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Monday, November 8, 2010

Tahl-Botvinnik World Championship 1960 Game 11

The following game was one of the key games of the match. Botvinnik had the momentum after winning games 8 & 9 to close within one point but the loss of this game left the normally imperturbable Botvinnik psychologically shattered. Tahl’s trainer Koblentz said, “Botvinnik, a man of strong will, who was capable of hiding his emotions, left the stage literally broken, and behind his horned-rimmed glasses his eyes were incredibly sad... At this moment he appeared to me to be very unhappy.” This game also shows that Tahl also knew how to play positional chess and was more than just a swindler.

Calculating tactical lines often fails to be satisfactory. If you have a superior position and there are no immediate tactical threats you must find a way to improve your position. To this end a tentative plan is helpful. You need to draw up a “wish list” of piece setups. To this end you begin with an objective then constantly check it tactically. Hopefully, when your plan is successful, the balance will eventually tip in your favor and you can then launch the decisive attack.

The short version of finding an attacking plan is 1) Deciding on a point to attack 2) Figuring out what pieces are required and any P-breaks that will be necessary 3) Determining the path to get your pieces into the desired positions 4) Calculating the exact sequence of moves being sure to include possible defensive replies 5) Modifying you ‘plan” as required 6) Constantly reassessing the position at critical points. This results in planning an attack, calculating variations and, if necessary, modifying the plan.

One difference between games of the older masters and modern day players lies in items 5 and 6. In older games you often see games where a plan is executed flawlessly and the clash of ideas is clear because the loser did not defend until it was too late. Modern players tend to play games where plans are adopted for a few moves and when the plan becomes obsolete, they toss it out and replace it with a new one. The result is ‘plans’ are often nothing more than short maneuvers, lasting 2-4 moves, designed to place a piece on a better square for example. Modern players rely on intuition and imagination, often accepting positions that older masters would have looked at in horror, as long as the play is dynamic enough.

Nowadays sticking with a plan too long is often as bad as not having one at all. In the following game both players adopted plans that were only partially completed when they had to be abandoned to meet changing conditions. In this game both players used strategic and tactical weapons against each other.


  1. Awesome master game ! Many thanks for this jewel. I'm feeling lucky to have your blog on my feeds, it's really very enlightening.

    Strategy, tactics, intuition, technique, pure brilliancy... I haven't the right words to say what every game presented here is.

    So, my appreciation goes to your fortunate choices on every new posting here.

    Go on ! Long live to Chess !

  2. Thanks. I do like the idea of posting a game by all the World Champions, particularly the games that I remember as making an impression on me.