Mikhail Tal's First Brilliancy? - Tal vs. Simagin, 1956
Mikhail Tal wins a brilliancy in his debut at the Soviet Championship.

Mikhail Tal's First Brilliancy? - Tal vs. Simagin, 1956

NM SamCopeland

In his first Soviet Chess Championship, Mikhail Tal scored 10.5/17 and tied for fifth place - an excellent showing for a 19-year-old; however, the next year he would radically improve his score and win his first of a record six Soviet Championships.

Tal's most memorable game from the championship was a pleasing attack against Vladimir Simagin who really waved a red flag in front of a bull by beginning 1...c6 and 2...d6, saving yours truly any need to review opening theory this week! The game was widely published throughout the chess world and may have been Tal's first game to have been celebrated so widely. For many at the time, it would likely have been the first game they saw from this promising, young attacking wizard.

The attack is an instructive one which well illustrates the following advice:

  • Punish unorthodox opening play with centralization, development, aggression.
  • Catch your opponent's king in the middle with pawn breakthroughs and sacrifices.
  • Place a higher value on having a queen when your opponent's king is exposed.

I've included my notes below. Supposedly Tal thought Simagin had missed a draw as he tried to race his king up the board, but I can't find any salvation for Simagin.

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