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Jonathan Penrose vs Mikhail Tal
"Drop the Mikh" (game of the day Dec-03-2021)
Leipzig Olympiad Final-A (1960), Leipzig GDR, rd 11, Nov-08
Benoni Defense: King Pawn lines (A65)  ·  1-0



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Jonathan Penrose vs Mikhail Tal (1960) Drop the Mikh

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Oct-19-17  ughaibu: I think Tal is generally underrated, well loved but underrated.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kamalakanta: Yes, Ughaibu, the same thing happens with Lasker.

Capablanca held Lasker in very high regard, yet Fischer said Lasker was a "coffeehouse player"! And Capablanca also stated that even Masters could not fully appreciate Lasker; they did not understand him.

Chess fans are generally myopic by definition. And now, with "stats" being so "important", anyone can say Tal is overrated because he held the title only for one year, etc, etc....

Great players can be appreciated only by other great players, or by chess lovers who are not stuck on "stats" and numbers, but who can see the beauty and greatness of the player's moves!

Computers have shifted the concept of "greatness" to things related to the ego and the mind. Did the player "dominate"? How many points did he lose by?

But I look at Tal's games, and his brilliance blinds me! Nezhmetdinov is also an example of a great player who did not achieve the ultimate success.

It is all subjective, of course. Tal belongs to the category of "Artists" of the chessboard, like Chigorin, Alekhine and Bronstein....his genius is unparalleled, in my opinion. Too bad his health could not keep up.

Dec-04-18  N.O.F. NAJDORF: '[Tal] does not compare well as a world champion to Seinitz, Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Karpov or Kasparov.'

I think the comparison is unfair.

Lasker did not defend his title between 1897 and 1907, nor between 1910 and 1921.

Botvinnik was permitted a return match twice.

But for the 'Botvinnik rule,' Tal would have been world champion for three years.

Like Tal, Botvinnik never actually won a match as world champion.

Petrosian, who has been called 'the weakest of world champions,' and whose tournament record was mediocre, was the only champion who did win a match as world champion between 1948 and 1978.

We can play all kinds of games with statistics.

Dec-04-18  N.O.F. NAJDORF: Jonathan Penrose has a fascinating family history. His brothers, Sir Roger Penrose and Oliver Penrose, are both physicists. His maternal grandfather was the physiologist John Beresford Leathes, and his maternal grandmother was the Russian - Jewish concert pianist Sonia Marie Natanson. His great-grandfather was the Rev. Stanley Leathes, Professor of Hebrew at King's College London, whose wife Matilda (née Butt) was a descendant of a Dr. Butt who was a physician to Henry VIII. His family history certainly supports the idea that there is a mathematics - music - chess connection.
Apr-17-19  ughaibu: <Tal had left Riga for a pre-Olympiad engagement causing him to arrive two days late in Leipzig (where on the morning he arrived I witnessed him in the Olympiad barber shop having a haircut while whizzing through the bulletins of the previous rounds) so hadn't received his Deutsche Schachzeitung.>

It looks like U Raisa vs M Czerniak, 1960 was played in an earlier round.

Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: Keres' loss was horrific: passive response involving ..Ng8 and he got mated. Lifetime score vs Ojanen was 6:1 to Keres (=3) to put the game in context.

Penrose diverged from Ojanen-Keres with 15 Qf3 (dispensing with 15 Kh1). After the setup chosen by Tal, White's attack played itself. Tal had to try 21..e4 22 Ngxe4 Nd3 but instead played two consecutive weak moves: 21..Ba8 and 22..Na4 and got spanked. 26 Nc5 (ouch!) was nice.

Perhaps in a state of euphoria, Penrose went for an easily won ending but 27 Rf3 is an absolute bone cruncher.

This proved to be a one-off encounter. Against other Soviet world champions (Botvinnik, Smyslov, Petrosian & Spassky) the results were +0, -6, =2.

Leipzig was a career highlight for Penrose. He also had a won position against Bobby Fischer but faltered in that game and let Fischer escape with a draw.

Apr-17-19  ughaibu: Suspecting this might be an opening designed by the Finnish team for Leipzig 1960, I took a quick look at the games of all the members: Eero Einar Book, Unto Raisa, Kaarle-Sakari Ojanen, Matti Rantanen, Aarne Ilmari Niemela and Jalo Aatos Fred.

Nothing very interesting resulted, except that Ojanen had also played the black side of the benoni: Sliwa vs K S Ojanen, 1958 and had previously been successful with the conventional approach: K S Ojanen vs Prins, 1956. Though I did find this amusing game: A Niemela vs F J Perez Perez, 1961.

Mar-27-20  ewan14: 1) I think Ojanen's method was also taken up by Kasparov

2) It has to be said Tal's head to head
record v. his contemporaries was not that good ! Korchnoi owned him and Keres beat him in their 1959 candidates '' mini match ''

Premium Chessgames Member
  Alex Schindler: I figured we'd at least get a GOTD if not player when the guy's brother just won a Nobel Prize!

Interestingly, Roger Penrose also composes chess problems, and has taken a liking to bizarre positions that any decent human can solve instantly but powerful engines get badly wrong. Substantiating his 'quantum mind', if you buy it.

Oct-07-20  vonKrolock: <Alex Schindler: Interestingly, Roger Penrose also composes chess problems, and has taken a liking to bizarre positions that any decent human can solve instantly but powerful engines get badly wrong. Substantiating his 'quantum mind', if you buy it.> This is really very interesting, thanks for the hint. The online databases (including the British Meson) brings Problems by Lionel Sharples, a few by Jonathan - but none (yet) by Roger.
Oct-07-20  Sally Simpson: ***

Hi vonKrolock

This is one from Roger Penrose (not sure if he composed it)

Be careful those pieces on g3, f4 and e5 are Black Bishops. When I first saw it I mistook then for pawns.


Oct-07-20  vonKrolock: <Sally Simpson> Yes, there's a Chessbase article exactly on this subject Thanks for sharing it firsthand (!) here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: 10..Qc7 was a new move; 10..Nbd7 is more popular. Tal thought that 12..Re8 was a waste of time while Penrose noted that it was useful in that the immediate 13 Be3 could have been answered by 13....Nxe4 14 Nxe4..f5. 15..Nfd7?! removed a defender from the kingside.
Feb-21-21  rwbean: Better moves - move 23 is the fun one!

18. e5 +3.4
21. fxg6 +5.5
22. fxg6 +6.1
23. ♘h5 +11.4
27. ♗f2 +6.9

Nov-24-21  Saniyat24: Lol, that must be one of the funniest puns...!
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Nice to have this game featured. Hail Roger!
Dec-03-21  jemptymethod: Isn't it kind of coincidental that when Penrose beat Tal in this game, played the Penrose-Tal variation ;)
Dec-03-21  goodevans: Our second GOTD of the day. How lucky are we?

The earlier one, E Prie vs G Andruet, 1990, is less well known but an interesting game nonetheless. I think this one has the better pun.

Dec-03-21  Brenin: A fitting tribute to Jonathan Penrose, who died three days ago. This game inspired the 14-year-old I then was to start taking chess seriously.
Dec-03-21  Saniyat24: I thought 'Penrose to the occasion' was a pretty funny and appropriate pun, don't think it needed to change...!
Premium Chessgames Member
  whittaker: <rwbean>, if you're still out there, can we get some variations to back up these moves? crafty says 23. Nh5 is only +1.19.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Penrose should have beaten Fischer earlier in the Olympiad but there he dropped the ball:

J Penrose vs Fischer, 1960

But whenever I think of Penrose, neither of these games come immediately to mind, nor the 10 British titles. It's the fact that Ray Keene had him in his pocket:

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: This was the only game out of eighty lost by the Soviets in Leipzig - they scored +53 =26 -1.
Mar-24-22  Saniyat24: Penrose to the occasion...why are you mickey mous-ing his win?
Mar-26-22  rwbean: 23. ♘h5 +12.70 (32 ply, SF 160322)

Main PV is

23. ♘h5 ♖f8 24. ♗xa4 gxh5 25. f6 ♗xf6 26. ♘xf6+ ♘xf6 27. ♕xf6 ♕d8 28. ♕xe5 f6 29. ♕g3+ ♔h8 30. ♗c2 c3 31. bxc3 ♗xd5 32. ♕f4

or here, 24... bxa4 25. ♘xg7 c3 26. bxc3, or 24... ♕d8 25. ♘xg7 ♘f6 26. ♗c2


23. ♘h5 gxh5 24. f6 ♘xb2 25. ♕g3 ♘xf6 26. ♘xf6+ ♔h8 27. ♕g5 +15.69 (24 ply)

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