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Friday, February 20, 2015

Tahl vs Keller, Zurich 1959

     In 1959 the Schachgesellschaft Zürich celebrated its 150th anniversary with a tournament. Besides Bobby Fischer, they invited Botvinnik, the world champion at the time, but he declined. It was probably a good thing because Mikhail Tahl took his place.
     Everybody knows Tahl, but his opponent in this game is largely unknown. Dieter Keller (born 19 July 1936) is a Swiss chess master who was Swiss Champion in 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1963. He played for Switzerland in three Olympiads with modest results (+9 -9 =17). He was awarded the International Master title in 1961 and his last FIDE rating is 2359; he has been inactive since 2003.
Dieter Keller
     In this tournament Keller beat Fischer in their game and the another highlight of the tournament was his spectacular loss to Tahl. What's fascinating about this game is that in his book The Life and Games of Mikhail Tahl, Tahl provided only a diagram and the last 20 moves of this game, writing, "I did not want to give a faulty analysis, and to work through it to the end is, I am afraid , hardly possible."
     Robert Huebner annotated it though. The first time his annotations were filled with errors and later Garry Kasparov copied Huebner's notes, mistakes and all. Huebner later corrected his notes; it took him 43 pages!  I'm just giving the highlights here but the complications are incredible. Tahl finally wrapped things up with his amazing 29th move.


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