Mikhail Tal's Most Spectacular Queen Sacrifice - Birbrager vs. Tal, 1953
Post your favorite queen sacrifice by Mikhail Tal in the comments!

Mikhail Tal's Most Spectacular Queen Sacrifice - Birbrager vs. Tal, 1953

NM SamCopeland

"Which of Mikhail Tal's queen sacrifices is the most spectacular?" is a question guaranteed to generate heated and satisfying discussion in any sizable chess club in the world.

Personally, I consider his queen sacrifice as Black against Isaak Birbrager to be the most spectacular and audacious of his career. Tal surrenders his queen on f3 for just a knight and the prospect of maybe regaining an exchange as well. In his notes, Tal even said that his more mature self might have rejected the sacrifice. It's not often that Tal gets too crazy for himself!

Despite White's extra material and Tal's lack of clear threats, Birbrager is not able to find any idea to counter Tal's dominant pieces, and he blunders into a losing endgame quickly in response to the pressure.

Was Tal's sacrifice sound? As usual with Tal's sacrifice, the question is hard to answer (Stockfish says no, Leela says ... maybe!) and ultimately irrelevant. I'm sure I couldn't have defended against the Tal. What about you?

I've annotated this game below, but my annotations pale in comparison to Mikhail Tal's own annotations in his great work: "Life & Games of Mikhail Tal." If you have never read it, you absolutely must! Tal plays the role of interviewer and interviewee (He was a journalist by trade.) as he presents his personal perspective on a vibrant career packed with brilliant games.

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