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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Warts are Beautiful

     Tahl was unlike any other world champion. His predecessor, Botvinnik, was cold and aloof, but Tahl was sociable. Botvinnik's play was precise, but Tahl's was unpredictable. With Tahl, when a stranger accosted him and started discussing chess he was agreeable. Botvinnik, or any number of other GM's for that matter, acting in this fashion would have been unthinkable. 
     Known as “The Magician from Riga”, Tahl was an attacking player known for his imaginative play. He often sacrificed material for the initiative...the ability to make threats to which the opponent must respond. The result was complications that many opponents found impossible to solve even though postmortem analysis often uncovered serious flaws in Tahl's play. Such a style was often deprecated by some. For instance, former World Champion Vasily Smyslov referred to Tahl's combinations as “nothing more than tricks.”
     The following typical Tahl game is one of the most complicated ones he ever played. It starts with a risky sacrifice and Koblents missed every chance he was offered and fell into all the traps and unfavorable variations that were on the board. Most of the annotations I have seen were done in the pre-engine days, things were missed in the annotations and, as it turns out, the play of BOTH players left a lot to be desired. Some writers have used this game as an example of how Pawn sacrifices can be used to open files for the Rooks in order to attack the enemy King, but in doing so they neglected to point out a lot of missed opportunities for both players. One writer even admitted that Koblents could have defended much better, but he was not going to point out the places where he could have done so because he did not want the reader to miss Tahl's flashy finish. Yes, the game IS exciting and a lot of fun to play over, but is not the brilliant game it was originally thought to be.
     Even after analyzing this game with Stockfish 7 and running a bunch of Shootouts from various positions, I am pretty sure that a few refutations and better moves were missed. If you really want to pull your hair out, try playing through this game on a real board and visualizing everything!  Like many of Tahl's games, it's still a great one even with the warts.  As for Koblents' play, he was not the only one that was ever befuddled by Tahl's genius. 


1 comment:

  1. Totally insane position after 33. R1h6, with all three of the White heavy pieces jammed up in one corner of the board.