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Mikhail Tal vs Paul Keres
Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959), Bled, Zagreb & Belgrade YUG, rd 24, Oct-21
Tarrasch Defense: Classical. Endgame Variation (D34)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-29-04  InspiredByMorphy: Keres plays incredibly strong against a formidable opponent.
Sep-28-05  PaulLovric: excellent game by keres
Sep-28-05  Pawn Ambush: Keres had a knack for choosing openings and variations that threw his opponents somewhat off balance!

Why Tal played 1.Nf3 is beyond me, Keres hardly ever played the Sicilian, Maybe Tal was trying to play a Sicilian via 1.Nf3,c5 2.e4. After 1.e4 Keres might have played 1...e5 a closed Ruy lopez would most likely have been played.

Forcing Tal to play a positional game gave Keres the best possible chance to beat him. I mean why invite tal into a tactical skirmish!

Sep-28-05  Per: Instead of 79...Qg4 a pretty finish could have been Qxf5! (if the white queen recaptures, the knight forks the queen)
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Sadly that doesn't quite work, because 80.Qxf5 would be check. Good idea, though.
Sep-28-05  who: After the game Keres could be heard muttering to Tal - "not so much fun when it's your king that's running all over the board - now is it?!"
Sep-28-05  RookFile: If memory serves, Keres owned Tal
at this tournament, but Tal crushed
everybody else, and it was Tal who
emerged the victor.
Sep-28-05  slapwa: Per: If 79...Qxf5 80. Qxf5 is check.
Feb-13-06  MorphyMatt: Funny, the white king is close to the starting position of the black king and the black king is not far from the starting position of the white king.
Feb-13-06  Caligula: Very nice game.
Feb-13-06  MorphyMatt: And that was my 100th kibitz!
Feb-13-06  Hesam7: This game is the only Keres - Tal game [out the 4 games they played in 1959 candidates tournament] in which Keres does not get a lost position. In all others he has a lost position at some point, it is interesting that he managed to score 2 points out of them!
Mar-21-06  notyetagm: This is a staggeringly brilliant game by Keres.
Aug-24-06  ismet: probably move 64 is resign TAL
Feb-03-07  unsound: <notyetagm> I agree. <ismet> Eh? Actually (as Kasparov points out in OMGP), Tal's 64th move creates a threat--of 65.Nf6+ Kh4 66.Ne4 and the h-pawn drops. It's Tal's characteristically resourceful defense in the ending that makes Keres's technique all the more impressive.
Sep-23-08  notyetagm: 24 ... ♘e8-d6

click for larger view

Now *that's* what I call <CENTRALIZATION>.

Mar-18-09  DrGridlock: <Hesam7: This game is the only Keres - Tal game [out the 4 games they played in 1959 candidates tournament] in which Keres does not get a lost position. In all others he has a lost position at some point, it is interesting that he managed to score 2 points out of them!>

It may not be a lost position, but he certainly gives White a good position out of the opening.

Keres writes, "This game was played in the last tour, five rounds before the end of the tournament. At that moment, Tal was leading by a margin of 2.5 points over me. I had therefore to play for a win at all costs in order to retain even theoretical chances of gaining first place."

After 11 Na4, Tal attacks Keres' bishop on c5, and Keres adds, "A new line, instead of the customary Rb1. With the text-move White plans to initiate the well known pressure on the c5 square after 11 ... Be7 by 12 Be3. Thus he would attain a position that would ensure him a lasting initiative without any danger of losing. Hence black chooses a different, perhaps riskier, continuation so as to lead the game away from the usual paths."

Keres retreats his bishop to b6, and after the exchange ends up with a rather ugly position of doubled b pawns and white with the 2-bishop advantage. There aren't many who would want to play black's position from move 11 needing a win against a strong white player. Rybka sees the position as .33 for White at this point.

Keres writes, "An essay at appreciating the position that has now arisen might seem at first glance to make it appear much more favorable for white than it really is. He enjoys the advantage of two bishops, controls the important d4 square, while his opponent's pawn position reveals marked weaknesses on the queen-side. But if one tries to suggest a plan by which white can increase his supposed advantage then one is pulled up sharp by unexpected difficulties. It becomes apparent that Black's position too contains various advantages that should not be underestimated."

Keres estimates that Tal's move 15 a3 is a mistake, "white overestimates his position and apparently imagines he can quietly increase his pressure in the center ... Something must of necessity be undertaken against the positional threat of 15 ... Bh6."

An interesting psychological study of how to play against Tal if one needed a win, which is a bit different than the game evaluation of previous posts.

May-29-10  PeterB: This game by Keres was brilliant, and he beat Tal 3-1 individually; the only loss was when he tried too hard to win with White. But the tournament as a whole was a tragedy for him; Tal won because he obliterated the lower half of the crosstable, including Fischer!
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 11..Bb6!? was a new, double-edged idea which showed that Keres was willing to take risks to play for a win; standard was 11..Be7. In exchange for giving up the two bishops and having doubled pawns Black had an open a-file and some control over c5. After 15 a3?..Bh3 Black was at least equal; Keres recommended 15 Nxe6..fxe 16 Qb3 with maybe a slight edge for White. 26 Bxb6?..Nc4 27 Be3..N6e5 would have been very strong for Black. 30 Nd3 would have been answered very strongly by 30..Qe4. Keres missed a chance to limit the White knights mobility with 31..g5!. A quicker path to victory was 39..Nd4 40 Qd3(40 Qb7..g5)..Qxd3 41 Nxd3..b5 with a winning ending. Nunn pointed out that if White had played 42 Qg2 Black could have won immediately with 42..Qb6. Black had to be very careful to avoid the trap 48..h5+ 49 Kxg5..Qf6+? 50 Kxh5..Ne5 51 Qd6! when it is Whiye who wins.
Nov-13-16  maelith: <This game by Keres was brilliant, and he beat Tal 3-1 individually; the only loss was when he tried too hard to win with White. But the tournament as a whole was a tragedy for him; Tal won because he obliterated the lower half of the crosstable, including Fischer!>

Classical games: Viktor Korchnoi beat Mikhail Tal 13 to 4,

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