In the candidate chess championship cycle of 1964-1966... maybe Mikhail Tal's last great event

In the candidate chess championship cycle of 1964-1966... maybe Mikhail Tal's last great event

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Who doesn't like Tal? Not me... Hanging pieces, sacrifices... and the opponent gets checkmated! I always wanted to explore somehow his games, but it seemed to me a little difficult. Haven't specified exactly why. This cycle of games attracted me, as Tal, then already ex-champion, would possibly show maturity in his games, but still at the age of 28 & full of strength [maybe silly thought?!]. And to justify the blog's title, Tal of course participated in great events and tournaments afterwards, but never getting so close to a 2nd chess championship.

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Starting... interzonal tournament in Amsterdam [20 May - 21 June 1964].

Twenty four participants in a single round robin tournament. Six would advance, and with the addition of Botvinnik and Keres [as ex world champion and previous candidate finalist respectively], would form the final knock-out group. Botvinnik in the end was substituted by Geller.

From the interzonal, Smyslov, Larsen, Spassky & Tal tied at first place with 17/23. The remaining two seats were taken by Ivkov and Portisch, as Stein and Bronstein were excluded cause of the nationality restriction [only 3 from each country could advance] and Reshevsky got out in a knock-out match vs Portisch.

Remarkable was Larsen's performance in this first interzonal for him, as he had more wins and less draws than anyone of the top 4. Bobby Fischer's absence, too, but this in the end of this post...

from Шахматы в СССР 09/1964

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Two Tal's brilliant games in the Interzonal...

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Tringov, Pachman & Portisch found in http://www.gahetna.nl/

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Tal vs Portisch in the Candidates Quarterfinal

Bled, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 26 Jun - 10 Jul 1965 [+4-3-1]. In this match I've managed to track some Tal's opening preferences. As black he played often the Nimzo-Indian. Opening [but with different variations] that can be found in his championship matches too.

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Tal vs Larsen in the Candidates Semifinal

Bled, Slovenia, 23 July - 8 August 1965 [+3=5-2]. Maybe one of the greatest matches I've ever tried to study, with both sides attacking. Firstly a great game by Larsen.

from Шахматы Рига 21/1965

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And two great by Tal...

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Spassky vs Tal in the Candidates Final

Tbilisi, Soviet Union (Georgia), 1-26 Nov 1965 [+4=6-1]. And Tal bumped into a future champion. Strong fight and difficult games! It was noticeable that two Spassky's wins were after longer endgames [over 65 moves]. One R+B vs R+B and one 2Rs+N vs 2Rs+N, where pawns won. Games for longer study. Two draws too! R+B vs R+B & R+B vs R+N. Games that needed real harder study.

from Шахматы Рига 24/1965

Here is presented the only Tal's win...

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Great games... they needed more I think!

from De Telegraaf of 05.11.1965

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The big absent... a side scene

Bobby Fischer was called of course to participate in the interzonal, but as it's well known he didn't. According to Het Parool of 21-03-1964, Bisguier was also an American that he was called, but in the end didn't make it, too. Benko and Evans took their places. Main proposed reasons for Fischer's absence, that I've found while searching, were on one side the money on the other Fischer's beliefs on Soviet conspiracy.

Fischer, at the time 21 years old and recent US champion, had announced, since Dec 1963, a fee of $250 for every 50/board simultaneous exhibition in which he would be called. On web I couldn't find something really accurate concerning the number of cities. It should be over 30 [according to this in chessgames that it seemed as more accurate?! // on the previous see Profile of a Prodigy by Fr. Brady 1965 p. 86 & The unknown Bobby Fischer by J. Donaldson, 1999, p. 82, also a great photo in rarehistoricalphotos].

On the other hand, Fischer was already known for his biting expressed opinion around fixed by Soviets results in tournaments, at least since Aug 1962, right after Curacao 1962. Specifically on Aug 19, 1962, a Fischer's article was published in Sports Illustrated, under the tile "The Russians have fixed world chess". In his words in Curacao 1962: "...[the Russians] dawdled at the chess-boards for half an hour or so, made a few quick moves, traded off as many pieces a possible and then offered a draw", excluding Tal from this collusion, surely for his entrance in hospital, where Fischer actually visited him [photos can be found around the web].

from Life Feb 21, 1964

Concerning Amsterdam 1964, I've read in Brady [p. 81] that: "In a statement released to the press on the eve of the Interzonal, Bobby had returned to his theme of Soviet chicanery...". I couldn't find anything on these dates. The most relative was an article about him, in Life of Feb 21, 1964, where a statement of his is reproduced: "I'll never play in one of those rigged tournaments again. They clobber us easy in team play. But man to man, I'd take Petrosian on any time." However, the origin of these statements has been criticized [Winter's CN 5200].

Maybe some truth can be found in a Prins' article in Het Parool of 20-05-1964. There, a day before interzonal begins, L. Prins announces through Dutch press the Fischer's non-participation. Reproducing Fischer's words [?], after a paragraph of Fischer's recent international achievements, writes: "...my right to be accepted to a candidates tournament is undisputed, even without a test of interzonal level". [= mijn recht op toelating tot een kandidatentoernooi is onbetwist ook zonder proeve van Interzonale bekwaamheid ]. The time and the place of these statements gave to me the impression that this was the official reason of Fischer's declining.

In the end must be surely added that Timman in his Titans [p. 203] considers as possible that Fischer declined "cause he was afraid to lose a match".

Who can tell?

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