Mikhail Tal (Eighth World Chess Champion) Bio

Mar 14, 2015, 3:24 PM |

Mikhail Tal

Eighth World Chess Champion



Mikhail Tal was the eighth World Chess Champion. He lived from November 9, 1936 to June 28, 1992. Tal was a Latvian world chess champion. He achieved his title in the 1960 world chess championship, in Moscow, against Mikhail Botvinnik and became the youngest World Chess Champion at 23 years old (later on Gary Kasparov broke the record at age 22). A year later Botvinnik, who had never faced Tal before the title match began, won the return games against Tal in 1961, which was also held in Moscow.


Tal loved the game in itself and considered that "Chess, first of all, is Art." He was known to play numerous blitz games against unknown or relatively weak players purely for the delight of playing. Known as "The Magician from Riga", Tal was the archetype of the attacking player, developing a tremendously powerful and imaginative style of play. His approach over the board was very practical – in that respect, he is one of the heirs of ex-World Champion Emanuel Lasker. He often sacrificedmaterial in pursuit of the initiative, which is defined by the ability to make threats to which the opponent must respond. With such intuitive sacrifices, he created immense complications, and many masters found it impossible to solve all the problems he created over the board, though deeper post-game analysis found flaws in some of his ideas. The famous sixth game of his first world championship match with Botvinnik is typical in that regard: Tal sacrificed a knight with little compensation but prevailed when the disturbed Botvinnik failed to find the correct reaction.


Tal was a prolific and highly respected chess writer, serving as editor of the Latvian chess magazine Šahs ("Chess") from 1960 to 1970. He also wrote four books: one on his 1960 World Championship with Botvinnik, his autobiography The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, Attack with Mikhail Tal coauthored by Iakov Damsky, and Tal's Winning Chess Combinations coauthored by Viktor Khenkin. His books are renowned for the detailed narrative of his thinking during the games. American Grandmaster Andrew Soltis reviewed his book on the world championship match as "simply the best book written about a world championship match by a contestant. That shouldn't be a surprise because Tal was the finest writer to become world champion". New Zealand Grandmaster Murray Chandler wrote in the introduction to the 1997 reissued algebraic edition of The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal that the book was possibly the best chess book ever written.


Botvinnik versus Tal



1. c4Nf6 2. Nf3g6 3. g3Bg7 4. Bg2O-O 5. d4d6 6. Nc3Nbd7 7. O-Oe5 8. e4c6 9. h3Qb6 10. d5cd5 11. cd5Nc5 12. Ne1Bd7 13. Nd3Nd3 14. Qd3Rfc8 15. Rb1Nh5 16. Be3Qb4 17. Qe2Rc4 18. Rfc1Rac8 19. Kh2f5 20. ef5Bf5 21. Ra1Nf4 22. gf4ef4 23. Bd2Qb2 24. Rab1f3 25. Rb2fe2 26. Rb3Rd4 27. Be1Be5 28. Kg1Bf4 29. Ne2Rc1 30. Nd4Re1 31. Bf1Be4 32. Ne2Be5 33. f4Bf6 34. Rb7Bd5 35. Rc7Ba2 36. Ra7Bc4 37. Ra8Kf7 38. Ra7Ke6 39. Ra3d5 40. Kf2Bh4 41. Kg2Kd6 42. Ng3Bg3 43. Bc4dc4 44. Kg3Kd5 45. Ra7c3 46. Rc7Kd4 47. Rd7