Mihail Tal

A Young Master

1956 began with my first appearance in the Final of the USSR Championship, which on this occasion was unfortunately rather weakened. At that time all our leading players would normally take part in the Championship, but this was the year of the Candidates Tournament, and so all those seeking the chess crown, with the exception of Spassky, preferred to rest.
I started well; in particular, one of my victories, that over Simagin, appeared in all chess periodicals, although there was only one move in it which proved difficult.

Tal- Simagin
USSR Ch, Leningrad 1956

Black is trying to drive the knight away, but White does even think of retreating: 12.Nxf7 Kxf7 13.f5 dxe5 14.fxe6+ Kxe6 15.Rb1!! It was after finding this move in his preliminary calculations that White decided to sacrifice the Knight; on 15…Qa6 there can follow 16.Qg4+ Kd6 17.dxe5+ Kc7 18.Bf4 and on 15…Qa5 simply 16.Rxb7.
15…Qxb1 16.Qc4+ Kd6 17.Ba3+ Kc7 18.Rxb1 Bxa3 19.Qb3! Black has adequate material compensation for the Queen, but White’s advantage in development makes his attack irresistible.
19…Be7 20.Qxb7+ Kd6 The return journey! 21.dxe5+ Nxe5 22.Rd1+ Ke6 23.Qb3+ Kf5 24.Rf1+ Ke4 25.Re1+ Kf5 26.g4+ Kf6 27.Rf1+ Kg6 28.Qe6+ Kh7 29.Qxe5, and in addition to his initiative, White has also gained a material advantage.
It was here that the one-sided nature of my play revealed itself. Instead of a quiet, purely technical realisation of my advantage, I decided to include my King in the attack, planning to march him along the route g1-f2-g3-h4-h5-g6. In the end this was successful, but on the way Simagin could have gained a draw.
In the sixth round came the important encounter with Spassky. It was clear that on his “home ground”(the Championship was held in Leningrad) it was Boris who had the support of the spectators; I did not like this, and I played somewhat strangely: first limply(in the opening), then over-sharply(in the middlegame). Spassky won very “cleanly”.
After this my play deteriorated. I won one game, drew a few, and lost one, but there were practically no good games. I say practically, because in the final round I nevertheless succeeded with a rather complicated combinative attack.

extras din cartea The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, de Mihail Tal.


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