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  Welcome to MY web page on the 5th greatest game of chess ever played. Many hours of work went into bringing you this page. I hope you enjoy it.  (page-banner, tal-fis1.gif; 05KB)

  M. Tal (2633) - R.J. Fischer (2602)  
JUG ct, Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade / (Rd. #20), 1959.

[A.J. Goldsby I]


 (The ratings above are the one that were given to this game when I found it in my ChessBase database. 
A more accurate reflection of their ratings - expressed in 2001 terms - would be: 
 M. Tal (2765) and R.J. Fischer (2690).  At least! 
  (Kasparov was rated like 2849 at the start of the year.)  

You definitely will need a chess set to play over this game. 
 ( There is only one diagram. )  

   Click  HERE  to go to a page with this game on a js re-play board.   

(See the bottom of this page for escape links, or click the "Back" button on your web browser.) 

     Click  HERE  to see my channel on the YT server.   Click  HERE  to see my video for this game.     

 The 5th Greatest Chess Game Ever? 

Picking the all-time best Tal game was not easy. I went back and re-played approximately 75 of his best games before making this decision. Of course I was already a big Tal fan, having grown up as a follower of his works. 

I used a 10-point scoring system similar to the one used by Soltis. (Except Soltis used a 20 point system.) I graded the games for overall aesthetic beauty; originality of concept; strength of play and quality of opposition; soundness; and then breadth and depth. I also used a 5-point scale to reflect the historical importance of the encounter. (A "5" being the encounter of two players who would eventually be Top 10 or World Championship contenders, and played in a very important historical clash. Such as here, in a Candidates Tournament.) This game came out clearly on top. 


This game, considered by Tal to be one of his best efforts, has already appeared in dozens of books and magazines. Many of the books, like: 
(The Mammoth Book Of) "The World's Greatest Chess Games,"
  by  GM's J. Nunn, J. Emms; and FM Burgess.  

Or the book, "The 100 Best,"  by  GM Andy Soltis. 


I have also accessed many files on the Internet concerning this game. Many chess writers, Masters, and other chess players, when asked the question, "What is the best game of chess ever played?" have offered this game. (I remember my amazement when I first went over this game as a teen-ager. Even today, this attack seems almost magical.) 

It is certainly a thing of great beauty. Tal sacrifices heavily, gets two Rooks doubled on the 8th rank, and puts poor Bobby in virtual Zugzwang. I consider this to be one of Tal's finest games. 

( My annotations are based primarily on those of FM Graham Burgess's in:  [The Mammoth Book of:]  "The World's Greatest Chess Games."
  Authors:  GM John Nunn, GM J. Emms: and FM Graham Burgess. )  {Apparently this game was mainly annotated by Burgess.} 

( I also have close to a dozen books on Tal, and I accessed almost all of these.For example I referred to Tal's own book constantly. I also accessed the book(s) by  GM A. Khalifman  and  IM B. Cafferty. And the book,  "Tal, The Magnificent,"  by  GM A. Soltis."

1. d4 Nf62. c4 g63. Nc3 Bg74. e4 d6;  (Expected.) 
Black is playing Fischer's favorite - "The King's Indian Defense." 

5. Be2, (Maybe - '!?')  Development. 
Tal changes the move order, perhaps in an attempt to 
 exploit Fischer's relative inexperience at the time. 

"An innocent move, just changing the order, which gives White 
  greater flexibility for the following moves." -  GM Mikhail Tal. 

'!' - GM S. Gligoric.  ("Chess Encounters.") 
(This book was never printed in English.) 

[The normal (common) move here is: 5.Nf3,  when both sides 
can develop normally. ]. 


5...0-06. Nf3 e57. d5,  A space gainer. 
This, in conjunction with the move 8. Bg5, marks the beginning 
of the Petrosian System. (White gains space and avoids any exchanges.)  

The Petrosian System is designed to squeeze Black for space and limit his 
counterplay. It can also lead to a strong attack for White, similar to the kind 
White gets in the Averbakh System. 

Many GM's consider this to be the toughest White line in the K.I.D. to play against. 

(Some of the drawbacks to the Petrosian System, is that it takes the pressure 
completely off Black's center, and also slightly weakens the dark squares. 
Some GM's consider it a safe, but very drawish line. 
The middlegame is a little sterile, compared to some of the other lines of the K.I.D.). 

The Pawn Chain has also been determined for some time to come. White has 
a space advantage on the Q-side, while Black will prepare the pawn break ...f5; 
thus giving him a space advantage on the K-side.

In a standard King's Indian, White almost always has the initiative, and Black 
will often play defense for a very long time. Additionally White's attack on the 
Q-side nearly always comes first, it is MUCH easier to play White than Black, 
and Black generally has to play much more accurately than White ... mediocre 
play by White gives him an even game, while if Black should only play tolerably - 
he will be CRUSHED! 

Why would Black take on such an onerous task? The answer is quite simple. 
Black has more chances for dynamic play and more opportunities to score the 
full point than in any of the Classical Systems. Later in life, many Masters would 
avoid most systems of the K.I.D; (when playing Bobby) simply because Fischer 
knew them better than anyone alive and could make even a seasoned GM look 
like a patzer! {A.J.G.} 

[ The main line is: 7.0-0 Nc6; 8.d5 Ne7;  which is, "The Mar del Plata Variation," 
a variation almost single-handedly brought into Master-level praxis by R.J. Fischer. ]. 

7...Nbd7;  (Maybe - '!?')  More development. 
This is the older line, now considered virtually passť by theory. 

(But I am sure this line is completely playable ... as Fischer did  not  play 
fundamentally bad chess!) 

Black develops simply and quickly, while avoiding any pins or counter 
pawn-pushes by White. The Knight on d7 also eyes the potential outpost 
square of c5. 


Below is a fairly comprehensive survey of the "Petrosian System" 
of the "King's Indian Defense." This includes every note, line 
and comment that MCO gives on this variation. 


[  Variation # 1.) 
The move,  7...a5; ('!')  is the modern line, preferred by theory. 

Now MCO gives:  8.Bg5!?,  (Maybe - '!')  
The sharpest, and the main idea of the Petrosian System. 

 ( White could also play: 8.0-0!? Na6; 9.Bg5 h6; 10.Bh4 Qe8; 
 11.Ne1 Nh7;  The main line here. 

 ( Black could also play: 
; 12.f3 Nh5; 13.Nb5 Na6; 14.Nd3 Nf4; 15.Nxf4 exf4
 16.Qd2 Qe5
; 17.Rab1, "="   
 C. Hansen - A. Wojtkiewicz;
  Wijk ann Zee, 1994. 

 Or 11...g5!?; 12.Bg3 Nxe4; 13.Nxe4 f5; 14.Bh5 Qe7; 15.f3 fxe4;  
 16.fxe4 Nc5; "~"
(Maybe - "=/+").  
 L. Polugaevsky - W. Watson;
  Sochi, 1988. )  

 12.Nd3 f5; 13.exf5!?,   

 (13.f3 Nf6; 14.Bf2 g5!?;   ( Or 14...Bd7!?; {A.J.G.} 15.c5 Qg6; 16.cxd6 cxd6;   
 17.exf5 Bxf5; = ; Black intends ...e4; with an unclear position. - GM I. Glek. ).   

 13...g5; 14.Bh5 Qe7; 15.Bg3 e4; 16.Re1 Bxc3; 17.bxc3 Bxf5; "=/+"  ("Unclear?")  
  IM I. Ivanov - GM Igor Glek;  Werfen, 1991.  
 A VERY unusual position!  
 MCO says, "Better for Black," the computer(s) all say that this position is MUCH  
 better for White!! ("+/=") {Perhaps the fairest evaluation is unclear?}. 
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.} 
 (Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (c.). ]. )  

8...h6; 9.Bh4 Na6; 10.Nd2 Qe8; 

  ( "An interesting try for Black is the line: 10...h5; 11.Bg5,  

 ( 11.0-0 Bh6; 12.f3 Be3+; 13.Kh1 g5; "=" ... "with good play for Black." 
  - GM N. DeFirmian. )  

 11...Qe8; 12.a3,  

 (12.f3 Bd7; 13.Be3 Nh7; 14.a3, "~" ). 

 12...Bd7; 13.b3 Nh7; 14.Be3 h4!?;   (14...Bf6?!; 15.h4, "+/=")   15.Qc2 f5; 
 16.f3 Bf6; 17.0-0-0 Bg5; "="  (Maybe "=/+")  
 ...  "with good play for Black."  -  GM N. DeFirmian. 
 Lerner - Uhlmann;  Berlin, 1989. 
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.}.  
 (Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (d.). ]. )  

11.0-0,   Probably the best.  

  ( 11.a3 Bd7; 12.b3 Nh7; 13.Rb1 h5; 14.f3 Bh6; 15.Bf2 Qe7;  
 16.h4 Nc5; 17.Qc2 f5; 18.b4 axb4; 19.axb4 Na4; 20.Nd1,  

 (20.Nb5!? c6; 21.dxc6 bxc6; 22.Nc7 Rac8;  
 23.Na6 c5!?
; 24.bxc5? dxc5;  25. White Resigns,  0 - 1.  
  Damljanovic -  J. Federowicz;  Wijk aan Zee B, 1990.  
  "the knight on a6 is stranded, but resignation still looks  
 a little premature." - GM N. DeFirmian.  

 20...Nf6; 21.Bd3, "="  
 J. Speelman - J. Polgar;  Holland, 1991. 
 ... " and now 21...Bxd2+ equalizes."  - GM N. DeFirmian.  
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.}  
 (Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (e.). ]. )  

11...Nh7; 12.a3,   This appears to be the sharpest. 

 ( 12.Kh1 f5; 13.exf5 gxf5; 14.Bh5 Qd7; 15.f4 e4; 16.h3 Nc5;  
 17.g4 Nf6
; 18.Bxf6 Rxf6; 19.Qe2 Qe7;  "="  
 O. Panno - J. Federowicz;  Lone Pine, 1978. 
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.}  
 (Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (f.). ]. )  

12...Bd7; 13.b3,  This is interesting. 

 (13.Nb5!?, {A.J.G.} )  

13...h5;  (Maybe '!?')  Black gains a little K-side space. 

 ( Or Black could try: 
 13...f5; 14.exf5 gxf5; 15.Bh5 Qc8; 16.Be7 Re8!; 17.Bxe8?!,  

  (Or probably better is: 17.Bh4 Rf8; 18.Be7, "=" ).  
 17...Qxe8; 18.Bh4 e4; 19.Qc2 Qh5; 20.Bg3 Rf8;  {"Comp."}  
 ... " with excellent compensation for the exchange."  - GM N. DeFirmian.  
  A. Yusupov - G. Kasparov;  Barcelona, 1989.  
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38,  {Notes a. through n.}  
 (Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (g.). ]. )  

14.f3 Bh6; 15.Kh1,  This is a sensible precaution.  

 (15.Rb1 Be3+; 16.Bf2 Bc5; 17.Bxc5 Nxc5; 18.Qc2 Qe7;  
 19.b4 axb4; 20.axb4 Na4; 21.Nd1!?,  
  ( Or 21.Nxa4 Bxa4; 22.Nb3 "="  {A.J.G.} ) 
 21...h4; 22.Nf2 Nf6; 23.Nd3 Nh5; 24.c5 Qg5; 25.Rf2 Bb5; "=/+"  
 J. Speelman - G. Timoshenko;
  London (Lloyds Bank), 1992.  
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.}  
 (Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (h.). ]. ) 

15...Be3;  The end of column # 37.  

16.Rb1 Bc5; 17.Qc1 f5; 18.exf5 gxf5;  19.Bf2 Qg6;  
20.Bxc5 dxc5;
  "+/="  (White looks clearly just a little better.) 

This position is unclear ("~") according to MCO-14. 
(The comps all give a slight, but clear edge for White.) 
G. Timoshenko - Sahovic;  Belgrade, 1995. 
[ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.} 
(Mainly column # 37 here.); and note # (i.). ]. 
 ( Or 20...Nxc5!?;  -  {A.J.G.} )


Variation # 2.) 
Black can also play:  7...Na6!?;   which is another way of reaching the 
traditional set-up for Black. (Tal preferred this method.)  

Now MCO gives the line:  8.Nd2,  The main line here.  (Knight opposition?) 

 ( Or 8.Bg5 h6; 9.Bh4 g5; 10.Bg3 Nh5; 11.h4 Nxg3; 12.fxg3 gxh4;  
 13.Nxh4 Qg5; 14.g4, 

 ( Or 14.0-0 f5!?Danner - Timoschenko;  Berlin, 1994. ).  

 14...Bf6; 15.Qd2 Kg7; A sensible-looking move.  

 (Or 15...Qxd2+; 16.Kxd2 Kg7; 17.Nf5+ Bxf5; 18.gxf5 Bg5+;  
 19.Kc2 Nb4+; 20.Kb3 a5
; 21.a3 Na6; 22.Kc2 Kf6; 23.Rab1 c6;  
 24.dxc6 bxc6
; 25.b4, "+/" ("+/=" - MCO)  
 Fishbein - Dolmatov;  Philadelphia, 1991.)  

 16.g3 Qxd2+; 17.Kxd2 Bg5+; 18.Kd1!? Be3; 19.Rb1 Bd4;  
 20.Kc2 Nc5; 21.b4, "+/=" 1/2 - 1/2,  Draw agreed.  
 A. Ivanov - Yurtaev;  U.S.S.R; 1989.  
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38,  {Notes # (a.) through (n.).}  
 (Mainly column # 38 here.); and note # (k.). ]. )   

8...Ne8;  The most thematic.  

 ( Or 8...Kh8!?; 9.a3 c5; 10.h4 h5; 11.Nf3 Ng4; 12.Ng5 Nh6; 13.Be3 f5;  
  14.exf5 Bxf5
; 15.Qd2 Ng4; 16.Bxg4 Bxg4; and now: 17.f3, "+/="   
  (Maybe - "+/")  V. Kramnik - G. Kamsky;  Melody Amber, 1994.  
  [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes # (a.) through (n.).}  
  (Mainly column # 38 here.); and note # (l.). ]. )   

9.0-0,  Probably the best and simplest to castle here, 
safeguarding the White King. 

 ( Or 9.a3!? c5; 10.h4 f5;  The standard move here. 

 ( Or 10...h5!?; 11.Nf3, "="  (Maybe - "+/=") {A.J.G.}

 11.h5 Nf6;  Probably best.  

 ( Not 11...f4?!; 12.hxg6 hxg6; 13.Bg4!,  "+/="  (Maybe - "+/")  
 J. Speelman - V. Ivanchuk;  Linares, 1991.  
 [ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes # (a.) through (n.).}  
 (Mainly column # 38 here.); and note # (m.). ]. ).  

 12.hxg6 hxg6; 13.Kf1!, "+/="  - Analysis line.  {LM A.J. Goldsby I}  
 (This is better than the main line given by MCO!) )  

 ( 13.Nf3!? "+/="  {A.J.G.} )  

9...f5; 10.exf5 gxf5; 11.f4 c5; 12.dxc6 bxc6; 
13.Nb3 e4; 14.Be3 Nac7; 15.Qd2,  "="   The end of column # 38. 
B. Gulko - G. Kasparov;  Riga, 1995.
"Although the game was agreed drawn at this point, - the position 
 is double-edged." - GM N. DeFirmian. 
[ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.} 
(Mainly column # 38 here.); and note # (n.). ]. 

 ( Or 15.Nd4!?,  or 15.Qe1,  or 15.Rc1,  {A.J.G.}  );  


Variation # 3.) 
Or  7...Nh5!?; ('?!')   8.g3, "~"  This is like, "a fork hitting the water."  - M. Tal. 
(Tal means the Black Knight is not very effective here. For many years theory 
considered the move 7...Nh5; to be completely inferior ... if not losing outright.) 

 ( Or 8.Ng1 Nd7!; 9.Bxh5 gxh5; 10.Qxh5 Nc5; 11.Nf3 f5;  
 12.0-0 f4
; 13.b4 Nd7; 14.Bb2 Qe7; "=/+"  
 L. Szabo -  I. Boleslavsky;  Budapest Candidates, 1950. ). 

8...Na6;  The preferred method.   (The Black Knight eyes the c5-square.)  

Black can also play: 
  Or 8...a5!?; {A.J.G.}  9.h4 Na6; 10.Nd2 Nf6; 11.g4, "+/" 
"White is clearly - at least - little better." -  GM N. DeFirmian. 
A very unusual piece of analysis. DeFirmian considers this position to be MUCH better 
for White. ("Plus over a line," or "+/".) (Perhaps because White has a very strong attack.) 
The computers consider it slightly better for Black, ("=/+") or equal. ("=") 
Perhaps 'unclear'  ("~"); is a better evaluation for this position?  
  Or 8...f5!?; (Maybe - '?!')  Probably a little too aggressive.  9.exf5 Qf6?!; (Maybe - '?' ) 
   ( 9...Bxf5!?; "=" {A.J.G.} )  10.Ng5, (Maybe - '!')  The Knight heads for the e4-square.  

 ( It seems White could have also played: 10.fxg6!?, "+/" (A.J. Goldsby I)  
 White is clearly  better. I.e., 10...Bg4?!; (Maybe - '?') 11.gxh7+ Kh8;  
"+/"  Maybe "+/-" {A.J.G.} ).   

 10...Qxf5;  11.0-0 Nf6;  12.f3!, "+/"   
  T. Petrosian - I. Zaitzev;  Moscow, 1966.  

9.Nd2 Nf6;  10.h4!? c6;    ( 10...h5!?; "~" - {A.J.G.} )  11.Nb3 Nc7;  12.Bg5 cxd5;  
13.cxd5 h6;  14.Bxf6! Qxf6;  15.Bg4, "="  (Maybe - "+/=") 
 T. Petrosian - E. Gufeld;  U.S.S.R. Championship, 1960.  
MCO considers this position to be considerably better ("+/=")  for White. 
(It seems to be very nearly equal.). 
[ See MCO-14; Pg.'s 598-600, col.'s # 37-38, {Notes a. through n.} 
(Mainly column # 38 here.); and note # (j.). ]. ]


 (The end of the opening survey.) 

8. Bg5,  Pin?  (Not really.) 
The Petrosian System proper. 

"White's idea is to follow up with Nd2, cutting out any ...Nh5 ideas, whereupon 
Black will find it very hard to generate counterplay."  - FM Graham Burgess. 

(Sometimes White will delay castling to attack in this line.) 

( Note: Players who are considering the King's Indian Defense should 
seriously consider studying this line in depth AND memorizing a lot of opening 
lines. Additionally, I believe the Averbakh System - another system involving 
an early Bg5 by White - should be studied in connection with this system. This 
is because the two lines have many similar ideas, in my opinion. {A.J.G.} ) 



8...h6;  "Asking the Question," of the Bishop. 

The book response. 

(Black should not allow White to play Qd2, and clamp down on the 
dark squares near his King, and on the K-side.) 

[ Not 8...a5!?; 9.Qd2!?, "+/=" (Maybe - '!')  and White has a lock on the dark 
squares for a long time to come, thus making it much more difficult for Black 
to generate any meaningful counterplay. 

( The move 9.0-0!?, "="  also gives White a very tiny edge. 

The computer book gives the line: 
9.Nd2 Nc5
; 10.0-0 Bd7; 11.b3 h6; 12.Bh4 c6; 13.a3, "="  
(Maybe - "+/=") etc. and White has a small edge. 
This is a standard way of playing this variation. )  ]


9. Bh4 a6!?;  (Maybe - '!')  Prevention. 

"Fischer prepares ...Qe8; to step out of the pin." - FM G. Burgess. 

Black also avoids pins, stops any Nb5 nonsense by White, and even 
prepares a possible Q-side expansion with a later ...b7-b5. 

[ Another possibility here for Black is: 9...g5!? 
  (The computer book gives the following line: 9...g5!?; 10.Bg3 Nh5; 
  11.h4 g4; 12.Nh2 Nxg3; 13.fxg3 h5; 14.0-0 Bh6; 15.Bd3, etc. "~" 
   -  With a somewhat unclear position. {A.J.G.} ); 

  The move 9...a5!?; will probably transpose back to lines already 
   considered here previously in this game. ].  


10. 0-0 Qe8;  Side-step. 
Fischer steps out of the pin, or "UNPINS."

Additionally, after an eventual ...f5; and maybe even ...g5; 
Black could play ...Qh5; to attack the White King.
(Basically an idea borrowed from the Dutch.) 

11. Nd2 Nh7;  A strategic retreat. 

It looks as if Fischer is preparing the ...f7-f5 thrust. 

[ Not 11...Nxe4?!; 12.Ndxe4 f5; 13.f3! fxe4; 14.Nxe4, "+/=" ]. 


12. b4!,  Queen-side play! 

White begins immediate and very thematic counterplay on the Q-side. 

( Since Black almost always attacks on the K-side in King's Indian, White 
cannot sit still and watch this happen. 

[A good player will always ACTIVELY pursue a plan!!] 

Also with the Pawn on d5, White has a natural space advantage on the 
Q-side. And Tarrasch said you always attack on the side of the board 
where you have more space. 

For a more detailed explanation of the workings of these plans as they relate 
to the pawn skeleton, see  GM Andrew Soltis's  great book, 
"Pawn Structure Chess." )  

[Or White could have tried: 12.h3!?]. 


12...Bf6!?N;  A new move. (At the Master level.) 

It is said that Fischer spent better than 10 hours preparing this novelty in advance. 
Its main effect was, ... "to leave Fischer tired," joked Tal. 

This move was brand-new to Master chess, being introduced by Fischer. 

And it is possible  - that if this move had been properly followed up -  
that it would not have lost.

[ Probably best is: 12...Kh8!; but White still maintains a slight edge. 

In their previous meeting in this tournament,  (When Tal was White, they 
played a total of four games against each opponent at this event.)  Fischer 
chose the move: 12...Ng5!?;  but White maintained a comfortable edge. 

That game continued: 
13.f3 f5; 14.Bf2 Qe7; 15.Rc1 Nf6; 16.c5 Bd7; 17.Qc2 Nh5; 
18.b5?!,  ('!?')  Dubious, according to Tal. 
(Although it does not look all that bad to me!) 

 a).  Maybe better was: 18.cxd6! cxd6; 19.Nc4!?, (This might be dubious.) 
  (Maybe White should play: 19.h4!?; or 19.Bd3!?) 
 19...fxe4!; 20.fxe4 Nf4; 21.Nb6?!,  ( It looks like White had to play: 21.h4[]. ).  
 21...Ngh3+!!; 22.gxh3 Nxh3+; 23.Kg2 Rxf2+; 24.Rxf2 Qg5+!; 
 "Black is much better," or "/+".  
 Line by - Tal. 

 b).  Or 18.c6!? bxc6; 19.dxc6 Bxc6; 20.Bc4+ Kh8; 21.Bd5 Qd7;  
  (Maybe 21...Qe8!?);   22.Bxc6 Qxc6; 23.Nd5 Qxc2; 24.Rxc2 Ne6; 
 25.Nxc7 Rac8; 26.Rfc1,  ('?!')   (This move is probably not the best for White.)  
  (Maybe White should try 26.Bb6!?) 
 26...Nhf4; 27.Nxe6 Ne2+; 28.Kf1 Nxc1; "Black is slightly better," or "=/+".  
 Line by - Tal. 

18...fxe4; 19.Ndxe4 Nxe4; 20.fxe4 Nf4; 21.c6 Qg5; 22.Bf3 bxc6; 

(Not 22...Bg4; 23.bxa6?! Bxf3; 24.Bg3 Bxg2; 
When Black is clearly better.

23.dxc6!? Bg4; 24.Bxg4 Qxg4; 25.Be3 axb5; 26.Bxf4 exf4; 27.Nxb5 Rf7; 
28.Qc4! Rc8; 29.Rf3 Be5; 30.Rcf1 Kg7; 31.a4 Ra8; 32.Kh1 Qg5?; 

Setting up a Knight fork - by White ... in a move or two.  
( Black had to play: 32...Qh5!? (!) ) 

White's next is a very alert tactical stroke.  33.g3! Raf8; 34.gxf4 Bxf4; 
35.Nd4 Qh5; 36.Rxf4 Rxf4; 37.Ne6+ Kh8; 38.Qd4+! R8f6; 39.Nxf4 Kh7; 
40.e5 dxe5; 41.Qd7+;  Black Resigns, 1 - 0.

 M. Tal - R.J. Fischer;    Candidates Tournament, Bled, Yugoslavia; 1959. 

(Annotations based on the book,  
 "The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal," by M. Tal. 
   Copyright, © 1976; RHM Press.) ]


13. Bxf6 Nhxf614. Nb3 Qe7;  
Amateurs never appreciate just how good and necessary this type of move is. 
Now that the dark-squared Bishops have been exchanged the Queen steps 
up one. Black also will connect his Rooks after moving his QB, thus completing 
almost all of his development. 

15. Qd2!,  Nice. (And thematic.) 

Not just threatening to win a pawn, but exerting pressure on 
Black's weakened dark squares. 



15...Kh7;  (Maybe - '!?')  Protecting the pawn @ h6. 

Obviously Black must guard the h6 pawn.

Could Bobby have played his King to g7 instead? 

16. Qe3!?,  Hmmm.  

This is good, but it is not clear that it is the best. 

[ White could try: 16.Rac1!?,  ('!')  -  FM G. Burgess. 
or 16.a4!?,  ('!')  -  LM A.J. Goldsby I. 
(I like this idea best, as White can open lines first, then decide 
where his Rooks belong.) ]


16...Ng8!;  Best. 

This move is probably the best.  

It is the first choice of many of the better computer programs. 

It was preferred by Fischer, praised by Tal, and it also was considered 
best by many other annotators. 

[ Black could have also played: 16...Rg8!? ].  


The next few moves are best for both sides. 
17. c5!, 
(Maybe - '!!')  Active play. 

The most thematic. White must immediately open lines on the 
Queen-side in the King's Indian.

It is also a very brave and bold move, typical of Tal. In some of my analysis lines, 
White will sacrifice several pawns ... and maybe a piece (or two!) to boot! 



17...f5!?; (Maybe - '!')  Also thematic. 
Good or bad, Black must usually play this move in the King's Indian, 
or slowly be squeezed to death. 


  (The following is one of the best and most illuminating comments 
  I have ever seen on these types of positions.)  

 FM G. Burgess writes: 
"White, in general, has several methods of meeting this move in the King's Indian: 
# 1.)  Ignore it and recapture on e4 with a piece; 
# 2.)  Play f3, inviting Black to push on with ...f4; 
# 3.)  Exchange on f5 and attack the light squares, (with pieces and/or by f3 and g4); 
# 4.)  Exchange on f5, and meet the move,  ...gxf5 with f4." 

"In cases where Black's dark-squared Bishop has been exchanged, the 
fourth option is normally best, as the opening of the long diagonal constitutes 
no drawback from White's viewpoint."
  -  FM Graham Burgess.  
(My emphasis and italics.) 




18. exf5! gxf519. f4!,  Stop! 
Probably best, according to many annotators. 

(White freezes Black's King-side pawn-duo, before it can do any damage!). 



19...exf4;  Line opening. 
This might be forced too. 
(Black needs a few open lines on the K-side, or he will be smothered!) 

[The problem with: 19...e4!?; is that it leaves Black with a slightly bad QB, 
and no real future targets for his attack. ].  

20. Qxf4,  (Maybe - '!')   Continuing the attack.  

This is probably best. 
(Tal prefers to keep the Queens on the board instead of 
heading for the endgame.)  

[ Another alternative is: 20.Qxe7+ Nxe7; 21.Rxf4 Nf6; 22.Rd1, "+/=" ].   


20...dxc5!?;  Line opening?  
A critical move. Tal thought it was a mistake, Fischer thought it was forced! 
A strong difference of opinion, to say the least! 

( 20...dxc5!?;  is also the first choice of most strong computer programs. ) 

[ Another choice for Black is: 20...Qe5!?; "~" {Unclear?} 
 Or Tal liked: 20...Ne5!?; 21.Rae1, "--->" {With an attack.} ].  


21. Bd3!?,  (Maybe - '!')  "ATTACK!"  is Tal's battle-cry. 
Very interesting, and typical of the way Tal played chess in those days. 
(Lots of murky complications.)

[ Tal said he spent a lot of time calculating the line: 21.bxc5 Nxc5; 
22.Rac1 Bd7; 23.Qxc7 Rac8; 24.Qf4 Nxb3; 25.axb3 Rxc3; 26.Rxc3 Qxe2;
27.Rc7 Qe7; 28.d6 Qe6; 29.Rxb7, "+/="  {White is a little better.} 
(Why Tal did not choose this line is a mystery he does not completely clear up. 
Perhaps he wanted more from the position?)  ].  


21...cxb4!?;  (Maybe - '?!')   Interesting - and maybe not the best. 
(But not necessarily losing.) 

Probably not the best, and labeled inferior by Burgess. 
(But it probably does NOT lose by force.) 

[ Definitely the best try was: 21...Qg7!;  22. Bxf5+ Kh8;  23. Ne4!?,  (Maybe - '!') 
Best according to several annotators. 

White could also try:
a).  23.Qxc7 c4; "~"  (Maybe - "=/+"); 
  23.Qd2 cxb4; 24.Ne4 Ne5!?; "="  Best, according to Burgess. 
 (Or 24...Ndf6!? here.)

23...c4!;  This is definitely best. 

Black could also play:
a).  23...Ne5 ; 24.Ng3 Ne7 ; 25.Rae1 Nd3??; 
 ( Forced was: 25...N5g6[]; Now 26. Qe4 is probably close to equal.
not 25...Bxf5??; 26.Qxe5, "+/-" )   
26. Rxe7!, "+/-" - Line by Tal.  Or ... 
b).  Interesting was: 23...Ne7!?; "~"  (Maybe - "=/+"); 

24. Nbd2,  Burgess only gives this. 

 ( White could also 24.Na5!?,  {A.J.G.};  or 24.Nbc5!?,  {A.J.G.} ). 

24...Nb6;  25. Ng3,    (Maybe 25.d6!?, {A.J.G.})   25...Ne7;  26. Nh5 Rxf5!; 
27. Nxg7 Rxf4;  28. Rxf4 Kxg7;  "/+"  (Maybe "-/+").  
- Line by GM J. Nunn and FM G. Burgess. ].  


22. Rae1, (Maybe - '!')  Centralization - which is almost never bad. 
Tal plays for piece activity. 

[ 22.Bxf5+!? Kh8; 23.Rae1, "~" ].  


22...Qf6!?;  (Probably '?!'  Maybe '?')  
Maybe Fischer's only real error/mistake. 

This looks logical, but is not quite right. 

(Burgess labels it as dubious. 
I avoid this tag, as the computer evaluation change only a few one - hundredths 
of a point. But to be completely honest, it probably is inferior to Black's other 
options. Perhaps Fischer was still trying to win a game, Tal did blank him 4-0 
in this event!!)

Unfortunately Fischer did go sadly astray here.

[ The correct move is: 22...Qd6!?;  (Maybe - '!') 
---> Burgess gives the move, 22...Qd6; an exclamation mark. 
23.Bxf5+ Kh8; 24.Qd4+ Qf6!?;   (24...Ndf6!)   25.Qxb4 Qb6+; 26.Qd4+ Qxd4+; 
27.Nxd4, "+/=" - Tal. (Maybe - "+/") 
... "gives White a fine position, but maybe Black has survival chances." 
- FM G. Burgess. 

Black could also play: 22...Qf7!?; 23.Qxb4 Ndf6; 24.Bxf5+ Bxf5; 25.Rxf5 Rae8; 
26.Ref1, "+/="  with a small - - but appreciable - advantage for White. ]


mtal-fisch01.jpg, 107 KB


23. Re6!!,  (Probably - '!!!',  Maybe even - '!!!!)  
An absolutely amazing move. 
An incredible move of unbelievable depth and calculation. 

Even in the year 2001, the computers do NOT want to immediately play this move. 

I have tested dozens of players over the years, ..... 
NOT ONE has ever played this move here. 

Tal plays without regard to the 'normal' rules ... or to the 'laws' of material balance. 

(The move looks like a blunder, White loses a Knight on c3.) 

[ A simple way to a small - but relatively secure White advantage - 
  was:  23.Qxb4 Qb6+; 24.Qd4 Qxd4+; 25.Nxd4 Nc5; 26.Bc2, "+/=" 
  and White is slightly better. 
  (This line is the first choice of just about all the comps.); 

  Or White could try: 23.Na4!?, "+/=" ]


23...Qxc3;  Munch, munch, munch. 
This looks pretty much forced. (Free N?). 

(Several computer programs consider Black to be clearly better here! 
 ...  At least after only a few seconds of analysis.) 

[ 23...Qg5; 24.Qxb4, "+/="  Or 23...Qg7!?; 24.Qxb4, "+/=" ]. 


24. Bxf5+,  (Maybe - '!')  "And he delivers an uppercut ..." 
Obvious and probably best. 

[ 24.Rf3!?, "+/=" ]. 


24...Rxf5[];  Forced. (If Black does not play this, he loses.) 
This is forced. 

[ 24...Kg7?; 25.Rf3!, "+/" (25.Rg6+!?, "+/=") ]. 


25. Qxf5+ Kh826. Rf3!,  More Tal magic. 
There are still lots of ways for White to go wrong here. 

[ 26.Rc1? Qb2, "~"  {"Unclear."} ]. 


26...Qb2;  Poor Bobby. 
Fischer struggles, but he is probably already lost. 

[ Black could also try:  26...Qg7; 27.Rg3 Qh7; 
   (Or 27...Qf8
; 28.Qxf8 Nxf8; 29.Re8, "+/-");   
28.Re8, "+/-"  Line by  - FM G. Burgess. 

  Or 26...Ndf6!?; 27.Rxc3 bxc3; 28.Nc5, "+/" ]


27. Re8 Ndf6;  Black struggles. 
Forced, again. 

Oh, by the way ... Tal is TWO!  (2!)  pieces down here!!! 
(Plus a pawn to boot!) 

[ Black could also play: 27...Nb6?!; 28.Rxg8+ Kxg8; 29.Qf7+ Kh8; 
30.Qe8+ Kh7; 31.Rf7+ Qg7; 32.d6!, "+/-" 

Or 27...Qxa2?; 28.Rxg8+! Kxg8; 29.Qe6+ Kh8; 
 ( 29...Kh7?!
; 30.Rf7+ Kg8; 31.Rxd7+,  mating. ). 
30.Qxh6+ Kg8; 31.Qg5+ Kh7; 32.Rh3#.

One can see from the above variations that Black is 
in real jeopardy in this game. ]


28. Qxf6+! Qxf629. Rxf6 Kg7;  Is Black really lost? 
One looks at this position ... and would like to believe that young Fischer,  
(age 15 when this was played);  could muster a defense here. 

Normally queenless attacks do NOT have the same 'teeth' as attacks with 
more material on the board. 

 This is also a greatly simplified position .....  
Normally in such positions  -  speaking as a Master  -  a reasonable defense 
can usually be found for the side with lots of excess material.  Many times 
one can simply find a way to return the material to blunt the attack. But that 
is not the case here. 

30. Rff8!!,  (Maybe - '!!!')  Incredible. 
Wow! A magical move, as if from a dream. The White Rook floats in 
and ties Black completely up. 

[ Also - maybe - winning for White was: 30.Rf3!?, "+/-" ].  


30...Ne7;  Bobby is not Harry!  (H. Houdini.) 
"I am sorry, I am rather tied up at the moment!" 

Now the Knight on b3 wants to ... assist in a mating net on the Black King! ... 

31. Na5!,  (Maybe - '!!')  Is this Knight lost? 
Huh? (The Knight looks like it is going ... THE WRONG WAY!). 

White's pieces look so disconnected, its hard to believe that he is winning. 

"A famous position has arisen. Black is completely helpless, and virtually in 
zugzwang. The c-pawn cannot move as White's d-pawn would then cause 
havoc; the Bishop is pinned to the Rook and the Knight is tied to the defence 
of the Bishop. And the Rook? Can the Rook move to a7 perhaps? Sadly not; 
the Rook is tied to maintaining the tactical defence of the Knight. Thus if 
31...Ra7; then 32. Rf3, wins a whole piece." - FM Graham Burgess.  

[ 31.Nc5!?  or 31.Kf2!? ].  


31...h532. h4!,  (Maybe - '!!')  MORE TAL MAGIC! 

 "When the opponent is in zugzwang, the most sensible thing is 
   to maintain it - especially if it is possible to construct a mating net 
   simultaneously!"  -  FM G. Burgess. 

To me this is the special part of this game, and was probably foreseen by 
Tal many moves in advance. Tal disdains regaining the material and calmly 
builds a mating web around Black's King!! {A.J.G.} 

  [ 32.Nc4!? ].  


32...Rb833. Nc4!,  Nice. 
Closing in for the kill. 

(It is almost time for Black to fold his tents and go home.) 

  [ 33.g3!? ].  


33...b5;  He is just thrashing about, like a fish on the line. 
Black is so helpless, we almost feel sorry for him. 

   [ 33...Ra8!?; 34.Ne5 Rb8?!; 35.Rf7+ Kh6; 36.Rh8# ].  


34. Ne5,  (The Knight arrives at its destination square.) 

Black Resigns. 1 - 0. 

Black is totally tied up and completely helpless. 

(White threatens a mate, beginning with Rf7+. The only way for Black to 
avoid this is to shed copious amounts of material.).  

One of the best all-time games. There is a quality to this game that is almost 
impossible to describe. Tal's attack is inspired and defies the imagination. 

  I consider this game to be the 5th greatest game of chess ever played.  

I accessed several books in preparing my annotations to this game. 
They are mentioned in the text whenever possible. 

[ If 34.Ne5 Be6; 35.Rxb8 Nxd5; 36.Rf2, "+/-"  and White is winning easily. ] 

1 - 0


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Copyright (c) A.J. Goldsby, 2001. All rights reserved.  

(Nov. 2001. I first annotated this game - by hand over 20 years ago.
I later redid this game - both by hand on a friend's computer - and submitted it to several state chess magazines for publication. I now am very please to bring you this game - which contains extensive analysis and a complete mini-opening survey of the line, "The Petrosian Variation." 

I started this game in June/July of this year. I worked on it - intermittently - for quite a while, and then laid it aside. I worked on it, on-and-off, for over six weeks. (Annotating.) It then took another 2 weeks of work to get this web page ready ... for publication on my web-site. SO ... Enjoy!)

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