Carlsen Versus Tal

Carlsen Versus Tal

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GM Magnus Carlsen is not only the best player in the world, but he is also a born entertainer. He organizes online chess tournaments and plays an amateur who publicly announced a plan of beating the world champion in just one month after learning the rules of chess! And who could forget the barbs he exchanges with GM Anish Giri on Twitter? Still, when I saw the following tweet directed to GM Peter Svidler (polborta on Twitter), I thought that Carlsen just demonstrated his warped sense of humor.

My boy polborta better be ready for 1.c3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.h4 in the first round.

Well, here is the game played right after the above-mentioned tweet:

Attentive chess fans definitely noticed that Carlsen already played this 'opening' before:

But it is one thing to play it with Black and it is totally different to play it with White and forfeit any chance for an opening advantage that White can get using his right to open a game. 

When I see "openings" like this, I cannot help but remember the opening of the famous fight McGregor vs. Khabib. Indeed, who would forget that:

I bet you remember the finish of that fight. Here is the chess version of McGregor vs. Khabib fight's end:

No doubt, you remember a very similar combo in another Carlsen's game:

They say that there is nothing new under the sun. A very similar story with an opening preannouncement happened over 60 years ago. Here is how Jiri Vesely remembers this episode in his book "My White and Black Memories":

I also saw how Tal defeated Milko Bobotsov. The day before, after Tal finished his main-event game, he played speed chess, one game after another with Nikola Padevsky, all of those games were with Black pieces so that he could play over and over the same variation, which made everybody -- and Tal most of all -- giggle, because it was a variation where Black -- that is Tal -- always at the same place sacrificed his queen for two minor pieces, just so, as if for no apparent reason at all, just so that there was some good entertainment. Of those speed games, Tal won some, lost some -- of course, he was a good chunk of queen behind -- and everyone around was taking it as such a clever jest, a form of handicapping himself. Tal clearly wanted to amuse himself, and thus he 'sacrificed' his queen game after game. There was much mirth about it all around, even a swim guard was watching the circus, and a Bulgarian woman player, a beauty in tiny bikinis, with which Tal played speed chess the day before under the unusual rule that gave him a win only when the game was a draw.

In his book, GM Mikhail Tal didn't mention Bulgarian beauties in tiny bikinis and only said that future grandmaster Milko Bobotsov was one of those laughing and making fun of Tal's Queen sacrifices. Tal was upset (now we know why!) and dared Bobotsov to accept the sacrifice in their tournament game scheduled to be played the very next day. So, to the amusement of spectators, both Tal and his opponent blitzed out their opening moves and in about a minute Bobotsov had an extra Queen! Here is the game:

People like to compare the best players of the past with the modern elite players. The disputes like 'who is better Fischer or Caruana?' are of little interest to me since the arguments are always very subjective and there is no way to prove or disprove the possible outcome. So, if you ask me, who would be a winner of a match between today's Carlsen and Tal circa 1960, I won't be able to answer this question. What would prevail: Carlsen's impeccable technique or Tal's limitless creativity? I don't know. Of course, it would be much easier for me to guess a favorite of such a match if there was a tweet like this:

Riga's boy [@]themagician better be ready for 1.c3 e5 2.c4 Nf6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.h4 in the first round.

Meanwhile, if we compare two similar situations where two great players announced the openings they were going to play the next day, I have a clear favorite here. So, to me, it is Tal: 1, Carlsen: 0.

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