Historical riddle: Petrosian vs Tal, Curacao 1962

by Karsten Müller
7/16/2020 – Join in and have fun by analysing a historically important endgame: At the Candidates Tournament 1962 in Curacao Mikhail Tal lost a tricky rook endgame against the eventual tournament winner and World Champion to be Tigran Petrosian. But was the endgame really objectively lost or did Tal lose only after one or more mistakes? Karsten Müller asks for your help!

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The historical riddle: Petrosian vs Tal

The famous Candidates Tournament in Curacao 1962 is still surrounded by many mysteries. Did the Soviet players actually collude and "fixed" the tournament as Bobby Fischer claimed in his famous article "The Russians Have Fixed World Chess" that first appeared in the American magazine Sports Illustrated from August 20, 1962 and then made news all over the world?

Did this already start in the first round, when Tal surprisingly lost to Petrosian? This was Petrosian's first step on the road to the World Championship title, which he won one year later by beating Mihail Botvinnik in their World Championship match 1963. Or was the adjourned position objectively lost for Tal or too difficult to hold? Help endgame expert GM Dr Karsten Müller in his search for the chess truth!

The adjourned position of the game Petrosian vs Tal seems to be drawish because rook endings are often drawish. Since 1962 the endgame has been extensively analysed, however, it still contains a lot of open questions and mysteries.


So, here are some questions for you: was the adjourned position already lost for Tal? Or did Tal only later went wrong? And if so: what was Tal's last mistake?

Put your your answers and analyses into the commentary section below!


Karsten Müller, born 1970, has a world-wide reputation as one of the greatest endgame experts. He has, together with Frank Lamprecht, written a book on the subject: “Fundamental Chess Endgames” in addition to other contributions such as his column on the website ChessCafe as well as in ChessBase Magazine. Müller's ChessBase-DVDs about endgames in Fritztrainer-Format are bestsellers. The PhD in mathematics lives in Hamburg, where he has also been hunting down points for the HSK in the Bundesliga for many years.


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