I saw the beginning of variation 1, but couldn’t verify the other variations because I did not see the power, in the other variation, of 20) Be3!

I think that chess is a “performing art”. Karpov called it a sport, but exactly so because he didn’t see it wise to entertain possibly speculative variations, variations which probably didn’t seem justified to do for someone seeking a sporting result.

In the game, Larsen avoids these and quickly gives the piece back to keep a clean-looking board with seemingly equal chances. The real game didn’t take me long to analyze, Tal played it brilliantly and I don’t think Larsen had any way out. But the Nb6 variation that Larsen never played took me a couple of hours to analyze! Perhaps Tal had already spent a long time over the board on those variations and Larsen saw to shift the focus.

Game 1 seemed like the best practical chance, if not ugly. There may have been a way out in there for Black in that variation. Black was up a pawn for ten’s of moves, but Crafty kept giving the nod to White the whole way. But oh yeah, Tal was looking 30 moves ahead! Probably not. I’m thinking it was his artistic instincts that told him he had the nod.

I still haven’t analyzed the part of the game leading up to the sacrifice, but suffice it to say that Tal’s style of opening treatment foreshadows the result.

Black could have played 0-0 instead of taking the knight, where 17.Nd6 BxN 18.exB gives White what seems to me to be a dangerous passed pawn, with c2-c4-c5 to follow, but White also could have played 17. Nd4, I guess, kicking Black’s queen.


5 thoughts on “Tal_vs_Larsen

  1. Having played over a few of Tals games i can never work out where the tactics,sacrifices or just general exciting moves come from.
    I read once that when asked do you calculate all your variations he replied “not always if i think a move looks good then i play it”
    Perhaps theirs hope for us all!!!!!

    p.s any luck on the job front?

  2. No, thanks for asking, I gotta get that in gear. 🙂

    I saw Tal on video from a local chess club once, he had been there. It was a simul, and he was still blitzing out these bizarre moves. When it got down to the last few people, he was still making weird moves that didn’t look like they worked (I wasn’t analyzing really), but he appeared to have won all his games regardless. I think he was smoking while he was playing/thinking deeply. With Tal, it seemed like the answer to every sacrifice was another one, so at any given point it looked bad, but the dust never settled.

  3. My friend played with Tal in simul, he was very impressed. You can read about it in my old post:

    As Kasparov said about him:

    “He was the only one I knew who didn’t calculate the variants, he saw them. We calculate: he does this then I do that. And Tal, through all the thick layers of variants, saw that around the 8th move, it will be so and so. Some people can see the mathematical formulae, they can imagine the whole picture instantly. An ordinary man has to calculate, to think this through, but they just see it all.” Pure genius, what can I say.

  4. Yes, I believe you are right, RP. When the camera showed Tal’s face at the simul, I mean he maybe took 2 minutes on a few moves during the last game or two, when the others were defeated, but you could see by his eyes that he was coming up with creative hacks, seemingly unworried by the need to calculate but more by the need to create.

    Karpov once said of Tal in an endgame (Tal wasn’t known for his endgames) that he kept looking around for something to sacrifice (when Karpov thought he should just play straightforward moves since he was already winning). IOW, to Karpov it looked like Tal was making the position out to be harder than it actually was, and in danger of drawing.

    Silman says that you are to be looking to create favorable imbalances (or at least to simply stir the pot really fast), and Tal seemed to be second to none at doing that.

    I don’t even have all my Kortchnoi books anymore, but it’s amazing how we remember these quotes. Kortchnoi actually said “if Tal sacrifices something, calculate it” He also said if some other guy, can’t remember who, sacs then it’s always good. He said it in regards to the fact that Tal seemed to own Fischer (9-1, I think), whereas Kortchnoi owned Tal, and Geller or Petrosian fit into there somehow, can’t remember who beat who consistently. Tal had some winning positions against Kortchnoi, though, I seem to recall, but screwed them up somehow, not sure what the pattern was there, maybe he was frustrated by Kortchnoi or something.

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