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Fridrik Olafsson vs Mikhail Tal
Portoroz Interzonal (1958), Portoroz SLO, rd 18, Sep-04
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. Hedgehog Defense (A30)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: A great example of the other side of Tal - the player who could get draws from tough positions.

I think Olafsson could have won this game but I cannot see where he went wrong.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: 45.Kd8 might be the winner.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: In his <Life and Games>, Tal writes about this game:

<I played the opening very light-heartedly, quickly exchanged several pieces, but failed to make an accurate, very essential move. I offered a draw immediately after this. Olafsson declined. Only then did I look more deeply into the position, and realized that my offer of a draw had been somewhat tactless. In short, my opponent adjourned the game in a completely won position… We… began looking through the possibilities in the quiet, dull rook ending against the Icelander, every minute becoming more and more convinced that things were very, very bad.

In the end we hit upon an idea which at first sight seemed completely absurd, whereby I simply moved my king away from the enemy’s passed pawn, but where we found some ways for my opponent to go wrong. In the alternative case my opponent would have to demonstrate some elementary technical knowledge, whereas here I could lose much more quickly, but Olafsson would also have the chance to make a mistake.

Koblents and I showed our analysis to Lev Abramov, the leader of our delegation, and asked him what he, a chess master, would do in such a case. He unhesitatingly opted for the second possibility… I resumed my game against Olafsson, and tried to play as confidently as possible, especially since Olafsson, as was his habit, had thought for a long time over his sealed move – 45 minutes – and had relatively little time left. Of course, in normal circumstances this would have been sufficient to win, but Olafsson also became nervous. When I led my king away from his pawn, he sank into thought, and used up a further six minutes. His first move was correct, his second also, but on the third move he went wrong, and a drawn position was reached by force.>

Can someone point out where exactly did Olafsson go wrong?

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: Smyslov gives 46 d7..Re3+ 47 Kd8..a3
48 Ra8! (found by Konstantinopolsky)
"and white must win" eg 48..f5
49 Kc7..Rd3 50 Rxa3 or 48..a2
49 Rxa2..f4 50 Ra5.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: <plang> Thanks. Does he say anything about 46.d7 Re3+ 47.Kd8 a3 48.Ra8 f5 49.Kc7 <Rc3+>? I still don't see how White is winning here: 50.Kd6 Rd3+ 51.Ke6 a2! (51...fxg4 52.d8=Q Rxd8 53.Rxd8 and White is winning - it's important to divert the white king from e6) 52.Rxa2 fxg4 53.Ra5 Rxd7 54.Kxd7 Kf6 and we've reached a tablebase draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  plang: No, that is all the analysis he provides (at least for 46 d7).
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