The Chess Terminator: Hasta la Vista, Baby!

The Chess Terminator: Hasta la Vista, Baby!

| 24 | Tactics

The game from round 17 of the Soviet Championship 1957 was more proof that Tal was getting back to his great form. Even though it was just a draw, this game was one of Tal's favorites.

In his book, Tal wrote that he always loved the brilliancy awards even if he had to share them with an opponent in a case of a draw. In his chess career, he played four draws awarded with brilliancy prizes, but he loved this game the most!

Round 18: This is a typical Tal game: an attack that appeared out of nowhere, with every single move pointed at White's king, and an almost inhuman determination to checkmate the opponent.  

I cannot help but remember the famous dialogue from the movie:

John Connor: You just can't go around killing people.
The Terminator: Why?
John Connor: What do you mean why? 'Cause you can't.
The Terminator: Why?
John Connor: Because you just can't, OK? Trust me on this.

The game is given as a test.  Play like the chess terminator!

Round 19: A quiet positional opening unexpectedly turned into a very complicated endgame after Black sacrificed an exchange to obtain connected passed pawns on the queenside. At the end, neither side could avoid the repetition of the position.

Round 20: This game is mostly remembered for an interesting episode at the very end which was described by Tal in his book. The position at that moment was very drawish. (Again opposite-colored bishops! See our previous article.) Tal offered his opponent a draw. Kholmov immediately said "nyet" and started thinking about his next move.

At first, Tal couldn't understand what Kholmov was thinking about in this dead even position. Suddenly, it occurred to Tal that his opponent had a very dangerous idea and the more Tal analyzed the position, the more he hated it.

Meanwhile, the torture continued as Kholmov kept thinking. At some point, Tal realized that his position was actually lost and considered resignation, when suddenly, after the whole hour of thinking, Kholmov offered him a draw!

Tal immediately agreed and asked Kholmov what he was thinking about for the whole hour. Kholmov answered that he was considering an opening that would help him to beat Bronstein in the last round the next day!

By the way, the postmortem proved that Tal was seeing ghosts and the final position in his game vs. Kholmov was indeed drawish!

Round 21: In the last round of the marathon tournament, Tal played co-leader Alexander Tolush. For many years, Tolush was one of the strongest Soviet masters, but he never won the national championship. Since he was 47 years old already, Tolush knew it was his last chance! But our chess terminator was unstoppable and executed another classical attack. Can you play like Mikhail Tal?

After the game, Tal called home: "Mom, Mom, I am the National Champion!"

"Congratulations, son!" she answered, and then asked "is Tolush OK?"

"Tolush?" asked Tal. 

In his euphoria, Tal didn't even think about his opponent. Meanwhile, Tolush was leaving the tournament hall. He was visibly shaken, as his last real chance to win the national championship was gone, and he knew that he would probably never get another opportunity like this.

"Chess is a cruel game," added Tal when he remembered this moment in his book.

At the very end of the movie, the Terminator insists that he should be destroyed by a pool of molten steel, and John Connor starts to cry.

The Terminator: I know now why you cry, (wipes John's tear) but it is something I can never do.


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