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Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik
"The Siege of Leningrad" (game of the day Mar-10-2013)
Botvinnik - Tal World Championship Match (1960), Moscow URS, rd 19, May-03
Dutch Defense: Leningrad Variation (A87)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Jan-05-05  sergio.henriquez: why resing?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <sergio.henriquez: why resing?> 42. Qa5 looks strong, because on 42...Qd7 43. Qa6 Bg7 (or 43...Be7 44. h5) 44. Bxg7 Kxg7 45. Qf6+ Kg8 46. h5 breaking through the kingside.

To prevent this, Black can try 42. Qa5 Qe6, but then at least 43. Qxa4 with two extra pawns plus a superior position.

Jan-05-05  themindset: notice all the threatened tactics that resulted from the open black king.
Apr-13-05  RookFile: Tal probably sealed a move, and when
they went to look at this overnight, figured out that white has an inevitable path to victory.
Mar-10-06  deefree: Out of curiousity, I ran this through Chessbase Light's Fritz 4.01 while at work. I let it go to 14 ply and the main lines Fritz liked were:


42. Qd3 Rc4
43. Rf4 Qd7
44. Rf6 Qg4
45. f3 Qd7
46. h5 Be7


42. Qa5 Qd7
43. Rf6 Bxa3
44. Ra6 Bf8
45. Ra7 Qe6
46. Qxa4 Rc6

Later I'd like to check this out on Fritz9 to see what "he" comes up with. It looks to me like White clearly has all the play. There may be other more decisive lines than these. Still if White gets his rook to f6 and/or pushes h5 advantageously as Fritz 4.01 shows then Black's king position will be too exposed and vulnerable for him to put up meaningful resistance.

Aug-23-06  talisman: ball game after this one.B goes down swinging w/ a dutch. 42.q-d3...q-d7 43.h-5 gxh5 44.r f5...who's got the winning line?
Aug-31-06  Boomie: 35. Bc7 is one of those Talesque moves which justifies 34. Rf3. It is one of my favorite moves ever.
Dec-23-07  talisman: <Boomie> you are so had to be feeling good after 34...Qh3 but...he had a surprise coming.
Mar-21-08  Knight13: 12. b4 isn't bad. Then answer ...d5 with c5 and start queen side attack.
Aug-14-08  geigermuller: <beatgiant: 42. Qa5 Qe6 43. Qxa4> and then what will white's response be on 43. Rc3 ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <giegermuller>
Am I missing something? 42. Qa5 Qe6 43. Qxa4 Rc3 44. Rxc3.
Sep-10-09  WhiteRook48: do NOT play the Dutch against Tal
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Game 19 - Tal was up 3 points; he was tired of playing against the Caro Kann so he opened with 1 c4 realizing that Botvinnik would be looking for complications. 6..e6 is rarely played; the idea is to allow Black to respond to d5 with ..e5 ruling out the dxe en-passant capture. 9..Qe7 was new; Tal's response 10 Rb1 was intended to chase Black's queen knight. Kasparov gave 10 Rb1 an ! although it has never been repeated; 10 d5 and 10 e4 have been each played several times since then. Tal thought that 12..e5?! 13 Bg5..c6 14 c5 would have been very risky for Black because he is behind in development. Tal was critical of 16..d5 and after 17 Qe2 gave the line 17..Nd6 18 Ne5..dxc 19 Rbc1..b5 20 b3 "with a powerful initiative" but Kasparov felt that after 20..cxb 21 Rxc7..Qd8 22 Rc5..b4 23 axb..a4 the position is complicated and unclear. If 34..Rc2 Tal gives 35 Rxf5..Rxe2 36 Rf6..Bg7 37 Ra6..Bxe5 38 dxe..Rxe5 39 Rxa4..Re1+ 40 Kg2..Ra1 41 Ra7 and White should win. 35..Qd7 would have been a better defense although after 36 Bf4 White maintains his advantage. Botvinnik had to avoid 38..Bxa3? 39 Rxa3..Qc1+ 40 Kg2..Qxa3 41 Qxd5+..Kf6 42 Bd6+ and wins. If the match had been closer Botvinnik surely would have played on.

Tal after the game:

"The reader, looking over this game, will not discover innumerable long variations which gradually arose out of general positional considerations. Until this time, I had rarely played this type of game. It was exactly because of this that I thought that the nineteenth game was by best creative achievement in the match."

Mar-10-13  Abdel Irada: <sergio.henriquez: why resing?>

Because he didn't sing properly the first time?

Mar-10-13  morfishine: Marvelous in every phase; Take the names off the score, and who would guess Tal was playing the White pieces? Not me

(...and for that matter, I wouldn't guess Botvinnik was playing Black...)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: But Botvinnik destroyed Tal in the very next match.
Mar-10-13  goodevans: <plang: "... If the match had been closer Botvinnik surely would have played on.">

I agree. The position Botvinnik resigned seems to me to be far from an easy win for white. Feel free to try to win it yourself at...

It took me over a dozen attempts to find a way to win for white.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bishoprick: Feel uncomfortable with today's "pun". The Siege of Leningrad was a murderous affair in which almost 2 million people died of both starvation, cold and canon fire. It is nothing to joke about.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: <Bishoprick:> Harrison Salisbury has a book on this I liked, I think the title is <The 900 days of Leningrad> Korchnoi and Spassky were children of Leningrad at the time; I don't know if they were evacuated or if they had to stay in the city.

I think it was the Finns as well as the Germans, who surrounded the city. The Finns attacked Russia in response to Russia seizing Finnish territory near Leningrad, in the Russo-Finnish war, 1939-40.

I too, wish MB had played on a bit, and made sure that white would find the moves. I'm sure Tal would have, it's just nice to see it happen on the board.

Mar-10-13  PaulLovric: <Boomie: 35. Bc7 is one of those Talesque moves which justifies 34. Rf3. It is one of my favorite moves ever.> what?
Mar-10-13  whiteshark: It's always quite confusing for some milliseconds as <siege> means <victories> or <I win> in German.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: Black's game just ran out of gas,so he resigned.
Apr-13-13  waustad: Since it was move 41, they had probably been looking at the position overnight and just needed to see that Tal was on the right track. If instead, they went a move over during the first session, perhaps he resigned without resuming play. This was chess during the era of adjournments. Both player's seconds would analyze all night.
Jul-23-15  thegoodanarchist: During the Siege of Leningrad, Old Man Winter would lift the siege every year around December, by freezing the surface of Lake Ladoga.

The Soviets would take the opportunity to revictual Leningrad by driving supply trucks across the ice. Sometimes the ice would give way, and entire trucks would be swallowed into the lake.

Jul-23-15  thegoodanarchist: For more about the ice road, here is a link:

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