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Mikhail Tal vs Saeed-Ahmed Saeed
Taxco Interzonal (1985), Taxco MEX, rd 3, Jun-12
Queen's Gambit Declined: Modern. Knight Defense (D51)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Aug-13-15  CHESSTTCAMPS: There are few winning plans to consider in a position like this and white is not likely to tiptoe around the defending Q+R to execute a checkmate against the black king. So white should focus on endgames after swapping queens, where white's connected passed pawns supported by well-posted bishop will be potent. But it's even worse than that for black - the rook can be trapped:

55.Qxg5 Rxg5 56.Bg6! Kg7 57.Kh4 Kf6 (Kh6 runs into the same problem) 58.b3! and black can resign or be pushed into zugzwang, e.g. 58... a6 (Rxg6 59.hxg6 is won with or without opposition) 59.b4 a5 60.bxa5 bxa5 61.a4 and black's dark-square blockade is over - Rxg6 62.hxg6 Kxg6 63.Kg4 and white can promote the g-pawn. Even without opposition, white would win the e-pawn and the game.

Aug-13-15  Pedro Fernandez: A puzzle purely theoretical. And for Tal the move 55.Qxg5/ending was a joke! But any amateur player who be more or less versed in endings, it would have played it. K+B+2 free linked pawns are eminently superior to K+R, period. But more trivially, black queenside could be dismantled by the white king if were the case.
Aug-13-15  dfcx: After 55.Qxg5 Rxg5 56.Bg6

The black rook is trapped.

56...Kg7 57.Kh4 Kf5/Kh5 58.b3

Now white waits patiently for black to exhaust all the pawn moves and finally forced to give up its rook with ...Rxg6

White will then win the final pawn gave with a passed pawn.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: After 4 hours, Fritzie is calling it like this:

56. Bg6 +3.58
56. g4 +3.00

In other words, either move works.

Aug-13-15  saturn2: My first attempt was 55 Qd6 and win the pawn d5. But black can go to a square were Qd5 does not check and also the threats Qxh5 and Qxg4++ remain. Therefore I came to the conclusion white should trade queens. However I was content with 56 g4 and missed 56Bg6.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <However, wouldn't 38. f7 have won in more conventional fashion?> Absolutely yes!

38. f7! is the only move to give White winning chances as the alternatives allow Black to equalize.

For example, the game move 38. Qf4?! allows 38. Qxg6! which levels out after 38... Qxg6! 39. f7 Qb1+ 40. Kh2 Rh3+! 41. gxh3 Qxb2+ 42. Kg3 Qxa3+ 43. Kxg4 Kg7 = (0.00 @ 27 depth, Deep Fritz 14).

After 38. f7!, Fritz gives best play as 38...Qf8 39. Qf4 Re1+ 40. Kh2 (+1.46 @ 27 depth), which, coincidentally, transposes to the game after 40. f7 .

Of course it's better to arrive at the game's 40th move via 38. f7! Qf8 39. Qf4 Re1+ 40. Kh2 , since 38. Qf4?! is a mistake which allows Black to equalize with 38...Qxg6! =.

P.S.: Of course there's no way I saw Tal's brilliant 34. Nf4!! to even have the opportunity to find 38. f7! .

Aug-13-15  Chess Dad: This puzzle shows the failure of the material point count that beginners learn, and show the power of position and tempo which I'm still trying to get better at.

I saw the Qxg3# threat unless something forcing was done, and that I could easily trade queens and then be at a B+2P vs. R material difference, which according to point count is an equal game.

At this point, I'd be guessing as to a way to promote one pawn, and win the game. But great players like Tal can quickly see that the Rook is very limited. It's safe on g5 as long as the King is on h6.

And somebody like me stops thinking about winning the rook since I can't. Heck, I might even move the g3 pawn up before I need to skip a turn on the queenside, thereby losing the game.

But Tal thinks "I've got the rook trapped. He can't move to the d-file because of his own pawn, the e-file because of my pawn, the f-file because of the Bishop, and the h-file for the same reason. He can take the Bishop at g6, but then the pawn takes and the g3 pawn is decisive. Yeah, my Bishop also can't move, so the game comes down to who can get a passed pawn on the a or b files. I have a spare tempo to spend on g4, so I'll win that little game or we'll lock up, forcing him to move the K or R."

After seeing the answer it's so clear. The part that isn't clear is why Fritz gives 56. Bg6 only a 3.58 rating at the four hour point.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: White impels the black rook into a California Roach Motel and captures said rook with a zugzwang squeeze a few moves later.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jimfromprovidence: If black goes with 57...Kf6, white can win by dropping the bishop down and pushing the h pawn.

One example is 57...Kf6 58 g4 a6 59 Bd1.

click for larger view

Now if 59...Rg8, then 60 h6, etc.

click for larger view

Aug-13-15  BOSTER: <Pedro Fernandez: 55.Qxg5 ending was a joke>.

You need a good sense of humor to understand chess joke.

Zugzwang required a lot of calculation, this is why I didn't see the solution.

But watching the game I found something interesting.

This is the pos. white to play 21.

click for larger view

Here Tal was in hurry and played Qh6,and couple moves later the queen returned back on h4.

So, I decided that white should <lure> black queen from "f8" square.

Let's try 21.Nxd5. If white can put the knight on e7, white will be better.

After 21...Qxd5 we have forced line.
22.Qh6 Ne6 23.Bf5
if gxf5 24.Rf4 and Rh4 if Qd6 24.Bxe6 Qf8 25.Qxf8 Kxf8 26.Bxd7 and white is a piece up.

How Deep Fritz14 did not count it? Am I wrong?

Aug-13-15  Longview: <chessdad> you are in my head today. I needed all of that. thanks.
Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: Tal's 50. Bh7!? is a move I found puzzling.

Fritz indicates 50. Bh7 wins, but much stronger is 50. g4! when play might continue 50...Re1 51. g5 Qxg5+ 52. Qxg5 hxg5 53. h6+ Kf8 54. h7 Kg7 55. h8=Q+ Kxh8 56. f8=Q#.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: <BOSTER> After 21. Nxd5?, Black wins with 21...Qxd5 22. Qh6 Ne6 23. Bf5 gxf5 24. Rf4 Bc6! (-3.05 @ 20 depth, Deep Fritz 14) as Black's mate threat gives him time to defend.

After 24...Bc6! (diagram below) in this line,

click for larger view

play might continue 25. e4 (25. Rf3 Kh8 ) 25...fxe4 26. Rg4+ Kh8 27. Rg7 Qf5 (-2.91 @ 23 depth, Deep Fritz 14).

Aug-13-15  Howard: Uhhhhhh......wasn't this the game from the 1985 Taxco Interzonal, which Tal had to win TWICE due to a mistake in placing Black's two queenside pawns, when the game was adjourned ?!

Andy Soltis had a column about this game back in the late 1980's, as I recall.

I'm almost sure this was the game !

Premium Chessgames Member
  gawain: A very fine finish. Great chess vision by the wonderful Tal.
Aug-13-15  Howard: Fellow Tal fans, it WAS this game. Just did a bit of digging, and Tal won five games (and no losses !) in this event. One of them was a forfeit win against Balashov, who withdrew late in the tournament. Of the remaining four wins, two were with White---and Tal had the White pieces in the game which I just alluded to. The other White win only went 26 moves, so it's not likely that that game was "adjourned."

Besides, the game definitely looks pretty familiar to me. As Soltis stated in this column, the second session had to be played TWICE, and Tal won both times.

Aug-13-15  goodevans: Ooh, I do like a nice Zugzwawg, me. Today I'm doubly spoilt with both the puzzle and the GOTD, Anand vs Van Wely, 1997.

Got today's puzzle double quick. The Zugzwang in today's GOTD is a bit more subtle.

Aug-13-15  BOSTER: <patzer2: 24...Bc6 gives time to defend>. Even after 28.g4 white win the queen this is not enough. Thanks for analysis.
Aug-13-15  YouRang: <Once: After 4 hours, Fritzie is calling it like this:

56. Bg6 +3.58
56. g4 +3.00

In other words, either move works.>

Just for laughs, I plugged the position into Houdini 4. For a while, the two moves were evaluating about the same (with a slight preference for 55.g4). But eventually, 55.Bg6 took a sizeable lead:

Houdini_4_x64B @ 35 ply:
+12.16 56.Bg6 Kg7 57.Kh4 Kf6 58.b3 a6 59.g4 Rxg6

+7.05 56.g4 Rg7 57.Kg3 Rf7 58.Kf4 Rc7 59.g5 Rc1

+0.78 56.Bg4 Rg7 57.Kh4 Rf7 58.h6 Rf2 59.Kg5 Kf7

Regardless, one of the big differences between engines and humans is that engines are equally happy with a winning position whether it has complications or not.

For people, arriving at a simple position that is clearly winning is much more convincing. In this case, 55.Bg6 gets there faster. The rook is going to be taken, so it's over.

Aug-13-15  Tiggler: I chose 56. g4 . Seems to be just as good.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <YouRang: For people, arriving at a simple position that is clearly winning is much more convincing.>

Well, yes and no. I found 56. g4, saw that it was winning and so stopped looking for better moves. That's laziness on my part, but I think it's also a pragmatic way to play the game.

The interesting point is defining what constitutes a "simple position that is clearly winning". For me, 56. g4 was precisely that. A rook cannot hold back two connected passed pawns with a bishop and king in close attendance. It's a simple and clear win.

It's an instance when judgement takes over from calculation. Incidentally, there is a similar instance in the 56. Bg6 line. Black can throw the rook away immediately with 56. Bg6 Rxg6 57. hxg6 Kg7

click for larger view

White's advantage is only a pawn (after black takes on g6), but any decent player will be able to see that this is an easy win. The white g pawn will keep the black king busy while the white king wanders over to the queenside and sweeps up all the pawns.

Is 56. Bg6 stronger than 56. g4? It looks more convincing because the rook trap appeals to our more basic materialistic instincts. But it isn't a true rook trap because Black can exchange his rook for pawn and bishop.

Both moves win and in fairly straightforward fashion. Both are clearly winning. I wish I had seen Bg6, but don't feel heartbroken because my move works too.

Aug-14-15  YouRang: <Once> Indeed, a win is a win, and so 56.g4 is just as good.

Perhaps it's purely subjective then and a minor issue, but as black, I'd resign immediately if I faced the forced king and passed-pawn game that follows 56.Bg6, e.g.

click for larger view

After 56.g4 Rg7, I still have my rook and time to deliver some checks, with barely enough complications to hope for a white blunder.

For example: 56.g4 Rg7 57.Kh4 Rc7 58.g5 Rc1 59.h6 Rh1+

click for larger view

With any luck, white may be careless enough to play 60.Bh3?, and then 60...Kf7 61.Kg4 Kg6 should draw.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: Keeping the rook on does give black some chances, which is why 56. Bg6 is a better move than 56. g4. But I would still expect to win after 56. g4.

You are quite right that the ugly 60. Bh3 would throw away the win, but who would want to walk into a pin and put the bishop on a square where it takes no part in the coronation? Instead 60. Kg4 and white is fine. His king will make it to e5 or g6 and it will all be over.

Aug-30-17  Howard: Stop the presses! It turns out that the volume Tal the Invincible (the third and final volume in the Tal trilogy) comes out in late September, and it will include this game..

...including a detailed account of the mixup regarding the adjourned position, which ended up requiring the game to be won "twice" on Tal's part!

Just got an email about the book, including an excerpt giving this game.

Looking forward to the book !

Mar-16-21  Gaito: This was the famous game that had to be won twice by Tal. It had been adjourned in the following position:

click for larger view

The next day the game had to be resumed, but one of the organizers, whose name I don't want to remember but who was an absent-minded fellow, placed the pieces in the following incorrect position, and apparently neither of the players noticed that White's Q-side pawns had been placed in different squares:

click for larger view

At 6:00 PM in the afternoon the game was resumed, and finally at about 11:30 at night Black resigned. Tal behaved very nicely and during the post-mortem analysis showed his young opponent the correct defense, and pointed a out a way where Black could have drawn this ending.

Both players were very tired, and they were about to go to sleep, when suddenly somebody noticed that the position where they started to resume the adjourned game had been wrongly placed. What to do?

According to the rules, they had to play the game again starting from the correct adourned position. Tal said: "All right, let us play it out now", but his young opponent said he was tired and requested that the game be resumed the next day. "Out of the question", said the arbiter, "the game has to be played now, as a new adjourment would interfere with the schedule of the next round", but Saeed insisted that it was almost midnight and he was tired. Then Tal said: "Are you tired? I am tired too, and I am fifty years old. How old are you? Eighteen? Let's play it out now". The game was resumed again, and Black finally resigned at about 3:00 a.m.

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