World Champion vs lowly IM – a crush

by ChessBase
12/3/2008 – Mikhail Tal was winning Gold for the Soviet team at the Olympiad. In the final round he faced IM Jonathan Penrose. As one might expect, it was a crush – but the "crushee" was Tal. In his Playchess lecture Dennis Monokroussos introduces us to this remarkable player and his remarkable game. Be there at 9 p.m. ET.

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Dennis Monokroussos writes:

Mikhail Tal had just become the world chess champion and had led the Soviet team to another Olympic gold medal. He himself was in excellent form, and on the way to an individual gold medal for the best score on board one. All that was left was the final round game against a mere international master, the English player Jonathan Penrose. As one might expect from a world champion vs. IM battle, it was a crush. What's surprising is that the "crushee" was Tal.

Was this a fluke? Not really! Although Penrose never made GM during his career (he was later awarded an "emeritus" title), he was a very talented player who clearly performed at a grandmaster standard, and would surely have achieved the title were his nerves a bit better and/or played more often. As it was, his accomplishments include ten British championships and two individual silver medals in Olympic competition. And this is in the course of a short amateur career. It was short – he basically stopped playing over the board (OTB) chess in 1970, at the age of 37, and it was an amateur career – he was a university professor in "real life". (As is his better-known brother, the renowned mathematical physicist Roger Penrose.)

While our Penrose went on to correspondence chess, a discipline at which he became a grandmaster and enjoyed many successes, it's that OTB triumph over Tal that we'll focus on this week. Tal played the Modern Benoni, and Penrose chose a comparatively rare but very dangerous line against it that worked to perfection. One of White's main strategic ideas is the e5 break, and the beautiful way in which White managed to build, execute and utilize that advance offers a model of anti-Benoni play we can all learn from. (And it's not a bad David-and-Goliath story, either!)

I look forward to seeing all of you this evening – Wednesday night at 9 p.m. ET – as we delve further into this attractive game and its background. The show is free for Playchess members; just log on, go to the Broadcasts room, look for and double-click on "Penrose-Tal" under the Games tab, and then sit back and enjoy.

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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