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Mikhail Tal vs Mikhail Botvinnik
Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Rematch (1961), Moscow URS, rd 18, May-03
Caro-Kann Defense: Advance. Tal Variation (B12)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-05-03  Diggitydawg: Open Defence, thanks for putting this collection together. 23. RxR confuses me because it allows black to repair his pawn structure. What did Tal see when he played it? From that point on, Botvinnik plays an instructive game on getting a good post for his N and effectively preventing pawn advances on the K-side.
Nov-05-03  drukenknight: dawg; what are you looking at for move 23? 23 g5 might get more pressue on the K.

16 Rh3 might be a better way to get the R active and cover the pawn on a3. I've seen Rh3 be very effective vs the black Q in the French, this position has a french look to it.

Nov-05-03  Diggitydawg: DK, 16.Rh3 looks like a good way to activate the rook. I think Tal chose the B move over it though, because he planned to advance the K to g2 and connect the R's on the back rank.

23.g5 looks plausible too because it activates the Bh3. Its only drawback is that after 23...hxg5 24.Bg5, White has three pawn islands compared to Black's two. For move 23, I’d probably choose the not so ambitious Rh1-c1.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Diggity> Tal probably concluded that it was best to trade rooks at move 23, else Black would force him, by playing ....Rfb8, into the same exchange under even worse circumstances, or to concede the b-file.
Apr-02-10  Chess Network: Who said 2 bishops are better than 2 knights! :)
Apr-02-10  Petrosianic: Either Fred Reinfeld or Bobby Fischer, I forget which.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Shredder dislikes 9.Na3 but doesn't think the move is as bad as it looks to me. After 9.Nd2 it thinks White could have kept a small advantage.

The computer does not think Black is anywhere close to winning after 9.Na3 Bxe2 10.Qxe2 cxd4 11.cxd4 Bxa3 12.bxa3 Nc6, but I think a strategically clear-cut game without lots of tactics in the offing was very welcome to Botvinnik. Instead of 13.Be3?!, the engine thinks it's even after 13.Qb5 Ne7 14.h5 Qa5+ 15.Qxa5 Nxa5 16.Rh3, but this was game 18, and Tal was four points behind. Equal endings were little better than losses to him by now.

13.Be3 Qa5+ 14.Kf1? (again Tal feels compelled to avoid offering the exchange of queens) 14….Ne7 (the engine likes simply grabbing the pawn at once) 15.Rb1 Rb8 16.Bh3? (16.Qd3) 16….Qa4?! 17.Rd1? Qxa3 (White has no compensation for the pawn) 18.Kg2 Qa6! (maybe not objectively the best, but very strong under the circumstances. White can hardly pass up the exchange of queens now, with a dreary ending ahead for him).

19.Qxa6 bxa6 20.h5 Kd7 21.Rb1 Rb6 22.Kg3 Na5 (the computer actually prefers keeping the doubled pawns with 22….Rhb8 23.Rxb6 Rxb6 and White's a- or d-pawn will soon fall) 23.Rxb6? (the computer prefers 23.Rhc1 Rhb8 24.Ra1, but it's hard to blame Tal for not going in for that) 23….axb6 with a great game for Black.

Most of the way this looked like Botvinnik's smoothest and easier win of the match, but things get a little rocky toward the time control. Instead of 33….exf5 the computer likes 33….Nd2 and if 34.Rd1 Ne4+ 35.Kh4 g5+! 36.fxg6 fxg6 and the h-pawn will soon fall.

Position after 37....f6:

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After 37….f6? Tal could have scared up drawing chances with the subtle 38.Rg1!, planning to answer …Nxa3 with Bf3 attacking d5 and g7. After 38….Kf8 39.Bf3 Nb6 40.Re1 no win is apparent. Instead 38.Bf5?? dropped another pawn to Black's simple combination and brought Botvinnik a giant step closer to regaining the title.

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Instead 38.Bf5?? dropped another pawn to Black's simple combination>

It wasn't <utterly> simple. Black had to see 40.Re1 Kf6! 41.Rxe5 Rc4+. I wonder if that is what Tal missed.

Apr-17-21  tbontb: As pointed out above, time-trouble inexactitudes left the position objectively equal despite Botvinnik's extra pawn until Tal blundered with 38.Bf5 (better 38.Rg1), losing immediately. In fact, 37....f6 appears inaccurate with 37....Na5 38.Rxc6 Nxc6 39.Ke3 Na5 40.Bc8 Nc4+ 41.Kd3 a5 42.Bb7 Nxa3 43.Bxd5 f6 possibly more promising, if difficult.

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