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Mikhail Tal vs Bent Larsen
Tal - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1965), Bled YUG, rd 4, Jul-27
Alekhine Defense: Modern. Larsen Variation (B04)  ·  1/2-1/2



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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-12-02  ksadler: Anyone have an opinion on this line...Tal says in one of his books that he thought that this was just a blunder by White, but because of his respect for his opponent he gave some thought to his reply (I believe that he said that if it was in a simul he would have just gobbled the pawn). Apparently White can force a quick draw by repetition in this line, but can Black get counterplay?
Nov-12-02  ksadler: In terms of the quick draw that White can force which I mentioned, look at I A Nataf vs A Hauchard, 2001
Nov-13-02  drukenknight: KS: are you aware of this game? Here Larsen plays this variation against Fischer during a blitz game. Fischer sacks the N on f7.

Fischer vs Larsen, 1966

Premium Chessgames Member
  AgentRgent: Yes DK, but in that game against Fischer, Bent's tendency to avoid draws led him astray.

KS, White can offer a quick draw but Black doesn't have to take it. Though, unless Black must have a win, he probably should take the draw and move on.

Nov-14-02  drukenknight: But if black takes the draw and thinks: "now I play for the win as white..." but then what if white plays the Alek. Aaaaaaaaaaagh, it's too much.

Agent: I think my question on the Fischer/Larsen game is do you think black can stay alive by playing for the win the way Larsen did by Kd6?

Jan-04-05  DanielBryant: Tal wrote that he spent fifty minutes on his sixth move, unwilling to sac his knight unless he could find a mate. He decided not to make the sacrifice, but this bothered him the entire game. Interesting psychological ploy on the part of Larsen.
Oct-19-05  Poisonpawns: To play this is black O.T.B takes knowledge of every nuance of the variation.Theoretically white should take the draw by repetition after sacrificing the knight on f7 on move 6.Practically speaking,I would have to test blacks knowledge here.i.e 6.Nxf7!? Kxf7 7.Qh5+ Ke6 and now:a)8.c4 N5f6 9.d5+ Kd6 10.Qf7 Ne5 11.Bf4 c5 12.Nc3 a6 13.b4 or 13.o-o-o g6! 14.Bxe5+ Kxe5 15.d6 Bh6+ 16.Kc2 Qe8 Now thats alot of preparation to have to worry about as black when white has a draw in hand starting with 8.Qg4. also 8.g3!? is another approach.I think white is better after this move,I cant see black surviving to long with out development and his king on the 3rd rank.Amazing game by Larsen too bad he didnt win because he was clearly better in the ending.
Oct-31-05  DP12: I must say that if Tal didn't play it, I find it difficult to believe that it is sound.
Oct-31-05  KingG: <DP12> I'm sure under normal circumstances Tal would have sacrificed the piece, but this was a world championship qualifier against one of the best players in the world. Tal must have thought that Larsen had analysed the whole thing at home and found it to be sound, so after not finding anything convincing himself, he probably chose to 'believe' him.

I don't think this makes any difference to the objective soundness of the sacrifice.

May-11-06  dakgootje: Tal blinked, thought, and shocked the chessworld by NOT saccing his knight...
Jun-06-08  zenpharaohs: KingG: "I'm sure under normal circumstances Tal would have sacrificed the piece, but this was a world championship qualifier against one of the best players in the world. Tal must have thought that Larsen had analysed the whole thing at home and found it to be sound, so after not finding anything convincing himself, he probably chose to 'believe' him. "

Tal basically says exactly that in his book "Attack with Mikhail Tal".

Jun-06-08  dabearsrock1010: where does black miss?
Aug-16-09  Formula7: When I analyzed the position after 6.Nxf7 Kxf7 7.Qh5+ Ke6 with Rybka 2.2n2, it said White's best moves were Qe2+, Qg4+, and Qh3+, all of which lead to a draw by perpetual check. It also said g3 was White's fourth best move and gave it an evaluation of -0.06 after 8.g3 N7f6 9.Bh3+ Kd6 10.Qe5+ Kc6 11.Bxc8 Qxc8 12.c4 e6 13.cxd5+ exd5. So the sacrifice is sound but leads to nothing more than a draw if Black plays accurately.
Aug-16-09  WhiteRook48: and Tal does not want a draw
Sep-20-09  birthtimes: In Tal's book "Attack With Mikhail Tal" he gives the following non-obligatory, yet beautiful, line...

6.Nxf7!? Kxf7 7.Qh5+ Ke6 8.c4 N5f6 9.d5+ Kd6 10.Qf7 Ne5 11.Bf4 c5 12.Nc3 a6 13.Rd1!! g6 14.Bxe5+ Kxe5 15.d6 g5 (defending against 16.f4) 16.Rd2 Bf5 17.Re2+ Kd4 18.Re4+!! Bxe4 19. Qe6!! with the threat of 20.Ne2+ Kd3 21.Qh3+ Kc2 22.Qb3+ Kb1 23.Nc3+ Ka1 24.Bd3 Bxd3 25.Kd2+ Bb1 26.Rxb1#

Sep-20-09  WhiteRook48: but it wasn't forced
Nov-04-13  offramp: What a great game. Larsen's queen always seems to do such a lot of work. Definitely a strong piece in his hands. I can't help feeling black missed a win in the rook ending, though.
Premium Chessgames Member
  DrNyet: The question of the sac that Tal avoided is considered at length in Evans' "Chess Catechism". He also touches on it annotating the other game in this opening from the same match, in game 1 of "Modern Chess Brilliances", where he says that Tal "should have" made the sac.

It seems to me that it would have been more practical to save time on the clock and trust Larsen's no doubt thorough preparation.

Oct-24-16  nezhmet: Looking at it in 2016 with Stockfish I think black is just totally busted in the main sac line with ...Ne5 Bf4 c5 Nc3 a6 b4 b6.
Mar-11-19  Hokey pokey: Yes, Larsen does miss a pretty straightforward win with 49...Kf3. Not so hard to see and isn't this after adjournment? One possible line could be 49...Kf3 50.Rd5 Kg3 51.Kf1 f4 52.Rxe5 Rc1+ 53.Ke2 f3+ this is winning for Black.
Premium Chessgames Member
  woldsmandriffield: I remember this opening being analysed in 'Chess' (the UK magazine) in the 1980s. The article said that Tal saw the sacrifice 6 Nxf7 immediately but tried to figure out what Larsen's intended defense and thought for 50 minutes before playing 6 Bc4. It was described as the most famous sacrifice Tal didn't play! Later on, Tal recollected:

'I rejected the sacrifice after prolonged thought, and this was a psychological blunder, for even after I had gained the advantage, my thoughts kept returning to the position.' Apparently, Tal figured out a line where 'White in fact gains a decisive advantage. This I could not endure, and I played the second part of the game aimlessly, which led after 40 moves to a lost ending.'

Be this as it may, in the decisive final game of the match Tal again had the chance to sacrifice a Knight in the opening. He didn't hold back a second time and won!

Mar-17-21  mrmoonlight1980: 56 - Kg5 defending the pawns would have won.

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