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Mikhail Tal vs Johann Hjartarson
"Broken Hjarted" (game of the day Apr-05-2018)
Reykjavik (1987), Reykjavik ISL, rd 2, Feb-20
Spanish Game: Closed Variations. Chigorin Defense (C97)  ·  1-0



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Given 74 times; par: 57 [what's this?]

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Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: This really is an incredible game by Tal. Remember that Hjartarson, around the same time, was strong enough to qualify for the Candidates matches - but Tal bamboozles him after the astonishing Rc5!!

As some people here have said -- the honest ones -- moves like this simply aren't on most people's radar. Masters included.

Even more impressive, in a sense, is Tal's positional maneuvering before he unleashes the tactical blizzard.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Dom....As some people here have said -- the honest ones -- moves like this simply aren't on most people's radar. Masters included.>

I'll sign that.

My internal reaction on seeing 36.Rc5 on playing through this game for the first time (only last night) was 'where the **** did <that> come from?'

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: <perf> Yep, it's true. I'm in awe of this game -- which I think I first saw in Burgess's 'Mammoth Book of Chess Games' (which I no longer have, but the memory of this one stuck!).

Thanks for reminding me.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Domdaniel: BTW, have you seen Game Collection: 50 games better than that other Tal game. ...?

Hyperbole, of course ... though, as it's Tal, there are many brilliant games. I'm still inclined to put this one way up there -- the extended bout of positional maneuvering, which some people find dull or routine, makes the game even better in my eyes.

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Pawn and Two: It takes Fritz a while, 20 ply in fact, before it could confirm that Tal's move 36.Rc5!!, is the best choice.> For whatever it's worth todays F15 needs only 16 ply...
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: The ending is a far better try but is it sufficient even to draw, much less win? 38...Rxb8! deserves at least one exclam for imagination. 39. Bxh6 Nxh6 and where do we stand?

click for larger view

I'm not sure I like this position for white. First of all, how is he going to progress? He has to play 40. b5, because black is threatening Bxc6 and Rxb4 which is really quite nasty. Now after b5 black has 40...Nc5 and is threatening to e pawn, which isn't an easy target to defend. Which probably has to play 41. Qb1, but then 41...Nf6 forces 42. Nd2. Then 43. h5!! and white is in zugzuang, as he can't let any of his pawns fall and he can't really do anything on the board. The queen is worthless, the passed pawn can't make a home run. I think black can win this position, but a draw would be sufficient and easy.

However, after this series of moves...

click for larger view

Where 39. Ncxe5!! is played instead of Bxh6, things look a little different. The first thing to note is that black cannot take because Bxh6 is now completely crushing. But black has a clever try that could make white think.

39...Rxb4!! Something about this move is stunning. White has to play very accurately to combat it. I'm almost tempted to give equal chances to both sides. 40. Qxb4? doesn't work as 40...Qa1+ Qb1 41. Qxb1 Bxb1 42. dxe5 Nxe5 Ba4 and the white b pawn is indefensible and white is down a rook. Instead white must play another completely brilliant move.

40. Qc3!

click for larger view

This brilliant and quiet move looks completely completely, but black has one last trick up his sleeve. 40...Rb1+!! 41. Bxb1
(41. Kh2 Qa1! Threatening both mate and the trade of queens. 42. Qxa1 is forced because white will lose his queen or his king on any other move. 42...Rxa1 and the position looks like this.

click for larger view

Ultimately, though white will pick the LSB, the exchange down makes the ending an easy win for black.)

41...Nb5 black must threaten the queen again, or there is no chance of holding the position. 42. Qb2 dxe5
43. Qxe5+ Qf6
44. Qb8

click for larger view

I think white is winning for one very important reason: The golden rule. Though black has an extra piece, white has a positional advantage, the two central pawns central barreling down. Let's confirm this with some analysis shall we?

Black's best try is 44...Qa1 which wins the bishop, but white may not even care, as after 45. e5!! Qxb1
46. Kh2 and white is safe. There is nothing black can do. White will queen his central pawns or black will lose all his pieces trying to stop them. Tal really was such a genius.

May-01-16  john barleycorn: <Johnnysaysthankyou: The ending is a far better try but is it sufficient even to draw, much less win? 38...Rxb8! deserves at least one exclam for imagination. 39. Bxh6 Nxh6 and where do we stand?...>

Do you mean 38...Rxb8 39.Bxa6 Nxa6 ?

then 40.Nxb8 is most satisfying, isn't it?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Yep, I botched typing up my analysis and didn't realize till you pointed it out. Bxa6 Bxc6 Nxh6 b5 and I think white is probably winning. Probably.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Hell, Bxc6 Nxc7 is even better. This is over.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: I'm hallucinating sorry.
Jun-28-16  clement41: Rc5!! monster move in a seemingly positional ruy lopez
Mar-02-17  ProLogik: Hjartson didn't anticipate 36. ♖c5, which can be excusable when the game was positional up until that point and there may have been time pressure.

But he should have seen that white's queen, knight, and rook established a mating net around black's king. Based on the circumstances, 40. ... ♖a1 was a blunder.

May-20-17  Eduardo Bermudez: How wonderful was the white knight that went from b1 to g8 in twelve harmonic and very effective moves !!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Clement Fraud: <Eduardo Bermundez> Yes indeed... the white queen's knight finishing up on black's KN1 square; and in the final position, every single one of white's pieces is taking part in the mating attack! In this game, Tal really lives up to Bronstein's view of chess as "part science" and "part art".

I've a feeling that black's difficulties began when he overlooked that white could play 19.b4, thus preventing black from placing his knight on the intended c5 square (and the resulting queenside piece regroupment cost black too many tempi). A masterpiece from Mikhail Tal!

Apr-05-18  dhotts: Amazing game, first time I have seen it...No doubt that 36.Rc5 is the killer move, even stockfish did not understand how good that move was at first, as it rated 36.Nfxe5 as slightly better at +0.6 vs Rc5 at 0.45.
Apr-05-18  goodevans: Stockfish sometimes leaves me completely baffled. It gives <37...Bxc6 38.dxc6 Qxc6 39.Ra5 Rc8 40.Ng5 Kh6 41.Nf7+ Kg7 ⩲ +1.19 (35 ply)> but at the end of that sequence there doesn't appear to be anything better than to repeat the position with <42.Ng5>.

Surely that can't be right?

Apr-05-18  Ironmanth: Amazing; like some others, my first view of this game. Amazing little "nibbling" improvements and piece-dancing made by Mischa, then 36.Rc5!! blew me away; had to check to make sure it was not an error. Surgical and lethal thing of beauty, this attack!
Apr-05-18  The Kings Domain: Nice to see this classic featured once again. The move 36) Rc5! is a bolt out of the blue and one of the great moves of the game. It's no surprise Tal was in the Top 10 that late into his career. Good pun too. :-)
Apr-05-18  morfishine: <Ironmanth> You broke rule 27.1568-D, which states "No post will include the over-used and worn-out adjective 'amazing' more than once" (preferably none). Violators will be banned from posting at <CG> for a period of time not less than 24 hours & not more than 72 hours.


Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: So today I will sing "Wonderfull Grace" under the shower.
Apr-05-18  morfishine: <mornonvich> Please have your shower turned on full blast to drown out any residual off-key notes attempting to escape
Apr-06-18  Toribio3: Two killer knights are vintage calculations of Tal. During those days, they did not have any computer software that deals with this kind tactical combinations.
Apr-30-18  Justin796: What a beast lol...
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: After 36. Rc5 I would say, "What have you taken?"
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