WE’VE all heard of Morphy at the Opera, but now there comes Tal at the Opera as the Latvian National Opera plans to debut a new work next year based on Mikhail Tal becoming world chess champion in 1960. It reportedly features eight singers, eight dancers and 16 instrumentalists – to symbolise the 32 chess pieces.
During a golden period from 1957 to 1960, Tal was twice champion of the USSR, had the best result at the Munich Olympiad, the Interzonal, the Candidates tournament, and was world champion at 23 years old.
Unfortunately, he smoked and drank to excess, and, tragically, also became addicted to morphine from the many chronic illnesses he suffered before his untimely death, aged 55, from major organ failure in 1992.
There are two types of sacrifices, “correct ones and mine,” once joked Tal. And indeed many of his games have since been computer-analysed and found to
contain flaws by which the opponent could fend off the attack.
However, in practical play, the reality is that the complications would usually prove too difficult and the defender succumbs.
Today’s game is one of my all-time Tal favourities, and typical of the sort that our bacchanalian hero would often conjure up from nowhere to bamboozle his opponents. Your computer will tell you it is all unsound, but what does that soulless silicon beast really know?
M Tal - A Koblencs
Riga Training Match, 1957
1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 d6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Bg5 e6 7 Qd2 Be7 8 0–0–0 0–0 9 Nb3 Qb6 10 f3 a6 11 g4 Rd8 12 Be3 Qc7 13 h4 b5 14 g5 Nd7 15 g6 hxg6 16 h5 gxh5 17 Rxh5 Nf6 18 Rh1 d5 19 e5 Nxe5 20 Bf4 Bd6 21 Qh2 Kf8 22 Qh8+ Ng8 23 Rh7 f5 24 Bh6 Rd7 25 Bxb5 Rf7 26 Rg1 Ra7 27 Nd4 Ng4 28 fxg4 Be5 29 Nc6 Bxc3 30 Be3 d4 31 Rgh1 Rd7 32 Bg5 axb5 33 R1h6!! d3 34 bxc3 d2+ 35 Kd1 Qxc6 36 Rf6+ Rf7 37 Qxg7+ 1–0