Magical Moments with Mikhail Tal

by ChessBase
8/27/2008 – The ongoing Tal Memorial is a very fine tournament, but there's very little about the play that would remind us of the man being honored. In his Wednesday night Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos provides us with a special treat: a vintage Tal game which starts positionally but in which Tal suddenly switches modes and overwhelms his opponent with wave after wave of attacks. Enjoy.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Former world champion Mikhail Tal (1936-1992), especially in his dazzling rise to the top from 1957-1960, was a man whose colossal energy, imagination, and willingness to go on sacrificial adventures made him perhaps the most beloved chess player of modern times.

Those of you familiar with his chess know exactly what I mean, and those of you who are not are in for a special treat. Some of his games are more like dreams than real life, and that holds true for his 1979 win against another grandmaster with a penchant for ultra-sharp play, Dragoljub Velimirovic. Ironically, Tal started the game with "normal" positional play, taking advantage of his opponent's strategic errors. He could have continued in this vein, but at a certain point it was as if a switch was turned on, and then Tal started to create. Eschewing a safe, sound edge, Tal sacrificed a piece for an enduring, altogether non-stereotyped attack. There were few threats and Black's king had the opportunity to seek shelter in any part of the board, yet no matter what Velimirovic did Tal seemed to create a whole new swarm of threats out of thin air.

There were a few players, like Polugaevsky and Korchnoi, whose great skill in calculation enabled them to successfully withstand Tal's attacks on a regular basis, but most – including many strong GMs – could not. After hours of heavy calculation and psychological pressure, they would break. And so it was for Velimirovic. He defended very well for a while, but by about the third wave of the attack, he (and his position) started to break down, and Tal finished in style.

Reading a description of the game is well and good, but seeing the game is even better. Therefore, I hope you'll join me tonight, Wednesday night, at 9 p.m. ET as I present this gem on ChessBase's server. (For more directions, see this post.) See you there!

Dennis Monokroussos' Radio ChessBase lectures begin on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. EST, which translates to 02:00h GMT, 03:00 Paris/Berlin, 13:00h Sydney (on Thursday). Other time zones can be found at the bottom of this page. You can use Fritz or any Fritz-compatible program (Shredder, Junior, Tiger, Hiarcs) to follow the lectures, or download a free trial client.

You can find the exact times for different locations in the world at World Time and Date. Exact times for most larger cities are here. And you can watch older lectures by Dennis Monokroussos offline in the Chess Media System room of Playchess:

Enter the above archive room and click on "Games" to see the lectures. The lectures, which can go for an hour or more, will cost you between one and two ducats. That is the equivalent of 10-20 Euro cents (14-28 US cents).

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Dennis Monokroussos is 41, lives in South Bend, IN, where he teaches chess and occasionally works as an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University-South Bend.

At one time he was one of the strongest juniors in the U.S. and has reached a peak rating of 2434 USCF, but several long breaks from tournament play have made him rusty. He is now resuming tournament chess in earnest, hoping to reach new heights.

Dennis has been working as a chess teacher for ten years now, giving lessons to adults and kids both in person and on the internet, worked for a number of years for New York’s Chess In The Schools program, where he was one of the coaches of the 1997-8 US K-8 championship team from the Bronx, and was very active in working with many of CITS’s most talented juniors.

When Dennis Monokroussos presents a game, there are usually two main areas of focus: the opening-to-middlegame transition and the key moments of the middlegame (or endgame, when applicable). With respect to the latter, he attempts to present some serious analysis culled from his best sources (both text and database), which he has checked with his own efforts and then double-checked with his chess software.

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