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    Entries in Tal (12)

    Thursday
    Dec082011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Tal-Spassky, Glenrothes 1988

    It's a game I didn't even know existed until earlier today, and although this 1988 battle between two legends and former world champions was only a blitz game, it's still absolutely worth watching.

    Boris Spassky, in a must-win situation with the black pieces, essayed the Pirc Defense. It's not a bad choice in general, though it is rather provocative against a player like Mikhail Tal. (In fact, I know of one reasonably decent player* who had been successful with the related Modern Defense, managing to beat even titled players in tournament games with it. He thought it would be a smart idea to use against Tal in a simul...and got obliterated.) Tal used the Austrian Attack, arguably the most principled reply, and they followed an earlier game of Spassky's until the latter varied with a logical and ambitious new move.

    Logical, but mistaken. With some fine prophylactic moves Tal prevented Spassky from implementing his plan, and then Tal turned his attention to what he did best: attacking the enemy king. While he did miss some little improvements along the way, it was an impressive performance - especially for a blitz game - and it's an instructive game for anyone who plays that line with either side.

    So have a look here for all the details. The show is free, as always (free registration required), and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

     

    * That would be me.

    Thursday
    Nov172011

    This Week's ChessVideos Show: Attack With Tal: Crushing The Pirc

    Alas, I'm too busy at the moment to keep up with the Tal Memorial and the Women's World Championship, except to say that Hou Yifan won game 3 today and leads 2-1, while Vassily Ivanchuk, Ian Nepomniachtchi and Magnus Carlsen share the lead the Tal Memorial with each scoring 1.5/2. Hopefully this intrusion of "real life" won't interfere too much longer, but for a while I won't be able to post as heavily as I - and my readers too, I assume - would like. (There are some strong and diligent players in my readership, however, and if they would like to volunteer updates on one or both events over the next few days, they would be most welcome to do so. If you're interested, please drop me a note via the Contact link.)

    That's not to say that I've got nothing to share with my readers today - at least with those who are also my viewers. In this week's ChessVideos show I celebrate the recent 75th anniversary of the birth of the late great Mikhail Tal. It's only a blitz game, played in 1987, against Argentine GM Miguel Quinteros, but it's attractive, very well-played and instructive, too. Tal crushes Quinteros with the Austrian Attack on the white side of a Pirc, and the plan he uses is one we should know very well too if we play either side of that variation. Naturally, Tal being Tal, the execution of this plan involves plenty of sacrifices, and if you try to work everything out for yourself rather than watching passively you'll get a great workout from the video too.

    As always, it's free (one-time only free registration require), and will be available on-demand for the next month or so.

    Wednesday
    Nov092011

    Tal's Would-Have-Been 75th Birthday

    Is today or was yesterday, depending on your time zone. Mikhail Tal was born on November 9, 1936, and while he hasn't been with us since 1992, his incredible games will be celebrated as long as there are people who care about chess. On the occasion of what would have been his 75th birthday, Tal's old friend and sometime second Gennadi Sosonko has written a brief memorial piece, with many previously unpublished or at least widely unknown pictures, here. (It's in Russian, but you can find a rather shaky Google translation here.)

    HT: Chess Today

    Friday
    Aug262011

    Tal Street

    It certainly took them long enough (Mikhail Tal was world champion in 1960 and died in 1992), but it's better late than never for the Riga City Council, which has decided to name a street in his honor. (HT: Brian Karen.) In addition to being a nice bit of news, this should also offer a rich opportunity for light jokes.

    Here are some quick (and lame) offerings to get you started:

    (1) Brits could say "Big deal, you should see how we honor GMs Adams and Jones here!"

    (2) Sticking to a Tal theme, chess fans can only capture the road signs one at a time.

    (3) There are two kinds of way to drive down this street: the correct way and mine.

    Thursday
    Jul212011

    Tal vs. Your Blogger

    In this recent post I mentioned Jeremy Silman's reminiscence of Mikhail Tal's trip to the Los Angeles area back in 1988, during which time Tal gave a simul there. I played in that simul, so I was curious to see if I made it into the picture near the top of the article. At first I thought I was, then talked myself out of it, but now think that my initial suspicion was correct. I'm not 100% sure, but think it's 80-90% likely that I'm the guy near the far end of the row Tal is facing, wearing a cap and a dark shirt (or sweater or jacket). The game score may be gone, but at least this little memento survives!

    Wednesday
    Jul202011

    Silman on Tal's Trip to L.A.

    In 1988, Mikhail Tal made something of a tour of North America, winning the first World Blitz Championship in St. John in Canada before visiting various cities in the United States. When it was time for the Los Angeles area leg of his journey, International Master Jeremy Silman hosted him for several hours, and you can read his report on their adventures here.

    Incidentally, I played in that simul against Tal back in 1988 (the one pictured in that article, though I don't think I'm in the picture), and got butchered despite being a near-2400 player at the time.

    Monday
    Jan242011

    Articles by Tal

    On a far cheerier note, "Spektrowski's Blog" features quite a few translations of old Russian-language sources, including a bunch of Tal interviews and articles. Definitely worth a look for Tal fans.

    HT: Brian Karen

    Thursday
    Jan132011

    A Tal Tale

    Alas, so far it is only being told in German. Lubosh Kavalek writes about a new book on the great Mikhail Tal, written by GM Karsten Müller and Raymond Stolze, with contributions (or at least extended quotations and/or analyses) from Boris Spassky, Anatoly Karpov, Vladimir Kramnik, Robert Hübner and Artur Yusupov. Those who are friends of Müller's or know the Edition Olms people should harrass them as soon and as much as possible to get this book out in an English translation. (Meanwhile, I may have to brush up on my German!)

    Tuesday
    Jan042011

    Einstein's Theory?

    One chapter in Frank Brady's Endgame, a forthcoming biography of Bobby Fischer, is entitled "Einstein's Theory". As those of you familiar with Fischer's My 60 Memorable Games know, this refers to a comment Mikhail Tal made after losing to Fischer in Bled in 1961: "It is difficult to play against Einstein's theory."

    This has bothered me FOR YEARS, because I haven't got the foggiest idea what Tal could have meant by this. If he meant to say that Fischer was some sort of chessic Einstein, I'd sort of understand*, but Einstein's theory? Fischer is some sort of relativity? Maybe there's a Russian speaker who can reverse engineer the statement into something that makes sense?

    * I would only sort of understand it. In 1961, Tal was more of an Einstein than Fischer, both in terms of proven results and in his energetic, almost ferocious creativity.

    Tuesday
    Nov092010

    The Chess Today Puzzle: A Follow-Up

    It looks like the readers didn't have much trouble finding the second solution to this position:

    It's White to move in the 1962 game Roos - Ferry, which ended 1.Nh6+ Kh8 2.Qg8+! Rxg8 3.Nf7+ Kh7 4.Ng5+ Kh8 5.Rh6+! Bxh6 6.Rh7#.

    The second solution, which I like better, runs 1.Rh6! We can note three variations:

    (A) 1...Qxb3 2.Rh8+! Bxh8 3.Nh6#

    (B) 1...Qc1+ 2.Kh2 Bxh6 3.Ne5+ Kh8 4.Ng6# (or 3.Ng5+ Kh8 4.Rh7#)

    (C) 1...Be5 2.Ng5+ Qxb3 3.Rg6+ Kh8 4.Rh7#

    Line (A) is especially nice, but all the lines are elegant and faster than the game continuation, though in various lines Black has spite moves (e.g. 3...Qc4 followed by ...Rf7 in line (B)) that can drag the mate to six moves, as in the game.

    This second solution caught my eye because I had seen it in the analysis of a different game 27 years ago. In The Test of Time, Garry Kasparov recounts his team's adventures in the Lucerne Olympiad in 1982, and presents the following position.

    It's from the game Schneider - Tal, and here Schneider missed his chance for glory. Tal, trying to avoid a draw, has just played 29...Kh8-g8??, and now White could have taken advantage with 30.Qxh6!! The queen obviously cannot be captured due to mate in two (30...Bxh6? 31.Nxh6+ Kh8 32.Rxf8#), and the threat is of course 31.Qh8+! Bxh8 32.Nh6#. Black can avoid one of these mates, but his position will be dead lost in any case.

    Unfortunately for Schneider, he played 30.g3? and went on to lose. A pity, not only for the lost win and for who the win was against, but for the chance to beat Tal with such a nice combination! (You can replay the full game, plus the Roos - Ferry analysis, here.)

    The moral of the story for us, however, is the one mentioned earlier today, in this post: study and review your tactics, because having these themes somewhere in your memory will pay off down the road!