Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal

kenytiger
May 28, 2008, 12:00 AM |
24 | Amazing Games

When the 24th USSR Championship opened in Moscow in February 1957, it never occurred to anyone that Mikhail Tal, the youngest contender, might possibly take first prize. Discussing the prospects of this twenty-year-old Riga University student, chess fans said: "He is gifted, of course, and he will make a name for himself some day, but not in this tournament, where he faces men like Bronstein, Keres, Petrosian and Taimanov."

Tal upset all the predictions. Playing in brilliant combinational style, he took first prize by defeating all his main rivals: Keres, Bronstein, Petrosian Tolush and Taimanov. By defeating these formidable warriors, he forced them to vote, as it were, in favour of awarding him the coveted title of USSR Grandmaster.

What the predictions failed to take into account was Tal's fast progress. That 1957 event showed that he had greatly improved his defense and his endgame technique since the previous USSR Championship. His play was steadier and more balanced.

And so, at the age of 20, Mikhail Tal became Champion of the USSR and a Grandmaster. The only other player ever to win the Soviet Chess Crown so young was Mikhail Botvinnik, in 1931.

In March 1957, The Government of the Latvian Republic presented him with an Honour Certificate in recognition of his impressive achievements. In the Spring of 1957, he graduated from the History and Philology Department of Riga University.

The following game is typical of Tal's play. (Notes by Soviet Grandmaster Alexander Kotov)

 

 


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