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Mikhail Tal vs Bent Larsen
Larsen - Tal 3rd place Candidates Playoff (1969), Eersel NED, rd 8, Mar-23
Alekhine Defense: Modern. Larsen-Haakert Variation (B04)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
Nov-06-03  AgentRgent: Tal was certainly not at his best here, what was he thinking?
Nov-06-03  tud: 29 a5 Any opinions ?
Nov-07-03
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: I think Tal's move is no worse than pushing the a pawn. Playing a5 gives Black time to unravel his K-side. 29.a5 Kf7 30.a6 Bg7 31.a7 Qe4 32.Re1 Qa8 Indeed, 30.Ra3 to swing the R to e3 was held to be stronger after the match.
Nov-07-03  tud: 31 Qb7 is stronger I cheat. I remember from a book that 29 a5 is winning and it is an example of Tal missing a good win.
Nov-08-03
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: This is a very sharp position.

After 29.a5 Kf7 30.a6 Bg7 31.Qb7 (Tud) Black could try 31...Qb5

I have then looked at a line in which White pushes the passed pawns energetically:

32.Qxb5 Bxb5 33.a7 Ra8 34.Ra5 Bc6 35.b4 Bc3 36.Rb1 Bd4 37.b5 Be4 38.b6 Bxb1 39.b7 Rxa7 40.b8(Q) Rxa5

There many other complex variations, but I "feel" that Black is not losing, although I am sure that there are improvements (for both sides), and would be very interested to see other people's opinions.

Jul-12-05  PARACONT1: Actually Tal was at his poorest form ever in 1969. From 1970 onwards he began a revival that would culminate in his reaching the Candidates semis in 1980 when he lost to Polugaevsky.
Mar-09-06  Poisonpawns: This game is very complex.It seems to me that Tal should win but Larsen kept finding these amazing moves to escape. first:12.Qh5 Kd8 13.f3!?(preventing Qg4) seemed ok then Fritz showed the move 13..Nxc4! Larsens play is very provacative he violates classical principles in the opening concerning development and TAl of all people cant make him pay in this game.
Mar-10-06  RookFile: It's not just about Tal. Larsen was at his absolute strongest around this time, a legitimate top 5 player in the world.
Aug-22-10
Premium Chessgames Member
  OBIT: According to Tim Krabbe, Tal rejected the probably winning 31. a6 because of 31...O-O, forgetting that he had chased Larsen's king to d8 and back earlier in the game. Larsen might have been top 5 in the world in 1969, but Tal had certainly seen better days.
Jul-19-12  Zkid: From "The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal":

"My poor form in the match is best illustrated by the episode which occured in the 8th game.


click for larger view

This position was reached after the black king had 'taken a walk', and then returned to e8. I had calculated that by advancing my a-pawn, I would win in a few moves, but suddenly I saw that by castling (!!) Black could set up a counter-attack on f2. I therefore began taking energetic measures to prevent Black from castling...

After the game, which I lost, one of the participants in a mass tournament taking place there came up to me, and asked why I hadn't played 29 a5 at the appropriate moment. I replied, and then stopped short on seeing the glazed eyes of Larsen and the enquiring fan. Only then did I realize that I had been fighting not against castling, but against its shadow, and I thought to myself, 'It is just as well that this was only a prestige game; if it had decided the match, I would have been near to having a heart attack...'"

Aug-23-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: <According to Tim Krabbe, Tal rejected the probably winning 31. a6 because of 31...O-O, forgetting that he had chased Larsen's king to d8 and back earlier in the game.> Well, 31.a6 just runs into 31...Bd4 32.Qb8+ Kf7 33.Qb3+ Kg6 34.Qc2+ Bf5 35.Qe2 g4 36.Red1 e5 37.Ra3 Be4 with overwhelming position of black.
Aug-23-18
Premium Chessgames Member
  Honza Cervenka: It was better to kick the Queen with 31.g3 at first.

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