Mikhail Tal – the all-time winner

by ChessBase
12/22/2008 – "Fischer and Kasparov might head the polls for 'greatest player ever'", says Dennis Monokroussos, "but when it comes to favorites Tal might be the all-time winner." In his Playchess lecture – this time on Monday night at 9 p.m. ET (early Tuesday for those of you in Europe) he shows us why, using the 1957 game Tal-Koblentz to illustrate the point.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

There have been and will be other world chess champions, but among them Mikhail Tal stands apart for his attacking genius, his ability to outfox his rivals in the wildest complications, and in the sheer joyousness of his play. Fischer and Kasparov might head the polls for "greatest player ever", but when it comes to favorites Tal might be the all-time winner.

If so, it's because of games like the one we're going to look at this week. It took place in 1957, the year Tal burst on the world stage by winning the USSR championship, but this was from a training game against "the Maestro", his permanent trainer Alexander Koblentz. Tal had White in a Classical Sicilian, and the Richter-Rauzer offered the sort of attacking chances that put him in his element. For a while, the game proceeds along normal lines, but between Tal's seemingly unlimited fantasy and Koblentz's ingenious defense, inspired by the Euwe rook sac we saw in last week's show, it becomes an affair both mind-boggling and beautiful. Perfectly played? No, but the level of creativity outweighs the errors.

It's practically impossible to imitate a game like this one, but it can certainly be enjoyed – and if you know how the pieces move and have a pulse, I dare you to watch tomorrow night without feeling inspired by what you see. Just remember that the show does take place tomorrow night – Monday night – at 9 p.m. ET (early Tuesday for those of you in Europe). It's a game worthy of the season.

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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