Over the summer months I’ve had the chance to play a few games against Pete and chat to him about his ‘first’ chess career back in the 1970’s and 80’s. After an analysis evening at the club he mentioned that he’d once played in a simultaneous event against one of my chess heroes and member of the true all time greats, Mikhail Tal. When my jaw dropped open in amazement Pete proceeded to dumbfound me even further by telling me that he secured a draw against the former World Champion with the Black pieces and using Alekhine’s Defence! Now I was really impressed and asked him if he would send me the moves for publication here on the blog. Today I am delighted to be able to present Pete’s draw with Mikhail Tal.
As Pete himself points out the game was not particularly in keeping with the great man’s usual modus operandi. In fact it’s pretty dull and all those who attended the analysis evening that Pete was asked to host at the beginning of August to replay this historic game were probably a little surprised to spend most of their time analysing a technical endgame rather than a labyrinthine, tactical, atom bomb. Never mind. I did at least manage to dig out some further details of the simultaneous display itself with help of the chess historian par excellence, Edward Winter from Chess Notes.
I sent Mr Winter an e-mail and asked if there was any good way to find out about the details of the simultaneous display which, at that point, Pete thought had been played in 1977. Mr Winter kindly and politely responded that he couldn’t really help because if he did then he’d open the flood gates for similar requests that he simply didn’t have the time to deal with. But he did say that he’d had a cursory glance through some reference material and wondered whether I had provided him with the right date because the only simultaneous display he could find that had been played by Mikhail Tal in Luton was given in 1973.
Of course Mr Winter’s brief research turned out to be completely accurate and Pete later confirmed that on closer inspection of his handwriting it turned out his game had indeed been played in 1973. I was therefore pleased to be able to tell him that both Tal and Svetozar Gligoric participated in that simultaneous event at Stockwood High School in Luton on the 16th of July, 1973. Tal’s score that day was +39 -0 =3!
Now I truly am impressed because achieving one of only three draws out of 42 games played that day is a fantastic effort. In fact, ever since I found out about Pete's back story I have been jokingly referring to him as "The Man Who Drew With Mikhail Tal" or, palendromically, as "T.M.W.D.W.M.T" for short. Maybe we'll use that acronym to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies next season for if we can deploy "T.M.W.D.W.M.T" in the lower reaches of our 'A' team then how good must the rest of the side be?