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Mikhail Tal vs Vasily Smyslov
Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959), Bled, Zagreb & Belgrade YUG, rd 22, Oct-18
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Scheveningen Variation (B84)  ·  1-0



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Given 11 times; par: 59 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Oct-13-05  LIFE Master AJ: No way this game score could be correct. (If it was, Qf8+, and mate next move.)

Oct-13-05  sneaky pete: 40... Rd7 (ambiguous) is really 40... Rgd7? (better 40... Rdg8), not 40... Rdd7?? as the Java viewer shows. The <alternate score> is the right one.
Oct-15-05  LIFE Master AJ: Does anyone know of a book reference on this game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <Does anyone know of a book reference on this game? > Alexander Koblenc: "Dorogami Shachmatnych Srazenii".
Oct-16-05  LIFE Master AJ: And I am sure you own of a copy of that, right? ;)
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Are you drinking? Gypsy simply gave his answer to a question. Where did he say ANYTHING about owning a book? Even so, I would believe Gypsy having said book, as opposed to your yarn about getting a call from a "FM master from the midwest."
Oct-16-05  LIFE Master AJ: did someone pass ...
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: Stop it or I'll put you on my ignore list!(lol) Sound familiar?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Gypsy: <And I am sure you own of a copy of that, right?> Yes, I do. That is, I have a 1963 russian translation of the lithuanian original.

But I was wrong, the two games there are the famous Tal vs Smyslov, 1959 Caro-Kann, and the mostly forgotten draw Smyslov vs Tal, 1959.

It took me a while to find the book and check. I just remembered that Koblents had put two Bled 1959 Smyslov-Tal encounters into the book.

Oct-17-05  LIFE Master AJ: OK - let me rephrase - any English book references? (I have a few books that are in foreign languages, but the bulk of my collection is in the English language.)
Oct-18-05  Runemaster: <Resignation Trap> <According to contemporary comments, Tal "played like a pirate" against Smyslov in this tournament. I'm not quite sure what is meant by that. Perhaps he said "Arrgh, matey!" at the conclusion of his games?!>

LOL. Did anyone notice (and this is not a joke of mine) that a few weeks ago - around the time of <RT>'s post, there was celebrated "International Talk Like a Pirate Day"? I had never heard of it until someone mentioned it, so I did a quick internet search and it really does exist - apparently it's an annual event.

Jan-30-06  whatthefat: Tal really did <play like a pirate> against Smyslov in Bled 1959! (Whether he talked like one, I don't know.) He purposely played a very aggressive, intimidating style against him. I am sure that this decision on Tal's part was influenced by the fact that the two had never played each other before then. Smyslov must have been at least a little edgy about facing this tactical genius, whose reputation had preceded him. Especially as tactics were admittedly never Smyslov's strongest point.

Some of Tal's play was definitely unsound, but he played the odds. This was psychological warfare, and the risk paid off: Tal beat the tournament favourite, Smyslov, <2.5-1.5>

Feb-17-06  Resignation Trap: <LIFE Master AJ> This game appears in "The Chess Psychologist: World Champion Tal", published by the North American Latvian Chess Association (in English) while Tal was World Champion.
Aug-19-06  Aspirador: The game-score is wrong here (see discussion above). Can somebody please correct this?
Aug-20-06  Albertan: Sep-21-05 penarol: BTW, 40...Rd7 refers to what of both rooks? Could be the one in the second rank... Sep-21-05
Resignation Trap: <penarol> You found the explanation: an ambiguous move! Smyslov actually played 40...Rdg7. No overlooked mate involved!

I agree I found this game in my chessbase database and Smyslov did play 40...Rgd7 and after 41.Rf6 Smyslov resigned. I have submitted the correct game score to

Sep-27-06  Aspirador:,

this is still not corrected. It was 40...Rgd7 instead of 40...Rdd7. Otherwise 41.Rf6 doesn't make sense.

Nov-11-06  Resignation Trap: A cartoonist's view of Tal as a pirate: .
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: I have got to get new glasses. That cartoon looks more like Petrosian to me.
Nov-12-06  Amulet: Tal had his head full of his hair when he won the chess championship.
May-29-07  inthestepsofTal: According to Tal himself, Smyslovs last move 40.Rgd7, (again not the other rook!) was a blunder... As I recall he wrote "...the game against Smyslov, where I needlessly threw myself into the attack, ran up against an excellent defense, then half-blundered, half-sacrificed a piece, and only in the time-scramble managed to win after a blunder by my opponent on the 40th move." Does that mean that black could have fought on a bit longer beyond move 40?
Oct-22-09  Plato: <inthestepsoftal: Does that mean that black could have fought on a bit longer beyond move 40?> no, Smyslov's position went from completely winning after move 39 to completely lost after move 40.

I posted this on the Smyslov page, but it seems relevant here given the discussion above.

Tal won the Candidates tournament in dominating fashion and won his mini-match vs Smyslov 2.5-1.5, with two wins, one loss and a draw. But it is noteworthy that Smyslov had completely winning positions in three out of four games and blundered in time trouble three times.

In this game Smyslov had a completely winning position on move 39, blundered on move 40 as the time control was reached, and resigned.

Head-to-head Smyslov edged out Tal 4 games to 3 over their careers, though it is clear that Tal was the superior tournament player. Tal's enterprising style was better suited for beating the weaker opponents, whereas Smyslov drew against them more often. Going over their games, though, one gets the feeling that Smyslov was overall the more accurate player. This is not suprising, given their styles. Smyslov was a perfectionist while Tal was a player who made great practical decisions over the board, aiming for "messy" positions where he could usually outplay his opponents.

Feb-08-10  DrDave: "OK - let me rephrase - any English book references?" I've just edited the re-issue of Harry Golombek's booklet from 1960. "The spectators had their money's worth in excitement, at any rate, in the 22nd round. The focus for this was the Tal-Smyslov game in which Tal sacrificed a piece for an attack that certainly should not have been sufficient. All seemed over and I had left the scene to type out my report giving the result as Smyslov 1 Tal 0, when the assistant director of the tournament came over to me and said that Smyslov had resigned. In fact Smyslovís last move was a complete blunder throwing away the game. I had to rewrite my report whilst the Russian journalist who had already informed Moscow that Tal had lost had to contact Moscow again by telephone and eat his words."
Sep-28-11  Everett: Well I am hoping 40..Rg6 keeps the win for Black, as I can't find another viable move.
Dec-02-14  MindCtrol9: Everet:40....Rg6 41.RxR pxR 42.Qh6+ Qh7 43.Rf8+ RxR 44.QxR+
Sep-16-15  ToTheDeath: Totally wamboozled. It's amazing what Tal got away with in his time.
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