The Top Chess Players in the World
The Top Chess Players in the World

GM Mark Taimanov

Mark Taimanov
Photo: Joost Evers/Anefo, CC.
Full name
Mark Taimanov
Feb 7, 1926 - Nov 28, 2016 (age 90)‎
Place of birth
Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union


Mark Taimanov was a Soviet grandmaster, author, actor, and pianist. He was among the top-10 players in the world from 1946 to 1956. A prominent player in his time, Taimanov is among the few players to have defeated six different world champions. He's also responsible for popularizing lines in the Benoni, Nimzo-Indian, and Sicilian Defense—the latter being still widely played.

Taimanov was a regular competitor in Soviet Championships, playing in 23 different editions of the event. He tied for first twice, losing the 1952 playoffs against GM Mikhail Botvinnik and winning in 1956 against GM Boris Spassky and GM Yuri Averbakh.

GM Mark Taimanov.
Taimanov playing the 1970 Hoogoven Tournament. Photo: Joost Evers/Anefo, CC.

Despite being an exceptional player, a devastating 6-0 match loss to GM Bobby Fischer left a mark on Taimanov's career. The Soviet government decided that he lost on purpose and stripped Taimanov of his salary and the right to travel overseas or even give musical concerts. Only Bent Larsen's semifinal loss with the same score showed them that Fischer was objectively too strong and the restrictions on Taimanov were gradually removed. The Soviet champion later wrote a book about his defeat to Fischer called How I Became Fischer's Victim.

Taimanov passed away on November 28, 2016 at the age of 90.

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