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Leonid Stein vs Mikhail Tal
"Playing the Stein Way" (game of the day Mar-07-2014)
USSR Championship (1971), Leningrad URS, rd 20, Oct-14
English Opening: Agincourt Defense. Neo Catalan Declined (A14)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
May-29-07  Tomlinsky: Notes by GM Nigel Davies:

1.c4 Nf6 2.g3 e6 3.Bg2 d5 4.Nf3 Be7 5.0-0 0-0 6.d4 c6 7.Qc2 b6 8.Rd1 Bb7 9.Nc3 Nbd7 10.b3 Rc8 11.e4!

Two points. White really must play this before Black frees himself with 11 ... c5.

11 ... c5 12.exd5

Probably White's best, but there is an interesting alternative in 12.e5!? after which Catalan expert Neistadt recommends 12 ... Ng4!? 13.cxd5 cxd4 14.Rxd4 Ndxe5.

Less good is 12 cxd5 after which 12 ... exd5 13 e5 Ne4 leaves White's queen exposed on the c-file.

12 ... exd5 13.dxc5

In a later game from the same tournament Stein (as White against Lengyel) was to vary at this point with 13.Bb2 and won after just six more moves: 13 ... Qc7 14.Nxd5 Nxd5 15.cxd5 Bxd5 16.dxc5 Bxf3 17.Bxf3 Nxc5 18 Qf5 Rfd8? 19 Be5! 1-0.

13.cxd5 leads to nothing but simplification after 13 ... Nxd5 14.Nxd5 Bxd5 15.Ng5 Bxg5 or 15 ... Nf6.

13 ... dxc4 14.b4!

This constitutes White's only chance to play for an advantage. 14.cxb6 leads nowhere after 14 ... cxb3. 14.bxc4!? is also harmless as after 14 ... Rxc5 15.Ba3 Rc8! (rather than 15 ... Rxc4?! 16.Ne5) White has no compensation for his broken queenside.

One of the points of 14.b4! is that you can meet 14 ... a5!? with 15.bxa5! with a possible sequel being 15 ... Bxc5 16.Bg5! h6 17.Ne5! Bxg2 18.Rxd7 Qe8 19.Bxf6 gxf6 20.Ng4. If Black plays 15 ... bxa5 in this line then 16.Na4! stops Black recapturing on c5 because of 16 ... Bxc5 17.Nxc5 Rxc5 18.Ba3.

These last two lines emanate from Tal himself who gave them in his notes to his game against the Swedish IM Thomas Wedberg in Reykjavik 1990. By that time Tal had switched allegiance to the White side of this opening!

click for larger view

14 ... bxc5 15.b5! Qb6

After the game Tal pointed out that he could have sacrificed his queen with 15 ... Bxf3 16.Bxf3 Ne5!!. A possible sequel could be 17.Rxd8 Nxf3+ 18.Kh1 (and not 18.Kg2?? Ne1+) 18 ... Rcxd8 19.Be3 Nd4 or 19.Qe2 Rd3! 20.Qxe7 Re8 21.Qxc5 Re5 22.Qxc4 Re1+ 23.Kg2 Rg1+ 24.Kh3 g5 25.Qc8+ (25.Bxg5 Nxg5+ is better for Black) 25 ... Kg7 26.Bb2 g4+ 27.Qxg4+ Nxg4 28.Ne2+ Kg6 29.Nxg1 Nxf2+ 30.Kg2 Nxg1 31.Kxf1 Rd2+ 32.Kxg1 Rxb2 with a likely draw due to the activity of Black's king and rook.

16.Bf4! Rfd8 17.a4

A strong move which threatens 18 a5. 17
Qe2, forking e7 and c4, is another interesting move though 17 ... Qe6 is probably an adequate reply.

17 ... Qa5 18.Nd2

Intending to bring the knight to the superb c4 square.

18 ... Bxg2 19.Nxc4!

An important `zwischenzug'. After 19 Kxg2 Nb6 20.Nce4 Nfd5 Black gets excellent counterplay.

19 ... Qb4 20.Na2 Be4 21.Nxb4

Correctly going into the endgame.

21 ... Bxc2 22.Nxc2 Nb6 23 Rxd8+

A very precise move which forces Black to make a passive recapture with the bishop. If Black now plays 23 ... Rxd8 there would follow 24.Nxb6 axb6 25.Bc7 Rd2 26.Bxb6! (the point) Rxc2 27.a5 Nd7 28.Bc7 when Black has no answer to the advance of the White pawns.

May-29-07  Tomlinsky: 23 ... Bxd8 24.N2e3

Mikhail Suba would probably describe this move with the words `solid domination'. Blockading the passed c-pawn is certainly the most logical move

click for larger view

24 ... Nxc4 25.Nxc4 Nd5 26 Rd1!

Again a convincing treatment which intends to meet 26 ... Nxf4 27.gxf4 Kf8 (Korchnoi's recommendation) with 28.Rd7! after which 28 ... Ra8 29 a5 Ke8 30 Rb7 looks miserable indeed. Another point behind this move is that 26 ... Nc3 is met by 27 Rd7 Nxa4 28 Rxa7 after which neither 28 ... Nc3 (29 b6) nor 28 ... Nb6 (29 Nxb6 Bxb6 30 Ra6 Bd8 31 b6) would hold out for very long.

26 ... Nb6 27.Nd6 Ra8 28.a5

The position is screaming out for the advance of the queenside pawns.

28 ... Na4 29 Nc4 Nc3 30 Re1!

Black's position is now desperate. The threat of 31 Re8 mate can hardly be met by 31 ... Bf6 because 32 b6 would shortly cost Black a rook.

30 ... Bxa5 31 Nxa5 Nxb5 32.Re5!

32 ... Rc8 is crushed by 33.Nc6! (33.Nb7 and 33.Nb3 are also good enough, if less stylish).

32 ... Nd4 33.Rxc5 1-0

A beautifully sculptered performance by Stein; to defeat Mikhail Tal, without allowing even the slightest counterchance, is a suberb achievement.

May-30-07  mrbasso: <Tomlinsky> Unfortunately 15...Bxf3? 16.Bxf3 Ne5 does not work at all. 15...Qb6 is not a mistake.
Probably 14...a5 is much better than 14...bxc5?!.
Interesting game, thanks for posting.

[Event "URS-ch39"]
[Site "Leningrad"]
[Date "1971.10.14"]
[Round "20"]
[White "Stein, Leonid"]
[Black "Tal, Mihail"]
[Result "1-0"]
[ECO "E08"]
[WhiteElo "2605"]
[BlackElo "2620"]
[PlyCount "63"]
[EventDate "1971.09.15"]
[EventType "tourn"]
[EventRounds "21"]
[EventCountry "URS"]
[EventCategory "11"]
[Source ""]

1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 e6 3. Bg2 d5 4. Nf3 Be7 5. O-O O-O 6. d4 c6 7. Qc2 b6 8. Rd1 Bb7 9. Nc3 Nbd7 10. b3 Rc8 11. e4 c5 12. exd5 exd5 13. dxc5 dxc4 14. b4 bxc5 ( 14... a5 15. bxa5 bxa5 (15... Bxc5 16. Bg5 h6 $2 17. Ne5 Bxg2 18. Rxd7 Qe8 19. Bxf6 gxf6 20. Ng4) 16. Rb1 (16. Na4 Bd5 (16... Bxc5 $2 17. Nxc5 Rxc5 18. Ba3) 17. Ba3 Bxc5 (17... Re8) 18. Nxc5 Nxc5 19. Ng5 Nd3 20. Bxf8 Bxg2 21. Kxg2 Qxf8) 16... Ba8 17. Ng5 (17. Ne5 Bxg2 18. Nxd7 Nxd7 19. Kxg2 Qe8 20. Re1 Nxc5 21. Nd5 Ne6) 17... Bxg2 18. Kxg2 h6 19. Nge4 Qe8 20. Nd6 Bxd6 21. cxd6 Ne5) 15. b5 Bxf3 16. Bxf3 Ne5 17. Rxd8 Nxf3+ 18. Kh1 Rcxd8 19. Qe2 (19. Be3 Nd4 20. Qa4) 19... Rd3 (19... Bd6 20. Qxf3 Be5 21. Bf4 Rd3 22. Qxd3 cxd3 23. Bxe5) 20. Qxe7 Re8 ( 20... Rxc3 21. Be3) 21. Qxc5 Re5 (21... Re1+ 22. Kg2 Rg1+ 23. Kh3 h6 24. Ne4 Nxe4 25. Qc8+ Kh7 26. Qf5+ Kh8 27. Qxe4 Rh1 28. Be3 Rxh2+ 29. Kg4) 22. Qc8+ ( 22. Qxc4 $2 Re1+ 23. Kg2 Rg1+ 24. Kh3 g5) 22... Re8 23. Qf5 Re5 (23... Rxc3 24. Bb2 Nd4 25. Qc5) (23... Nd4 24. Qf4) 24. Qf4 Re1+ 25. Kg2 Rg1+ 26. Kh3 h6 27. Ne4 Nd5 28. Qb8+ Kh7 29. Bb2 c3 30. Bxc3 Nxc3 31. Rxg1 Nxg1+ 32. Kg2 1-0

Mar-02-08  whatthefat: <mrbasso: Unfortunately 15...Bxf3? 16.Bxf3 Ne5 does not work at all.

17.Rxd8 Nxf3+ 18.Kh1 Rcxd8 19.Qe2 Rd3 20.Qxe7 Rxc3 21.Be3>

What if Black plays 21...Nd5 here?

click for larger view

It seems to me that White still has some serious problems after something like 22.Qxc5 Nxe3 23.fxe3 Rc2

Mar-03-08  whatthefat: On second thoughts, 22.Qe4 looks very strong, simply meeting 22...Nxe3 with 23.Qxf3. Perhaps this is why Tal rejected the queen sacrifice.
Aug-23-08  notyetagm: <Tomlinsky: Notes by GM Nigel Davies: >

In which book by GM Davies does he annotate this game?

23 ♖d1x♖d8+

click for larger view

<23 Rxd8+

A very precise move which forces Black to make a passive recapture with the bishop. If Black now plays 23 ... Rxd8 there would follow 24.Nxb6 axb6 25.Bc7 Rd2 26.Bxb6! (the point) Rxc2 27.a5 Nd7 28.Bc7 when Black has no answer to the advance of the White pawns.>

click for larger view

Aug-23-08  notyetagm: <Tomlinsky: ... A beautifully sculptered performance by Stein; to defeat Mikhail Tal, without allowing even the slightest counterchance, is a suberb achievement.>

Indeed, Stein was showing World Championship form in the early 70s when this game was played.

Aug-23-08  notyetagm: 18 ... ♗b7x♗g2

click for larger view

19 ♘d2xc4! <zwischenzug>

click for larger view

< 19.Nxc4!

An important `zwischenzug'. After 19 Kxg2 Nb6 20.Nce4 Nfd5 Black gets excellent counterplay.>

(VAR) 19 ♔g1x♗g2 ♘d7-b6 20 ♘c3-e4 ♘f6-d5

click for larger view

Thus 19 ♔g1xg2?! is an inaccuracy as it allows Black to <DEFEND> the c4-square with 19 ... ♘d7-b6, where as Black cannot play this knight move to <DEFEND> the c4-square after the excellent <ZWISCHENZUG> 19 ♘d2xc4! as the Black a5-queen is <EN PRISE>.

Mar-06-09  dwavechess: 26/33 concur with Rybka 3 at 3 min. per move for Stein
Jul-17-09  totololo: <notyetagm> I think that you are mistaken by the database error.

Stein- TAL score is 3-0! I can't believe it !

Feb-24-11  M.D. Wilson: Korchnoi had an even better record at one point; 5 wins and 5 draws!
Feb-24-11  M.D. Wilson: Stein died too young. He could have challenged Korchnoi and Karpov had he lived, and who knows what he could have achieved.
Dec-22-12  leka: The finnish player Kaarle Ojanen elo rating 2563 world ranking 89th told me that L.Stein beat him in blitz 9 wins one loss.Stein blitz rating 2916.Ojanen beat Keres in 1960 in The Benoni Ojanen played bishop d3 knight e2 f4!.Korchnoi was the only one who could stop Mikhai Tal.Korchnoi against M.Tal Korchnoi 13 wins 27 draws 4 losses against Tal
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Quite a good pun! It's a shame the opening isn't a Giouco Piano. But I doubt Stein ever played one of them.

Tal, btw, was an enthusiastic amateur pianist.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: Instead of 23. Rxd8+ it was possible to play also 23. Nxb6 axb6 24. a5 with such a charming continuation: 24... bxa5 25. b6 g5 (with idea to retract the Bishop from diagonal where he covers b8) 26. Rxd8+ Rxd8 27. Bc7 Rd2 28. b7 Nd7 29. Ne3 Rb2 30. Nd5 Bf8 31. Nb6 Bd6 32. Na4 Rxb7 33. Bxd6 and white wins.
Mar-07-14  morfishine: Excellent play by Stein. Positionally, Tal never seemed to be in the game
Mar-07-14  Fanques Fair: Very crystal play here by Stein. But I guess this other win against the magician of Riga even more exciting, as Tal, was world champion and Stein defeated him in a violent sicilian : Stein vs Tal, 1961
Mar-07-14  Castleinthesky: Great pun and great game!
Mar-07-14  kevin86: At least as far as chess is concerned, in this game Stein turned a "Chicago Piano" on Tal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I know a lot of people here love Tal, and I like him a lot. But many of his wins were against no-hopers. Against the really strong players his sacrifices often just didn't come off.

You can play 15.Nxe6 all day long against Joe Schmosson from Iceland but against Kortschnoi, Botvinnik and Stein you won't get away with it.

Mar-07-14  Fanques Fair: offramp, Tal was World Champion. That is no small accomplishment. He has sacrificed pieces and won games against Keres, Smyslov, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Petrosian, Keres, Geller, Polugayevski , Fischer, Larsen, and even Stein.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Fanques Fair: offramp, Tal was World Champion. That is no small accomplishment. He has sacrificed pieces and won games against Keres, Smyslov, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Petrosian, Keres, Geller, Polugayevski , Fischer, Larsen, and even Stein.>

I didn't know that!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: Nice game between two towering chess giants and a good pun.

For some reason I was taken by the tension-reducing pawn moves 11. e4 c5 12. exd5 exd5 13. dxc5 dxc4 14. b4 bxc5 15. b5.

After that it was amazing the way Stein won the game with understandable moves.

Oct-31-17  whiteshark:

click for larger view


1) +1.78 (27 ply) 19.Nxc4 Qb4 20.Na2 Be4 21.Nxb4 Bxc2 22.Nxc2 Nh5 23.Bd6 Bxd6 24.Rxd6 Nf8 25.Ra6 Ra8 26.a5 Nf6 27.b6 axb6 28.axb6 Rxa6 29.Rxa6 Rb8 30.Ra7 N8d7 31.b7 Kf8 32.Na5 Re8 33.Ra8 Nb8 34.Nc4 Ke7 35.N2e3

2) +0.79 (27 ply) 19.Kxg2 Nb6 20.Re1 Bf8 21.Bg5 h6 22.Bxf6 gxf6 23.Re4 a6 24.Nxc4 Nxc4 25.Rg4+ Bg7 26.Rxc4 axb5 27.Nxb5 Rd2 28.Qf5 Qa8+ 29.Qf3 Qxf3+ 30.Kxf3 f5 31.Rac1 Bf8 32.Rf4 Rd5 33.Nc3 Re5 34.Rc4 Kg7 35.a5 Rc6 36.Ra4 Ra6 37.Rd1 c4 38.Rd5 Kf6 39.Rxc4 Rxa5 40.Rc6+ Kg7

3) +0.08 (26 ply) 19.Re1 Nd5 20.Nxd5 Bxd5 21.Rxe7 c3 22.Ne4 Re8 23.Qxc3 Qb4 24.Rc1 Rcd8 25.Qxb4 cxb4 26.Rxe8+ Rxe8 27.Nd6 Re6 28.Nc8 b3 29.Be3 Re8 30.Bd4 Nc5 31.Nd6 Nd3 32.Nxe8 Nxc1 33.Bxg7 f5 34.Bb2 Nd3 35.Nf6+ Kf7 36.Nxd5

1.0 minute analysis by Stockfish 8 v270317

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: The drollery of the pun is undone by the fact that the great man's surname is pronounced 'Shtane'.
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