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Alexander Koblents began tutoring him in , after which Tal's game rapidly improved, and by he had qualified for the Latvian Championship. In the Latvian Championship, Tal finished ahead of his trainer. Tal won his first Latvian title in , and was awarded the title of Candidate Master. He became a Soviet Master in by defeating Vladimir Saigin in a qualifying match.
That same year he also scored his first win over a Grandmaster when Yuri Averbakh lost on time in a drawn position. Tal graduated in Literature from the University of Latvia , writing a thesis on the satirical works of Ilf and Petrov , and taught school in Riga for a time in his early twenties. He was a member of the Daugava Sports Society, and represented Latvia in internal Soviet team competitions.
In he married year-old Salli Landau, an actress with the Riga Youth Theatre ; they divorced in In , Landau published a biography in Russia of her late ex-husband. Personality[ edit ] His first wife, Salli Landau, described Mikhail's personality: Misha was so ill-equipped for living When he travelled to a tournament, he couldn't even pack his own suitcase He didn't even know how to turn on the gas for cooking.
If I had a headache, and there happened to be no one home but him, he would fall into a panic: "How do I make a hot-water bottle? Of course, if he had made some effort, he could have learned all of this. But it was all boring to him. He just didn't need to. A lot of people have said that if Tal had looked after his health, if he hadn't led such a dissolute life But with people like Tal, the idea of "if only" is just absurd.
He wouldn't have been Tal then. He had not played in enough international tournaments to qualify for the title of Grandmaster , but FIDE decided at its Congress to waive the normal restrictions and award him the title because of his achievement in winning the Soviet Championship. At that time, the Soviet Union was dominant in world chess, and Tal had beaten several of the world's top players to win the tournament.
He won nineteen games, drew eight, and lost none, for Following the Interzonal, the top players carried on to the Candidates' Tournament , Yugoslavia Botvinnik, who had never faced Tal before the title match began, won the return match against Tal in , also held in Moscow, by 13—8 ten wins to five, with six draws.
In the period between the matches Botvinnik had thoroughly analyzed Tal's style, and turned most of the return match's games into slow wars of maneuver or endgames , rather than the complicated tactical melees which were Tal's happy hunting ground.
Yuri Averbakh claimed that Botvinnik would agree to a postponement only if Tal was certified unfit by Moscow doctors, and that Tal then decided to play. In one of the innumerable tournaments at the Pioneers' That evening I tried everything I could in the position, for the resumption was the following morning.
I could find noth- ing, and so I decided that I would go in and resign. But during the night I dreamed about some unintelligible idea connected - I remember this clearly - with the ad- journed game. On resumption I thought for some 10 minutes, and found it!
But then, unfortunately, I dropped below 'that level', and never again in my life have I dreamed about an adjourned game. Then, by-passing the third category, I succeeded in gaining the second cate- gory rating in my next tournament, and I now began to take a real interest in chess.
And if we are still talking about 'firsts', then I must recall my first departure from Riga to the 'International', as we then proudly considered it, Tournament ofPio- neers' Palaces of the three Baltic Republics. We had to travel to Vilnius, the capi- tal of Lithuania. Our team was the youngest there. I, for instance, was only 12 years old. And in my first game against the Estonians my opponent was a very adult-looking year old. Evidently the Estonian players had come only to win, which would ex- plain the fact that their team was not altogether made up of Pioneers.
And it was not at all surprising that the Riga team took last place, while on second board I scored only one point out of four. But it was this point that proved decisive, since I won against the Estonian player, and as a result the home team took first place.
Probably because of this, for the first time in my life, I was awarded the prize for the most interesting game of the event, although I was highly sceptical about my creative success. The prize - a luxurious edition of Aleksei Tolstoy'S book Peter the First - was very fine, but terribly heavy.
And when it was presented to me, it seemed only slightly easier to drag it back to the table where our team was sitting, than it had been to win the award-winning game In the next year, , I took part in official All-Union events for the first time, when I played for the Latvian youth team in the Championship of the Soviet Un- ion.
Incidentally, during the six years that my age allowed me to take part in youth events, I progressed from the last to the first board in our team. In my first game - it was in the match with Byelorussia - I won, but this success proved to be my only one.
I recall a curious encounter from the tournament with the Lithuanian candidate master Mendeleevsky, which at one point shook my youthful belief in the irreproachability of the elite. The point is that a year earlier in the Match-Tournament for the World Cham- pionship, Botvinnik had sacrificed a pawn in the Slav Defence, and had won very nicely against Euwe. At that time I frequently played this opening, and during the game I established the fact that Mendeleevsky and I were conscientiously My First Steps 21 following the steps of Botvinnik and Euwe.
In addition, I recalled very well that the theorists had condemned the pawn capture, and had recommended another move instead. In particular, Botvinnik had stated this in his notes to the game.
And at the board I thought for a very long time, trying to disprove Botvinnik, be- cause I thought to myself: In the end, 'boldly' following the Dutch Ex-World Champion, I also obtained a lost position, and lengthy thought led to my first loss on time and, thank God, this was the only one in all my years of chess. Does this mean that your 'single combat' with the World Champion began at this point? Or should account be taken of the summer of , when you set offwith a chessboard to play against Botvinnik, who had ar- rived on holiday?
This story is widely known, and I always smile, however many times I hear it. But it is evidently time to explain that it is merely a story.
It is true that Botvinnik, after winning the World Championship, took a holiday by the sea at Riga. I knew about this and wanted to play against him, but there the truth ends.
When I told my family of my intentions they gently dissuaded me from issuing a challenge to the World Champion. But then your journalistic col- leagues heard about it, and immediately 'placed' a chessboard under my arm, sent me off to play Botvinnik, and - how can there be any intrigue without women! In the following Youth Championship of the country I was already playing on a higher board for Latvia, and on this occasion I was taught an instructive lesson.
We had to playa preliminary match with our contemporaries from the Russian Federation, for which we travelled to Yaroslavl. My opponent was a strong player, the very likeable Victor Golenishev, a future master.
Our first game progressed with changing fortunes, and was adjourned in an ending slightly inferior for me. But analysis disclosed that I could obtain by force a position with a knight against two bishops, and nothing else on the board.
Only relatively recently, eighteen months to two years previously, had I learned to give mate to a lone king with two bishops, and, naturally, did not sus- pect that, having a knight, I would face any difficulties.
Therefore, when this po- sition was reached, I began trying to catch my opponent's eye, expecting an offer of a draw. But play went on, and still no offer, and after moves I began to sense that it was not at all so simple. In the end I lost the game, and only managed to gain my revenge 11 years later in my second match with Botvinnik, when I won a similar ending 17th Match game, - Translator's note. On that occasion, in Yaroslavl, we did not reach the final. But in the following year, as a result of a very interesting trip to Kishinyev - I had never before been so far away from home, and people looked at us as foreigners - we reached the final, since we defeated the Moldavian lads.
There I played what was evidently the first successful ending in my life. Everyone thought that the bishop ending where I was a pawn up would be a draw, but we managed to find an interesting bishop ma- noeuvre which gave White a forced win.
But here, taking into account the team's interests, our captain advised me to play quietly and reservedly. The results were immediately apparent! In the very first round, playing White in a well-known variation of the Caro-Kann Defence, I sacrificed a pawn according to theory - I considered that I had the right to do this - but then the normal continuation of the attack was to sacrifice two further pawns, and, in some cases, a rook. Bearing in mind what my captain had said, I began looking for a peaceful solution to the position, got into time-trouble and lost.
This hap- pened every time that I attempted to play reservedly and accurately. It was only when my opponents themselves thrust wild complications upon me, and I could not avoid them, that I was successful. My First Steps 23 Besides, I already considered myself to be quite an experienced player. At the end of I had made my debut in the adult Championship of Riga. In the quar- ter-final I scored out of 13, and reached the first category norm, then from the semi-final I went through to the final.
I finished the Championship with 9 points out of 19, somewhere in the region of 11thth places. However, it was something else that was rather curious. There were two masters playing in the final - Alexander Koblents from Riga, my future trainer, and, hors concours, the Muscovite Evgeny Zagoryansky, to- gether with five candidate masters and 13 first category players.
Against the mas- ters I scored points, and was pleased with my defence of a difficult position against Zagoryansky. My score against the candidates was , but against my fellow first category players - 4 out of Nevertheless, I got through to the Latvian Championship, although this was my fourth tournament in a row and perhaps a little more attention should have been paid to my school work, especially since the third quarter of the school year was finishing.
The tournament began not at all badly for me. In the first round I saved my game against Strautmanis in a way that I liked then, and still do - I fell into a trap, so as to then catch my opponent in it. I got into a difficult position as Black, but then found a combination, apparently overlooking a tactical blow, but in fact win- ning my opponent's queen for rook and bishop by force.
The game finished as a draw. In the second round I fairly quickly defeated the Liepaya player Gravitis, but then in the third round came a tragedy which thoroughly upset me. In my game against the candidate master Zhdanov I played, as I still consider, quite well.
As Black in the Marshall Attack I carried out a fairly interesting combina- tion. I allowed my opponent to obtain a second queen with check, but when he did this, it became clear that his position was quite hopeless; then, in an elementary won position, thinking that I could win just as I pleased, I simply blundered away a piece.
There was still a draw to be had, but I completely went to pieces at this sudden tum of events, and lost the game. Following this I lost several more games, practically without a struggle, so that about six rounds from the finish I was firmly seated in one of the bottom places.
But towards the end the spring holi- days began. School gave me, as it were, time out to regain my strength, and in the remaining games I gained some five points, so that for the second successive time I shared 11thth places with 9 points out of Were you thinking at this time about your chess future; not about the World Championship title, ofcourse, but at least ofthe title ofmas- ter?
I'm afraid that this may now sound coquettish, but at that time I simply played chess and gained pleasure from it. But surely you wanted to do battle with famous players? Yes, of course, I very much enjoyed doing so. Even at that time I was occasionally able to do this, though only in simultaneous displays.
My first such encounter was with Keres, our neighbour from the north, our idol. He came to give a simultaneous display against us, and although he was en- gaged at that time in the battle for the chess crown, I considered it unethical to play against him in a normal display.
I was, after all, a finalist in the Latvian Championship, a solid first category player. So I put my name down for a display with clocks, which Keres gave on 10 boards.
He suffered two defeats - at the hands of future grandmasters Gipslis and my- self. And I was very pleased with this game, not so much because I won, but more because I defeated Keres in the Botvinnik Variation. I thought that psychologi- cally this would be a terrible shock for him, since Keres and Botvinnik were al- ways considered to be, as it were, fundamental opponents at the chessboard. Time passed. Paul Petrovich and I played together in tournaments for several years.
Once I asked him whether he remembered our first encounter. Yes, he replied, in Tallinn, in the match between Latvia and Estonia. No, I told him, earlier, in Riga, in a simultaneous display. Here Paul Petrovich admitted that he had completely forgotten this game - and I had thought that a defeat in the Botvinnik Variation would remain in his memory for ever In the following year, , once again in the Latvian Championship, I ac- quired that very nice habit, which is still with me, of losing my first game.
Since this occurred in the opening 1 e4 e5 2 liJf3 liJc6 3 it. Then things turned for the better, I finished up in 7th place, and inflicted the only defeat on the Latvian Champion Pasman.
In the Youth Championship of the Country our team had its usual troubles, while I was also concerned about the problem of my further education.
I finished school at the age of fifteen and a half, since previously I had been accepted di- rectly into the third year. I sent my application to the Law Faculty of the Univer- sity, but they pointed out to me that I would finish University when I was 20, and according to the law I could be a Public Assessor, or fulfil certain other juridical functions, only from the age of 21, so after University I would have a year of en- forced idleness. Then special permission was received from the Ministry in Mos- cow, from which it appeared that I had the right to study at the Philological Faculty.
I heard about this during the Youth Championships. I loved literature My First Steps 25 and had nothing against the idea.
I flew home, passed the exam, and registered. Inciden- tally, an amusing incident occurred there: I played a game, the result ofwhich I do not know to this day. It was in the fInal round. I got into a bad position, but on resumption succeeded in confusing matters, and my opponent, losing his head in time-trouble, began to repeat moves.
The repetition was somewhat veiled, but the same position oc- curred three times. In accordance with the rules, I did not make my 55th move, but called the chief controller, and asked him to record the draw. But my oppo- nent, in a very loud stentorian-like voice, said that I was a boy, that I had no idea of what was meant by repetition of position, and showed the controller his scoresheet.
The controller took a quick glance, said that there had been no repetition, and told us to play on. My opponent emerged from time-trouble, then realised his ad- vantage and won. Later I went up to the assistant chief controller, and asked him to explain things. We quickly set up the position, and decided that the repetition had occurred.
What was I to do? Shortly afterwards, while I was wondering whether or not to submit a protest, the chief controller came up to me with tables in his hand, and began trying to persuade me that the game was ofno great impor- tance' that all the same our team would take third place, that all the same I would not win the individual tournament on my board, so that on the whole there was no point in creating a fuss.
He went away, whereupon the other controllers came up and said that the chief controller had offended them, and that I should submit a protest. So I wrote one out, but then our train left, and therefore to this day I do not know the control team's decision.
And who was the chiefcontroller? Is it important? On a couple of subsequent occasions he was the chief controller of tournaments where I was playing. And both times, for some reason, I forgot to ask him what had been the result of that game But, to be honest, I very quickly forgot about it.
Especially since I soon gained my fIrst real success: Mind you, I couldn't avoid doing so. The point was that from , each year for a period of fIve years, the Championship of the Republic was won 'according to tradition' by a fIrst-year student from the University. I played well, although I lost to the master Koblents in a game which he remembers to this day. In that game I played the opening badly, but then he missed a tactical stroke, and in addition had very little time left on his clock, but here, in his time pressure, I played 'a tempo', and lost my queen.
With his flag raised, Koblents made his 39th move, got up and prepared to walk away, thinking that the control had been reached. I warned him that he was mistaken. Koblents was most mistrustful ofmy words, but all the same he sat down and made another move a few seconds before the fall of his flag, whereupon I resigned. He then checked his scoresheet, found the mistake in it, and 'began to respect' me.
By the way, at that moment we two were the only real challengers for first place, but then the Maestro, as Koblents was called by everyone, dropped back somewhat Youth as a whole did well in the tournament, so that when, in the autumn, after the Youth Championship of the Country where I succeeded in playing the fairly lively game against Birbrager given here, we set off for the Adult Team Champi- onship of the USSR, the Latvian team appeared unexpectedly young, with 16 year-olds Tal and Gipslis, and 17 year-old Klovans.
Only our leader, Koblents, and one other player, could be called experienced fighters. It was to Koblents that the witty Lithuanian master Vistanestskis addressed himself- 'What are you do- ing? It is after 1st September, and time for children to be at school, and you are making them play chess! We played with great enthusiasm, and not only reached the final, but even took fourth place there, ahead of the weakened, but nevertheless formidable, Ukrain- ian team.
On the third board Klyavin played splendidly, and as a result gained the master title. I also reached the master norm, but the All-Union Classification Committee considered it inexpedient to give the title straight away to two mem- bers of the same team and on board 2 I had gained less points than Klyavin.
In- stead I was granted the right to playa qualifying match with the then practically permanent Champion of Byelorussia, the master Vladimir Saigin. From the team tournament, the game with Korchnoi sticks in my memory; it was our first game. We played each other twice, but it was our first encounter in the opening round of the semi-final which so affected the score between us, which, as is well known, is not at all in my favour.
Before the start of play I was naturally nervous: In an Alekhine Defence I obtained the better position, then saw a chance to increase the pressure, and a forced variation. I went in for it and My First Steps 27 advantage for my opponent. On resumption I defended stubbornly, but all the same resigned towards the end of the first hundred moves.
There was some con- solation in the fact that in the final Korchnoi finished below me. At that time you were already having to playfairly important, and sometimes decisive, games.
How did you manage in them? At that time not very well, especially in team events when I was tortured by a sense ofheightened responsibility. I tried to restrain myself, but to play 'not your own game' , to play against yourself, is always difficult and un- pleasant. Later, within eighteen months to two years, I began to succeed in deci- sive games, perhaps because I realised a very simple truth: The year began for me with my first tournament game against a Grand- master, none other than Keres.
We travelled to Tallinn for the traditional friendly match, in which there was normally a hard battle on the men's boards, while on the two women's boards the ladies from Estonia always defeated ours. For some reason I, and not Koblents, was on board one, and when it became known that Keres would be playing, my team-mates gloomily joked that the number of our ladies' boards had become three: The surprises, some of them really touching, began as early as the station in Tallinn, when among those there to meet us we saw Keres.
We, who were mainly lads, were taken in his car to the hotel, and for literally each of us he found a friendly, welcoming smile. The first round was played that evening. Our game began with the King's In- dian Defence, and I remember that on the 6th move I had a strong urge to ex- change queens.
However, I did not want to play openly for a draw, and later I realised that I would have been unlikely to gain one against such a virtuoso as Keres. At a later stage I played sharply, Keres seized the initiative, and I admired the way that, in time-trouble, he left himself literally seconds for his last move, and, having worked everything out, captured my piece, not fearing the series of checks which then commenced.
Of course I lost the adjourned game, but I drew the second as Black, finding an unexpected move in a somewhat inferior ending. But all the same, you were a candidate master, whereas Keres was number two or three in the world. Wasn't itfrightening?
No, it was very interesting. And have you never been afraid ofanyone?
Before a game with Korchnoi, for instance, or with Spassky or Keres, against whom the score is clearly not in my favour, I might be nervous, feel uncomfortable or even afraid, but on sitting down at the board, I would forget about everything: I would become engrossed in the game. Did you ever headfor a draw from the very first move?
In all my life, only once. I was terribly ashamed, and from that time I swore: After the team match, the Latvian Championship was held. I was 'physically' unable to win it, since I was now in my second year of study, and I shared second and third places with Gipslis.
Then in the summer I played the match with Saigin. At that time, in testing us, the Chess Federation was rather careful in its choice of examiners for those seeking the master title. It may be recalled that, a few months before becoming a Grandmaster and a candidate for the World Championship, Petrosian played such a match, as did Kholmov a little later.
My match with Saigin proceeded in a very lively fashion. To this day the im- pression has not left me that at some point the Byelorussian master simply felt sorry for me, and played the last few games at only half strength. The first game, which was very interesting, ended in a draw. Just at that time we were studying the so-called Belgrade Gambit, and in the Pioneers' Palace we rehearsed the most interesting and head-spinning variations.
Ofcourse, the decision to make this opening my main weapon as White against Saigin was clearly attributable, in the main, to the fact that I was only eighteen years old.
In the second game I was a little careless in the opening, and lost in 17 moves. I won the third with roughly the same 'speed'. Then came a series of draws which we each secured in turn. The best game of the match was the eighth, which is given here, and which I won, but the tenth also sticks in my mind. In it the pieces were so amusingly placed, that you might have thought that it was being played by beginners!
Jfd7 Jc5 34l: Jbxa4 Jxc4 4: Jxc3 37 l: J5a4 Jxd4 40 l: Ixa4 4: Jxc6 41l: Jxd6 b2 43l: Ib6 4: Jb4 44 l: Ixbl 47 4: My opponent, who was coming back I defended, and by a simple exchange could have left myself with essentially an extra rook. To my misfortune, the idea of a fantastic- ally beautiful win came into my head. I played for it, the situation grew tense, both kings were threatened with mate, and suddenly I discovered that the whole point of my combination lay in the move.
Since bishops don't move that way, I had to resign. It was here that I had the unsubstantiated feeling that Saigin was not especially pleased with such a win, and that he played the next two games as if he were feel- ing guilty. I managed to win them and this terminated the match ahead of sched- ule, although we also played the final game. Two questions occurred to me in connection with this.
All these attempts of yours to find more complicated wins have cost, and still cost you, more points than perhaps anyone else in the world.
Surely life must have taught you something? Yes, it probably has. Nowadays, in my opinion, this hap- pens less frequently, but, you see, sometimes an idea occurs which is so interest- ing that it proves stronger than me.
But perhaps it is not worth recalling them? Yes, it is! Then concerning my game with Veltrnander: I could have moved my king to b2, after which mate in three was in- evitable, but from the aesthetic point of view this for some reason appeared unat- tractive to me. I allowed him some play, and with difficulty gained a draw. An unpleasant situation arose, for I was simply unable to explain to my team-mates True, in my heart I remained faithful to myself, and only re- gretted the fact that I had miscalculated.
Otherwise everything would have been fine! The second question: Oh, no You see, I was so cocky that I thought that ifthere was to be a match, then I would win it. From the other events of that year I should like to mention the Youth Team Championship of the Country. I had by now ascended from last to first board in the Latvian team, and here I played for the first time against the leader ofthe Len- ingrad team, Boris Spassky.
The board one tournament was highly respectable: Spassky and I had our own special race: Xc7 28 l: After this, still a candidate master, I My First Steps 31 drew a couple of games, and then received notification that I was a master.
This change evidently had a bad effect on me, for towards the end I lost more games than I won or drew. Before this there was, as usual, the Latvian Championship, but I was somehow living in anticipation of greater things, and regarded it as just an ordinary tournament.
Be- sides, the first-year student was not I, but Gipslis, and this explains everything! Therefore in the USSR Team Championship - there is no longer any need to distinguish between Youth and Adult, as my chess youth was over - I played on board 2, and the tournament was the first in which I went through without a defeat. Were you pleased by this? I was always indifferent to it.
What did please me was the fact that I saved a very difficult ending against Lipnitsky. Black does not get into zugzwang! The 'quarter' in which I played was called the Baltic Zonal Tournament, and was strong enough: Four of the eight- een competitors subsequently became Grandmasters. Incidentally, it was there that for the first time in the All-Union arena in the Latvian Championship it had From the creative point of view, the tournament began very productively for me.
Even all the draws - and in the first seven rounds I had as many as five - were at times simply head-spinning. Then came a decline and two highly annoying de- feats, one of which occurred in the game with Lein, due to an incident which for me was atypical. He had very little time remaining, and, thinking over the prob- lem of how to realise my advantage most quickly, I forgot all about the clock.
Suddenly I saw the controllers approaching. In some 40 seconds I suc- ceeded in making all 15 moves to the control, but in my haste the path I followed was not at all the one over which I had been thinking for so long. Be that as it may, but some 6 or 7 rounds before the finish my chances of suc- cess had practically disappeared.
In addition, my next three games were with my colleagues from Riga, all of whom were above me in the tournament table. How- ever, sport is sport, and it was necessary to 'step over their dead bodies'. The end- ing with Gipslis proved especially interesting. From the start my opponent played openly for a draw, knowing that this would not satisfy me. It would be suicide to rush into the attack against White's solid position, and after thinking over one move for I hour 40 minutes!
On the other hand, the resulting position de- manded energetic action on Gipslis' part, but he was unable to re-adjust, and Black obtained a counter-attack. In the adjourned position I succeeded in finding a study-like win. My First Steps 33 At home, in Riga, the Semi-final proved a great surprise to me.
Grandmaster Boleslavsky was playing there, as well as strong and experienced masters such as Furman and Korchnoi. Against the latter I had a considerably inferior individual score. Trying to 'win one back', I lost to him from a better position on the eve of the Semi-final in the Russian Federation-Latvia Match, and then again in the Semi-final.
Psychology clearly played its part! Then, in such a strong tournament as this, I managed to assure myself of first place with one round to go. Several games are worth recalling, the one with Lebe- dev, for instance, where I more consciously repeated the stratagem which had proved itself in the game with Gipslis. Here is a more 'traditional' game: Riga Game 1 Tal 12 years - Zilber 15 years Riga French Defence Every experienced chess player and I, unfortunately, have every right to be considered one is familiar with that strange feeling which he has when he sits down to annotate his early games.
On the one hand, he plays through them with a sort of tenderness, just like an adult watching a film taken by his parents of his early years or even months, or looking through the fading photographs from a family album; on the other hand, whether he wants to or not, on almost every move his hand all but stretches out to attach a question mark. On the whole, I do not like an- notating other people's games. The point is that I consider that it is very difficult to penetrate into a player's thinking, to guess the direction of the variations thought out by him, and therefore it is better to direct one's at- tention towards one's own games.
I prefer to make my annotations 'hot on the heels', as it were, when the for- tunes of battle, the worries, hopes and disappointments are still sufficiently fresh in my mind. Much as I would like to, I cannot say this about these few games which will be given below. In fact, if the annotator should begin to use phrases of the type: I had worked out the following vari- ation Therefore, I would ask you not to regard the fol- lowing 'stylised' annotations too se- verely.
The game given below was played in the Championship of the Riga Pal- ace of Pioneers, just at the time when the 'Golden Age' of young Latvian chess players was beginning. If I re- member correctly, A. Gipslis and Y. Klovans, who were to become quite well known masters within a few years, played in the Palace, while I was making my usual unsuccessful at- tempt to obtain first category rating.
On looking through the following game, it will be easy to see why this attempt was unsuccessful. However, I don't wish to claim My First Steps 35 6 i.
However, in the present case I don't consider that any detailed analysis of the opening system is necessary. This continuation is possibly the strongest rejoinder. Ifwe use the 'ret- rospective method', it can be supposed that the white player who at that time already had a reputation as a tactician simply did not care for the prospect of the queens being exchanged at some stage after the capture on d4.
I like this move even now; it em- phasises the bad position of the black queen, while keeping the bishop under attack. Such a critical assessment is by no means a sign of the sceptical atti- tude of a venerable Grandmaster to his young inexperienced namesake.
If I had had to annotate this game 25 years ago, the verdict would have been the same. It is difficult to believe that White should miss the chance to win the game immediately using 'arith- metic': He could have saved his queen by playing ll No doubt the idea of placing the bishop en prise appeared so tempting that other possibilities did not occur to me unfortunately, this disease from my youth sometimes recurs even now.
On the other hand, ifthis is the case, then the question arises as to why did White not play i. I am absolutely sure that my op- ponent's reply came as a surprise to Black has an extra bishop, for which I now do not see any compensa- tion at all.
On the other hand, it was not difficult to detect that the black king's pawn cover had been weak- ened.
White continues as if nothing has happened. On this square the queen is excellently placed. In reply to In the first place, the di- agonal is opened for White's bishop, and in addition the black pieces are denied the use of the important e5- square.
The fact that Black's light- squared bishop is activated, is, in the given case, a less significant factor. Underestimating the enemy's threats was a sin of Zilber's even in youth. It appears that now was the last chance for Black to move his king away. After Perhaps he had intended My First Steps 37 planning a counter-attack, but had un- derestimated White's 23rd move.
Here he should first have eliminated the white knight at e4, although in this case White has an undisputed initia- tive after the possible I was no doubt very pleased with myself at this moment.
Clearly both knights are immune. The main threat is 24l: It is hard to be sure that I would definitely have found the winning manoeuvre No further com- mentary is required. It must be admitted that there is a certain justification for such a nickname. After an event, cer- tain players like to indulge in an un- usual form of statistics; they count up the points that stand alongside their names in the tournament table, and also those that could have been.