Mikhail Tal Smashes Bobby Fischer 4-0 - Tal vs. Fischer, 1959
The future champion, Bobby Fischer, struggled in his first Candidates' tournament.

Mikhail Tal Smashes Bobby Fischer 4-0 - Tal vs. Fischer, 1959

NM SamCopeland

In their first decisive chess battles, Mikhail Tal won all four games against Bobby Fischer in the 1959 Candidates' tournament. His success was actually a huge part of why he won the Candidates' tournament and the right to play a world championship match against Mikhail Botvinnik.

In their most famous game, Tal battered Fischer's King's Indian Defense as young Bobby greedily ate up Tal's pawns on the queenside. The game is a thrilling contrast in styles. Each of these uncompromising players would have many more future battles that would entrance the chess world as both players freely sacrificed for the initiative.


  • Most people not named Alireza struggle in their first elite tournament.
  • Being "principled" can lead to being "greedy" and failing to trust your instincts.
  • Never play ...a6 in the King's Indian Defense. (kidding, but only slightly...)

My annotations are below, but I highly encourage you to check out Tal's own annotations in "Life & Games of Mikhail Tal".

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