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Mikhail Tal vs Paul Keres
Tallinn (1973), Tallinn URS, rd 12, Mar-08
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Modern Steinitz Defense (C72)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Sep-30-03  drukenknight: oh I forgot about the pawn, crap. HOw did he manage to lose the exchange?
Sep-30-03  ughaibu: See Cyphelium's last note.
Mar-29-06  whatthefat: This is a really interesting tactical battle, with Tal showing devastating vision. As <tamar> showed on the Mikhail Tal page, the climax to the battle is set off by Tal's 16.Nd5.

This move - and Keres' reply 16...Qxf3 - give a unique insight into the minds of the two players. To play his 16th move, Tal has to see the follow up 19.Nf6+ and must furthermore judge the position after black's 20th to be better for white.

So the question is, what did Keres see when he decided to accept the sacrifice? Did he overlook the strength of 19.Nf6+? Or alternatively did he still consider himself to be better after his 20th move? In either case, it's an intriguing point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <whatthefat>I first saw this game in a small booklet covering Talinn 1973. Somehow I lost it, and am trying to piece together Tal's amazing run on chessgames.

Keres had a considerable plus score on Tal up to their meeting, and may have even hoped to win after declining the 19 Nf6+

33 years later Shredder thinks it is a draw after 19...gxf6 20 Qxh6 exd4 21 Kh1 Ne5 22 Rg1+ Bg4 23 Rg3 Qf1+ 24 Rg1 Qh3

Mar-29-06  whatthefat: <tamar: 33 years later Shredder thinks it is a draw after 19...gxf6 20 Qxh6 exd4 21 Kh1 Ne5 22 Rg1+ Bg4 23 Rg3 Qf1+ 24 Rg1 Qh3>

Very interesting. I suppose white could try to continue with 23.Rxg4+ Nxg4 24.Bxg4 Qxg4 25.Rg1. What does Shredder think of the position?

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <whatthefat> It sees no winning chances for White after Black gives up his queen with 25...Qxg1+ 26 Kxg1
Premium Chessgames Member
  Pawn and Two: <tamar & whatthefat>

Fritz 9's evaluation after 19...gxf6, shows this line leads to a clear draw (.00) (19 ply).

Per Fritz 9, 19...gxf6, is also clearly Black's best move. 19...Kh8 is rated as (.73) (18 ply).

After 19...gxf6, Fritz 9's evaluation shows there are no reasonable alternatives to: 20.Qxh6 exd4 21.Kh1 Ne5 22.Rg1+ Bg4 23.cxd4 Nf3 (if 23.Rg3 Qf1+ =) 24.Rg2 Rxe4 25.Bb3 f5 (if 25...Ne1 26.Qg6+ =) 26.Qg6+ and the game will be a draw.

In his book, "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal", Tal indicates that 19...Kh8 was a mistake. He then stated that White gradually realized his advantage of the exchange.

Regarding 19...gxf6, Tal provided this varation and short statement: "19...gxf6 20.Qxh6 exd4 21.Kh1 Ne5 with a very sharp game".

Now with the aid of computer programs, we can verify this sharp variation leads to a clear draw.

Mar-30-06  Hesam7: <tamar: Keres had a considerable plus score on Tal up to their meeting,>

All the "exact calculators" had a positive score against Tal: Keres, Korchnoi and Polugaevsky.

Mar-30-06  whatthefat: <Hesam7>
Spassky should probably be added to that list as well. I'd question the inclusion of Polugaevsky though - didn't he admit to tactical shortcomings?
Apr-01-06  Hesam7: <whatthefat> Polugaevsky has a very good score against Tal (+8 -2 =15, according to this database) better than Keres for example.

The point I was trying to make is that all the mentioned players were famous for calculating variations accurately and all of them have good positive scores against Tal.

Spassky is a universal player and his positive score against Tal is not as good as the above GMs.

Apr-02-06  whatthefat: <Hesam7>
I'm aware that Tal on the whole struggled against Polugaevsky. But what I'm not as sure about is this: <The point I was trying to make is that all the mentioned players were famous for calculating variations accurately>

In <The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games> by Burgess, Nunn and Emms, Polugaevsky is described like so: "His great strengths as a player were his strategic understanding and deep opening preparation, while his Achilles' Heel was his tactical vision, which let him down in some crucial games."

Maybe I've misunderstood your idea of an "exact calculator", but I would have thought that a tactical weakness would preclude one from being classified as such. By contrast, Keres, Korchnoi and Spassky were of course all exceptional tacticians.

Apr-19-06  Hesam7: <whathefat> Sorry for the late reply. I did not know about the quote by Burgess, Nunn and Emms. I always thought that nerves where Polugaevsky's main problems not his chess abilities. I think Polugaevsky was a good tactician, you can look up the chapter "Logic or Intuition?" in "School of Chess Excellence, Tactical Play".
Apr-19-06  whatthefat: <Hesam7>
Okay, thanks for that. I'm guessing he made a few tactical blunders in high publicity games, thereby gaining a bad reputation; when in fact he was a good tactician the majority of the time. To be honest I haven't deeply studied more than a handful of games by Polugaevsky, so it's difficult for me to judge.
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: <Hesam7,whatthefat> Exact calculators did well against Tal, I'd agree, but add they had to be very hard workers as well.

Polugaevsky for example had a minus score (-1) until 1969, and had never beaten Tal. But his personality was to study very deeply, and play only variations he understood so well, he could compensate for his less speed of calculation with certainty about his position.

Tal was more of a gambler, and would play unfamiliar positions feeling secure in his over the board skill.

By the way, Tal at Talinn has my vote as the most inspiring tournament performance of all time.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: It's hard to imagine someone having success with some of the sharpest variations of the Najdorf (including the Polugaevsky variation) without being good at tactics.
Apr-20-06  Akavall: Polugaevsky was perhaps the best at analyzing adjourned games, and it didn't matter whether the position was complex or simple.
Apr-26-09  WhiteRook48: who Keres?
Jun-12-15  ToTheDeath: TWO sacs on f6 including an Alekhine's Block with Rf6! The finish is attractive.
Jun-12-15  RookFile: Tal plowed right over Keres in this game.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Instructive tactics, how to pry open the kingside with three pieces. I love the position after 42. R-h6. Black has a pawn attacking both black Rooks, and can't take either one of them!
Aug-14-18  wtpy: Just going over some of the wealth of games on this site trying to avoid the acrimony on kibitzer/Daniel/Rogoff, the latter of which I have sworn off and come upon this beautiful game. It helps me rememeber why this site is such a jewel. Thank you, Daniel. This game would be a great GOTD or Thursday or Friday puzzle if we ever go back to the good old days where we start with Monday (easy) and solve increasingly hard ones as we move into the weekend.
Oct-18-18  N.O.F. NAJDORF: I don't understand why white didn't play 39 Rh4

nor why black didn't try

42 ... gxh6

Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: <nor why black didn't try 42 ... gxh6>

The pawn is pinned.

Oct-19-18  SpamIAm: The pawn is not pinned because of the black knight on g5. But, nevertheless, after 42...gxh6 white wins pretty easily after 43.h4.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: Vol III of Tal's games published by Chess Stars (covering 1973-1981) gives the end with moves 40.♕h5 ♔h7 inserted. Then the final moves are well played, too.
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