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Mikhail Tal vs Anatoly Karpov
Leningrad Interzonal (1973), Leningrad URS, rd 8, Jun-13
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Zaitsev Hybrid (C95)  ·  1/2-1/2

ANALYSIS [x]

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Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-07-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Quite interesting encounter. In move 20 Karpov sacced an exchange winning a Pawn and weakening another one on the Queenside eliminating thus white's pressure there. Tal later sacced a piece for three Pawns and after short skirmish and trade of Queen the game arrived into ending 2R+4P vs R+B+N+3P in which draw was agreed after a few moves.
Feb-26-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Karpov was on the ropes in this endgame-the tournament book provides detailed annotations.
Feb-27-14  MarkFinan: <very interesting game.>

Future generations will visit this site, read the above comment and think.. 'I'm just so glad that valuable piece of information was available to us!?'

#pointless #MorePointlessThanThisPost LOL 😃

Feb-27-14  SpiritedReposte: 42. a7 threatening Rxd6 then Rb8+ and a8=Q. Why play 42. Ra7?
May-31-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Plaskett: Indeed.
Two moves past the time control and after
the wholly natural and obvious 42 a7 Karpov could have resigned.

A tad fishy, donĀ“t you think?

May-31-19  Olavi: 42.a7 Bc5 43.Rdd7 Ra1+ (43...f6) 44.Kh2 f6 looks natural to me, when I fail to see the knock out.
May-31-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Olavi> I agree. I don't see a win either.
May-31-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Olavi> <Fusilli> <Plaskett>

I ran SF10 for two hours (60 ply) after 42.a7. The main line was 42....Bc5 43.Rdd7 f5 44.Kf1 Ra1+ 45.Ke2 Ra2+ 46.Kd3 Bxf2 47.Rf7+ Kg8 48.Rfe7 Kf8 49.Rxe8+ Kxe8 50.Rb8+ Kf7 51.a8/Q Rxa8 52.Rxa8 (+1.02), with R+g and h pawns v. B and f, g, and h pawns in the ending. Continuing SF a few moves: 52....h5 53.Rh8 g6


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I glanced at FCE, BCE, and Dvoretsky's endgame manual. If I'm understanding Dvoretsky p. 227 correctly (no sure thing), Black has an unbreakable fortress even without the f-pawn. So, although 42.Ra7 is definitely worse than 42.a7, I don't think it cost Tal a half-point.

I checked Tal's autobiography to see if he had anything to say about the game. Having lost to Torre, Estevez, and Huebner in the early rounds, he recounts a tragicomedy at p. 412:

<I was nevertheless playing 'creakily', with difficulty, and this led to my amassing 6(!!) adjourned games: a difficult position against Korchnoi, and better positions, as I thought, against Kuzmin, Karpov, and Tukmakov, as well as against Quinteros and Cuellar. If they were all to end up as I was planning, then all would not yet be lost in the tournament. But the resumption brought a serious correction, since it was impossible to analyse all the positions anything like thoroughly. We managed this only in the game against Tukmakov, finding a win at around three in the morning, and merely making a superficial acquaintance with all the others.

The resumption began with a loss against Korchnoi, which was more or less planned. Then came Kuzmin, and I suddenly saw that in my nocturnal analysis (at about 5 a.m.) I had made two moves in a row for myself(!!) which, of course, one could not count on doing in an official situation. I should have agreed a draw, but I thought for about forty minutes, and then, just at the point when I was ready to conclude peace, Kotov, the chief controller came up and informed me that Tukmakov had resigned without playing on. The thought flashed through my mind that if I were to draw with Kuzmin now, I would then have to play against Karpov, and my adjournment analysis had not gone as far as that position. So I decided to continue, and played on...to a hopeless position.

Following this, my results had no significance for me.>

May-31-19  Olavi: <keypusher> It seems to me that 42.Ra7 was a better try. Black had to find 42...g5, so that Ra8+Re1+f4 doesn't win; and he had to be sure that 44.f4 in the game doesn't win. And quite possibly other variations. Whereas 42.a7 seems to be a methodical draw, with no real possibility to make a mistake.
May-31-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <Olavi> Valid point. 42.a7 gets the better SF score, but that doesn't mean it's the better move from a practical point of view.
May-31-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: The book "Mikhail Tal Games 1973-1981" (ed. by Khalifman et al) notes that 41.a6! was the sealed move and it has 42.♖a7! (42.a7 ♗c5 43.♖dd7 f6 =) ...
Jun-01-19
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <keypusher> Thank you for the in-depth exploration! You have settled the matter thoroughly.

I agree with both <Olavi> and you in your assessment of the computer assessment. To me, the best move is the most difficult to respond to by a human, not the one that gets the highest score with both sides playing perfectly. Tal of all people knew that very well (although computers didn't exist in his day)... so many of his sacs were technically flawed, yet so hard to respond to.

<Telemus> Thank you too!

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