-01-05  aw1988: <PARACONT1, Chessical>

The whole same opening thing is a double-edged sword. On one hand, everyone knows what you play, so they can prepare against that thoroughly, but on the other despite the knowledge of what you play they can't do anything about it, because you're SO good at what you play and have already prepared for it!

Jan-11-08  Hesam7: <Ernest van der Sar: Great winning combination starting with 14.Nxf7!>

But is it winning?? 19...Bc6 is suggested by my engine and I can not find anything better than 20 Bxg6 hxg6 21 Qxg6 Kf8 22.e4 Ne7 23.Qh6+ Ke8 24.Qh5+ Kf8 25.Qh6+ =

Mar-07-08  hedgeh0g: When looking at Tal's greatest games, I find I can never keep track of which side has the material advantage. Tal usually starts off by going material down and then somehow ends up material up after a maelstrom of movement on the board.
Mar-07-08  littlefermat: <hedgeh0g>

LOL, same here. Everytime I play over Tal's games, I seem him sacrifice a piece and somehow, in the end, the material is even, and he ends up winning based off a passed pawn. Not sure if he calculated it all, or what. It's always very impressive, but also frustrating--hard to understand how he does it.

Mar-07-08  mindkontrolle: what's the words i'm looking for... oh: f-ing brilliant. Tal!!!! Tal!!!!! Tal!!!!!
Mar-07-08  mistreaver: 13.. nd5 looks suspect
Sep-30-11  swr: The very next day Sokolov showed his confidence in this opening, improving with 19...♗c6 and drawing against Beliavsky:

Beliavsky vs A Sokolov, 1988

Jun-12-12  Mudphudder: Wow, you rarely see Tal games that go this far into the endgame. He usually destroys opponents in the middlegame and they resign before the endgame is reached.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Mudphudder> I think that to some extent that may be a matter of which games get published. When an attacking player like Tal wins it's often as a result of flashy sacrifices when he destroys his opponents in short games. And these are the games that we usually see. When an attacking player like Tal draws or loses, the games tend to be longer (unless his opponent out-Tals Tal and wins quickly with equally flashy sacrifices) and these we seldom see.

I heard something similar regarding the Sicilian Defense. When White wins, he wins quickly and those are the games we typically see. When Black wins its often in the endgame due his superior pawn structure or by White overreaching in the middle game, these games are longer and we don't see them that often. So we get the impression that the Sicilian is a bad defense to play as Black. Yet Opening Explorer has 126,857 Sicilians at the time I write this, and White wins 35.7% of the games, Black wins 31.3% of the games, and 33% of the games are drawn. So the Sicilian is almost as good for Black as it is for White.

But I was now curious and so I had to check. There are 2,811 Mikhail Tal games in the database. Tal won 903 (32.1%), lost 581 (20.7%), drew 1,326 (47.2%), and there was one game with No Result (the game was adjourned and Tal withdrew from the tournament, so the game was annulled). The average number of moves in a Tal' game was 36, the average number of moves in a win was 39, in a loss 40, and in a draw 31. So in this game, a win in 41 moves, was not that far from his average number of moves in a win, 39. Of course one can't generalize since some of those wins with a high number of moves may have come in the middle game and not the endgame.

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