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Mikhail Tal vs Boris Spassky
"Catcher in the Ruy" (game of the day Mar-12-2014)
Interpolis 4th (1980), Tilburg NED, rd 7, Sep-27
Spanish Game: Morphy Defense. Breyer Defense Zaitsev Hybrid (C95)  ·  1-0



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Given 45 times; par: 55 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-16-07  patzer2: For today's insane Sunday puzzle solution, Tal plays the decoy clearance sacrifice 30. Nxh5!! to demolish pawn cover and decisively weaken Spasky's King side castled position.

After the deflection 31. Rf5!, Tal had to calculate deeply into the position to verify that the quiet clearance move 32. e5! left Black's position hopelessly lost.

In addition to the difficult 32...dxe5 game continuation, Spassky had to see that 32...Nxe5 lost to 33. Bf6!, as pointed out by <MostlyAverageJoe> above. He also had to visualize the winning tactics after the subtle obstruction move 35. d6!

Perhaps this is a simple task for today 's super computers. However, for near average chess amateurs like myself, I suspect that OTB it is truly an insanely difficult (if not impossible) task to visualize such a complex forcing sequence.

Sep-16-07  Marmot PFL: Saw the first 4 moves and could see white had a very strong attack, but not sure I would have played it without finding a clear win. The sacrifice against the king position weakened by h7-h6-h5 is not that surprising though, and probably many good GMs besides Tal could find it.
Sep-16-07  MWYOUNG: Looking at deep position analysis, Clearly the best move is Nf5, as it is the most forcing line. The best defense for both Nf5 and Nxh5 is f6!.

So can say this position has 2 Key moves, Nf5 and Nxh5, Both seem to win.

30. Nf5 (30. Nxh5 f6 (30... Bh8 31. Nf6+ Nxf6 32. Bxf6 Bxf6 33. Rxf6 Ra1 34. Rxg6+ fxg6 35. Rxa1 b4 36. Re1 Bc8 37. Qe3 bxc3 38. bxc3 g5 39. Kg1 g4 40. h4 $18 [%eval 170,15]) (30... gxh5 31. Rf5 Qe8 32. e5 dxe5 33. Bh6 Ra6 34. Bxg7 Kxg7 35. d6 Rxd6 36. Qxd6 f6 37. Rd1 Rf7 38. Rxh5 Nf8 39. Rd4 e4 40. Qf4 $18 [%eval 356,12]) (30... b4 31. Nxg7 Qxg7 32. Bh6 bxc3 33. bxc3 Qe5 34. Qd4 f6 35. Bxf8 Kxf8 36. Qxe5 dxe5 37. Rb1 Ra7 38. Rb4 Ke7 39. Rxc4 Ra1+ 40. Kh2 $18 [%eval 340,17]) 31. Nxg7 Qxg5 32. Qxg5 fxg5 33. Ne6 Rxf3 34. gxf3 b4 35. Rb1 Ra2 36. Bd1 Nc5 37. Nxc5 dxc5 38. Kg1 Ba6 39. Kf1 Kf7 40. Be2 $16 [%eval 96,17]) 30... f6 (30... gxf5 31. Rxf5 Qe8 32. e5 f6 33. exf6 Nxf6 34. Bxf6 Qg6 35. Bxg7 Qxg7 36. R1f3 Rxf5 37. Rxf5 Re8 38. Rg5 Re5 39. Rxg7+ Kxg7 40. Be4 $18 [%eval 740,14]) (30... b4 31. Bf4 Qf6 32. Nxg7 Qxg7 33. Bxd6 b3 34. Bd1 f6 35. Bxf8 Rxf8 36. Be2 Kh7 37. Qd4 Qe7 38. Bxc4 Qd6 39. Bxb3 Ne5 40. R3f2 $18 [%eval 317,15]) (30... Kh7 31. Bh4 gxf5 32. Rxf5 f6 33. Rxe5 Nxe5 34. b3 Kg8 35. Rf5 Kh7 36. Rxh5+ Kg8 37. bxc4 Nxc4 38. Qf2 Bc8 39. e5 Nxe5 40. Bh7+ $18 [%eval 300,12]) 31. Bf4 Qe8 32. Nxd6 Qe7 33. Nxb7 Ne5 34. d6 Qxb7 35. Bxe5 fxe5 36. Rxf8+ Bxf8 37. Rf6 Bg7 38. Rxg6 Qf7 39. d7 Rd8 40. Rd6 $18 [%eval 206,13] *

Sep-16-07  chekmanirov: That was an interesting puzzle, a very nice attack on Tal's part.
Sep-16-07  ounos: I thought this was a Monday. Pff. :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Far be it from me to judge when someone can say he or she has solved a Sunday, since I almost never get these, but Tal being Tal, he probably saw the first eight moves, and I only saw the first two, so I give myself a zero on this puzzle, and no one who didn't see all the way to Rg5+ should claim full credit. Half credit for seeing the first four moves, maybe.

This was truly one of Tal's greatest combinations.

Sep-16-07  danielpi: Why not 32. Bh6?

I thought 32... Bxh6 (32...f6 33. Bxg7 Kxg7 34. Rf3 Rf7 (34...h4 35. Rf4 and same) 35. Rxh5 Kf8 36. Rh8+ Ke7 37. Rxe8+ and White's up too much material) 33. Qxh6 f6 34. Rf3 Rf7 35. e5 Nxe5 (35...fxe5 36. Rxf7 Qxf7 37. Rg3+ with mate to follow; 35...Rh7 36. Rg3+ Kh8 37. Qxh7+ Kxh7 38. Rh5++) 36. Rxh5 and whatever Black does, White seems to have mate. E.g. Qh8++, Rg3+, Qh7++ if the Rf7-f8.

I didn't check this with a comp, and I didn't use a board, so I'm sure I made a mistake in there somewhere. If anyone cares to show me up, I'd be curious to know where this goes wrong.

Sep-17-07  kevin86: Tal and Spassky could really play some brilliant chess vs one another. Too bad they never had a WC match although both were champions at one time.

I guess a Tal sac problem SHOULD be on a Sunday.

Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Tal and Spassky had a marvelous Candidates Final at Tbilisi in 1965. At the time Spassky's win seemed like an upset.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Astonishing, beautiful attack. I never even try to solve Sundays but maybe I should start.
Feb-28-10  talisman: some kinda ballgame here.
Nov-04-10  sevenseaman: <danielpi: Why not 32. Bh6?> 32. Bh6 BxH6 33. Qxh6 f7 34. Rxh5 seem to do the trick, unless you are looking for a scrap from Spassky side. I guess you must be up to that even.
Jan-25-12  talisman: Gallagher has white's moves as 28.♗f4,29.♗g5, 30 ♖f3, 31.♖af1, 32 ♘xh5!...big difference.
Mar-12-14  newzild: Breathtaking play by Tal. I especially liked the way he forced Spassky into a little shuffle with his rook (to h8 and back) to gain time for repositioning his queen.
Mar-12-14  RookFile: The 22. Rf1 plan used by Tal in this game is an alternative approach to playing this sort of position, compared to Fischer's queenside play shown in the 1992 game 1 against Spassky.
Mar-12-14  Doniez: A good game but the BEST pun ever!
Mar-12-14  Garech: Great pun and great game!

Tal was clearly just horsing around with Spassky. He knew he had to take the goddam knight after 30.Nxh5, and he didn't care. Spassky was a phony like all the other top Grandmasters. Anyway, that's all I'm gonna tell about. Never tell anyone anything. If you do, you'll just end up missing everybody.


Mar-12-14  belgradegambit: I submitted this game yesterday. Fastest submission to appearance ever for me.
Mar-12-14  mrknightly: Sorry, don't agree that this is one of the better puns. Although, it may get an "A" for effort. "Ruy," as we all know, comes from Ruy Lopez, and is of Spanish derivation. Ruy is pronounced phonetically as "rwi," similar to "muy" (very) in Spanish. So, we have "Catcher in the Rwee." To my mind, not a very good pun (a word nearly alike in sound, but of a different meaning) for "Rye."
Mar-12-14  Clodhopper: The key to this win ain't NXh5, it's 32. e5 and then 36. d6, and I cannot fathom the amount of chess brains it takes to see this when sacing the knight on move 30!
Mar-12-14  theodor: the etymology of the word ''talent'' is obvious!
Mar-14-14  kevin86: Why did Spassky give up so soon? He was only down a queen for a bad bishop and a worse knight. lol
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <theodor: the etymology of the word ''talent'' is obvious! >

So it is.

Apr-04-20  Dream Warrior: 18...Rb8 - what a strange move! Why?
Premium Chessgames Member
  saffuna: Daniel King analyzes this game:

King thinks Spassky's major strategical mistake was 26...Qe7 rather than 26...Ne5.

He says the move that opens up the attack is 32. e5.

18...Rb8 was played with the idea of a later Bc8 and advancing the b pawn.

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