Members · Prefs · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Mikhail Tal
Number of games in database: 2,830
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2705
Overall record: +1132 -300 =1301 (65.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      97 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (342) 
    B46 B43 B82 B32 B40
 Ruy Lopez (254) 
    C92 C95 C93 C96 C84
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (162) 
    C92 C95 C93 C96 C84
 Caro-Kann (104) 
    B14 B17 B18 B12 B10
 French Defense (95) 
    C07 C18 C09 C05 C16
 English (94) 
    A15 A14 A17 A13 A16
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (345) 
    B43 B40 B22 B92 B52
 King's Indian (114) 
    E94 E92 E69 E98 E62
 Queen's Pawn Game (82) 
    E10 A46 E00 A40 A41
 English (79) 
    A15 A14 A10 A13 A17
 Nimzo Indian (79) 
    E48 E52 E46 E53 E24
 Modern Benoni (76) 
    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 Sviridov, 1969 1-0
   Tal vs Hecht, 1962 1-0
   M Bobotsov vs Tal, 1958 0-1
   Tal vs Koblents, 1957 1-0
   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?]
   USSR Championship (1957)
   USSR Championship (1958)
   Bled (1961)
   Zurich (1959)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Portoroz Interzonal (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 1949-1973 by jessicafischerqueen
   Mikhail Tal: Selected Games by wanabe2000
   Mikhail Tal's Best Games by KingG
   Tals Amazing ATTACKS!!! by Zhbugnoimt
   remembering Tal by Yopo
   Tal king of chess by LESTRADAR
   The Magician, supplemental by Yopo
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by newfiex
   tal best games by brager
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by MoonlitKnight
   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

A chronological list of Tal's Tournaments and Matches 1949-1973: Game Collection: Tal's Tournament and Matches 1949-1973

 page 1 of 114; games 1-25 of 2,830  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Kholmov vs Tal 0-121 1949 RigaD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
2. Tal vs Ripatti ½-½41 1949 RigaB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
3. Tal vs Leonov 1-025 1949 RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
4. Tal vs C Weldon 1-065 1949 VilniusB40 Sicilian
5. Nevitsky vs Tal 0-143 1949 Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
6. A Parnas vs Tal 0-129 1949 RigaC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
7. Tal vs J I Zilber 1-033 1949 RigaC07 French, Tarrasch
8. J Klavins vs Tal 0-118 1949 RigaC10 French
9. Tal vs M Strelkov 1-016 1949 RigaC10 French
10. Tal vs N Darsniek 0-126 1950 RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
11. Jullik vs Tal 0-139 1950 RigaA16 English
12. Tal vs Sodell 0-123 1950 URSC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
13. Pakala vs Tal 0-129 1950 RigaD02 Queen's Pawn Game
14. Tal vs J Klavins 1-054 1950 Latvian jr ChampB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
15. Leonov vs Tal 0-134 1950 URSE17 Queen's Indian
16. Liepin vs Tal 0-144 1950 RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
17. Ivanov vs Tal 1-025 1950 URSC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
18. Lavrinenko vs Tal 0-138 1950 RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
19. Tal vs Pliss 1-037 1950 RigaC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
20. K Klasup vs Tal ½-½41 1950 RigaD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
21. Tal vs Miglan 1-021 1950 URS jrC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
22. Tal vs Gipslis 1-024 1951 TournamentE30 Nimzo-Indian, Leningrad
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 2,830  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Tal wins | Tal loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 107 OF 107 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  juan31: Maestro M. Tal another inmortal thanks to his brillant work in the field of chess
Dec-12-14  isemeria: Last weekend we were on holiday in Riga. So I took the opportunity to visit the cemetery where Tal is buried. It's called Jaunie ebreju kapi (New Jewish Cemetery), and it's located about 9 km northeast from the Old Town. The grave itself is not marked in any special way. Luckily we found it rather quickly behind the main building at the entrance.

It was nice to notice that someone had brought flowers to the grave not so long ago. Actually it seemed that there were flowers by more than one person. So he's really not forgotten by any means.

The text in the gravestone is in Russian and says simply: "Grandmaster, world champion of chess". See for example the image in Wikipedia:

Tal is pictured as an old man, with casual shirt and jacket, and a cigarette in his mouth. I think it's great that picture shows the man he was, and not some idolising image.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: In the 1970s Tal figured out a clever efficient of playing chess.

As white against a weak opponent he would play for a win.

As white against a strong opponent he would see what happened on the board. His reputation and his title of ex-world-champion tended to insure him against defeat, especially as his rating grew: if his position looked bad he would offer a draw.

As black he would simply play a few moves and offer a draw.

Using this method he racked up huge non-losing streaks and his rating skyrocketed!

Very clever.

Dec-15-14  1d410: Tal was a visionary, basically smarter than every opponent he faced anyways.
Premium Chessgames Member
  chancho: <As long as my opponent has not yet castled, on each move I seek a pretext for an offensive.

Even when I realize that the king is not in danger.

~Mikhail Tal>

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <isemeria: Last weekend we were on holiday in Riga. So I took the opportunity to visit the cemetery where Tal is buried. ... The text in the gravestone is in Russian and says simply: "Grandmaster, world champion of chess". See for example the image in Wikipedia...>

I am glad you found it quickly; graves can be very hard to locate, sometimes.

Tal's memorial is tastefully done. Unlike poor Johannes Zukertort whose restored gravestone I rightly lambasted at this Johannes Zukertort page.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Check It Out: I've been pouring through The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal. What a treasure trove of great anecdotes and great games.
Dec-25-14  TheFocus: Tal's Final Interview:

Dec-25-14  john barleycorn: <TheFocus> nice find. thanks for the link.
Dec-26-14  TheFocus: <The first essential for an attack is the will to attack> - Tartakower.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Does anyone else think that Tal looks as if he could be a sixth Marx brother? I think he looks a bit like a cross between Harpo and Chico.

*** ***
<Check It Out: I've been pouring through The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal....>

Did you mean "tearing through"? As in reading quickly?

Feb-10-15  HeMateMe: chess wives, very nice stuff


Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Spassky looks quite like Michael Landon in the pic signing the registry.
Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: I never want to see another picture of Karpov kissing.
Feb-11-15  HeMateMe: One of the readers was commenting that it COULDN'T have been Spassky in that photo; it was another time journey by Doctor Who:



YOU decide...

Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: Spassky:


Feb-20-15  Oliveira: From the interview link provided by <TheFocus>:

<Interviewer: Mikhail Nekhemievich, one of the most mysterious World Champions is Robert Fischer. We don’t get much information about him, and when we get some information, it’s very contradictory. How do you remember him? Some people say that now he looks more like a “local idiot”.

Tal: It’s hard to call any famous chess player a perfectly rational man with impeccable logic. There are many different people among us. But concerning Fischer, I can’t agree that I’ve been always provoking Fischer, and he always resented me for that. When I fell ill at Curacao, he visited me in the hospital. We did chaff each other, of course. He’s a very interesting man. But there was one thing that made Fischer very difficult to understand – his peculiar sense of humour. At the Varna Olympics in 1962 after one round we went out of the tournament hall together. At the time, they said that Fischer asks for money for every autograph, let alone an interview. “A chess journal editor from Riga called me”, I told Fischer, “and asked me to interview you.” It wasn’t a complete lie – this editor was me! Bobby gladly agreed to talk, and we strolled along the seafront. My first question was, “Who do you think is the strongest chess player?” He stared at me, puzzled. I immediately corrected myself: “Except for yourself, of course.” He again stared at me and said, “Well, you’re also a good player.” I immediately understood that such an interview won’t ever be published. But still asked questions, just for myself. I learned that he never tasted champagne, neither French nor Soviet, but for some reason prefers French. I asked him various questions, and when we came to the hotel, I asked the last question: “You turn nineteen soon, have you thought of marriage?” He looked at me gullibly and said, “I’m thinking over this problem, I don’t know what to do. Should I get a used car, or should I marry?” I doubted my English knowledge and asked him again, and he confirmed his words. He’s going to marry, but not an American woman (they spend all their time at the hairdresser’s he said). Girls from Taiwan or Hong Kong attracted him more, he liked exotic things. A used car costed $700 or so then, and the costs to bring a girl from Taiwan to USA were almost the same, and if anything happens, it’s easy to send her back home! How could I publish something like that? And many newspapers did publish such materials. So I understand Fischer’s bitterness towards press. He has all the reasons for it.>

Amazing sense of humor, Mr. Tal, and such rare sensibility.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WannaBe: Bring back the old picture of Tal at the board with cigarette smoke wafting!! =))
Mar-24-15  TheFocus: <Tal's combinations often exert a sort of paralysing influence on the opponent's play. It would seem that the element of surprise plays a big part in this> - Mark Taimanov.
Mar-24-15  TheFocus: <In my games I have sometimes found a combination intuitively simply feeling that it must be there. Yet I was not able to translate my thought processes into normal human language> - Mikhail Tal.
Mar-25-15  TheFocus: <To play for a draw, at any rate with white, is to some degree a crime against chess> - Mikhail Tal.
Mar-30-15  TheFocus: <I am both sad and pleased that in his last tournament, Rashid Gibiatovich came to my home in Latvia. He did not take first place, but the prize for beauty, as always, he took with him. Players die, tournaments are forgotten, but the works of great artists are left behind them to live on forever. (on Nezhmetdinov)> - Mikhail Tal.
Premium Chessgames Member


Thanks for posting that selection of <Tal> quotes.

The quote on <Nezhmetdinov> is a Google translation, adjusted for idiom, that comes from the Russian edition of a biography on <Nezhmetdinov>. <Tal> is speaking about the the <1973 Latvian Open in Daugavpils>- Nezh's last international event.

The anecdote is described from 9:12 to 10:57 of this <Nezhmetdinov> documentary:

Here is the brilliancy prize game in question:

Karasev vs Nezhmetdinov, 1973

Apr-05-15  TheFocus: <Jessica>Thank you for that information!
Apr-05-15  Sally Simpson: I know that Karasev vs Nezhmetdinov, 1973 game. It's the last one in the Russian version of his best games.

I chased the Russian copy because I could not wait till the English press got around to doing a translation, or indeed if they ever would. They are only interested in what sells (opening books) not what entertains.

I'm off to have a look at it again and listen to it's music. Some of 'Nez's' games are better than the Beatles.

And you only hear the music if you play it out on an instrument and that my dear friends is your full sized chess set.

OK Nez my old chum...take me on the Magical Mystery Tour. We are off to tread the board together.

Jump to page #   (enter # from 1 to 107)
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 107 OF 107 ·  Later Kibitzing>
NOTE: You need to pick a username and password to post a reply. Getting your account takes less than a minute, totally anonymous, and 100% free--plus, it entitles you to features otherwise unavailable. Pick your username now and join the chessgames community!
If you already have an account, you should login now.
Please observe our posting guidelines:
  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, or duplicating posts.
  3. No personal attacks against other users.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
Blow the Whistle See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform an administrator.

NOTE: Keep all discussion on the topic of this page. This forum is for this specific player and nothing else. If you want to discuss chess in general, or this site, you might try the Kibitzer's Café.
Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
<This page contains Editor Notes. Click here to read them.>
Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

home | about | login | logout | F.A.Q. | your profile | preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | new kibitzing | chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | privacy notice | advertising | contact us
Copyright 2001-2015, Chessgames Services LLC
Web design & database development by 20/20 Technologies