Friday, March 15, 2013

The Magic Tactics of Mikhail Tal by Karsten Muller

      Although he died in 1992 Tahl remains a favorite with players everywhere. Known as The Magician from Riga, Tahl took the chess world by storm and in 1961 and at the age of twenty-three won the world championship. Even though his sacrifices were not always perfect, they were spectacular and the problems he set his opponents put them under tremendous pressure.  Most of the time they would eventually crack.
       In this book Muller and journalist Raymund Stolze have selected one hundred exercises highlighting Tahl’s genius.  Most of them have not been seen before.

      The book can’t really by classified as a book of problems. The Prologue was written by Tahl himself and he discusses the differences between knowledge and what he called "poetry.” That is followed by 21 pages written by Botvinnik titled, "Reflections on Mikhail T.”
      Chapter 1 has a list of the "golden rules of attack” followed by 40 exercises and every diagram is followed by a few paragraphs that discuss the circumstances in which the game was played.  It is very helpful that the solutions are both in analysis form and prose!  Another great feature is that Mueller begins each section with 2 or 3 annotated games that illustrate the theme.  All together there are 18 annotated games and about a dozen other game fragments.
      Chapters are titled Correct Sacrifices, Speculative Sacrifices, Correct Way to Defend Against the Magician and there is an epilogue by Tahl.  I’ve had a couple of books on Tahl and this one is my new favorite.

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