Tal vs. Botvinnik | World Chess Championship 1960
Mikhail Tal vs. Mikhail Botvinnik, 1960.

Tal vs. Botvinnik | World Chess Championship 1960

| 20 | Fun & Trivia

Coming in as the fourth-most exciting world chess championship of all time was the battle of Michaels: Mikhail Botvinnik against Mikhail Tal in 1960.

Perhaps surprisingly, this is the second time Botvinnik made the top-10 list. And not surprising at all, Tal makes the list. For many, his electric play and indefatigable attacks make him a favorite despite his world championship reign lasting only about a year.

Tal won when he was only 24 years old, which at the time was a record. It lasted 25 years until Garry Kasparov won at age 22.

Mikhail Tal

Mikhail Tal, the "Magician from Riga," in 1962 (photo: Wikipedia).

The two had never played each other prior to their match. Consequently, the sitting champion likely had never faced such a style before. After only a few hours, he was already behind in the match.

In game one, he didn't even make it to the adjournment.

After a series of draws to calm things down, Tal struck again in game six. This one was even more in his style since "Tal-like" is nearly an eponym for "unclear but fun sacrifice!"

Tal won again the next game taking a three-game lead, but then got a little too frisky when his Benoni went down in game eight and his piece sac went awry in game nine.

But Botvinnik would not win again after that. Tal picked up three more wins to close out the best-of-24 match 12.5-8.5.

The win in game 17 basically ensured the title would change hands. The buildup was more modest (by Tal's standards) but he did get to make a late "offer" of a rook, which clearly could not be accepted.

Botvinnik would reclaim the crown the very next year (+10-5=6), making Tal's time with the title about as short as they come, along with Vasily Smyslov.

Coming up next: Number 3 on our list!

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