Chess Checks

Chess Checks

A tale of sacrifice from the Tal book.Combinations with sacrifices stir up excitement-level among spectators, especially if the sacrifices are based on judgement rather than on cool calculations.

In modern chess, where players are armed with theory and proficient at positional play, sacrifices are not as prominently seen as in the olden days.

Mikhail Tal was a world champion whose sacrifices had the ability to stun his opponents as well as the chess enthusiasts. Dubbed as the ‘Magician from Riga,’ Tal has a huge following even today. The game below is one of his interesting ones, played when he was just 19.It has his distinctive stamp and the sacrifices just enliven the proceedings.

White: Mikhail Tal (2475) – Black: Vladimir Simagin (2625)
Leningrad, 1956
Pirc Defence
1.e4 c6 2.d4 d6
Generally Black plays 2. ..d5 which is the Caro Kann Defence
3.Nc3 Nf6 4.f4

An interesting pawn advance
4. ..Qb6 5.Nf3 Bg4 6.Be2 Nbd7 7.e5 Nd5 8.0–0 Nxc3 9.bxc3 e6
10.Ng5

If  10.Be3 Qc7  11.Re1
10. ..Bxe2 11.Qxe2 h6 12.Nxf7
Tal shocks everyone with a knight sacrifice here. If 12.Nf3 d5 13.f5 c5
12. ..Kxf7 13.f5 dxe5 14.fxe6+
White can think about 14.Qh5+
14. ..Kxe6 15.Rb1

Diagram 1

Here comes a shocker from Tal! He had already sacrificed a knight and now this stunning rook sacrifice. All of White’s pieces are in the first two rows which makes this sacrifice difficult to comprehend
15. ..Qxb1. Black accepts the sacrifice
16.Qc4+ Kd6 17.Ba3+ Kc7 18.Rxb1

White now nets Black’s queen for a rook and knight
18. ..Bxa3 19.Qb3. Targetting the bishop and the King simultaneously
19. ..Be7
He decides to save the bishop, which does not look like a good idea
20.Qxb7+ Kd6
If 20. ..Kd8  21.Qxa8+

21.dxe5+ Nxe5 22.Rd1+ Ke6
Black virtually has no choice and the moves are almost forced
23.Qb3+ Kf5 24.Rf1+ Ke4 25.Re1+
A splendid move!
25. ..Kf5 26.g4+ Kf6
If 26. ..Kxg4  27.Rxe5 And if 26. ..Kf4  27.Rf1+ Ke4  28.Qe6 Bc5+  29.Kg2 Rae8  30.Re1+ Be3  31.Qf5+ Kd5  32.Rxe3 and White is winning
27.Rf1+ Kg6 28.Qe6+
White is relentless in his attack
28. ..Kh7 29.Qxe5
Pausing to grab material!. If 29.Qxe7 Rhe8  30.Qc5 Rad8
29. ..Rhe8 30.Rf7
Persistent in his threats!
30. ..Bf8

If 30. ..Bf6  31.Qxf6
31.Qf5+ Kg8 32.Kf2
Better and safer is 32.Kf1 where he is not subjected to checks
32. ..Bc5+ 33.Kg3 Re3+ 34.Kh4 Rae8
If 34. ..Be7+  35.g5 Bxg5+ 36.Kh5 Rae8. And if 34. ..g+  35.Kh5 Rh3+  36.Kg6 Rd8
35.Rxg7+

Eliminating all possible threats by his opponent.
35. ..Kxg7 36.Qxc5 R8e6 37.Qxa7+ Kg6.  If 38. ..Rf6  39.Qg8 checkmate
38.Qa8 Kf6 39.a4

White now decides that his passed pawns needs pushing and promoting!
39. ..Ke5 40.a5 Kd5 41.Qd8+ Ke4
If 41. ..Rd6  42.c4+ Kc5  43.Qb6+ Kxc4  4.Qxe3
42.a6. The pawn now threatens to march merrily to the last rank
42. ..Kf3 43.a7 Re2 44.Qd3+ R2e3 45.Qxe3+ 1–0       
However there is an interesting after thought here that if 45. Qd4 it is Black who checkmates with 45. ..Rxh2.
Diagram 2
White to play and win
1.Be6+  Kxe6  2.Qe8+ Nge7  3.d5 checkmate.

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