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Mikhail Tal vs Tigran V Petrosian
Curacao Candidates (1962), Willemstad CUW, rd 8, May-13
French Defense: Classical. Burn Variation (C11)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-13-12  LoveThatJoker: Petrosian = Tactical Monster!


Feb-13-12  M.D. Wilson: Spassky said the same following Petrosian's Title defense in 1966. Still, this was not the best tournament for Tal, who was playing on one kidney. Pick a fair fight, LTJ.
Feb-14-12  LoveThatJoker: <M.D. Wilson> :D


Feb-14-12  brankat: Even one M.Tal couldn't have always played like Tal :-) Especially when ill.
Feb-14-12  SChesshevsky: <<By move 13, White already stood worse, and then to top it all off, I immediately blundered away a bishop.>>

Tal certainly didn't seem on form. I thought it surprising he gave up the b-file and let Black invade with 15. Qa3.

Maybe 15. Rb1 exchanging rooks and having the a passed pawn gives some drawing chances.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Cafferty noted that Tal spent an hour on the unnatural-looking 8.Qd3. Two rounds later, he tried 8.Bc4 (Tal vs Benko, 1962) with better results.

< SChesshevsky: ....Maybe 15. Rb1 exchanging rooks and having the a passed pawn gives some drawing chances.>

Maybe so, though 15.Rab1 Rxb1 16.Rxb1 0-0, followed by ....Bxf3 looks unpleasant.

Dec-25-12  notyetagm: Tal vs Petrosian, 1962

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20 ♖a1-a2?? <alignment: a2+c4>

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20 ... ♖a4x♗c4! 0-1

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21 ♕d3x♖c4 ♗c6-d5 <skewer: c4,a2>

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Feb-24-14  zydeco: 16.Nd2 and white seems to be holding his own. 18.Bb3 or 18.Nd2 both look much better than 18.a3, which creates a new weakness.
Aug-25-14  Mating Net: This is a great exercise in taking advantage of enemy pieces that are on the same line. I'll bet Petrosian snapped off the Bishop in tenths of a second as the alignment awakened the tactical predator inside him.
Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: "...probably the worst game of my life."


Jan-01-20  AliSawalha: Ra2 was the worst move of Tal's life
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Tal was cheating to write down moves before playing/not playing them.
Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: <Tal was cheating to write down moves before playing/not playing them.>

That's recommended by Kotov in "Think Like a Grandmaster."

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Kotov's recommendation would be illegal under present-day FIDE rules; just ask Wesley So what fate a player might come to for adding extra touches to one's scoresheet.
Jan-01-20  RookFile: The rules at the time let players do this but now they've been changed. What Tal was doing was permitted by the rules at the time.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I think it was against the rules, but not enforced.
Jan-02-20  Olavi: No, it was all right long into the 80s or 90s. One player who had problems adapting was Portisch. He was also one who quite often crossed out the move and changed it, even several times, before moving.

A favourite trick with canny players was to write down a move, wait until the opponent had surely seen it, then play something else. Perfectly legal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: There was a strong player I knew who was much beloved of the manoeuvre mentioned by <Olavi>; as he states, quite legal in those days, if what we call angle-shooting in poker, ie, of unquestioned legality but dubious ethics.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <RookFile: The rules at the time let players do this but now they've been changed. What Tal was doing was permitted by the rules at the time.>

Fischer did it in this game, I know.

Fischer vs Tal, 1959

Pretty sure I usually did it back when I played OTB frequently. The rule forbidding it seems absurd to me. What’s the harm?

Feb-05-20  King.Arthur.Brazil: Even though, sometimes we see absurds like this: of anotating some move that you will not do, or to blow cigar smoke on the opponents face, among other bad ways of playing chess, just to make the oponente feel unconfortable, seems to be a completely anti-ethic behavior, which would not be tolerated by the grand masters circle. However, this bad habbits of cowards, using other possibilities than the strict chess play, make some poor minds show exactly who they are and what respect deserve (none, of course).

Nonetheless, it is very sad to see the people trying to justify Tal's bad game, when he and Fisher both were in a bad shape, loosing a least 3 games in the first rounds of the candidates tournment. So, the lost of the kidney did affect Tal, but it was not only this. Tal, who win Bled ahead of Fisher (2nd) +11,-1,=7; had reached 4/5 in the previous 61b Soviet championship too (4/5th: +7, -3 =10, tied with Vasiukov). So, it seems to me that he felt confortable in his position and did not prepared as he must. Maybe, making the same error that he did before, in the Botvinnik rematch of 1961. But, when his health took him down, and the operation of removing one kidney happened two months before this tournment, he could not recover completely.

But, it must be said that, pictures of where Tal was smoking exist, and some people in foruns today accerts that he also drank a lot. Therefore, how can you imagine someone recently operated, not leaving his bad habbits, without a topic preparation, could have a good performance anyway. The doctors took him out from the Candidates, because his illness became dangerous and he could die. Nothing else. Then, I guess that our readers must know the truth, and not use these kind of apologyzes to justify what happened.

And the main thing, the tatic move of Petrosian was astonishing, even for Tal. So, I supose that Tal only saw the whole picture of his bad shape after 20...♖xc4!. Pay attention, Tal lost in only 20 moves! If it was boxe, he fall in knock-out. That's it!

Feb-06-20  Petrosianic: A few stray thoughts on this one.

Petrosian always liked to get c5 in as quickly as possible in these kinds of positions. I usually wouldn't play it quite so quickly, and would probably have gone for 7...Be7 and castling first.

With 8. Qd3, Tal goes pawn grabbing. It's not really his style, but he probably thought it would make Petrosian uncomfortable. No such luck, Black is quite willing to shed a pawn in this kind of position for the more active game.

Optically, Black's position <looks> really uncomfortable after Qb5+. Both the b and c pawns are under fire. But if 11. Qxc5 Rc8. 11. Qxb7 wins a pawn at the expense of time. Black is already ahead in development.

13. Qxc5, grabbing another pawn looks dangerous. It loses more time, but Black still has to be careful about giving up too much. But 13. Qxc5 Be7 14. Qe5 Rxc2 and White hasn't gained. Or 14. Qc4 to try to hang onto the c pawn, 14...Qa5+ 15. Nd2 Bg5! and it's getting much too hot for White to hope to even survive.

So 13. Bd3 cxd4, and material is equal, but Black's d pawn is weak and will maybe eventually fall, but Black's two rakers are really dangerous in such a wide open position. 14. O-O Bc6, and Black is doing so well that he still hasn't had to even worry about castling himself yet.

A few more moves of routine maneuvering. Black looks better, but White has that outside passed pawn that might become good under some circumstances. The Two Bishops are more than adequate compensation, though. Black doesn't really have a target though, until 18. a3, and is somewhat tied to defending the d pawn. Black is far from won here, although White's pawn grabbing experiment was anything but a success.

20. Ra2?? is a consequence of 18. a3?!. It would have been better to keep the pawn on a2, maybe Bb3 at some point, and try to hunker down and hold everything together. Black is better but if White doesn't self-destruct, Black has to prove he's got something. Even if we set up the position Tal was going for, let's say with Rooks on a1 and a2, and Bd3 (or Bb3), how is that any better than keeping the pawn on a2? Eventually Black is going to play e5, threatening e4, so White will at some point have to play Nd2 and f3 to try to hold it together in the center. The a pawn is going nowhere for now, so it should stay on its home square where it's safer.

Feb-06-20  Petrosianic: <Petrosianic> <Eventually Black is going to play e5, threatening e4>

In fact, I wonder if that might not ALREADY have been good on move 19, instead of Qa7? 19...e5 looks very uncomfortable for White.

If White plays 20. Nd2, Black can play e4 anyway, since the Queen can't cover both e4 and the Bishop on c4.

But White still has to avoid the e4 fork. If 20. Qb3, Black plays Qa5 or Qa7. Let's say 20...Qa5 to prevent 21. Bd5, and this still looks really bad for White. Black is about to triple on the a file, and is still threatening a steamroller in the center.

The a pawn is lost at this point, so maybe 21. Rab1 Rxa3 22. Qb6 Qa8!, and yeesh. This looks awful for White. Maybe I'm missing something better, but it's possible that Black's last move wasn't the best. Maybe an immediate 19...e5 was better than Qa7.

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Feb-06-20  RookFile: It's sort of humorous that a human being cannot write down one move on a scoresheet, but it's ok for a computer to crunch millions of variations electronically and keep track of them when it plays. As somebody said when computers first showed up, computers by their very nature are cheating in their play.
Feb-06-20  Petrosianic: Maybe my 21. Rab1 isn't the best, and White should force Black to swap a set of Rooks to win the a pawn.

19...e5 20. Qb3 Qa5, and something other than 21. Rab1. But what?

21. Rdb1 e4 still looks awful.

21. Nd2 and Black still plays e4.

Not sure what else might be plausible. White's position really looks critical at this point, even without the blunder.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: <Petrosianic> c5 right away seems the most precise according to the latest Stockfish NN version. If dxc5 then Black gets the queen's off and reduces most of the practical dangers. If c5 is delayed, then White plays a move like Bd3 and is ready for c5 with dxc5 and a decent enough position.

So say 7...Be7:

Mikhail Tal - Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian 0-1 8.0, Curacao Candidates 1962

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Analysis by Stockfish 14:

1. ⩲ (0.44): 8.Bd3 c5 9.dxc5 Qa5+ 10.Bd2 Qxc5 11.Qe2 0-0 12.a3 Qc7 13.0-0-0 Bd7 14.Ne5 Rac8 15.Kb1 Rfd8 16.f4 Ba4 17.Rc1 Qb6 18.Be3 Qc7 19.Rhe1 b5 20.g4

I appreciate what your saying though - it feels as though the principle of "active operations should not be done before casting" is violated. But this is an exception case it seems. If White plays c3 then cxd4 is very pleasant for Black indeed.

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