Tal v Botvinnik Game 1 - useless analysis

Antonin1957

I have said on this forum many times that I find game analysis to be totally useless for an ordinary chess player. Here is an example.

Last night I was playing through Game 1 of the Tal-Botvinnik championship match from 1960.  I was using Karolyi's book "Mikhail Tal's Best Games 2: The World Champion." 

In Game 1, Tal plays 11.Kd!  Karolyi cites an article by Euwe that mentions that particular move. Apparently, Tal's support team had brought that variation to his attention. In the analysis the move has an exclamation point, but Karolyi never explains why it was a strong move. 

It violates some basic chess principles, such as not moving one's king early in the game and removing the possibility of castling.  Yes, Tal was blessed with a level of insight far beyond us normal chess players, and he could therefore feel free to violate any chess principle.  But I looked at the position and looked at it, but could not determine why 11.Kd1! was considered to be a strong move. Ordinary mortals such as myself need some kind of explanation, because we simply cannot see what a genius like Tal sees.

I became so frustrated I closed the book and turned on the TV to watch NBA basketball. 

I find almost all of modern chess analysis to be completely useless, because it assumes that everyone is of the same level of expertise as the person doing the analysis. Most of us are not and will never be. Modern chess analysis tends to wander off into tedious explorations of line after sub-line. No ordinary person can follow it, because no ordinary person can remember where to place the pieces when resuming the game after working through all the alternate lines. 

To me, almost all modern chess analysis is just experts talking to each other. It does not teach me one tiny little thing. It does nothing to help me enjoy the game. I have less frustration when I just go to chessgames.com and print out games and play through them on my little chess board, without looking at any analysis.

WBillH

Black is threatening Qxc3+, forking the rook and king.

Kd1 isn't the only counter.  Ne2 is strong, too.  But that blocks in the bishop.  Rb1 saves the rook, but allows Qxe5+

Antonin1957
WBillH wrote:

Black is threatening Qxc3+, forking the rook and king.

Kd1 isn't the only counter.  Ne2 is strong, too.  But that blocks in the bishop.  Rb1 saves the rook, but allows Qxe5+

Thank you. Maybe tonight I will set up the game again and work through your explanation. 

Laskersnephew

Grandmaster annotations can be frustrating, particularly to less experienced players. Strong masters have seen some tactical patterns so many times they assume they must be obvious to all their readers. Often, they are not!

But you will really grow as a player if you make an effort to understand what's going on.

JamesColeman

Tal goes into lengthy discussion of this move himself in his famous Tal-Botvinnik 1960 match book.

Playing Kd1 in the Winawer as a way of meeting a possible ...Qxc3+ is certainly not particularly unusual, so I don't think the annotation is "useless" - now you're aware of the idea, and after all, you can only get so far on ABC type basic principle chess.

That said, I had a look and legends such as Anand played Ne2, so you're not alone in looking for alternatives (annotations from Mega 2021)

 

 

Laskersnephew

To the OP: In trying to figure out a move like Tal's 11.Kd1, it some times helps to ask yourself "what was black threatening?" Sometimes a move that doesn't make immediate sense becomes clear once you identify the threat

Rat1960

Looks to me 11. Ne2 Qxe5 ?! 12.  cxd4 Qf6 13. h4 is mighty fine for white.
11. Ne2 dxc3 12. Bf4

I think Bot played ... Bd7 figuring oh I can castle queen side.

Antonin1957
WBillH wrote:

Black is threatening Qxc3+, forking the rook and king.

Kd1 isn't the only counter.  Ne2 is strong, too.  But that blocks in the bishop.  Rb1 saves the rook, but allows Qxe5+

Yes, going back to the game, I see it now. Thank you again. 

Antonin1957
Laskersnephew wrote:

Grandmaster annotations can be frustrating, particularly to less experienced players. Strong masters have seen some tactical patterns so many times they assume they must be obvious to all their readers. Often, they are not!

But you will really grow as a player if you make an effort to understand what's going on.

What frustrates me is that assumption--I'm not an elite level player. Most of us who buy these books (and magazines--I used to subscribe to Chess Life) are not. We are casual players, or at best semi-serious players, who study chess in our free time. 

I have been playing chess for more than 50 years, off and on. My best years were half a century ago. Most of the people on this forum were not even born when I began playing.  I know the basics of the game.  I have some tactical understanding. When I play through the games of great players of the past, at least some of the time I understand what they are trying to accomplish.  But I'm not, never were and never will be an expert. At this point in my life, I study "the other beautiful game" simply because it is such a beautiful game.

When Karolyi mentions Tal's 11.Kd1! he explains "Tal repeats Gligoric's idea from Euwe's article."  Well, I have not read Euwe's article, so I have no idea what he is talking about. Most importantly, he doesn't bother to indicate what the exclamation point is for. If that variation was important enough for Tal's seconds to mention it to him before the match, even though Tal was a genius and should have seen it on his own, it would be more than appropriate for Karolyi to explain its importance to a mere mortal like me. What is the point of analysis if it can't be followed by ordinary players? 

I'm opening Frank Brady's "The Life and Games of Bobby Fischer," a book I've had since the early 70s.  On a random page I see: "Black is almost forced to castle in view of threat of 15 P-B4 and 16 P-K5."  I open Karolyi's book to a random point and I see 4-5 column inches of alternate lines. 

@JamesColeman - With all respect, most people only get slightly beyond "ABC type basic principle chess." What helps us to develop is analysis produced by stronger players who are speaking to us in terms that are understandable, without making assumptions, and without being condescending. Computer-aided analysis produced by an expert for other experts is completely useless to me.  

Put another way...I want to know what a player was thinking when he or she made a particular move. I'm not only interested in the "best move." I want to know what the "best move" is intended to accomplish.

Laskersnephew

You've put your finger on a real problem with chess books: It is very difficult when you look at a book of games to know who it is for. From what I've seen, Karolyi's books are aimed at Candidate Masters and above--stronger players than I am! There are great game collections aimed at players like us, including Tal's own books! Or "Chess: The Art of Logical Thinking" by McDonald, or "50 Essential Chess lessons" by Steve Giddins, or the classic "The Most Instructive Games of Chess Ever Played" by Chernev. All of them will teach the average player a great deal more than pages filled wit almost wordless analysis

korotky_trinity
Rat1960 wrote:

Looks to me 11. Ne2 Qxe5 ?! 12.  cxd4 Qf6 13. h4 is mighty fine for white.
11. Ne2 dxc3 12. Bf4

I think Bot played ... Bd7 figuring oh I can castle queen side.

Amazing game. And I did read that Bot liked French defence very much... But I wonder why ? Why didn't he do long castle ??

I think that this is the main reason why he lost this game.

Antonin1957

For the game I referred to at the beginning of this thread, it would have been much better to say:

11.Kd! 

(Removes the threat of ...Qxc3+)

 

Antonin1957
Laskersnephew wrote:

You've put your finger on a real problem with chess books: It is very difficult when you look at a book of games to know who it is for. From what I've seen, Karolyi's books are aimed at Candidate Masters and above--stronger players than I am! 

That's really unfortunate. I have never purchased a "theory" book--one of those books called something like "Beyond Hyper-Modernism" or "New Frontiers in the Semi-Slav"--because I assume they are for players far beyond my level of skill. But for me, the logical assumption is that a "Best Of" book of games is for the general chess-playing public. People who love chess, know something about a particular player and want to follow his or her career. 

llama47

I had the same experience as a 1300 player who had seen this advice everywhere "analyze GM games to get better"

What they don't tell you is at that level exactly the wrong way to go about it is to try and understand every move. It will only lead to endless frustration... and how could it not? It's literally a GM game, if you could actually understand the best moves of a GM game you'd be near GM level yourself.

Instead, at 1300, look at GM games the way a new art student might look at painting by the old masters, or the music student may listen to a famous player... or since you mentioned basketball, the same way a new player might watch NBA games. Not to understand every detail, but to get the broad strokes.

In chess this means something like note the name of the opening, but other than that just ignore the first 10-15 moves. Once you're in the early mid-game pause for maybe half a minute, and guess which area of the board each player will play on. There are only 3: kingside, center, and queenside. Then go over the next 20 or so moves quickly. At some point in the early endgame, pause for another half minute, and guess which pawns the players will try to promote, and which will be targeted. Not only will the targeted pawns be impossible to defend (or inadequately defended) they can also be attacked by the enemy pieces and/or king.

You can also pause at anything you find interesting not confusing! Ignore confusing moves. Pay attention to ideas you think you might use in your future games. It could be a new opening, or an attack or tactic or endgame idea. Kd1 in the Tal game could be something like "I don't understand it, but apparently that's an option sometimes, ok, neat."

So you note the opening, note one interesting thing, pause at some point in the early mid game, and pause at some point in the early endgame.

Doing this, looking at one game might take 5 minutes... and honestly it wont tell you much, but as you look at more and more games you'll start to get better at predicting which area the players will play on. You'll start to recognize common patterns of development, attack, defense, etc. To help out, select games in groups of 10 or more where all games have the same opening.

As you get better, maybe around 1600, you can add questions like "ok I think white will play on the kingside... but how? Pawns or pieces? What pawn break will he use or maneuver a certain piece?" You predict it and then you watch it unfold... again you'll usually be wrong at first, but the more you look the more you'll develop an intuition.

And that's what it's about, it's about developing an intuition for what a good game looks like. To learn the gritty details buy a book that specifically addresses them. Like a book on strategy or endgames or attacking.

WBillH
Antonin1957 wrote:

For the game I referred to at the beginning of this thread, it would have been much better to say:

11.Kd! 

(Removes the threat of ...Qxc3+)

 

I think being blind to what we each see as obvious is a great hurdle to overcome in *all* communication.  My guess is the author simply saw that as obvious.  happy.png

You have me beat.  It's only 40+ years since I first learned to play.  

I'm going through a lot of books I haven't looked at in years.  I'm picking chess back up after not quite 10 years since my last game.  Chess engines have come a long way.  (My first chess "computer" was a Chess Champion Mk 1 my parents bought me in 1978:  https://www.chessprogramming.org/Chess_Champion_MK_I)

I find it instructional to play the games so I can better explore "why wouldn't that move work"?

I just googled "Tal vs Botvinnik 1960 game 1"

One of the first results took me to Chess Games:  https://www.chessgames.com/perl/chess.pl?tid=54299

This gives me the PGN so I can load it into the GUI of my choice without having to enter the moves myself.  I can know use arrow keys to explore the game.

Lc0 (Leela Chess Zero in the Nibbler GUI) shows this:

The queen move is just a check before playing Ne2.  But what if I don't understand the reasoning?  I'm going to push the h pawn.  Just to see what black's response to that would be.

Aha!

So if white doesn't do *something*, Qxc3+ is a threat.

What this is also showing is that Lc0 agrees with Anand that Ne2 is stronger.  Silly Tal.  happy.png 

WBillH

I'm going through a paper version of Logical Chess Move by Move.  I remember last time I did that, I didn't understand why some moves were clearly better.

With the help of a powerful chess engine, I can now see some of those.  I can also see that the author is not infallible, and sometimes moves I think could be good are either equal or not so bad.

I'm also finding positions where no matter what the author says and what I see in the engine, I still don't understand.  In the past, that would be an index card left in the chess book.  Now, I have an Evernote notebook devoted to tactics I need to study more.  happy.png 

Rat1960

#16 Do you mean these games ?
https://chess.fandom.com/wiki/Logical_Chess_Move_by_Move/pgn

If so, oh yeah. I knew a number of them off by heart back in the day.
Playing them through with an engine brings absolute clarity.

WBillH
Rat1960 wrote:

Yes.  Thanks!  I didn't realize there was a collection, so I've been looking up the individual games as I go through them.   

 

JamesColeman
Antonin1957 wrote:

For the game I referred to at the beginning of this thread, it would have been much better to say:

11.Kd! 

(Removes the threat of ...Qxc3+)

 

Sorry, I didn’t mean any disrespect in my earlier comment, I’d assumed you’d at least seen that the move dealt with the threat of ...Qxc3+ (again, no disrespect intended) and it was upon that basis that i was basing my answer (that both Kd1 and other options have their own pros and cons). 

Laskersnephew

It's true that the threat of Qxc3+ should be obvious, but sometimes when I'm going over a master game, my mind is so busy trying to figure out what the strategic ideas, and what the master's thought process is,  are that I become temporarily "tactics blind." I'm working so hard trying to figure out the "ideas" behind the moves that I overlook simple tactics that i would never (or hardly ever!) miss in my own games