Mikhail Tal's Chess Boomerang

Mikhail Tal's Chess Boomerang

| 27 | Tactics

The game we are going to analyze today is quite typical for the style of Mikhail Tal. It features sacrifices, crazy attack and a lot of fun!

Also, as it happened to many Tal's sacrifices, it was proven incorrect.  Of course it took "only" about 50 years and the computer's assistance to find a definite refutation of the Tal's idea.

To me the fact that the sacrifice wasn't sound doesn't matter at all, since it wasn't a correspondence game and it is above human ability to find the only way out of the labyrinth while your clock is ticking and pressure is almost unbearable!

Tal via Wikipedia

I think Kasparov thought the same way as he wrote in his excellent book "My Great Predecessors":

"And even today it is not altogether clear whether a grandmaster of Larsen's standard -- say, Leko -- would be able to solve the resulting problems. Blows such as 16. Nd5?! are periodically landed by Shirov, and with him this usually works! In short, in this game, for the umpteenth time, Tal posed problems that were ahead of their time in complexity." 

It all started in the next position:

Yes, you see it right, White has sacrificed the whole knight just to clear diagonals for his powerful bishops and open the e-file for his rooks. To appreciate how difficult it is to defend here, try to find the best defense for Black:

So, was it easy for you to discover the defense? Larsen didn't find the best moves and quickly got into trouble:

At the end Tal executed a simple but cute combination.  Can you spot it?

A very beautiful game indeed!  As they like to say in chess books and magazines, "only Tal could play like this."  

Now try to find the idea White played in the next position:

Yes, again we see the same combination in Tal's game, except he is on the receiving end now! As a boomerang, the Nd5 sacrifice returned to Tal five years later!

The idea is absolutely identical to the previous game: White sacrifices a knight to clear diagonals for his bishops and open the e-file for his rook!

This game might be not as well known as Tal-Larsen, but it is still very instructive.  Try to conduct the attack as GM Viktor Kupreichik:

As you could see, even Tal himself wasn't able to survive White's attack after the Nd5!! sacrifice.

Such a sacrifice is quite typical for the Sicilian defense and should be in your chess arsenal if you open the game with 1.e4.  And even if you never play the Sicilian defense with either color, I hope you had an opportunity to learn something about attack and defense in chess. 


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