Mikhail Tal Sacrifices A Full Rook In The Candidates - Tal vs. Portisch, 1965
Tal sacrificed his one developed rook for a fantastic attack.

Mikhail Tal Sacrifices A Full Rook In The Candidates - Tal vs. Portisch, 1965

NM SamCopeland

Mikhail Tal lost his 1961 World Championship rematch against Mikhail Botvinnik (king of the rematch) and had to withdraw from the Curacao tournament of 1962. In both cases, health was an issue. In 1962, he had undergone a major operation just before the event. Still, Tal was a strong contender for the championship again in the 60's and 70's, and in 1965, he made a deep run in the Candidates' match cycle starting with his match against GM Lajos Portisch of Hungary.

In Tal's first game with the white pieces, he was surprised by Portisch's choice of the Caro-Kann. An unusual sideline (The Two Knights) proved an excellent antidote as Portisch never seemed to settle into the position, finish development, and castle.

The resulting brilliancy shows Tal's powers at their full potency. He offers a daring rook sacrifice on e6 which is ultimately rewarded, allowing Tal to redeem his previously tarnished history of sacrifices on e6 in a Caro Kann.


  • When your opponent may not be familiar with an opening structure, get them out of book.
  • As always, defending is harder than attacking.
  • Know what makes your opponent uncomfortable.
  • A queen is very powerful against an open king. Consider it worth at least a couple of pawns in compensation.

My notes are below. Tal's own notes are available in his incredible collection, "Life & Games of Mikhail Tal".

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