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Mikhail Tal vs Lubomir Kavalek
Montreal (1979), Montreal CAN, rd 8, Apr-20
English Opening: King's English. Four Knights Variation Fianchetto Lines (A29)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: This game impressed me. It is not annotated in the tournament book, unfortunately. Tal's pawn sacrifice -- 16. c5 -- doesn't look sound to me, but he makes it work. I would have expected Kavalek to try 19...Qc7, freeing the knight on e8, perhaps to be followed by ...Rad8 and ...Bc8. After 22...d5 Tal freely permits Kavalek to trade pieces as White unhurriedly exploits the holes in Black's position.
Jan-06-07  mcgee: have not looked in detail but i do not see why 19..Qc7 20 e3 followed by 21 d4 does still not offer a good game for White. The defence for Black is not easy even if he doesn't go d6-d5 at some point. If he tries to kick the knight away with b7-b5 he opens up more holes in his position.

Very under-rated game in the same league as Tal-Najdorf 1961 and Smyslov-Tal 1964 in my opinion

Jan-06-07  euripides: <key, mc> thanks for highlighting this fascinating game. On move 15, Tal appears to be about to overrun his opponent's kingside with the black pawns. Then Karpov or someone very like him steps in and stops the nonsense.
Jan-06-07  mcgee: Glad you like it. Tal said that the best games of the Montreal tournament were his win against Huebner and Karpov's win against Timman, but I don't think the loser ever got going in either of those games. This is more like it - a very challenging positional sacrifice and I love the quiet but deadly 37 Qc3 as well
Jun-29-08  HSS: This was the first time Kavalek and Tal ever played! That was a bit of a surprise.

Of course, they played each other a second time in this tournament but that was a short draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Tal won the brilliancy prize, but not for this game, which is a pity. Way back in 1979, I looked at his pawn sac and thought it was impossible this could be strong. As I got stronger, I began to think he had enough play for the pawn. At my best (which wasn't much), the sac started to look like a forced win. Another example of how the great ones are so far above us mere mortals.
Apr-07-12  talisman: In an an English Opening the American played boldly and riskily, trying to seize the initiative. I scrificed a pawn. The sacrifice was 100% justified, but should not have brought a decisive advantage.At any event, I achieved my aim, which was to force my opponent to defend. And Kavalek does not particularly like defending....Tal. Tal annotates this game and if anyone is interested I will post them.
Apr-07-12  King Death: This is an interesting example of a long term, true sacrifice where Tal got some positional compensation but it wasn't clear how much he really had for the pawn. The instructive part of this game is how he didn't try to force things after giving up the pawn but kept up his positional pressure until Kavalek cracked.
Apr-07-12  ephesians: In this major piece endgame, the issues of king safety and white's ability to promote a pawn mattered more Kavalek's nomimal material advantage.
Apr-07-12  Octal: <talisman> I'd love to see them.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <talisman> Yes, I would love to see those annotations.
Apr-07-12  talisman: <Octal> <keypusher> ok guys i'm boiling crawfish right now but i'll get started in about 2 hours.
Apr-07-12  talisman: OK guys here you go... got to it early but did not proofread. This is from Montreal 1979 Tournament of Stars Tal does most of the writing. 15...Nd4 The critical point of the game. The position is somewhat in the spirit of the Closed Variation of the Sicilian Defence, with the difference that black's bishop, instead of being in it's "agreed" place(g7) has been shifted to the other side of the board. White has played the opening restrainedly; Black, as can be seen, has played fairly expansively, and if he should succeed in driving away the knight from d5 and then playing...f5-f4, his attack, supported by his black squared bishop, may become dangerous. I considered myself obliged to fight for the initiative, and this dictated the following decision. 16.c5 c6

17.Nb6! on 17.Ne3 I did not care for 17...f4 18.Nec4 Bg4 At the cost of a pawn white eliminates the most dangerous enemy peice, and hopes to be the first to begin an attack. The pawn sacrifice is probably correct, but no more.

19...Qa7...The first concession-the queen is badly placed at a7, but after any other move, 20.e3 and then f2-f4 is highly unpleasant.

21.d4 The threat of opening the long diagonal forces Black to weaken his position.

24.Re1 Ng7 In order to enliven the game, White also begins to threaten his opponent on the Q-side.

28.Re2 All in an unhurried manner. White plans to double rooks , then move his knight, and perhaps play h2-h4 followed by Bc1, but all this is to a high degree abstract. Kavalek, who was short of time, began to grow nervous here. His following move leads to serious difficulties.

31.dxe5 Now White has not only a strong pawn at e5, but suddenly his powerful black-squared bishop come into play.

35.Bf1 The Bishop is switched to the highly attractive b1-h7 diagonal.

37.Qc3 Threatening 38. Ra1

39.Bd3 Black's position is already difficult, and the following time trouble blunder makes it simply hopeless.

40....40.Ra8 adjourned but it did not last long on resumption.

44.e6 From the a3-f8 diagonal, the bishop threatens to switch to the long diagonal.

46.Bf8 Resigns.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: The knight, might still live to see the end of the game, but the e-pawn doesn't seem like it would (cause it would be a queen!).
Apr-07-12  talisman: my intro is kind of misleading. These annotations are by Tal and only Tal. I meant to say that Tal does most of the writing in the book. He gives a summary before every round, and 80 to 90% of the annotations in the book.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <talisman> Thanks. What is the book?
Apr-07-12  talisman: <keypusher> "Montreal 1979 Tournament of Stars"- by Tal, V. Chepizhny, and A. Roshal. Pergamon Press listed under Tal, Mikhail Montreal 1979 in British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data. good stuff. He annotates 2-3 games from every round with a summary from each round.
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <talisman> Thank you sir. I have the "official" tournament book (in Russian) -- they didn't annotate this game, unfortunately.
Jul-04-17  veerar: Black opens his K-side and the exchange of the KB for a knight,gives Tahl,the Bishop pair.Black's Black square weakness is telling.
Apr-23-20  carpovius: Unusual game
Apr-23-20  carpovius: Crazy continuation: 46...Rxf8 47. Qxf8 Nxe6 48. Qf7+ Ng7 49. Rxc6 Qa1+ 50. Kg2 d4 51. Rc7 d3 52. Rd7 Qc3 53. Qf5+ Kh8 54. Rd8+ Ne8 55. Rxe8+ Kg7 56. Qf8+ Kg6 57. Re6+ Kh5 58. Qf7+ Kg4 59. Re4#
Apr-23-20  WorstPlayerEver: SF -19... Qc7 20. f4 gxf4 21. gxf4

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Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Afternoon: How amusing that the sacrifice I once considered so profound earns a “?” from the silicon monsters. Those non-carbon-based life forms have wreaked much havoc upon our fondest beliefs, haven’t they?
Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: How amusing that black's doubled Q+R on the a file add up to nothing. Kavalek was such a good player in the 1970's but Tal was such a great player in the 50's, 60's and 70's!
Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Afternoon: And now the silicon monsters call the position after 19.Nc4 *equal?!* Can't they make up their silicon minds?

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