Mikhail Tal’s Games: Tal’s Most Brilliant Endgames

Mikhail Tal's games

Mikhail Tal’s Games: Tal’s Most Brilliant Endgames

When most people think of Mikhail Tal’s games, they are drawn to sensational sacrifices and phenomenal attacking play. However, his endgames were every bit as brilliant as Susan Polgar reveals in this video, a free preview of Secrets of Chess Tactics (Intermediate).

In the first of Mikhail Tal’s games, he has White against Ilya Smirin. The position looks favorable as Tal has Black’s c8 Bishop pinned against the a8 Rook. However, he has to be careful not to allow the Bishop out with check, which would drop his d8 Rook.

The problem to be solved here is how to attack the c8 Bishop again to win material. Any wasted time will allow Black to reorganize his pieces and break the pin. At the same time, White must do something about the attack on his own Bishop and the threatened c4 pawn.

As is often a feature in Mikhail Tal’s games, he is prepared to give up some material for activity and allows the c4 pawn to drop in order to exchange off Black’s only active piece. The result is complete control of the board with neither Black’s Rook or Bishop being able to move. This give Tal free rein to advance King and pawns up the board. It’s very instructive to see how Tal denies his opponent any counterplay whatsoever.

The next of Mikhail Tal’s games again features level material and, again, Tal is able to fight for the win by making use of some tactical resources. First Tal allows his Bishop to be taken by advancing a pawn, preparing a discovered check. It looks like the idea might be to win the exchange if Black takes the Bishop but White isn’t after material gain. Instead, Tal plans to get his Bishop, Rook and passed pawns to advanced squares with double threat of promotion and checkmate.

The real magic starts when Black declines the Bishop sacrifice and sensibly defends his back rank. Taking advantage of more tactical nuances, Tal is able to bring his pieces to aggressive squares and force Black to defend passively.

The last of Mikhail Tal’s games is a 2 Rook ending where Tal is 2 pawns up. However, the important feature of the position is White’s King who cannot move. This alerts Tal to a checkmate opportunity and he cretes an inescapable net in just a couple of moves. It’s easy to just think in “endgame mode”, Rooks behind pawns, King in the center and so on. Tal shows that we must also be alert to other opportunities when they come our way.

Enjoy this video and check out the complete course Secrets of Chess Tactics (Intermediate) here.


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