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Mikhail Tal
Number of games in database: 2,829
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2705
Overall record: +1131 -300 =1300 (65.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      98 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 (111) 
    E94 E92 E69 E98 E66
 Queen's Pawn Game (80) 
    E10 A46 E00 A40 A41
 English (79) 
    A15 A14 A10 A13 A17
 Nimzo Indian (79) 
    E48 E52 E46 E53 E24
 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 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?]
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   USSR Championship (1958)
   USSR Championship (1957)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Bled (1961)
   Palma de Mallorca (1966)
   Zurich (1959)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)
   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
   The Magician, supplemental by Yopo
   remembering Tal by Yopo
   Tal king of chess by LESTRADAR
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by MoonlitKnight
   tal best games by brager
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by newfiex
   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 2,829  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Tal vs Leonov 1-025 1949 RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
2. Tal vs C Weldon 1-065 1949 VilniusB40 Sicilian
3. A Parnas vs Tal 0-129 1949 RigaC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
4. Nevitsky vs Tal 0-143 1949 Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
5. Tal vs J I Zilber 1-033 1949 RigaC07 French, Tarrasch
6. J Klavins vs Tal 0-118 1949 RigaC10 French
7. Tal vs M Strelkov 1-016 1949 RigaC10 French
8. Kholmov vs Tal 0-121 1949 RigaD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
9. Tal vs Ripatti ½-½41 1949 RigaB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
10. Tal vs J Klavins 1-054 1950 Latvian jr ChampB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
11. Leonov vs Tal 0-134 1950 URSE17 Queen's Indian
12. Liepin vs Tal 0-144 1950 RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
13. Ivanov vs Tal 1-025 1950 URSC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
14. Lavrinenko vs Tal 0-138 1950 RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
15. Tal vs Pliss 1-037 1950 RigaC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
16. K Klasup vs Tal ½-½41 1950 RigaD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. Tal vs Miglan 1-021 1950 URS jrC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
18. Tal vs N Darsniek 0-126 1950 RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
19. Jullik vs Tal 0-139 1950 RigaA16 English
20. Tal vs Sodell 0-123 1950 URSC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
21. Pakala vs Tal 0-129 1950 RigaD02 Queen's Pawn Game
22. J Klovans vs Tal 0-140 1951 RigaC52 Evans Gambit
23. A Strautmanis vs Tal ½-½32 1951 URSE17 Queen's Indian
24. Tal vs Gaiduk ½-½41 1951 LeningradC07 French, Tarrasch
25. Tal vs Konovalev  ½-½39 1951 RigaE69 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line
 page 1 of 114; games 1-25 of 2,829  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 108 OF 108 ·  Later Kibitzing>
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.

May-08-15  TheFocus: <To play for a draw, at any rate with white, is to some degree a crime against chess> - Mikhail Tal.
May-10-15  TheFocus: <For pleasure you can read the games collections of Andersson and Chigorin, but for benefit you should study Tarrasch, Keres and Bronstein> - Mikhail Tal.
May-12-15  TheFocus: <... Tal accepted absolutely all the world champion's conditions with a smile, taking away a very important psychological trump card from him - the harsh, prickly relations with his opponent that were characteristic of all Botvinnik's matches> - Genna Sosonko.
May-14-15  TheFocus: <I believe most definitely that one must not only grapple with the problems on the board, one must also make every effort to combat the thoughts and will of the opponent> - Mikhail Tal.
May-14-15  TheFocus: <Naturally, the psychological susceptibility of a match participant is significantly higher than a participant in a tournament, since each game substantially changes the over-all position> - Mikhail Tal.
May-14-15  TheFocus: <Quiet moves often make a stronger impression than a wild combination with heavy sacrifices> - Mikhail Tal.
May-14-15  TheFocus: <There are two types of sacrifices: correct ones, and mine> - Mikhail Tal.
May-15-15  TheFocus: <I will not hide the fact that I love to hear the spectators react after a sacrifice of a piece or pawn. I don't think that there is anything bad in such a feeling; no artist or musician is indifferent to the reactions of the public> - Mikhail Tal.
May-15-15  TheFocus: <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.
May-15-15  TheFocus: <I go over many games collections and pick up something from the style of each player> - Mikhail Tal.
May-17-15  TheFocus: <The cherished dream of every chess player is to play a match with the World Champion. But here is the paradox: the closer you come to the realization of this goal, the less you think about it> - Mikhail Tal.
May-22-15  TheFocus: <A lot of people have said that if Tal had looked after his health, if he hadn’t led such a dissolute life... and so forth. But with people like Tal, the idea of “if only” is just absurd. He wouldn’t have been Tal then. I can’t imagine him without a cigarette in his mouth—he’d smoke five packs a game! He never needed a lighter—he’d finish one, and light the next one from it.

Most of his illnesses were inherited. When it came time for us to marry, a doctor from the Riga Special Clinic, where Dr. Nehemiah Tal once worked, told me that I shouldn’t marry a man with that kind of health. He was always ill. And in the last years of his life, all his illnesses got worse. There were three whole years in which his temperature simply never went down. I have no idea how a man playing with a constant temperature of 38-39 degrees could become World Blitz Champion in 1988!

And on May 28, 1992, at the Moscow blitz tournament, he became the only player to defeat Kasparov. I’m told he even left the hospital to play. The strongest chess-player in the world still lost to a dying Tal> - Sally Tal, wife.

May-23-15  TheFocus: <And we can learn more from the games of Tal's later period than from the early Tal. But when they say "played in Tal style", they don't mean the Tal with the very long undeafeated series, wise, understanding everything and capable of everything, but the boy with the burning stare, hanging his knights on d5 and e6 in the Sicilian to the "oohs" and "ahs" of his rapturous fans> - Gennady Sosonko.
May-23-15  TheFocus: <In one of his games he was in a must-win situation and played Black. He chose the Caro-Kann defense but could achieve only a draw. When a reporter asked about the choice of such a quiet opening and something sharp like the Sicilian defense Tal responded: ‘I play the Sicilian Defense when I need a draw, but when I want to win, I play the Caro-Kann defense!> - Gregory Serper, Chess Life, September 2007, page 33.
May-23-15  TheFocus: <He led a very unusual life. He didn't think of anything. He lived here and now, and this enormous energy was always around him. The positive energy. Tal was one of the few completely positive people I knew, he wasn't contentious. Chess is very contentious game by its nature, and he wasn't> - Garry Kasparov.
May-23-15  TheFocus: <We calculate: he does this then I do that. And Tal, through all the thick layers of variants, saw that around the 8th move, it will be so and so. Some people can see the mathematical formula, they can imagine the whole picture instantly. An ordinary man has to calculate, to think this through, but they just see it all. It occurs in great musicians, great scientists. Tal was absolutely unique. His playing style was of course unrepeatable. I calculated the variants quickly enough, but these Tal insights were unique. He was a man in whose presence others sensed their mediocrity> - Garry Kasparov.
May-23-15  TheFocus: <The difference between an IM and GM varies with each individual. One IM can be great tactically while another may excel in positional areas. For example, yesterday I played a simultaneous which had, among others, six national masters. One swindled me beautifully and others find nice tactical ideas. Clearly these masters were not weak tactically! There is no general difference. Grandmaster openings tend to be better, but overall the differences vary from player to player> - Mikhail Tal.
May-25-15  TheFocus: <I shall observe for the thousand and first time: years of analysis and minutes of play are not quite the same thing> - Mikhail Tal.
May-25-15  TheFocus: <If you wait for your luck to turn up, life becomes very boring> - Mikhail Tal.
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