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Mikhail Tal vs Lajos Portisch
"A Portisch of Call" (game of the day Feb-05-2009)
Varese Interzonal Playoff (1976), Varese ITA, rd 5, Oct-14
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf. Poisoned Pawn Variation (B97)  ·  0-1



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Feb-05-09  euripides: A quick look at the 'similar games' column suggests that when White has given up the dark-squared bishop, he shouldn't hand Black more black squares with 13.f5. I like the way Black's king sidles to safety along the black squares. e5 then becomes a pivot for Black's pieces.

Portisch was known for his thoroughness. I wonder if Tal played a slightly unusual line here to avoid a bombshell in one of the main lines.

Feb-05-09  M.D. Wilson: I like 40. Rf2.
Feb-05-09  euripides: ... the combination of Bxf6 and f5 is found in the Rauzer as in

Fischer vs Spassky, 1972

But there White has a knight on f3. Here Tal goes into callisthenic contortions to get a knight to g6 to challenge the beast on e5. Also, Qxb2 has weakened the dark squares further.

Feb-05-09  cydmd: <al wazir>, have you considered the move 41.Rd8+ ?

41... Rc8 42.Rxc8+ Bxc8 43.Qxf2 and the black rook is gone.

41... Bxc8 42.Nxf2 and the black rook is gone too (42... Rxf2 43.Rxc8+)

41... Ka7 42.Re1 and maybe the game is not over yet

Feb-05-09  tivrfoa: he could have played ...Qe5 in 39, couldn't he?
Feb-05-09  laskereshevsky: One could had waited from a player like Tal the breaking through move <21.♙c4>

in place of the timid <21.♘b3>..... isn't it?!

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: It looks like the "gambit" called the poison pawn is very complex and can go either way.

Strange-how white's attack seemed to die on the vine while black's came turtle-like,slow and steady.

I liked how blacked "castled in stages".

Feb-05-09  euripides: <lasker> Interesting. I guess after <21.c4> BLack can attack the knight with Bd8 and if 22.Nb3 then Nxc4 (if then 23.Bxc4 Rxc4 Black's queen still covers d6). Or if White tries the knight sac with 22.cxb5 Bxa5 23.bxa6+ Ka8 the queen looks a bit short of good squares e.g. 24.Qd4 Qc5.
Feb-05-09  laskereshevsky: <euripides> U R absolutly right, i dont think ♙c4 is totally sound...

but in other hand how many times Tal had shocked the opponents with obscures conseguence's moves?.... Expecial vs. classical and positional players like Portisch, or Glicoric for instance...

who know this game?!

Portisch vs Tal, 1964

Realizing that his just to be positionaly "squeezed" by Portisch, Tal goes to a rook sacrifice in change of...a doupled pawn!!. but after others "unsounds" sacrifices and moves the miracle came....

Portisch, looks to me absolutly confused by the crazy illogical Tal's play....

Of course the 1964's Tal had a much more "terrific" appeal, toward the opponents, then the 1976's ones...:)

Feb-05-09  TheChessGuy: An unusual opening choice from the usually positional Portisch. It definitely paid off!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Can anyone explain the pun?
Feb-05-09  Jim Bartle: "Port of call" is the term for a port where a ship docks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: I wonder why white did not play Qxd6+ on move 29 or 30. These moves look as least as good as the text ones.

Black recognizes his king's vulnerability when he plays 31...Ka8.

Feb-05-09  WhiteRook48: to see Tal, master of chess, get zapped by a pin is unthinkable
Premium Chessgames Member
  al wazir: <cydmd: have you considered the move 41.Rd8+ ?>


Feb-05-09  DarthStapler: Boo! I hate it when Tal loses
Feb-06-09  M.D. Wilson: When he lost, he usually lost well, if you know what I mean.
Feb-06-09  euripides: <Jim> wouldn't 29.Qxd6+ invite Black to get the B+Q battery a couple f moves earlier than he does ? e.g. <29.Qxd6+> Bc7 30.Qd1 Qe5 31.g3 Bb7 and BLack's threats look quite nasty.
Feb-06-09  euripides: ...I think the idea of 31...Ka8 is probably to allow Bb7 without falling into Nd7+.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: <Euripides Jim wouldn't 29.Qxd6+ invite Black to get the B+Q battery a couple f moves earlier than he does ? e.g. <29.Qxd6+> Bc7 30.Qd1 Qe5 31.g3 Bb7 and BLack's threats look quite nasty.>

I looked at that threat but I'm not sure of the effect. If 29 Qxd6+ Bc7, white also has 30 Qd3. Now, if 30...Qe5 white has 31 g3 (below) or 31 Qh3.

click for larger view

The position is unclear to me at this point.

Feb-07-09  euripides: <Jim> yes, 30.Qd3 is clearly an improvement on my 30.Qd1. I'm not sure whether your diagram is better than what White gets in the game - Black can play a mixture of Rd8, Bb7 and h5 - but I agree it doesn't seem worse.
Jul-05-16  Howard: Just read the other day that Portisch could have forced mate in nine moves with 40...Qc3!! rather than 40...Qe5.

But, since the move he actually played prompted immediate resignation, it obviously didn't matter.

When I get time, I'll have to see if I can work out that nine-move mate.

Dec-16-16  Howard: Regarding that February, 2009 comment about the opening choice being unusual for a positional player like Portisch, that was quite correct! CL&R made the comment in its "Game of the Month" column in 1976 that this was the first time Portisch had ever played the Poisoned Pawn with Black.
Dec-16-16  Olavi: "A classical, positional plaer, he suddenly began playing very sharp variations of the Sicilian and gave a new impulse to his chess career, and prolonged his stay in the world elite."

Michalchishin, New in Chess 1/1998

May-10-22  RookFile: Well, it's very smart by Portisch. You can't just sit back with black, take a beating, and hope you get a draw. There has to be at least a potential for a win in order to make your approach worth playing.
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