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     Volume 4 Issue 47 | May 20, 2005 |

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Time Out

Tal the "Terrible" Chess

World Champion Mikhail Tal was known for his extra-ordinary ability to create complications over the board. He loved to sacrifice material in the hope of building up a powerful attack against the enemy king. Tal's combinations were usually based more on fantasy than accurate calculations. Of course, Tal's tactical ability was great, but what he perhaps banked on was the psychological impact of an attack. It was not easy for his adversaries to find the right line when Tal was making a series of lethal-looking moves. The pressure was often more than the defenders could handle. Finding the only line of defence in the face of an onslaught by a tactical wizard often proved to be a daunting task, which not many could perform accurately. But Grandmaster Victor Korchnoi was an exception. His dogged defence would frustrate even an attacker of Tal's calibre. Korchnoi is one of the few players who had an overwhelmingly plus score against the Latvian genius.

But most others didn't have Korchnoi's grit. A slight slip in defence would allow Tal to pounce on the opponents with ruthless ferocity. In postmortem, many of Tal's attacks were refuted.

Danish Grandmaster Bent Larsen once called Tal a 'supreme positional player'. That was definitely not the best way to describe the Latvian grandmaster's highly incisive style.

Regrettably, Tal never enjoyed good health. A nagging kidney ailment almost knocked him out of tournament chess. He won the world championship when he was only 24 and played on for many years before his death in 1991.

Tal's phenomenal rise coincided with Bobby Fischer's appearance on the international chess scene in the late fifties. Not surprisingly, these two met many times over the board and often the result was a sharp and highly exciting encounter. Fischer's versatility was up against Tal's tremendous imagination.

Tal was considered a highly gifted tactician, but nobody ever thought that he could beat the great Botvinnik in a match. But he did!

Here is a typical Tal game.

White-Mikhail Tal
Black - Bent Larsen [B94]
Portoroz Interzonal 1958

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 Nbd7 7.Bc4 Qa5 8.Qd2 e6 9.00 h6 10.Bh4 Be7 11.Rad1 Ne5 12.Bb3 g5 13.Bg3 Bd7 14.f4 gxf4 15.Bxf4 Nh5 16.Bxe5 Qxe5 17.Kh1 Nf6 18.Nf3 Qh5 19.e5 dxe5 20.Ne4 000 21.Ng3 Qg4 22.Nxe5 Qh4 23.Qc3+ Kb8 24.Nxd7+ 1-0


Position after 19.e5


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