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Mikhail Tal vs Erwin Nievergelt
"You'll Nievergelt Me!" (game of the day Oct-05-2010)
Zurich (1959), Zurich SUI, rd 5, May-24
Sicilian Defense: Richter-Rauzer Variation. Traditional Vartiation (B63)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 3 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-20-09  c o r e: Tal. Wow.
Mar-20-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: Interesting position - fully half of black's army is lined up on the a-file. That can't be good. Black has a material advantage of a piece for two pawns, but the pieces are not deployed for offense and are interfering with one another on defense. Worst of all, black's king is very exposed, with minimal pawn shelter, locked into a very tight space by white's aggressively placed rooks.

Goal-driven thinking helped me to find a strong first move quickly. Obvious goals are (1) Avoid exchanging queens to maximize an attacking advantage when down a piece. (2) Increase the pressure on the black king, either by hitting the weak point a6 or by getting white queen or bishop to the h1-a8 diagonal.


This is a sham sacrifice, because it's easy to see that 34...Rxh6 allows a mate in 3. The real purpose is to meet both of the above goals and actually gain a tempo by attacking the rook on h8. Now 34...Qg1? 35.Qxh8 Qxf1+ 36.Ka2 black gets checkmated quickly, while 34...Re8 loses immediately to 35.Rxa6! Bxa6 36.Qc6+ Bb7 37.Qxe8+ Qb8 38.Qxa4 picking up both rooks.

That leaves two plausible continuations: Rg8 (with the possibility of Rg6) and Rd8

A. 34....Rd8 35.Qf6!! (threatening Qxd8!) and now:

A.1 35...Bb7 36.Bxa6! Rb8 (Bxc6 37.Qxc6+ wins or Bxa6 38.Rxa6 wins) 37.Bxb7+ Rxb7 38.Rc8+ wins

A.2 35...Bd7 (or g4) 36.Rxa6 wins

A.3 35...Qd4 (or b8) 36.Rxc8+ Rxc8 37.Qxa6+ Qa7 38.Qxc8+ Qb8 39.Qxb8#

A.4 35...Qd7 36.Rxa6+ Bxa6 37.Qxa6+ Qa7 38.Qc6+ Qb7 39.Qxb7#

A.5 35...Bc7 36.Qxd8! Bxd8 37.Rxc8+ etc.

A.6 35...Rg8 36.Rxa6! (sharper than 36.Bxa6 Bc7!) Bxa6 37.Bxa6 Qc7 (Rg6? 38.Qh8+) 38.Bb7+ Kb8 (Qxb7 39.Rxb7 Kxb7 40.Qc6+ wins easily) 39.Bc6+ Ka7 40.Rb7+ Qxb7 41.Bxb7 Rg6 42.Qxc7 wins one of the rooks with an easy win.

B. 34...Rg8 35.Rxa6! Bxa6 36.Bxa6 is similar to variation A.6. 36...Rg6 is met by 37.Qh8+

I think this covers the most important lines. I had the most trouble finding 35.Qf6!, first looking at 35.Qd6 which seems to fall short against 35...Bb7 36.Rxb7 Kxb7

Time to see what happened.

Mar-20-09  GreenFacedPatzer: I got a different wrong answer than anyone else!

For some reason, I looked at this position and saw the a8-h1 diagonal as the way I wanted to attack the king. So, the question became: how to clear the diagonal? So, I figured

34 d6

and then there are a lot of possibilities, depending on how black responds. If 34... Bb7 to defend the diagonal, then 35 d7 and push toward forcing black to lose a piece stopping the pawn from queening. After 34 ... (most anything else), then proceed to clear the diagonal:

35 Rb4 Bxb4
36 Qxe4

threatening a revealed check and all kinds of unpleasantness. This is probably unsound, though: there are far too many black responses, and I didn't think through all of them. White seemed to win something from a piece to checkmate in every variation I looked at, though.

Tal's combination was much better. :)

Mar-20-09  Milesdei: I saw Qh6 after staring at it for ten or so minutes. It helps to think "what would Tal do?" in order to open one's mind to the outrageous. SigmaChess followed with 34..Rg8 which was inferior to the line black played in the game. After 35 Bxa6 SigmaChess played poorly and allowed a forced mate after 35...Rxg2??. Again, the game line was better; black weakly counterattacks but Tal's counter-counterattack on the rook at d8 is crushing.
Mar-20-09  Octal: Who in their right mind would ever play a Sicilian against Tal?
Mar-20-09  morfishine: Gotta love this one
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Got Qh6 and thought it should work.
Mar-20-09  CHESSTTCAMPS: It seems that I hit Tal's move 36.Qf6 a move earlier than Tal did, but my line also seems to work. My preference for Rxa6 over Bxa6 (in the variation labeled A.6 ) also seems to work, but may be unnecessary, considering that 36.Bxa6 Bc7 is met effectively by 38.Bxc8 Rxc8 39.d6. BTW, in my line A.6 the last move should read 42. Qxf7
Mar-20-09  ruzon: My contribution to this game is noticing that:

Sicilian Defense: Richter-Rauzer Variation. Traditional Variat<oi>n (B63)

is spelled wrong. I went with the quiet Qf4. I'm glad that is also a good move.

Mar-20-09  apoka: Accidentally, I left my computer in analysis mode when I left home. So here is the Toga II evaluation after a couple of hours (now running somewhere at 20 ply):

1. Qh6 +4.66
2. Qg5 +3.96
3. Qf4 +3.95
4. Qc1 +0.00
5. Qe2 +0.00

It is interesting to see that Qf4 is also strong, but of course Qh6 is more forcing in its nature and gives Black less possibilities to defend the position.

By the way, Tal didn't have an advantage throughout most of the game. I guess he might be in trouble with similar moves against some of the very accurate world class players nowadays. But of course his style of play is unique.

Mar-20-09  WhiteRook48: didn't get it
Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: Friday (Difficult):

Tal vs E Nievergelt, 1959 (34.?)

White to play and win.

Material: Down a B for 2P. The Black Ka8 is stalemated by Rb3. The White Rc6 attacks Bc8, which burdens Rh8 with its defense. The burden is absolute, because without Rh8, White can mate with Rc6xc8+ Qa7-b8 Rc8xb8+ Ka8-a7 Rb3-b7#. White wishes to activate Qe3, making 34.Qh6, overburdening Rh8, an interesting candidate. Positionally, 34.Qh6 also strengthens the attack on Pa6 from Rc6 and Bf1. The White Kb1 is open to checks on the back rank, particularly Qa7-b1+ if Bf1 moves, but is presently secure.

Candidates (34.): Qh6


(1) 34…Rxh6 35.Rc8+ Qb8 36.Rcxb8+ Ka7 R3b7# (as described above)

(2) 34…Qb1 35.Qxa8 Qxf1+ 36.Ka2, then 37.Rxc8+ etc.

<[Toga gives 35.Rxh6+ Bxh6 36.Qxh6# as a faster mate.]>

(3) 34…Re8 (so Qh6 cannot attack the R on a diagonal to gain tempo)

Candidates (35.): Bxa6, Rxa6

Anywhere in the following, the interpolation Qa7-g1+ Kb1-a2 only secures the White Ka2 while denuding the Black Ka8.

35.Rxa6 (threatening 36.Rxa7)

35…Bxa6 [else, drop Qa7] 36.Qc6+ (threatening 37.Qxe8+ then 38.Qa4+ or Qd8xg8#)

Black drops at least both Rs to avoid mate.

(4) 34…R along the back rank, except Re8 (as in Variation (3))


(4.1) 35…Bxa6 36.Rxa6 wins Qa7

(4.2) 35…Bd2 36.Q attacks R on back rank diagonally to gain tempo, R moves 37.Rxc8+ Rxc8 38.Bxc8

(4.3) 35…Bc7 36.Bxc8 Rxc8 [else, down 3P with a bad position]

37.Rgg6 (threatening 38.Rh6 Rxh6 39.Rxh6 winning Qh7 for R)

37...Bxg6 38.Rxf8+ Qg8 [Kg7 39.Qf6+ Kh6 40.Rh8 wins Qh7]

39.Rxg8+ Kxg8

Black has a hopeless game with R+B for Q+3P.

I did not examine the game defense 36…Qd7 in Variation (4.2), but the other variations pass the Toga test.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <JG27Pyth> wrote: LifemasterAJ:<Tal was a genius. I looked at this problem for close to five minutes, I never even seriously considered 34.Qh6.> >

I am no chess genius, but I am methodical :)

When analyzing a position, after opposing K safety, I look for loose pieces and burdened pieces. Under my procedures, the Black Rh8 screamed out to be overburdened by 34.Qh6. Tactically, 34.Qh6 is feasible, and positionally, it wonderfully strengthens the attack at h6 on the stalemated Black Kh8.

Once seen, why consider any other candidate seriously?

Mar-20-09  PinnedPiece: I saw 34.Qh6 after about 3 min, decided to go to the game and play it and play "guess the move.." got them all.

After resignation, the moves continue:

37......Rxc8 38.Ra6+ Rxa6 39.Qxa6+ Qa7 40.Qxc8+ with mate next move.

For Fridays, I'm about 2 for 300.

Premium Chessgames Member
  johnlspouge: < <Octal> wrote: Who in their right mind would ever play a Sicilian against Tal? >

Tal vs Fischer, 1970 (or maybe that was what you meant ;>)

Mar-20-09  Patriot: <johnlspouge: When analyzing a position, after opposing K safety, I look for loose pieces and burdened pieces. Under my procedures, the Black Rh8 screamed out to be overburdened by 34.Qh6. Tactically, 34.Qh6 is feasible, and positionally, it wonderfully strengthens the attack at h6 on the stalemated Black Kh8.>

This is an excellent point! It took me a while to consider 34.Qh6, but if I used your approach I would've seen it a lot sooner!

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bishoprick: Tal in his prime! It doesn't get any better in chess.
Mar-20-09  vladedivac: Awesome game!
Just The magician from Riga!

<36. Qh6!> it brings me immediatly the missed by Kasparov <36. ..,Ra1!> on Karpov vs Kasparov, 1987 at Sevilla's World Championship.

Kasparov, with time's trouble played 36. ..,Qd7 threating to take the rook on a4.

In both situations, the tactical idea is to threat a pinned rook.

Mar-20-09  SamAtoms1980: Drat. I looked at literally every move BUT that one.

Like dozens of others, I was misled by the superficial but spellbinding lines of force.

Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <mertangili: . . .if black plays 34... Re8 then, 35. Rxa6 Bxa6 36. Qc6+ Bb7 37. Qxe8+ Qb8 and 38. Qxa4 and white is up a rook and couple of pawns.>

Yes, that works. So how about 34...Rg8 ? Now if 35. Rxa6 Bxa6 36. Qg6+ Bb7 37. Qxa5 Rd8, black has B vs. P+P+P. If instead 35. Bxa6, then 35...Bd2.

Mar-20-09  khense: The position on move 34 looks like a chess problem that would never occur in a game. However I found the move!
Mar-20-09  Woody Wood Pusher: Well I would probably have taken longer usually, but when I read <Tal>, moves like that are top of the list!


Mar-20-09  lostgalaxy: Hi, when and where can I see the official solution? I'm new here, tks.
Mar-21-09  TheBish: Tal vs E Nievergelt, 1959

White to play (34?) "Difficult" (3 stars)

White is down a bishop for two pawns, but he has the move and a weakened king to attack -- plus Black's rook on a4 is seriously out of play, and the one on h8 is the only thing preventing mate in two (starting with Rxc8+). With this in mind, combined with the fact the Black is threatening to trade queens, leads me to...

34. Qh6! The rook is attacked and must move or be defended (by 34...Qd4), since it can't capture the queen (34...Rxh6? 35. Rxc8+ Qb8 36. Rcxb8+ Ka7 37. R3xb7 mate).

A) 34...Qd4? 35. Rxc8+ Rxc8 36. Qxa6+ Qa7 37. Qxc8+ Qb8 38. Qxb8 mate. So the rook must move!

B) 34...Rd8 (similar are Re8 and Rg8) 35. Bxa6 Bd7 (or 35...Bxa6 36. Rxa6, winning the queen, or 35...Qd7 36. Bxc8 Rxc8 37. Ra6+ Qa7 38. Qc6#, and 35...Qg1+ 36. Ka2 doesn't help matters) 36. Bb5!, threatening both Bxa4 and Ra6, winning the queen. Of course, Black can't play 36...Bxc6?? 37. Bxc6+, winning the queen. Black can try is 36...Qg1+ 37. Ka2 Rd4, but White goes 38. Ra6+ Kb7 39. Bxd7+ with a crushing attack. White comes out on top!

Mar-21-09  Stormbringer: This has been a bad week for me, I didn't even get Monday's puzzle because I didn't see the bishop move three in to cut off the escape of the King.

Actually, for most of this week I saw or at least considered the first two moves. Not so for this puzzle... and I even said to myself "hmm... a Tal game, might be a flashy Queen sac in there somewhere". In fact so badly did I fail at this one that even if the final position had been given as a puzzle I couldn't have figured it out. Given 37 Bxc8 it has taken me this long to figure out the response to 37 ... Rxc8.

So here's how I now think it would play out:
38 Ra6+ Rxa6
39 Qxa6+ Qa7
40 Qxc8+ Qb8
41 Qxb8 #

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