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Mikhail Tal vs Rajko Bogdanovic
"The Magician of Riga" (game of the day Aug-12-2018)
YUG-URS (1967), Budva MNE, rd 6, Jun-??
Sicilian Defense: Najdorf Variation. Poisoned Pawn Accepted (B97)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  waddayaplay: 'As he started the post-mortem analysis with Geller, Fischer pointed to the diagram position and stated "It is a crushing position!" Indeed, it is. Black's king is exposed. Despite the material deficit, white does indeed have a crushing attack. Several months later in a match between the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, IM Bogdavovich chose this critical variation against none other than Mikhail Tal. The result was a classic game although, as the following notes show, Tal missed the most convincing win. '

Jan-17-05  euripides: <whaddayouplay> yes, I note from your notes that it was 20 Bd1 not Qe1 that was suggested as an alternative to Qc2.
Jan-31-07  Haeron: 13... Nd5 has been proved wrong. exd5 is correct, according to theory.
Aug-28-09  WhiteRook48: attacking games
Apr-25-12  Garech: Beautiful game from Tal!


Feb-27-16  Howard: This game, in fact, appeared in Chernev's book The Golden Dozen.
Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: I do not (yet) agree that 20 Rd1 is convincingly winning.

The notes at the above link show 20...Be7 21.Bxe7 Qxe7 (b)21...Kxe7 22.Qg5+)

as though 21...Kxe7 is not playable. After 22 Qg5+ Kd6, 23 Rf7 looks good for White but Black can (after 7 more moves) plausibly obtain this position

click for larger view

with White to move. Is this a sure win for White?

Feb-28-16  NeverAgain: @gawain: I presume you're talking about <20.Bd1>.

The "annotations" on Jon Edwards' blog are indeed little more than what he himself calls "quick notes". The <21...Kxe7> is not only playable, it's the only move, as the line <21...Qxe7 22.Ba4+ Kd8 23.Qa5+ Kc8>

click for larger view

he gives in his notes had been dismissed six years prior in Nunn's "The Complete Najdorf: 6.Bg5" (1997 The American Batsford Chess Library/ICE, p.152) with the verdict "Black cannot defend" exactly because of that same <24.c5> he cites as . Stockfish 7 sees the diagrammed position as a tablebase win for White (+123.35/50) and recommends <24.Qb6> as even more decisive; e.g.

24.Qb6 dxc4 25.Bd7+! Kb8
<25...Qxd7 26.Rf8+ wins the black queen; 25...Kxd7 26.Qxb7+ and 27.Qxa8 with an extra rook>

26.Rd1 and Black is defenceless against 27.Bc6 and 28.Rd8+, winning the black queen.

re: your diagram - I don't see the "plausible" moves that get you there, but it's a clear win for White after the direct <1.g3 fxg3+▢} 2.♔xg3 or the more roundabout <1.h4> (my - and SF's ;) - preference)

click for larger view

White has a simple enveloping maneuver Kh3-Kg4-...-Kxf4 in mind. Since Kg4 cannot be prevented (e.g. <1...Kf6 2.Kh3 Kf5? 3.Bd3+ picks up the h7 pawn>), Black have to give up either the f4 pawn or any hope of activating his two passers. In the first scenario White's simplest option is an eventual exchange of his bishop for the d- and e- pawns, reaching a won KPPPKPP ending; in the second, he just zugzwangs Black into the first scenario by shuffling his bishop around.

And going back to White's 22nd

click for larger view

while <22.Qg5+> is good enough for a win, it's not the only move. SF prefers <22.Qf2 (Δ23.Qf7+ and 24.Qxb7, or 23.Qb6) Bc6 23.c5> and evaluates White's advantage to be worth two pawns @d=41.

Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: <Never Again> Thanks for your response! Indeed I am talking about a variation starting with 20 Bd1, and this is the sequence I found plausible (with the help of an old Fritz)

20 Bd1 Bxe7
21 Bxe7 Kxe7
22 Qg5+ Kd6
23 Rf7 Re8
24 c5+ Qxc5
25 Rxb7 Qc4 (threatening ...Qf1#)
26 h3

click for larger view

26 ... Qf1+ (not best but Black is under the misimpression that he can hold the simplified position)

27 Kh2 Qf4+
28 Qxf4 exf4
29 Rxg7 Re7? (Black would be better off, and will certainly have more fun, keeping his nice rook on the e-file and pushing his passed pawns. 29... e5 30 Rxh7 e4 31 Ra7 d4 32 Rxa6+ Kd5)

30 Rxe7 Kxe7

click for larger view

...and here is the position I wondered about. I see now (with the help of your explanation) why this is not tenable for Black. (Despite his passed pawns and even though he can put all his pawns on dark squares.) I just had not played around with the position enough.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: The pun dates back to the Ancient Middle East, in the days when there were so many invading armies it was hard to tell them apart. It got to the point where one man's Mede was another man's Persian.

OK., got that out of my system.


I know little about the theory of Poisoned Pawn Variation, nad frankly, I don't give a Damjanovic. Life is too short for indigestion.

But two things seem clear to me. First, playing the Black side of this against Tal may not be suicide if you do know what you're doing, but it won't hurt to pick up a road map for of Freeway to Negative Immortality.

Second, after Black grabs the b-pawn, I find it hard to believe that castling queenside is in the recipe book. Maybe it is, for all I know, but I'll bet the ingredients are kale and kelp rather than strawberries and cream.

Jul-11-16  AlicesKnight: 28.Bxd5 - wonder when he saw it ....
Jul-11-16  mruknowwho: After 25.Qb6, Black's best hopes are from the utilization of the bishops, so I think 25...Bxf4 is inaccurate. It looks like the only move, but I think there is something better for Black; instead of sacrificing a part of the rook, sacrifice the whole rook. Play 25...dxc4. Black has two passed pawns and White has no way of getting a passer. Also, the Black light square bishop becomes a better piece. It's a painful move but I think it's the best Black has.
Jul-11-16  mruknowwho: My tired brain has realized that it's actually both a rook and bishop sacrifice, though it might offer a sliver of hope. It depends on if White's king hunt leads to a mate and if Black can do anything with the passed pawns.
Jul-11-16  morfishine: I used to play the Najdorf all the time. I even wrote a short article titled "How to lose playing the White and Black side of the Najdorf"
Jul-11-16  The Kings Domain: A tame game by Tal for Game of the Day standards.

I don't get the pun.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White is the exchange and will mate quickly.
Premium Chessgames Member
  scormus: <morfishine> that's the beauty of the Najdorf. Losing with B and W in the Najdorf is something I've spent many years working to perfect.
Jul-11-16  yadasampati: <The Kings Domain> The pun refers to the saying "One man's meat is another man's poison". The opening played here is the Poisoned Pawn Accepted (B97), as mentioned above the board.
Jul-11-16  rollingrook5: Phony Benoni: The pun dates back to the Ancient Middle East, in the days when there were so many invading armies it was hard to tell them apart. It got to the point where one man's Mede was another man's Persian.

I don't know if that's yours, but it sure made my day.

Years ago in a history class, I came up with this one:

Q: What do you call a dispute between two Greek delis?

A: The Battle of Salamis.

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: Hard to believe that Bogdanovic didn't know the game Fischer vs Geller, 1967 (and that White stood much better) or would think that Tal didn't know it.
Oct-22-17  Howard: But, how do we know which game was played first ?
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: They're called calendars.

<Monte Carlo (1967), Monte Carlo MNC, rd 11, Apr-04>

<YUG-URS (1967), Budva MNE, rd 6, Jun-??>

Aug-12-18  morfishine: <Phony Benoni> Very nice post!
Aug-12-18  Strelets: Back when the entire 10.f5 line hadn't been worked out to a forced draw with best play. The good old days.
Aug-12-18  RookFile: It's fine. Black wanted a chess lesson and Tal gave it to him.
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