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Viktor Korchnoi vs Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush
USSR Championship (1958), Riga URS, rd 18, Feb-??
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Poisoned Pawn Accepted (B97)  ·  0-1

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Kibitzer's Corner
Oct-07-05  AlexanderMorphy: This is a good example of the poisoned pawn variation in the sicilian Najdorf!
Oct-07-05  Kangaroo: Tal vs Tolush, 1956 is a more interesting example.
Oct-07-05  who: 16.Bb5 seems highly questionable. It creates some mating threats, but they remain just that - threats. And it leads quite quickly to a queen vs R+B+N which was hopeless.
Oct-07-05  aw1988: 17...Bc5+, exposing the position of the Bh4.
Nov-08-05  Lion83: "Kangaroo: Tal vs Tolush, 1956 is a more interesting example."

Both games are very interesting examples of the Ne4 line of the poisoned pawn variation. This is the game which basically refutes 12. Ne4.

In the first game against Tal, Tolush plays Qxa2 immidietly. Here he instead plays the subtle h6. Now after Bh4 black plays Qxa2 and goes into the same line as in the Tal game except now when the Queen lands on a4 it does so with an x-ray attack on the Bishop. Now both Bb5 as seen in this game and Nxe6 (see commentary on Tal-Tolush) don't work because the bishop is hanging on h4. I think this is very telling of the Najdorf in that one subtle move can totally change the evaluation of a line.

Jun-11-06  KingG: Korchnoi was probably dreaming of improving on Tal's great game against Tolush with 15.Nxe6!, but was taken by surprise by the subtle move 12...h6. He obviously missed the point of the move until it was too late, otherwise he may have tried 13.Bb5!, the only way to have any chance of winning.

Black is still probably objectively winning, but there are a lot of complications to get through first. For example, 13.Bb5 hxg5 14.Rb3 Qxa2 15.Qc3 axb5 16.Qxc8+ Ke7 17.00 Qa7! 18.Rd3!, with an unclear position.


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Sep-16-06  euripides: <King> Black can trade in his queen. On 13 Bb5 MCO gives 13...axb5 14 Nxb5 hxg5 15 Nxa3 Rxa3, Platonov-Milic 1968, as good for Black.
Sep-16-06  KingG: <euripides> Yes, very true. It looks like White's best chance in this line is 14.Rd1!?, as in I A Nataf vs M Perunovic, 2005.
Oct-17-09  lentil: Amazing game! If I had been W, after 19. ... Qd8 I would have considered my game to be won, piece down or not, based on the development differential. Tolush does well to survive. 22. ... Nba6 deserves !!, but even after that, Black's solution to the problem of getting his pieces out of the box is not simple.
Feb-27-10  Petrosianic: <Kangaroo: Tal vs Tolush, 1956 is a more interesting example.>

No, that's less interesting. That game was Part 1. This one is Part 2.

The first game,

Tal vs Tolush, 1956

is, of course, one of Tal's more famous wins from the 50's, which shows up in all the "Tal's Best Games" books. In this game, Tolush improves with the seemingly insignificant move 12...h6.

This seems to make no difference at first. The game then continues following Tal-Tolush for another 4 moves until we reach the point where Tolush had had nothing better than to play the ugly 16...f6 against Tal. But this time he has 17...Bc5+!. Why does it work in this game when it hadn't worked against Tal? Because thanks to 12...h6, Korchnoi's Bishop is on h4 instead of g5, and vulnerable to 18...Qxh4+.

This allows Tolush to break out of the bind, sac his Queen, and swap down to an ending in which he has a Rook and two minors against Korchnoi's Queen. They're awkwardly placed, and Korchnoi makes all kinds of attempts to fork one of them, but Tolush wiggles them all out artfully, leaving himself with a big material edge.

It's a great game, and would be a lot better known if it had been played by a world champion. The Soviet Union had a string of players (Tolush, Furman, Krogius, Kholmov, et cetera) who would have been big names had they been born anywhere else. Players good enough to beat anyone on a given day, but who didn't have enough good days to challenge for the title.

Mar-23-12  King Death: < Petrosianic: ...It's a great game, and would be a lot better known if it had been played by a world champion. The Soviet Union had a string of players (Tolush, Furman, Krogius, Kholmov, et cetera) who would have been big names had they been born anywhere else. Players good enough to beat anyone on a given day, but who didn't have enough good days to challenge for the title.>

In one of <ray keene's> books he commented that you needed a ball of string and a lot of pregame analysis to play a particular line. This was 30 years ago so there were no computers but Keene could've been writing about many games that were played in this Najdorf Poisoned Pawn.

Just thinking about the names above, if those players had somehow emigrated to the US in 1956, it would've made life a lot tougher for the best players, not to mention a skinny kid from Brooklyn.

Dec-23-13  Poisonpawns: Fantastic Defense by Tolush

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