Chess Archaeology HomeChess is a scientific game and its literature ought to be placed on the basis of the strictest truthfulness, which is the foundation of all scientific research.W. Steinitz

Unknown Games of Mikhail Tal
by Tomasz Lissowski

    Although Riga, the capital of Lettland (Latvia), lies only three hours flight from Warsaw, Mikhail Tal, the “Wizard from Riga,” was seen only three times in Poland by the local lovers of chess.  Two major reasons may explain this absence.  The first was the lack of great tournaments with prizes in “hard” currency held in Poland.  The second involved the rules governing the Soviet Chess Federation.  That organization’s leaders had in their hands a powerful tool to exert pressure on chessplayers, i.e. the power to give permission (but more often not to give!) for a trip abroad.
    The first time Tal visited Poland was in February 1966.  His initial display, a simultaneous exhibition against the best Warsaw team of players under 20 years old, was not difficult.  The champion allowed only one draw (to Jerzy Lewi) in eight games.  The draw could be considered a grandmaster achievement by his young opponent, in those days fully unknown outside Poland.
Tal,M — Lewi,J
POL Warsaw (Youth Exhibition)
** White is hopelessly lost, but for one moment of lapsed concentration which proved crucial.
1...Kg7? 2.Rg8+!! ½-½.
** Mad rook.  2...Kxg8 stalemate or 2...K-any 3.Rxg6 Kxg6 stalemate.
Szachy, 1966, p92
Note: Jerzy Lewi, born in 1949, was extremely gifted although he never realized his countries hopes.  In 1969 he was both the junior champion and adult champion of Poland.  After the zonal tournament in Athens he refused to return to Poland and finally settled down in Sweden.  Lewi tragically died in 1972 in Lund, under circumstances not quite clear.

    Tal’s second display was an eight board clock simultaneous (40 moves in 2 hours) against a strong Warsaw team.  The event was witnessed by hundreds of chess fans and was held in a modern student hostel called “Riviera.”  Tal, who played all his games with white, faced five masters: Andrzej Adamski, Jan Adamski, Romuals Grabczewski, Wladyslaw Schinzel and Stefan Witkowski; two candidate masters: Rafal Marszalek and Feliks Przysuski; and one player of the first class: Marek Kwiecinski.
    The single player was in excellent form and gave up only three draws to his opponents.  The gamescores printed below have been hitherto unpublished.  Scores for three of them were kindly made available to me by the mathematician and avid chess player Stefan Wronicz, who for decades has recorded a private chess chronicle of results and gamescores from important and lesser known chess events.
Tal,M — Schinzel,W
Queen’s Gambit Declined: Semi-Pillsbury (Been-Koomen)
POL Warsaw (Clock Simul)
1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 d5 4.Bg5 c5 5.e3 cxd4 6.exd4 Be7 7.Nf3 Ne4 8.Bxe7 Qxe7 9.Bd3 Nxc3 10.bxc3 dxc4 11.Bxc4 0-0 12.0-0 Nd7 13.Re1 Nf6 14.Qd3 Rd8 15.Ne5 Bd7 16.Bb3 Rac8 17.Re3 Be8 18.Rae1 b5 19.Rh3 Qa3 20.Ng4 Nxg4 21.Qxh7+ Kf8 22.Qh8+ Ke7 23.Qxg7 Nf6 24.Rh6 Rd6 25.Rxf6 Kd8 26.Qg3 a5 27.d5 a4 28.dxe6 axb3 29.exf7 1-0.
Wronicz manuscript, p9
Tal,M — Przysuski,F
Dutch: Fianchetto
POL Warsaw (Clock Simul)
1.Nf3 f5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 d6 4.d4 c6 5.c4 Qc7 6.d5 g6 7.0-0 Bg7 8.Nc3 0-0 9.Nd4 c5 10.Nc2 Nbd7 11.Bg5 Ne5 12.b3 Nf7 13.Bd2 a6 14.Rb1 Bd7 15.a4 Rab8 16.e4 fxe4 17.Nxe4 Bf5 18.Nxf6+ Bxf6 19.Rc1 Qd7 20.Ne3 Bh3 21.Bxh3 Qxh3 22.Qg4 Qxg4 23.Nxg4 Bd4 24.Bc3 h5 25.Ne3 Ne5 26.Bxd4 Nf3+ 27.Kg2 Nxd4 28.Rb1 b5 29.axb5 axb5 30.b4 cxb4 31.Rxb4 bxc4 32.Rxc4 Nf5 33.Re4 Rb7 34.Re1 Rb2 ½-½.
Wronicz manuscript, p9
Tal,M — Adamski,A
Sicilian: Hungarian (Pterodactyl)
POL Warsaw (Clock Simul)
1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 g6 3.d4 Bg7 4.Nc3 Nc6 5.Be3 Qa5 6.d5 Ne5 7.Nd2 d6 8.Be2 Nh6 9.h3 f5 10.f4 Nd7 11.e5 dxe5 12.Nc4 Qd8 13.fxe5 0-0 14.Qd2 f4 15.Bxf4 Nf5 16.0-0 Nd4 17.a4 Nb6 18.Nxb6 Qxb6 19.Bc4 Qxb2 20.d6+ e6 21.Bh6 Qxc2 22.Qxc2 Nxc2 23.Bxg7 Rxf1+ 24.Rxf1 Ne3 25.Bh6 Nxf1 26.Kxf1 a6 27.a5 Bd7 28.Ne4 Kf7 29.Ng5+ 1-0.
Wronicz manuscript, p9
Tal,M — Witkowski,S
Alekhine: Modern (Alburt)
POL Warsaw (Clock Simul)
1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.Nf3 g6 5.Ng5 c6 6.c4 Nc7 7.f4 dxe5 8.fxe5 Bg7 9.c5 h6 10.Nf3 Bg4 11.Bc4 Be6 12.Bxe6 Nxe6 13.Nc3 Na6 14.0-0 Nac7 15.Be3 Nd5 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Qc1 0-0 18.Kh1 Kh7 19.Qc2 Rad8 20.h4 Nc7 21.h5 Qe6 22.Qe4 f5 23.Qh4 Nd5 24.Bf4 gxh5 25.Qxh5 Nxf4 26.Qh2 Qg6 27.Qxf4 Qg4 28.Nh2 Qxf4 29.Rxf4 e6 30.Nf1 Rd7 31.Rc1 Rfd8 32.Rc4 Bf8 33.g4 fxg4 34.Ng3 Be7 35.Rxg4 Rg8 36.Rxg8 Kxg8 37.Kg2 Bg5 38.Kf3 Rg7 39.Ne4 h5 40.Rc2 Be7 ½-½.
Original scoresheet of IM Stefan Witkowski
    Tal was mostly troubled by Jan Adamski, who played the Modern Benoni Defense (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 e6, etc.).  The single player had been spending the majority of his time near this board in order to calculate the complex variations.  Tal at the press conference said “Adamski had chosen the best strategy, he played on the whole board and forced me to control - in my calculations - every and all fields of the chessboard.”
    Here I offer to the reader a short remembrance, previously unpublished, by IM Romuald Grabczewski, ex-champion of Poland and Olympic team player:
    After Tal’s simultaneous display organizers resolved to show him something extraordinary.  Escorted by a numerous group of officials and chess masters, Tal  was  lead to the luxurious “Kongresowa” restaurant in the “Palace of Culture and Science” - a huge sky-scraper located at the center of the city which was built in the mid-1950’s by Soviet workers and engineers in a style analogous to the monumental buildings in Moscow.  “Kongresowa” was probably also the single place in Warsaw, and one of the very few in Poland, where in 1966 striptease shows were performed.
    Tal was attracted neither by the table full of food and drink, nor by the performers’ skill.  After a moment he cast a searching glance at me.
    “You played against me today, didn’t you?” asked Tal.
    I confirmed hesitantly.
    “Are you a chess master? O. K., we’ll leave here. Let’s go and talk about chess a little.”
    We took a taxi to the “MDM” hotel, where Tal had a room.  Mikhail was extremely talkative and spirited while I was a rather passive listener.  From his suitcase he extracted pieces and a board, along with a bottle of Russian cognac.  We drank using glasses found in the bathroom, glasses ordinarily reserved for cleaning teeth.  In those days hotel room mini-bars in socialist countries were unheard of.
    It  was  an unforgettable experience.  I, a modest chess master, for hours was entertained by the world champion, who without interruption, related his performances, showing from memory curious games and combinations, demonstrating long and entertaining variations, counter-variations, ideas and refutations, telling stories and anecdotes.  I remember he showed me several games from the Capablanca Memorial in Cuba and from his candidate’s match with Lajos Portisch.  From the latter, one game especially was memorable where he had  sacrificed “merely” a rook (with questionable correctness).  Portisch had blundered in the time trouble allowing Tal to deliver a final blow.
    At  three o’clock  in  the morning I mentioned that he soon had to travel to Cracow.  “Perhaps  you can rest a little,” I said.  Tal agreed and I marched home along Warsaw’s empty streets.  My head was reeling and I did not know if it was an outcome of Tal’s cognac or from the innumerable impressions I had collected during that extraordinary evening.
    Tired, Grabczewski went home, but other enthusiasts did not allow Tal to sleep that night.  Slightly weakened from lack of sleep, the next day after a two hour flight from Warsaw to Cracow, Tal started his next simultaneous exhibition.  This one with clocks, against the junior squad from Cracow.  Out of eight games he won five, drew one (with Zbigniew Weglowski) and two lost:
Tal,M — Jedrzejek,Cz
Semi-Slav: Meran
POL Cracow (Clock Simul)
Annotations by Czeslaw Jedrzejek
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.e3 e6 5.Nf3 Nbd7 6.Bd3 dxc4 7.Bxc4 b5 8.Bb3
** Chosen incidentally by White to avoid the main lines after 8.Bd3; but Black can easily equalize.
8...b4 9.Ne2 Bd6
** In the game Petrosjan-Nezhmetdinov (1959) 9...Bb7 10.0-0 Bd6 11.Nf4 0-0 12.Ng5 Qe7 13.Bd2 a5 14.Re1 c5! with good position for Black.
10.0-0 0-0 11.Nf4
** 11.Ng3 is hardly better.
11...c5 12.Re1 Bb7 13.e4
** A mistake.  White should first prepare for e3-e4 or his position will be inferior.
** Not good was 13...Bxe4 14.Ng5 Bd5 15.Nfxe6 fxe6 16.Nxe6 Qe7 (16...Bxe6 17.Rxe6) 17.dxc5. After 13...Nxe4 14.d5 the pawn lost is compensated by a certain initiative.
14.Qxd4 Bc5 15.Qd3 Ng4 16.Nh3 Qb6 17.Be3 
** Not 17.Qxd7 Rad8 18.Qa4 Bc6 and the queen is trapped; nor 17.Rf1 Ba6 18.Bc4 Ne5 and Black wins.
17...Bxe3 18.fxe3 Nc5 19.Qe2 Nxe4 
** Black won a pawn with better position.
20.Nd4 Ngf6 21.Rad1 Rad8 22.Bc2 e5 23.Nf5 g6 24.Ng3 Ba6 
** The winning move, after 25.Bd3 follows 25...Rxd3 26.Rxd3 Nxg3 27.hxg3 e4, and after 25.Qf3 Nd2 26.Qf2 Ng4 the white queen is lost.
25.Rxd8 Bxe2 26.Rxf8+ Kxf8 27.Rxe2 Nxg3 28.hxg3 Ng4 29.Bb3 Nxe3 30.Kh1 Qc6 31.Ng1 Qc1 32.Rf2 f5 33.g4 Qe1 34.Re2 Qh4+ 35.Nh3 Nxg2 0-1. 
Wronicz manuscript, p11
Tal,M — Klaput,E
English: Closed Sicilian (Carls)
POL Cracow (Clock Simul)
Annotations by Edward Klaput
1.c4 e5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 f5 4.Bg2 Nf6 5.e3 d6 6.Nge2 g6 7.d4 e4 8.0-0 Bg7 9.f3 exf3 10.Bxf3 0-0 11.Nf4 Kh8 12.b3 g5 13.Nfd5 Ne7 14.Nxf6 Bxf6 15.Bb2 Ng6 16.Qd2 c6 17.Rae1 Qc7 18.Bg2 Qg7 19.Re2 Bd7
** 19...Be6? 20.d5!
20.Ref2 Rae8 21.Bh3
** A strategically excellent move (21...g4 22.Bg2 followed by e3-e4!), but tactically wrong.
21...f4 22.Bxd7 fxe3 23.Bxe8 exd2 24.Bxg6 Qxg6
** 24...Bxd4 was good too.
25.Rxd2 Kg8
** Not good was 25...Bxd4+ 26.Rxd4 Rxf1+ 27.Kf1 Qf6+ 28.Kg2 Qxd4 for 29.Nd1.  Now White is in zugzwang (? - T.L.), ...Bxd4 is threatened, and White hardly can find a defense.
26.Kg2 Bxd4
** The capture of the pawn is not important, the entrance of the bishop on g1-a7 diagonal is the decisive factor.
** No better is 27.Rxf8+ Kxf8 28.Rxd4 Qc2+ 29.Kg1 Qxb2 nor 27.Rxd4 Rxf1+ 28.Kxf1 Qxf6 and Qxd4.
27...Qf5 28.Ne4 
** No rescue.
28...Qf3+ 29.Kh3 Bxb2 30.Rxb2 Rf4 0-1.
** Sparkling and best.  It threatens ...Rh4 mate, and if 31.Ng5, then 31...Qg4+ 32.Kg2 Qxg5.
Szachy, 1966, p120
    Mikhail Tal’s visit to Poland in 1966 lasted from February 3 to February 12.  He visited Poland only twice more.  During the summer of 1970 he gave a simultaneous display in the powerful “Society of Polish-Soviet Friendship” headquarters.  This exhibition was again witnessed by a large crowd of chess lovers.  I was among them.  In 1974 he played in and won an international event held in Lublin, 1.Tal, 12½ (of 15); 2.Pribyl, 9½; 3.Suba,  8½; etc.  Gamescores from this last named event can be found in many chess databases.
© Tomasz Lissowski 1999

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