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Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Botvinnik - Tal World Championship Match (1960), Moscow URS, rd 17, Apr-26
Caro-Kann Defense: Classical Variation (B18)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 3 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-05-06  jcash: can someone explain how 12f4 "weakens the dark squares" according to Tal. It may be obvious but to me it seems that e4 is the main light square weakness after the move 12f4. Tanks
Jul-06-06  whatthefat: <jcash>
By pushing the f-pawn, the dark squares e3 and g3 are no longer as well protected. As a result, there's a general looseness on the dark squares around the king.
Mar-21-08  Knight13: <20. Rbd1> Why not 20. Rfd1? That rook is well to be kept on the queen side since White's going for a queen side attack anyway, and that f1 rook isn't doing much so Rfd1. Wait... Hmmm... Maybe after ...Qd6 White doesn't wanna waste time with moves like Qe3 or Qd2 defending f4 with heavy pieces.
Apr-25-09  myschkin: . . .
(by Bruce Wallace)
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Botvinnik had played 7..Bd6 in game 15. 10 Bg5 was pointless; after 11..Qa5 White had lost a tempo and had given up hope of obtaining an opening advantage. Tal criticized 19 Rb1 as too slow recommending 19 a4..Qxb4 20 a5..Nxc4! 21 Rfb1..Qd2 22 Qxc4..Qxd4+ 23 Qxd4..Rxd4 24 Bf3 with a complicated and unclear endgame. Tal acknowledged that 26 b5!? was risky and that his position was shaky after 27 Qxb5 (27 cxb would have weakened d5 too much).

He said: "...Now the b-file has been opened and the White Bishop obtains some freedom of movement along the diagonal. But this was achieved at an expensive price: the weakness of the White pawns take on a catastrophic character."

<talisman: didn't Tal call f4 his favorite move of the match?>

I am sceptical of this quote. I can't find it in Tal's book and it seems inconsistent with his other statements. Several comments in this thread claim 12 f4?! was a clever, psychological move. Tal, however, acknowledged that the move was not that good though he argued that it wasn't as bad as some claimed and did have some redeeming features. Still, he admitted that Botvinnik outplayed him during most of this game. Of course, one of Tal's strengths was creating complications and outplaying his opponents during their time trouble. This was another example of that trait creating the decisive moment in the match.

Sep-05-10  chillowack: There is a (15) in parentheses on the scoresheet, but wasn't this the 17th game of the match?

The confusion may stem from the fact that several games of that match (including the 15th) ended on move 41.

Or maybe that (15) means something else.

Nov-19-10  Jim Bartle: Not that I know all that much about Botvinnik's games, but it seems here that in this game he avoids exchanges and going into the endgame, in contrast to other games I've seen.

I guess that was because he was two points behind with only eight games left, and couldn't let Tal pile up more half points.

Mar-08-11  soothsayer8: There's nothing so formidable in chess as a strong pawn structure. By move 22, Tal looked pretty unstoppable with most of his pieces behind a kingside pawn storm, and all of Botvinnik's pieces tied up defending.
Jun-12-11  DrMAL: 12.f4 is not at all rubbish with only psychological value. Yes, it weakens e4 and e3 but strongholds e5 (and supports the bishop on g5). Looking with Rybka 4.1 it is chosen as the best move until d=16 and black's best reply is chosen as castling long. Of course it also has shock value especially to an overly pedantic opponent. Why was it made? Probably to secure the center before attacking black's king, quite logical. In very deep analysis 12.f4 is still not bad, it is double edged allowing for quick attacks on oppositely castled kings.

The advance 13.a3 14.b4 gives black time to start a strong counterattack against white's king but black ignores this basic strategy, refusing to take the active risk involved. Of course Tal counted on Botvinnik to make this unwise choice. 14...Rdf8 15...Nh7 or 14...Rde8 15...Nd5 are both much better plans. The problem with schools of thought here is that chess inherently involves risk, taking steps to avoid it is often even riskier!

14...Nb6 15...Be7 are both passive moves, and with 18.c4 white has clear initiative. Tal's attack is very consistent. By move 25 the pawn storm looks formidiable and with 25...Rhh8 black starts to crack. 27...Nc6 is better than 27...a6 and 30...Nfd5 or 30...Ned5 is better than 30...Nc6 indicating much pressure.

Tal takes it slow with the rook maneuvers, burning up Botvinnik's clock and nerves. Time must have become critical, since 37.Rb8 is very risky allowing a strong counterattack that black starts but then plays 39.Qd5, blundering away the game. No flash here just consistently excellent attacking judgment for Tal!

Jun-12-11  ughaibu: It's nothing to do with Rybka, the question is whether or not Tal selected an inferior move for psychological reasons, and in that context, the only judge of inferiority was Tal.
Jun-13-11  bronkenstein: DrMAL , You have Tal`s thoughts on the famous 12.f4?!?! quoted on the top of this very page , it will clarify his (funny , and quite human though =) POW.
Jun-13-11  DrMAL: Rybka is a widely accepted tool to help evaluate moves used by many if not most of the world's top players. Here it backs up the non-psychological reasons based on positional strategy that Tal himself stated in the post above. Knowing how one's opponent will react and using it against them can also have strategic value. This aspect of Tal's judgment is also not inferior.

No evidence is presented to back-up the use of "inferior move" while overwhelming evidence supports good cause including the result of this game. Contempt prior to investigation is ignorance.

Jun-13-11  ughaibu: As it goes, I have disputed the claim that this was a case of the psychological choice of an inferior move. Nevertheless, Rybka is irrelevant to this.
Jun-17-11  DrMAL: Yes I understand what you and others were discussing. My commentary was not particularly directed at that, it was more general and directed to the many who seem to ignorantly still carry the belief that Tal's sacs were unfounded. This idea was very prevalent in his day, Botvinnik himself was a primary source.

In terms of what is quoted as said by Tal, what your debate was about, it seems a bit pointless. Tal was not playing to lose, if he did not think his moves had excellent value he simply would not have played them! LOL

His humble remarks were a defense in the face of much (wrong, jealous, ignorant) criticism in his day by his contemporaries. It is sad that even today such criticism still exists, it is easy to see with a engine such as Rybka that even objectively with no regard to human factors his sacs were well founded, hence my use of Rybka to show this...cheers.

Oct-31-11  Llawdogg: Wow! Tal had Alekhine's Gun twice in this game, after 35 Rb3 and after 39 Qb3.
Sep-28-12  whiteshark: Kiffing :D
Mar-26-15  thegoodanarchist: < plang: ...

<talisman: didn't Tal call f4 his favorite move of the match?>

I am sceptical of this quote. I can't find it in Tal's book and it seems inconsistent with his other statements.>

Sorry, <plang>, but Tal did indeed name 12. f4 his favorite move of the match. He wrote that it was the move he remembered <"best of all"> from <"the most important match"> of his life. From "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal" page 164.

In fact, Tal himself gave the move as "12.f4 ?! (dubious)" and continued on to say (still on page 164)

<'Horrible', 'anti-positional', 'unbelievable' etc., etc. - this is how all the commentators, without exception, described this last move by White. One might think that the player with White was completely unfamiliar with any elementary book on chess, where it is written in black and white that one really can't make a move such as 12. f4, since it weakens the dark squares, leaves the bishop at g5 out of play, and puts in jeopardy the already compromised position of the white king.

I don't think that the reader will consider me immodest, if I say that all these considerations concerned me during the game. Nevertheless, the fact remains: the horrible move 12. f4 was made. Why?">

Tal goes on to say that White has no trace of opening advantage, and could steer towards a draw with 12. Qd2, and that he was bothered by the question of managing to get to the cinema or theater!

He said the advantages of the move <"do exist, although not in a purely chess sense. In the first place, the move 'demands a refutation'"> which then offers the possibility of a double-edged, tactical game. He concludes

<"Black should simply have replied 12... O-O, but this is after all not a refutation.">

Excellent stuff from the Magician of Riga!

Aug-18-15  thegoodanarchist: And, as pointed out by <who> on page two, Tal also wrote:

<<<<although it may sound silly, during such an important game I suddenly began to be bothered by the question: <<'Will my wife and I manage to get to the cinema or theatre?'>>>>>

Dec-08-19  N.O.F. NAJDORF: I thought 39 ... Ka8 was the right move,

but then

40 Qc4 Ka7

41 Ra1 ...

Any ideas?

Dec-08-19  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Could black have played:

39 ... Ka8

40 Qc4 Rc6

( 40 ... Ka7 41 Ra1)


Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: < N.O.F. NAJDORF: Could black have played: 39 ... Ka8

40 Qc4 Rc6>

Looks fine for Black to me, since 41.Qxa6+ ba 42.Rb8+ Ka7 doesn't work.

Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: Tal says 39...Ka8 was the only chance to hold on.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <saffuna: Tal says 39...Ka8 was the only chance to hold on.>

And he's right, except that after 39....Ka8 Botvinnik isn't just holding on; he's slightly better. The engine thinks 40.h3 stopping ...Ng4 is Tal's only move that avoids a serious, probably losing disadvantage.

Aug-27-22  ytroitsky: T his game shows something. Even when ahead in the match, Tal went for the win. As he said himself in his book, <'12.Qd2 would've 'steered into the drawing haven'> and he didn't want that. So he played the <'horrible', 'anti-positional', 'weakening' f4>. It's true this move is technically bad, but it gave him practical chances, and guess what, he won the game! I have to admit that Botvinnik's iron logic succumbed against Tal's irrationality because Tal was always practical. And this knocked out every great player in the era - <Smyslov, Botvinnik, Petrosian, Spassky, Fischer, Karpov, and Kasparov>. Sadly Tal died in 1992. He was addicted to tobacco and alcohol. But his games will live forever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: The beauty of the games in the 1960 match is unreal.
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