Understanding before Moving 166: Chess history in a nutshell (47)

by ChessBase
2/25/2024 – Herman Grooten is an International Master, a renowned trainer and the author of several highly acclaimed books on chess training and strategy. In the 166th episode of his ChessBase show "Understanding before moving" Herman continues his series "Chess history in a nutshell" and talks about Mikhail Tal and the phenomenon of the "Angstgegner". | Photo: Pascal Simon

Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2 Key Concepts of Chess - Pawn Structures Vol.1 and 2

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Mikhail Tal (2)

Are you familiar with the phenomenon of the "Angstgegner"? I think this (German) word is used by Aron Nimzowitsch in his famous book "Mein System". He talks about an opponent who is roughly on your level, but against whom you usually do not play well. Somehow he always seems to be able to get you into positions that you do not like, come up with moves that you do not see coming and score extremely well against you.

For a while Mikhail Tal was the 'nemesis' of none other than Bobby Fischer. This was largely due to the 1959 Candidates Tournament (held in Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade), in which Fischer lost to Tal no less than four times. The American would later say that his opponent's "hypnotic gaze" made him lose his rhythm. Fischer would go on to win more often against Tal, but could not equal his lifetime score.

Did Tal himself have anyone he struggled against? Well, he always had trouble against Kortschnoi and Keres, and in his early years he was also thwarted by a player who was, if possible, even more dangerous in attack than Tal himself: Rashid Nezhmetdinov!

I would like to show you a wonderful attacking game by Nezhmetdinov in which he completely overwhelmed Tal. And then, of course, there is a game by Tal himself in which he attacks in his trademark style.

The way in which he outplayed his not inconsiderable opponent, Mark Taimanov, was also very impressive. When you study the diagram and imagine that you are in the position of the former world champion (Mikhail Tal), what is the first move that comes to your mind?

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