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Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates Playoff Match

Bent Larsen5.5/8(+4 -1 =3)[games]
Mikhail Tal2.5/8(+1 -4 =3)[games] Chess Event Description
Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates Playoff (1969)

Bent Larsen qualified for this playoff match as the loser of the Spassky - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1968). Tal qualified as the loser of the Korchnoi - Tal Candidates Semifinal (1968). The winner would advance directly to the next Interzonal tournament (1) whereas the loser would have to qualify from a zonal tournament. Victory would go to the player in the lead after eight games. (1) If tied at 4-4, to be continued until the first win, and if tied at 6-6, to be decided by drawing of lots. (2) The venue Eersel was announced in the press on 4 February. (3) Before the match, Tal played in the USSR Championship (1968/69), and Larsen defeated Heikki Westerinen 6-2 in a match in Helsinki (8-15 February). (4) Tal was helped in Eersel by Efim Geller, who had enjoyed "Russian holidays with his wife and child". Larsen was the "lonely wolf". (5) Game 1 started after a speech by Max Euwe, (5) and was drawn after 48 moves. On the next day, Game 2 was also drawn. The players then had two days off, with Game 3 set to 14 March at 1 pm. (6) Tal had an advantage, and Geller showed on the demonstration board that he should play

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21...Ng5! (7) Tal played 21...Qg5+ 22.Kf1 Qh5? 23.fxe4 Qxh3+ 24.Ke2 Qh5+ and achieved nothing but the loss of a piece. Tal also lost Game 4, which few had counted on before the match. (8) As in Game 3, he made "a superfluous sacrifice in a position where calm play would have benefited him. Although he is known as one of the boldest players in the world, such a rush - and this in two games in a row - is rare for him." (8) After the games, pieces and pawns flew across the board at lightning speed while the GM's commented on moves and plans. Tal always searching for combinations and mates. Geller tried to calm him down: "Mischa, you do not always have to play on combinations". (9, 10) Game 5 was won, however, by "the brutal Russian", (11) reducing the lead to 3-2. Game 6 followed Robert E Byrne vs Larsen, 1968, and Larsen had already found that the attack developed by Tal had too little impact. (12) At 4-2, Tal now had to win the two last games. Game 7 was adjourned twice, and Tal had to accept a draw. Larsen had won the match, but in Game 8 "both players did more than their sporting duty". (13) Larsen won again, revenging his Tal - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1965) loss.

Eersel, Netherlands, 10-23 March 1969

Age Elo* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Larsen 34 2630 ½ ½ 1 1 0 1 ½ 1 5½ Tal 32 2610 ½ ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ 0 2½

Arbiter: Constant Orbaan. (5)

Larsen advanced to the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970). His next tournament was the 2nd Anderssen Memorial in Büsum (1969). (4) Tal had to try to qualify from the USSR Championship (1969) zonal tournament, but did not succeed.

A 10-game match was played at the same time in Eersel between Lubomir Kavalek and Hans Ree. The former won 7-3. (4, 13)


(1) Theo Daniel van Scheltinga in Het Vrije Volk, 8 March 1969, p. 21. Tidskrift för Schack, March-April 1969, p. 71 erroneously says 10 games.
(2) Jan Hein Donner in De Tijd, 11 March 1969, p. 8.
(3) ANP report in De Volkskrant, 4 February 1969, p. 13.
(4) Gino Di Felice, Chess Results 1968-1970.
(5) De Volkskrant, 11 March 1969, p. 14.
(6) De Volkskrant, 13 March 1969, p. 17.
(7) De Volkskrant, 15 March 1969, p. 35.
(8) Jan Hein Donner in De Tijd, 17 March 1969, p. 6.
(9) Constant Orbaan in De Stem, 27 June 1970, p. 24 (
(10) Constant Orbaan in De Stem, 4 July 1970, p. 17 (
(11) Jan Hein Donner in De Tijd, 18 March 1969, p. 4.
(12) De Volkskrant, 20 March 1969, p. 17. See also Alexander Kotov in Tidskrift för Schack, May 1969, p. 122.
(13) De Tijd, 24 March 1969, p. 4.

*FIDE Rating List 1969 (

Original collection: Game Collection: Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates Playoff 1969 by User: Tabanus. Game dates (March 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23) are from the Dutch newspapers at

 page 1 of 1; 8 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Larsen vs Tal  ½-½481969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
2. Tal vs Larsen ½-½321969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffC41 Philidor Defense
3. Larsen vs Tal 1-0411969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
4. Tal vs Larsen 0-1421969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffB63 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack
5. Larsen vs Tal 0-1401969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffE98 King's Indian, Orthodox, Taimanov, 9.Ne1
6. Tal vs Larsen 0-1411969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffB65 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...Be7 Defense, 9...Nxd4
7. Larsen vs Tal  ½-½611969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffE67 King's Indian, Fianchetto
8. Tal vs Larsen 0-1501969Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates PlayoffB04 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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