Mark Taimanov dies at 90

sontu1296
sontu1296
Dec 10, 2016, 10:25 AM |
0

2016 has been a year in which we’ve lost a number of legendary chess figures. Viktor Korchnoi died in June, Mark Dvoretsky in September and now Mark Taimanov died yesterday, the 29th November, at the age of 90. The former USSR Champion and record holder for the number of times he played in that event was also an internationally renowned concert pianist. He lived, as Magnus Carlsen noted, “a very rich and fulfilling life”, and leaves a young wife and twins behind.

 

2016 has been a year in which we’ve lost a number of legendary chess figures. Viktor Korchnoi died in June, Mark Dvoretsky in September and now Mark Taimanov died yesterday, the 29th November, at the age of 90. The former USSR Champion and record holder for the number of times he played in that event was also an internationally renowned concert pianist. He lived, as Magnus Carlsen noted, “a very rich and fulfilling life”, and leaves a young wife and twins behind.

 

 

 

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Magnus Carlsen talked about Taimanov at the post-game press conference after Game 12 of the World Championship match in New York:

It’s a very sad day, of course. I’ve seen lots of Taimanov’s games, read the stories – unfortunately he’s most of all remembered for losing to Fischer (6:0) – but he contributed greatly to the development of many opening variations, especially with White in the classical 1.d4 style. Also he was a great musician, as far as I know. I’m sure he lived a very rich and fulfilling life.

As Garry mentioned, Taimanov had maintained his positive outlook as he grew older, with the following question and answer in an interview to mark his 90th birthday in February this year particularly poignant:

Do you hope to witness outstanding achievements by your children?

I believe in Mendel, the founder of genetics. And my family tree includes ancestors who lived to be one hundred. So I can answer your question more exactly in ten years’ time.

Sadly not just Taimanov is no longer with us. The interviewer, Evgeny Gik, the co-author of many books with Anatoly Karpov, also died last month at the age of 73.

The following is an article I published at Chess in Translation five years ago. It gives an overview of Taimanov's life in both chess and music:

Mark Taimanov at 85

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5-year-old Mark Taimanov with his parents

For someone perhaps best known for spectacular failure – losing 6:0 to Bobby Fischer – Mark Taimanov has had the most successful of lives. A top Soviet grandmaster and a successful concert pianist, he’s now the happy octogenarian father of 6-year-old twins. He talks about his life and contemporary chess.   

Mark Taimanov was born on 7 February, 1926. He took part in the formidable USSR Chess Championship a record 23 times, twice tying for first place. He lost the first play-off to Botvinnik in 1952, but then won in 1956 against Boris Spassky and Yury Averbakh (who turned 89 last week). Victor Korchnoi, a month away from becoming an octogenarian himself, finished that event half a point behind.

For his 85th birthday, Taimanov, still in sparkling form, gave a number of interviews, including the following: