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Fridrik Olafsson vs Mikhail Tal
Moscow (1971), Moscow URS, rd 1, Nov-24
English Opening: Symmetrical. Anti-Benoni Variation Spielmann Defense (A32)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
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Sep-15-14  Nick46: <Phony Benoni: Sign. Even Tal. Even Tal...> The back rank in this case being The Valley of the Shadow of Death
Premium Chessgames Member
  Once: <TheBish> An excellent post! I've got "Attack with Mikhail Tal" - one of my favourite books, but I haven't read it in ages. And you are quite right. This is the second game fragment in chapter 8.

Very refreshing for a former world champion to illustrate a point using one of his losses rather than one of his many wins.

Sep-15-14  stacase: Free Rook & Bishop
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: This puzzle came to me as almost too easy. However, taking the queen is not forced. Moves like 22...Qd8 (or the suggested 22...Nd8) and 22...Kh7 do make the game last longer, although I wouldn't play on either.
Sep-15-14  gars: I am very happy! First of all because I solved it in a glance. Second, and most important, because if even Tal can be caught in a first-rank mate, what can I, the weakest of all patzers, be afraid of ?? Chess-rabbits of all the countries, UNITE! You have nothing to loose but your silly games! Thanks a lot, friends at!!
Sep-15-14  eblunt: Oooops, I had the same back rank idea, but went 22 ♕xd7. if 22... ♖xd7 then 23 ♖e8++ so black loses the bishop. White is also Δ ♕xc8+ so black must move the ♖. black has the intermezzo 22 .... ♕f4+ 23 ♔b1, but still has lost the bishop.

Definately not as clean as the text, but still clearly winning.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Bubo bubo: Black's back rank turns out to be poorly defended: 22.Qxc8+! with mate or devastating material losses for Black following:

a) 22...Bxc8/Be8 23.R(x)e8#

b) 22...Qd8 23.Qxd8+ Nxd8 24.Rxd4. Black is already two rooks down and will lose one of his skewered minor pieces as well.

c) 22...Nd8 23.Qxd7, and since Rxd7 again fails to Re8#, Black is a rook and a bishop down.

d) 22...Kh7 23.Rxd4+, also with a huge material advantage for White.

Sep-15-14  Chess Dad: 22. Qxc8+ should be enough to get a resignation.

If 22... Bxc8 then Re8#

That takes care of "take the checking piece."

There are two other options. Move out of check is one. If 22... Kh7 then 23. Rxd4+ is a further disaster.

The final option, interposition, gives either 22... Nd8 or Qd8.

If 22... Qd8, then 23. Qxd8+ Nxd8 leaves white up the rook. If 22... Nd8, then 23. Qxd7 puts the threat of Re8# back in play, and there's really no good defense after that.

But really, I'd like to know how Tal got himself into this mess.

Sep-15-14  YetAnotherAmateur: If you really want to see material fly off the board, then you interpose with Qd8, because

22. Qxc8+ Qd8 23. Qxd8 Nxd8 24. Rxd4

And it gets worse, because the Bd7 is pinned against Rxd8#. So black is left with a single knight versus 2 rooks, a knight, and a bishop. Yeah, not going to happen.

Sep-15-14  Sally Simpson: "There are two kinds of chess players in this world. Those that have been back rank mated and those that are going to be back rank mated." Russian Proverb.

You could show a hundred examples of back rank mate to any student of the game but it won't make a jot of difference. It has to happen to them before the lesson sinks in. Feel the burn.

All this puzzle has done is remind me of a play-off final I won 2-1. I cannot remember one move of the two games I won but I do recall my loss. Back rank mated (it was not even a combo but a one move threat!)

Comparing Tal's blunder to Kasparov's missed win based on a weak rank...

Kasparov vs Ribli, 1989 not really correct. This was a blunder, a simple slip. It happens even to a genius such was Tal.

Kasparov's miss is a combination for him to win, not missing a threat against him.

Premium Chessgames Member
  patzer2: After 22. Qxc8+ Nd8, I found myself trying to figure out whether 23. Qxd7 or 23. Rxd4 was the better win.

For what it's worth, Fritz 12 @ 21 depth gives 23. Qxd7 (+20.33) as a first choice while 23. Rxd4 (+9.51) is a seventh choice.

Sep-15-14  Castleinthesky: Found it fairly quickly. I was surprised that Tal was black and noticed that he played in an un-Tal like manner throughout the tournament (lots of draws). Perhaps he was not in the best of health, as this was his main impediment throughout his career (enhanced by the fact that he chain smoked). Anyway, even one of my favorites has his bad days.
Sep-15-14  Lighthorse: Thanks, <TheBish>, for that great book extract!!
Sep-15-14  Marmot PFL: This was game was played in Round 1.

Tal quote - <In the first round three grandmasters lost, and I was one of them. That didn’t surprise me at all, because it was my sixth tournament in row when I lost in the first round>

That was much earlier (1960), but first round blunders continued to plague Tal in later years as well.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kevin86: An irony: If this had not been a Monday puzzle, I may have missed the queen sac and mate next- or black could save the game at the loss of a rook.
Sep-15-14  PJs Studio: Tal gives me great comfort with this simple oversight.
Sep-15-14  Capacorn: I saw the correct reply in a couple of seconds. It's astounding to see one of the greatest tacticians of all time fall to a tactic he would normally see in his sleep. Makes me feel a lot better about the countless blunders I've committed over the years. :)
Sep-15-14  Edeltalent: <eblunt: Oooops, I had the same back rank idea, but went 22 Qxd7. if 22... Rxd7 then 23 Re8++> ...Rxe8.

<Definately not as clean as the text> No, definitely not ;-)

Sep-15-14  WJW147: Good Morning. I am not exactly certain what time this puzzle changes again as being in Australia makes it difficult. The Monday Puzzle (it is Tuesday for me) is a PUZZLE. How can it be a "flawed POTD"? <gofer: Hmmm, I think for once we have a flawed POTD on a Monday! We have to continue quite a few moves into the combination to give the clear win as the usual queen sacrifice doesn't lead to a quick mate - just a quick win!> Where is this Flaw??
Sep-15-14  eblunt: <Edeltalent> Even bigger oops ... thank you
Sep-15-14  BOSTER: <Pjs Studio: Tal gives me great comfort with this simple oversight>. That which is allowed to Jupiter is not allowed to ox.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chrisowen: (Mana tis c8 whistle up ride come back band for one:)

a flight aim cred clear the path c8 as elevate clutched at fly dead to bang rights among effect;

as cap blow bonds am ok food for thought in act be a 21...Rc8 came as an enclave channels i net rook as wheel up ride cares each to his own case c8 rave on about courted a lane crunched careless at just a sec drum coughers hunch effect he cuff

blank sans hoof etc lance shuffle at a 21...Bg4
fetch back fleece c8 him gold to be had i gas at

bunched c8 bud had enough as hand hood rough borough trough as i gave spark to life batch ok ever impact choke back cob g4 too gnaw away basic;

ever botch job brave call cob altogether bind cab g4 over now be caught toot strung up ply a light cause black aim g4 out leggy rates encircles ace at the pack creed and colour at case etc able see lane c8 bishop act give gull buster e8 great and the good station gare bus back gash and ply g4

goad enough ghoul at he come around bag band ragged bug for catch unaware c8 up stub a glib for dash hand holed out gag c8 egg on hushed tones fag give flog gave rig g4 aim goofed a c8 garcon a cyclones abound to cop off a delve ogle glean hoofed dry to fluffs aka in it now am ruddy heck do it dint as ear etc am dutifuls act i drive as to doors aim deed gives act hold fetch an go dug efface up path court change ash farm c8 a dare try dude at curious a plentiful crum pivot able caused devious at hear etc bore ha ide 4g frames at bare for flog c8 up and down act record a c8 service aim g4 ar ment old smile on cycle a picks local;

gander c7 at up 22.Qxc8+ alm hunch a rook off hash to head flag up holo sweet as c8 hush churlish i plod act lick dove from above at challenge creative vibe a credible stone or never conquers his baby c8 fear mind have cuff ghost check fang for bishop gash cliff bash an chill ok hash over board it ardent ave bade niv c8 lash chip off

old block stone the cro-weave at ok 22...Bxc8 mate as one nd8 got monarch g8 trussed garrelous at rook and bishop applies sans am front back rank mate cant be prevented as low same pop nack c8 q;

in sri g4 nah leeway a c8darned slim man pop soppy frame qu it arks ive cherubim descend c8 on key;


Sep-15-14  Mendrys: This puzzle very much reminds me of, and perhaps was inspired by Kamsky's blunder yesterday agains Meins:

Kamsky vs G Meins, 2014

A rook move that looks good at first glance but ends up being a disaster that turns a fairly even game into a route. A move that causes a 1500 player to face palm after seeing the retort.

Sep-15-14  TheBish: <Once> Thanks for the compliment! It's nice to be recognized, even nicer to be appreciated!!
Sep-14-17  iking: TALlied 1-0.
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