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Monday, March 28, 2011

Tahl - Bhend, Zurich 1959

      In celebration of the 150th anniversity of the founding of the Zurich Chess Club an international tournament was held at Zurich from May 19 to June 8, 1959. Ten foreign players, including 8GM’s, played against six of the top Swiss masters. Tal (+10 -2 =3) was first with 11.5, Gligoric second with 11, while Fischer and Keres tied for third; Bobby scoring +8=5-2.
      I remember a postal opponent from England sent me a tournament book containing all the (unannotated) games from the event which was quite a prize because such books were hard to come by in those days. One of the biggest surprises was Tahl's upset by the Swiss Master Edwin Bhend. The other was Fischer’s near loss to another Swiss master, Edgar Walther, but Fischer finally managed to hang on for a draw. That game appeared in Fischer’s
60 Memorable Games.
      Of the players in this game, Tahl needs no introduction, but Bhend is little known. Edwin Bhend (September 9, 1931) was awarded the IM title in 1960 and in the 50s, 60s and 70’s was on of the leading Swiss players.

Edwin Bhend - a recent photo
What makes this game interesting is a typical Tahl sacrifice on move 22, but his position went downhill rapidly when he played the uncharacteristic retreat 25.Bc2. Another thing I found interesting was several opportunities to reach positions similar to the one occurring in the analysis to Black’s 26th move:
      This position is evaluated by Houdini as being 3-1/3 P’s in Black’s favor. To me it looks like it’s “unclear” and therefore offers equal chances. I can only assume that Houdini is correct in this evaluation because despite the unbalanced material situation Bhend demonstrated good technique in forcing the win.

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