The expression refers to aggressive attacking style where one side leaves multiple pieces attacked, but the opponent cannot take full advantage of it since "they can only take one at a time". Was this said by Tal in an interview or in a book (assuming he was actually the one who said it)? Did he say it originally in Russian? If so - what is the exact Russian expression he used?

  • 1
    I played a tournament game last week, two days after you asked this, in which I had 3 minor pieces en prise at once and I thought about your question during the game. Now I'm even more curious where Tal first said this. I'm tempted to offer a bounty for an answer, but I think that might go to waste right now.
    – ETD
    Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 21:57
  • @ETD I was curious about your game but the link appears to be broken. Commented Sep 24, 2018 at 14:46
  • @DanielAlfredoSottile edited.
    – ETD
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 18:06

1 Answer 1


I have seen this referred to/attributed to a couple of Tal's games. It is quite likely that he used the saying more than once. If you study enough of Tal's games, you'll see that he developed a technique of not retracting his (minor) pieces when they were en prise.

The first reference that I was able to find was in his Havana-1966 game against Bjorn Brinck-Claussen. (Quite likely this position, where he's just moved Ra8!

[Title "Tal v Brinck-Claussen, Havana 1966 "]
[fen "R2r2k1/6pp/1p3pn1/3b2q1/3P4/P4QP1/BP3P2/6K1 w - - 0 1"]

The saying is also often attributed to his 1968 game against Chikovani, where Tal plays 19 Bxe6 instead of retracting his dark-squared Bishop.

[Title "Tal v Chikovani, 1968"]
[fen "1qrr2k1/p3bp2/bpn1Bnpp/6B1/3P4/P1N2N2/1PQ2PPP/3RR1K1 w - - 0 1"]

As you can see, in both cases Tal leaves multiple pieces hanging, a psychological strategy that he's used to his advantage.

Hope that helps.

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    Incidentally, Tal's move in the second example is incorrect. It gives Tal a big advantage but Black can defend for a long time. The correct move leads to checkmate quickly.
    – user21820
    Commented Dec 31, 2019 at 12:18

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