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Mikhail Tal vs Viktor Korchnoi
USSR Championship (1958), Riga URS, rd 9, Jan-??
French Defense: Winawer. Poisoned Pawn Variation General (C18)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Apr-22-06  euripides: <who> thanks for the diagram !

33 Qf3 is also worth looking at.

Premium Chessgames Member
  penarol: You are right, euripides.
33.Qxe5 fxe5 34.Rg5 d3! is losing for White.

Thank you!

Oct-02-06  Operation Mindcrime: Good annotation <notyetagm>. Andrew Soltis also used this as an example of removal of the defender (the key ♖ on g3).
Oct-29-06  MadBishop: Even at Tal's best, he could not defeat Korchnoi. A model game with the winawer, with an amusing and unexpected twist at the end!
Jun-11-07  prinsallan: Wow. What an ending ^^
Jan-07-09  blacksburg: it's nice to see that even tal was only human.
Jan-07-09  matherd1: Tal record isn't as good as is sometimes made out-nearly all of his major rivals had either even or plus records against him. Though of course they played him when he was ill, he drank etc. But even at his otherwise staggering 1959 candidates performances he got badly beaten up by Keres i seem to recall. Though that on its own shouldn't mean that much (Fischer/Geller, Kasparov/Krammnik etc.).
Jan-07-09  blacksburg: <Tal record isn't as good as is sometimes made out-nearly all of his major rivals had either even or plus records against him.> yeah but his record was still pretty good. (except against korchnoi) i mean, i would definitely trade my record for his.

<But even at his otherwise staggering 1959 candidates performances he got badly beaten up by Keres i seem to recall.> Keres was no scrub, and proved that he could play and beat the best in world. I don't think losing to Keres means we should consider a player "weak" in any way - everyone lost to Keres at some point. everyone.

Jan-08-09  M.D. Wilson: <everyone lost to Keres at some point. everyone.> How true. Keres had everything in chess except the world title. Korchnoi is perhaps the best counter-puncher in chess history. That may partly explain his results against Tal.
Apr-13-09  Tom Bird: Tal must have been in time trouble or something. 33.Qf3 Qb5 34.a4 Qd5 35.Qf4 Qe5 36.Qf3 draw.
Oct-17-09  whiteshark: <notyetagm: Tal blunders at the end of this game when he fails to find Korchnoi's refutation of [his] nice tactical idea which does not quite work.> I second that! Otherwise he'd gone for <33.Qf3=>

click for larger view

Oct-17-09  whiteshark: Alternatively <32.Rh3> would have been a second drawing line,

click for larger view

e.g. <32...Qg5 33.Qxg5 fxg5 34.Rh1 d3 35.cxd3 c2 36.Kg2 Rxh5 37.Rc1=> with 3 isolated pawns (after a ♙c2/♙g6 have been taken) on both sides.

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Nov-04-09  superstu: Maybe Tal was correct: "There are two types of sacrifices: correct ones and mine."
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: I like 23...g5, which looks suicidal, but allows Black time to create a blockade, and the move 25...a5, which, um, well, uh, does what exactly? I don't know, but that Black can get away with it in the face of Tal's attack does impress.

Could White have taken advantage of 25...a5 to play 26.h5 to try and save a tempo?

Why *did* Korchnoi play 25...a5? All it does is prevent Qg4-b4 (which White would want to play because why?).

Feb-24-11  M.D. Wilson: Korchnoi proved that he was a better player than Tal in their many games.
Mar-03-11  andrewjsacks: Korchnoi, like Spassky and a few others, seemed to be immune to the Tal magic.
Jul-26-12  The Last Straw: John emms left 35...? as a puzzle in his book "The Ultimate Chess Puzzle Book".
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: I was somewhat curious so I did some calculations. has 48 Tal vs. Korchnoi games with Korchnoi winning 14, Tal winning 5, and 29 draws. But most of Korchnoi's wins came during their early meetings; prior to 1970 Korchnoi won 11 times, Tal only won once, and there were 17 draws, But in 1970 and afterwards the score was Korchnoi 3 wins, Tal 3 wins, and 19 draws. So I guess Tal eventually figured Korchnoi out. Of course, I picked 1970 as an arbitrary year just to make the calculations come out. ;-)

And Tal's most impressive victory over Korchnoi was surely this one: Tal vs Korchnoi, 1987. The event is listed as "Reykjavik 43/419 Tal,M 1987" and I can only assume that "Tal,M" referred to the "Tal Memorial". Now THAT was truly being a magician! :-)

Nov-14-12  The Last Straw: The real mistake was 33.h6+??. Tal was in time trouble (noted in Kasparov's "My Great Predecessors") and realized he had a "winning" combination. After 33.h6+?? the game continued 33...♖xh6 34.♕xh6+ ♔xh6 35.g7 ♕xg3+! 0-1 (on account of 36.fxg3 ♔xg7).
Nov-23-14  Albanius: AylerKrupp, Tal lived until 1992, when he could still play chess. Here is a blitz game: Tal vs Kasparov, 1992
May-05-15  A.T PhoneHome: Beautiful ending conception by Viktor Korchnoi; liquidating the remaining pieces and emerging two pawns up!
Feb-14-18  Adenosina: I did not know about the relation between these two great players but as it is said in the MGP, "It was a fierce clash of two diametrically opposed chess conceptions - attacking and defensive".
Jul-20-18  Inocencio: This is one of the famous swindle in chess, where Tal - the master of attack was denied of victory due to his unintended miscalculation.
Apr-02-21  tympsa: Tal just missed Qxg3+ ? and forgot the fact that there was no pieces between black queen and his rook any more ? Did he hope black to play 37...Qb8 .38 g8Q Qxg8, 39 Rxg8 ? How weird .
Jul-28-21  edubueno: In my opinion the critical position arrives after 18 Qf4!?. On his early comments Korchnoi remarks that the best answer should be 18...Ktf3! with both Queens under fire. It is for sure that Tal was preparing 19 h6!? winning the exchange. The remaining position is not clear.
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