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Mikhail Tal
Number of games in database: 2,839
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2705
Overall record: +1137 -301 =1308 (65.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      93 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (343) 
    B46 B43 B82 B32 B40
 Ruy Lopez (255) 
    C92 C95 C93 C96 C84
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (163) 
    C92 C95 C93 C96 C84
 Caro-Kann (104) 
    B14 B17 B18 B12 B10
 French Defense (96) 
    C07 C18 C09 C05 C16
 English (94) 
    A15 A14 A17 A13 A16
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (346) 
    B43 B40 B22 B92 B52
 King's Indian (115) 
    E94 E92 E98 E69 E62
 Queen's Pawn Game (82) 
    E10 A46 E00 A40 A41
 Nimzo Indian (80) 
    E48 E52 E56 E53 E46
 English (79) 
    A15 A14 A10 A13 A17
 Modern Benoni (77) 
    A56 A64 A61 A62 A79
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Tal vs Larsen, 1965 1-0
   Tal vs Hjartarson, 1987 1-0
   Tal vs Smyslov, 1959 1-0
   Tal vs Karpov, 1987 1-0
   Tal vs Miller, 1988 1-0
   Tal vs Hecht, 1962 1-0
   Tal vs Sviridov, 1969 1-0
   Tal vs Koblents, 1957 1-0
   M Bobotsov vs Tal, 1958 0-1
   Botvinnik vs Tal, 1960 0-1

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: [what is this?]
   Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1960)
   Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Return Match (1961)

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Zurich (1959)
   USSR Championship (1957)
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   Bled (1961)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   USSR Championship (1958)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)
   Palma de Mallorca (1966)
   Tallinn (1973)
   USSR Championship (1972)
   Riga Interzonal (1979)
   USSR Championship (1959)
   USSR Championship (1962)
   USSR Championship (1971)
   USSR Championship 1964/65 (1964)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Tal Fever by chocobonbon
   Match Tal! by amadeus
   Tal's Tournament and Matches 1948-1975 by WCC Editing Project
   Mikhail Tal: Selected Games by wanabe2000
   Mikhail Tal's Best Games by KingG
   The Magician, supplemental by Yopo
   Tal king of chess by LESTRADAR
   remembering Tal by Yopo
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by newfiex
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by MoonlitKnight
   tal best games by brager
   Tals Amazing ATTACKS!!! by Zhbugnoimt
   Road to the Championship - Mik Tal by Fischer of Men
   TAL by chessdeviant

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Tal
Search Google for Mikhail Tal

(born Nov-09-1936, died Jun-28-1992, 55 years old) Latvia
[what is this?]
Mikhail Nekhemievich Tal was born in Riga, Latvia (annexed by the USSR in 1940). At 6, he learned chess from his father, a medical doctor (source: Tal interview in <Chess Life>, May 1967). He won his first Latvian Championship in 1953, and earned the title of Soviet Master the following year. In 1957, he became the youngest-ever Soviet Champion. In 1960, following a string of victories in strong tournaments (including a second consecutive Soviet Championship, the Portorož Interzonal and the Candidates in Yugoslavia), he became the youngest World Chess Champion with a match victory over Mikhail Botvinnik. This record was broken by Garry Kasparov in 1985. Suffering from poor health, he lost the rematch the next year. He never qualified for a title match again.

Tal continued to struggle with health problems for the rest of his career, which was often marked by inconsistent results. On a number of occasions, however, he was still able to achieve world-class successes. He added four more Soviet Championship victories to his resume (in 1967, 1972, 1974, and 1978), equalling Botvinnik's all-time record of six. In 1979, he won joint first place at Montreal with Anatoly Karpov, briefly climbing back to second place in the world rankings. In 1988, he won the World Blitz Championship. He died of renal failure in 1992, at the age of 55.

Paul Keres was a font of inspiration for him and Tal won three Keres Memorials 1977, 1981, and 1983. Renowned for his aggressive, sacrificial playing style, Tal was also a noted chess journalist and author. In his autobiography, The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, he annotates 100 of his greatest games.

A list of books about Tal can be found at

Wikipedia article: Mikhail Tal

Ta'ls Tournaments and Matches 1948-1975 Game Collection: Tal's Tournament and Matches 1948-1975

 page 1 of 114; games 1-25 of 2,839  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Tal vs M Strelkov 1-016 1949 RigaC10 French
2. Kholmov vs Tal 0-121 1949 RigaD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
3. Tal vs Ripatti ½-½41 1949 RigaB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
4. Nevitsky vs Tal 0-143 1949 Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
5. Tal vs Leonov 1-025 1949 RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
6. Tal vs C Weldon 1-065 1949 VilniusB40 Sicilian
7. A Parnas vs Tal 0-129 1949 RigaC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
8. Tal vs J I Zilber 1-033 1949 RigaC07 French, Tarrasch
9. J Klavins vs Tal 0-118 1949 RigaC10 French
10. K Klasup vs Tal ½-½41 1950 RigaD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. Tal vs Miglan 1-021 1950 URS jrC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
12. Tal vs N Darsniek 0-126 1950 RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
13. Jullik vs Tal 0-139 1950 RigaA16 English
14. Tal vs Sodell 0-123 1950 URSC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
15. Pakala vs Tal 0-129 1950 RigaD02 Queen's Pawn Game
16. Tal vs J Klavins 1-054 1950 Latvian jr ChampB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
17. Leonov vs Tal 0-134 1950 URSE17 Queen's Indian
18. Liepin vs Tal 0-144 1950 RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
19. Ivanov vs Tal 1-025 1950 URSC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
20. Lavrinenko vs Tal 0-138 1950 RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
21. Tal vs Pliss 1-037 1950 RigaC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
22. Tal vs Gradus 1-024 1951 RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
23. Berg vs Tal 0-125 1951 RigaA34 English, Symmetrical
24. Tal vs V Veders 1-034 1951 RigaC13 French
25. Tal vs J Fride 1-040 1951 RigaB28 Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation
 page 1 of 114; games 1-25 of 2,839  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Tal wins | Tal loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  lost in space: R.I.P. GM Tal. One of my all time favorites.
Nov-09-13  Penguincw: R.I.P. World Chess Champion: Mikhail Tal.
Nov-09-13  JustAnotherPatzer: After Gazza, my all-time favourite player, one of a kind.
Nov-27-13  Sho: Help, please. Looking for games where Tal's opponent averted the traps. Thanks
Premium Chessgames Member
  talisman: <Sho> you won't find any from 57-60, but you might want to start with the 61 match. 1st sign of cracks being in the armor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <sho>: Two very difficult opponents for Tal were Korchnoi and Polugaevsky, in large part because they had the same facility as Tal for calculating long, complex variations, thus negating his superiority to most other top-class players in that respect.

Review Tal's games with these redoubtable players and I suspect you will find what you seek.

Dec-02-13  tzar: so far 104 pages of comments...not enough imho to praise conveniently the magic of this genius.
Dec-16-13  Penguincw: K Quote of the Day K

< "Mother, I have just become Ex-World Champion." >

-Tal (upon losing to Botvinnik)

Unfortunately, the match wasn't really close (1961).

Dec-18-13  Penguincw: K Quote of the Day K

< "You must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and the path leading out is only wide enough for one." >


Weird. I saw this quote yesterday somewhere else.

Premium Chessgames Member
  PhilFeeley: Tal vs. NN, Simul 1958

click for larger view

1. g5 Rxh1
2. gxf6 Rxd1+
3. Nxd1 Qxd2
4. fxg7 1-0

great play by Tal.

Premium Chessgames Member
  BobbyBishop: 10 notable games and not a one from his WCM with Botvinnik? SMH...I don't know about this site sometimes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: His games are full of holes, hence the name Emmenthal.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Cemoblanca: <Penguincw> There was a similar quote by Vishy Anand during the World Championship Match against Carlsen in "Der Spiegel". It looks like the GM's use the keyword "forest" frequently. ;)
Apr-24-14  Rookiepawn: This guy was a rare case of a genius without a single pedantic trait.

He had all to be a grumpy, self-centered and resentful chap: highly competitive environment (as chess is), outstanding talent, aggressive style... and poor health that prevented him from getting really really far. That could bitter even the best personality, but not his.

Besides, he had talent for writing and expressing himself, but he never used it either to glorify himself, or to belittle others. On the contrary, he was always a true chess lover without being an ego lover, never took himself seriously though he made many jaws drop.

Briefly: a genius and a gentleman. You will not find many in contemporary chess.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Rookiepawn> Meeting him was a distinct pleasure.
Apr-24-14  Rookiepawn: <perfidious> I wish I had. Don Miguel Najdorf told Argentinean chess fans (among which I am) that Mikhail Tal liked to sing some tangos when he was in Argentina.

I was too young at that time (1987 I think), but among local chess players who met him the opinion was unanimous: the guy was always far away from any godlike posing, and it was not false humility either; he just loved to play chess.

There might be endless controversy about who is the best of all times, but when it comes to the balance between what you give to chess, and what you take from it... I know not so many guys able to run away from a hospital (and it was not precisely a cold) just to crush Kasparov in his prime one month before passing away. That's what I call leaving through the big gate!

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Karpov wrote a book called "Miniatures from the World Champions". [This book may have been ghost-written by Evgeny Gik].

I remember the writer talking about a problem with Tal: almost every white win by Tal was under 30 moves.

Probably an exaggeration. But there are a <lot> of them:

Jul-02-14  Kiss of Fire: There was chess before Tal, and there is chess after Tal: it is as if he were from the future!
Sep-08-14  cplyakap: His peak rating is 2705 (January 1980).
Sep-15-14  Marmot PFL: <Help, please. Looking for games where Tal's opponent averted the traps. Thanks>

Not so hard to find players with plus scores vs Tal.

K - Keres, Korchnoi, Karpov, Kasparov

L- Ljubojevic

S - Smyslov, Spassky, Stein, Seirawan

P - Petrosian, Polugaevsky

Not sure if I missed any, left out guys like Anand, Kamsky and Mecking who were 1-0 and only played once.

Sep-06-14  NICOLAS GR: tal is clearly the best chess player of all time.. his style is beautiful, irresistible, pyre magic..

if he hadnĒt got any health problems during his youth 1958-1970 (he made 20 surgeries from 1960 up to1992 when he died at the age of 55!!) he would have dominated chess for decades.. he was the most talented, but as about results -evolving chess and domination over years, kasparov is number one and karpov two...fischer is one of the 10 best players, but the only reason people compare him with tal (was more talented-attacking-creative) and others -kasparov (was more positional, balanced-dominated chess for decades) and karpov (was more positional, balanced-dominated chess for decades) is because of his nationality, being american during the cold war and his really strange character kept advertising his chess profile with all the american media use him for propaganda against the russians. he took the wcc in 72Ē with psychological war over spassky (although he was better then) who was a true gentleman and never defend it afterwards..

i really like fischerĒs play but if tal was american and fischer latvian, people would not even compare..

tal by far...

Premium Chessgames Member
  john barleycorn: Tal's favourite song

Oct-14-14  Owl: Did Mikhail Tal say the Three best chess players in History of chess were Emanuel Lasker, Alexander Alekhine, and Botvinnik
Oct-16-14  Owl: or was it Emanuel Lasker, Alexander Alekhine, and Paul Morphy
Oct-16-14  Rookiepawn: <jb> nice video thx! Spanish subtitles explain that she hates chess, so Capablance replies "I understand. Being near a beautiful woman makes me hate chess too". So she goes, happy to find "an enemy of chess".
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