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  WCC Overview
Tal vs Botvinnik 1960

No sooner did Mikhail Botvinnik regain his title, the chess world became entranced by charismatic young Latvian named Mikhail Tal. Tal won the 1958 interzonal tournament at Portoroz, then helped the Soviet Union to retain the Chess Olympiad; before going on to win the 1959 Candidates Tournament with 20 out of 28 points--a point and a half ahead of second place Paul Keres.

 Tal Botvinnik 1960
 Tal and Botvinnik, 1960
Tal often sacrificed material in search for the initiative in chess. With such intuitive sacrifices, he created vast complications, and many masters found it impossible to solve all the problems he created over the board, though deeper post-game analysis found flaws in some of his conceptions. Although this playing style was scorned by ex-World Champion Vasily Smyslov as nothing more than "tricks", Tal convincingly beat every notable grandmaster with his trademark aggression.[1]

Lev Khariton relates the electricity of the match:

This match played in Moscow in the spring of 1960 is forever engraved in my memory. Hundreds of chess fans who had failed to buy an entrance ticket stayed outside the Pushkin Theater watching on a big demonstration board the games of the match. I will never forget the famous 6th game in which Tal right after the opening moves sacrificed a knight. It was a challenge to Botvinnik, to all his followers who were trying to put the game into the Procrustean Bed of cold logic and algorithms. As if nothing had happened, Tal was pacing to and fro on the stage, and his famous opponent , who had scored victories over such legends as Lasker, Capablanca and Alekhine, confronted with a surprise sacrifice was taking all possible pains to refute Tal's daring decision. All in vain! Botvinnik had already few minutes left on his clock when Stahlberg and Golombek, the arbiters of the match, transferred the game backstage. The spectators were so excited that the atmosphere in the playing hall was more reminiscent of a football match! Tal won this game, and in spite of Botvinnik's stubborn resistance, he won the whole match.[2]
The match was conducted in Moscow from March 15 to May 7, 1960. After 21 games, at the age of 23, Mikhail Tal became the 8th World Chess Champion.

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FINAL SCORE:  Tal 12½;  Botvinnik 8½
Reference: game collection WCC Index [Botvinnik-Tal 1960]

NOTABLE GAMES   [what is this?]
    · Game #6     Botvinnik vs Tal, 1960     0-1
    · Game #1     Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960     1-0
    · Game #9     Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960     0-1


  1. Mikhail Tal article at Wikipedia
    2 Mikhail Tal, the Chess Player Ahead of Chess by Lev Khariton

 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Tal vs Botvinnik 1-0321960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchC18 French, Winawer
2. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½441960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchA61 Benoni
3. Tal vs Botvinnik ½-½371960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchB11 Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4
4. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½401960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE27 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch Variation
5. Tal vs Botvinnik ½-½431960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
6. Botvinnik vs Tal 0-1471960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE69 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line
7. Tal vs Botvinnik 1-0521960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
8. Botvinnik vs Tal 1-0411960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchA70 Benoni, Classical with 7.Nf3
9. Tal vs Botvinnik 0-1581960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
10. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½601960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE88 King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox, 7.d5 c6
11. Tal vs Botvinnik 1-0721960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchA05 Reti Opening
12. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½721960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
13. Tal vs Botvinnik ½-½161960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchA30 English, Symmetrical
14. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½221960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
15. Tal vs Botvinnik ½-½411960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
16. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½411960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
17. Tal vs Botvinnik 1-0411960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
18. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½761960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
19. Tal vs Botvinnik 1-0411960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchA87 Dutch, Leningrad, Main Variation
20. Botvinnik vs Tal ½-½271960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
21. Tal vs Botvinnik ½-½171960Botvinnik - Tal World Championship MatchE19 Queen's Indian, Old Main line, 9.Qxc3
 page 1 of 1; 21 games  PGN Download 
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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <<Williebob>This would appear to be the last time in chess history where two combatants are meeting for the very first time at a WCC match.>

How quickly you forget Spassky - Fischer World Championship Match (1972). :-)

Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <AylerKupp> What's wrong with Spassky vs Fischer, 1960, not memorable enough? :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: But if preliminary rounds of the FIDE knockout events count, for example there was Gurevich-Tiviakov 1999.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: And the last time in history (again if we include the FIDE knockouts) was maybe Radjabov-Dominguez in the 2004 event.
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: <Williebob>, <beatgiant> Brain fart. For some reason my mind interpreted <Williebob>'s observation that Game One of the match being Botvinnik's and Tal's first meeting as meaning that Tal had never previously beaten Botvinnik. Which, since it was their first meeting, how could he ?

My brain, or at least its comprehension part, was obviously not fully engaged when I made my comment. So embarrassing!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: <AK>, if it weren't for brain farts, my mind would run out of fuel. When I saw your comment, I got confused, then realized I was mixing up Spassky-Fischer 1972 with the never-played Fischer-Karpov 1975 match. In some alternative universe, Fischer might have avoided facing Karpov in events leading up to a '75 title defense.

Any hoo, thanks <beatgiant> for adding food for thought to my post. Match psychology in chess is a mysterious world, and I often think of these seemingly small details when considering why a great player makes the occasional amateurish-looking mistake. Nerves! Something many kibitzers simply do not take into account when posting comments like, "I just don't understand why X didn't play..." If there is a simple answer, it is nerves. Try doing your best work under a spotlight with people staring at you, cameras rolling, a whole world of chess players ready to pounce on your every mistake.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: Oh, meant to mention to <beatgiant>: That's quite a catch with 2004's inaugural Radjabov-Dominguez matchup!

Unless the WCC structure changes to allow a similarly huge scrum of players, this could easily be the last time we see a 'virgin' pairing in a top contest.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Williebob>
Obviously there are a lot of potential objections around 2004 (legitimacy, format, absence of top players, and Radjabov-Dominguez was not the final) and Tal-Botvinnik still has the better claim, in my opinion.

If we just want <in a top contest> then even the 2020/21 candidates had Wang Hao-Alekseenko.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Williebob: <beatgiant>, I would not have expected a first-time meeting in a contemporary Candidates' event, but there you have it!

Alekseenko is also the current Candidate with the fewest games played against Carlsen, with just one draw at 2019 Isle of Man. Wang won that event without facing Alekseenko, who shared 2nd place - great results for a couple of interesting outsiders to the usual Top Ten. I liked Wang Hao's play in that event so much that I may still be rooting for him to shock the world and be the next Challenger. However, I think he looked a bit thrown off by the Covid complications at the beginning of the Candidates. There is still time for any of the Candidates to break through, of course.
May-23-21  Caissanist: The source Wikipedia article does not say that "Tal convincingly beat every notable grandmaster with his trademark aggression", but <many> notable grandmasters. Keres, Korchnoi, and Polugaevsky all had lopsided plus scores against him.
May-23-21  macer75: <Caissanist: The source Wikipedia article does not say that "Tal convincingly beat every notable grandmaster with his trademark aggression", but <many> notable grandmasters. Keres, Korchnoi, and Polugaevsky all had lopsided plus scores against him.>

Seems like something doesn't add up!

May-24-21  Petrosianic: Keres scored 55% against Tal. That's not exactly lopsided.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Anyone looking for massive edges in overall career meetings between two world championship contenders is either a publicist or on a fool's errand.
May-24-21  fabelhaft: <Anyone looking for massive edges in overall career meetings between two world championship contenders>

One of the most massive edges has to be the player that had +5-0=2 in career score against another after a couple of games of their title match, but it evened out a bit later.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: I don't know <perfidious>.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <perfidious>
I can quickly think of plenty of pairs of world championship contenders with massive edges in overall career meetings for one. Capablanca-Janowski, Alekhine-Marshall, Smyslov-Euwe, Korchnoi-Tal, Kasparov-Anand....
Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: And even worse.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Diademas>, while certainly Lasker had his opponent's number in that set-to, hard to credit Marshall as a serious contender for the title, same as Janowski was no real threat to wrest the title from the good doctor.
May-24-21  fabelhaft: And the winner is...

Premium Chessgames Member
  Diademas: Well. If you're argument is that it will be hard to find lopsided results between two contenders of equal strength, I can't really argue against that. ;)
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: That is indeed my point.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <perfidious>
If I claim a few counter-examples to your new version (e.g. Schlechter-Alekhine 100% but only two meetings, maybe Korchnoi-Tal and Rubinstein-Tarrasch are valid) I do feel like I went on a fool's errand. "It will be hard to find lopsided results between two contenders of equal strength" is almost tautological.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: As defending champion, Botvinnik only needed to draw the match, and therefore would be happy if all 24 games were drawn. Once Tal had won the first game, this equation went out the window, and as a consequence Botvinnik was now forced to play for a win, at least in some games. This meant that Tal could prepare for a slightly 'different' opponent, at least until the match returned to even terms.
Aug-26-22  ytroitsky: Tal disregarded positional principles in the return match, but in this match he was a bulldozer who colourfully blasted every opponent in his way. I especially love Tal's famous ...Nf4!! in the sixth game, and the anti-positional f4?! which won the game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <ytroitsky: Tal disregarded positional principles in the return match....>

And was made to pay for such transgressions by his redoubtable opponent the second time round.

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