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Mikhail Tal vs Dragoljub Velimirovic
YUG-URS (1979), Teslic YUG, May-??
English Opening: Symmetrical Variation. General (A30)  ·  1-0



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Sep-23-05  THE pawn: I just don't know what could have been done for white after 15.Nxf7?!

My computer gives this line as best for white -0.12 f3 exf3 Qxf3 Qd3 So there is a small advantage for black and somehow tal's magic has found a way to win the game.

Apr-05-06  outplayer: This is one of the most difficult games I have ever seen. 5...Be6?! is a Black dubious move. After 14...Qf5 the knight his nowhere to go. Sacrificing it is an intuitive move. 15.d6!?= What does happen after 15.f3? Qxg5 ? 21.b4!! is amazing.
Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: What to say?

The game starts out innocently enough. (1.c4 and 2.b3)

Then Tal ... becomes Tal! (Of course he sacrifices something!!! So why not a Knight on f7?)

May-25-06  whatthefat: <Granite: It doesn't seem to be that great of a move at first glance, just a complicating one where Tal would feel more at home and his opponent wouldn't.>

Normally this would be the case, but against Velimirovic, you have to wonder.

Premium Chessgames Member
  LIFE Master AJ: Of course, one of Velimirovic's many nicknames was "The Tal of Yugolsavia." (If I have the translation correct.)
Aug-19-06  whatthefat: An observation on this game:
On glancing at the position before white's 19th move, White seems to me to be just losing.

It's only upon really absorbing the position that the underlying themes become apparent. Rf4 will gain a tempo on the queen, allowing the other rook to join in on the game. Qh5+ is possible, and the pressure on f6 makes ...Kg8 difficult. Thus black's king is stranded in the centre. Now, the possibility of the white e- and g-pawns running up the board makes the kingside rather hazardous, so where is the black king to live? Velimirovic opted for the queenside, only to meet with Tal's 21.b4!

For me at least, it's amazing to think that these themes of attack came so readily to Tal - he seems almost to 'feel' them. How else to explain the decision of 13.Ng5 and the resultant sacrifice? And how else to explain the way Tal's 'absurdities' on the board seldom completely buckle under detailed analysis? His feeling for the initiative, and the attack, always seems to have counted for something that - by calculation alone - is very difficult to prove.

Aug-19-06  talisman: <LIFEMASTERAJ> you hit the nail on the head w/2.b3...tal playin the opponent.someone who wants to go at it even more than tal so tal keeps it quiet knowing this guy has no patience. V played against this line the yr.before.
Aug-30-06  Dres1: Now that i look a second time.. i think black is better off playing immediately 13...Qf5, i mean 13...d5 seems to just open the center for the soon to be stranded black king... am i missing something here??
Sep-09-06  whatthefat: <Dres1>
The problem with 13...Qf5 is 14.Nb5! and now if 14...Qxg5, then not 15.Nc7+ but 15.Nxd6+! and 16.Nxf7 forking queen and rook.

Although it's a very difficult game to analyze, I don't think all is bleak for black after 13...d5. Play is more or less forced up to the 20th move, but 20...Ke7 and 20...Kf7 (offering a draw, though I wonder whether Tal would have even taken it!) were certainly viable options.

Aug-27-08  Avarus: Those rooks get into the game out of nowhere! Compare the positions after 18...Qxe4 and 27.Qh3 - was black having a coffee or what? (no offense to Vel)
Aug-28-08  sicilianhugefun: reminder for black: never leave your F7 square unguarded.. how would it be like if Tal went face to face with alekhine?
Aug-28-08  sicilianhugefun: Alekhine, Tal, Kasparov are deadly exsplosives who created marvelous fireworks that made the chessworld sank into deep astonishment for all eternity
Mar-27-09  Crocomule: 21. b4!.. Portisch Bled '65 23. b4!
Premium Chessgames Member
  kamalakanta: Kasparov comments this game in Vol. II of "My Great Predecessors" (page 466).

Instead of 20...Kd6!, Kasparov points out Black could have played 20...Kf7.

Also, after 22.Rac1, Dvoretsky suggests 22...Re8 instead of the move played, 22....Rc8.

Even so, after 23.Rf5, Kasparov indicates that after 23...Nd7! (instead of the move played, 23...Qg4?!) 24.bxc5 Kb8 "the Black King would have been assured of escaping from all dangers, and the extra Knight would have told."

So, yes, the sacrifice might have not been 100% foolproof, but to solve all these problems with Tal sitting across the board from you is no easy task! Even if you are Velimirovic!

Mar-27-09  parisattack: <So, yes, the sacrifice might have not been 100% foolproof, but to solve all these problems with Tal sitting across the board from you is no easy task! Even if you are Velimirovic!>

I suspect a good percentage of Tal's sacs are 'unsound' qua Fritz or Rybka. But it is not just the sacrifice that attracts, also the beauty of the conception and - for me - how he conjured such positions, often from very simple openings.

Apr-26-09  Crocomule: So simple, yet so beautiful... one of his greatest games, in a year packed with great games.
Nov-03-10  sevenseaman: Sound or unsound is easier to analyse when not OTB. Tals main weapon is he washes you away in a deluge of doubt. His overwhelming record points clearly to that as a big factor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: It seems 15.f3 gives White a definite advantage in all variations:

Mikhail Tal - Dragoljub Velimirovic 1-0 0.0, YUG-URS Teslic BIH 1979

click for larger view

Analysis by Stockfish 14.1 3 cores only:

1. ± (0.99): 15...Qxg5 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.fxe4 a6 18.Rc1 h5 19.Qf3 f6 20.e5 Qg4 21.exf6 Qxf3 22.Rxf3 gxf6 23.Bxf6 Rh7 24.e4 Ng8 25.Bg5 Rf7 26.Kg2 Nh6 27.e5 Ng4 28.Bf4 0-0-0 29.d6

Feb-04-22  SChesshevsky: Seems a real lemon by Velimirovic.

Something must of went pretty wrong if white can be both better developed and arguably better in the center even after spending the time to double fianchetto.

Guessing Tal felt it. Which probably gave him the opportunity to look for and find an artistic punishing continuation.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Only Tal could gin up play against the king from what Teichmann contemptuously styled a 'double-hole game'.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Per SF, Black had a winning advantage until 23....Qg4 and wasn't lost until 25....Qe4. As Kasparov says in OMGP II, this attack never would have worked against Korchnoi.
Feb-04-22  SChesshevsky: < Per SF, Black had a winning advantage until 23....Qg4 and wasn't lost until 25....Qe4. As Kasparov says in OMGP II, this attack never would have worked against Korchnoi.>

After the sac, it's very, very likely going to be either a won or lost game. The attack either works or a proper defense wins. Of course, SF is going to find a proper defense if it exists. The question is how much is white's compensation or chance black will miss something?

The evaluation for that is the level at move 23...Qg4. Black's up a piece less a pawn. So I'd surmise unless the evaluation is at least around -2.00, that would indicate that white has something for the sac. The more toward 0.00 the more he has. And I would guess the greater chances a human defense would falter.

This speculative attack probably wouldn't have worked against Korchnoi. Guessing Tal wouldn't have tried it. But, then again, Korchnoi likely wouldn't have played such a crummy opening. But if he had, figuring good chances Tal might've beaten him some other way or at least never been in trouble. Seems to be the real question is what's the evaluation after 12...e4?

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <The evaluation for that is the level at move 23...Qg4. Black's up a piece less a pawn. So I'd surmise unless the evaluation is at least around -2.00, that would indicate that white has something for the sac. >

I don't think SF works any more by counting pieces and then evaluating. But anyway, the eval is about -3.28 at 42 ply at this point. Main line is 23....b6 24.Rf4 Qc6 25.bxc5 Bxc5 26.d4 Ba3 28.Bb2 Qxc1+ emerging with rook and two pieces for the queen.

SF doesn't like Black's opening any more than you (or Kasparov or Dvoretsky, whose notes are quoted extensively in OMGP II). At 12....e4 the evaluation is +1.63 at 38 ply, but the computer prefers 13.Ne1 and 14.d3. It doesn't like most of the next few moves by either side, but it thinks either 15.d6 or 15.f3 Qxg5 16.Nxe4 Nxe4 17.fxe4 with a very weird position would have been better than the knight sacrifice in the game.

SF thinks White is just a little worse until 20.Qh3+ (20.Bxf6 gxf6 21.Rxf6+ Kxf6 22.Rf1+ Ke7 23.Qf7+ Kd8 24.Qf6+ Qe7 25.Qxh8). After 20....Kd6 21.b4(?) (21.Bxf6) Kc7 the eval falls below -2.

Feb-05-22  SChesshevsky: <keypusher> Thanks for the look at key points in this game. It certainly helps to sort out what is happening or could happen in this complicated game.

Related to computer evaluation, I once received a summary of how Deep Blue came up with its calculation from the machines team. If remembering correctly, there were four or five main factors. Mobility, King Safety, maybe Space, and of course Material. So when there's a game material imbalance, my starting point is that if all other factors being equal, the evaluation should equal the material imbalance. If there's a difference, then I try to figure which other factors are in play to adjust that number.

Now I'm assuming that engines today, except those based on experience Monte Carlo evaluations, are still generally based on the same factors concept for the evaluation function. Though understanding today's versions are probably much more robust and fine tuned.

Though, far from being a computer expert, must admit my thinking could be way off.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Blimey thanks guys for the intersting discussion raised :) I should mention interesting points more often as I find them. I am checking out 1.b3 games right now - Cheers all :)
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