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Mikhail Tal
Number of games in database: 2,804
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2705

Overall record: +1121 -297 =1281 (65.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 105 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (341) 
    B46 B43 B82 B32 B40
 Ruy Lopez (253) 
    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 (91) 
    A15 A14 A13 A17 A16
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (342) 
    B43 B40 B92 B48 B46
 King's Indian (110) 
    E69 E92 E80 E62 E98
 Modern Benoni (82) 
    A56 A64 A61 A70 A62
 Nimzo Indian (79) 
    E48 E52 E46 E53 E56
 English (78) 
    A15 A14 A13 A10 A17
 Queen's Pawn Game (70) 
    A46 E10 E00 A40 A41
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 Koblents, 1957 1-0
   Tal vs Hecht, 1962 1-0
   Tal vs Karpov, 1987 1-0
   Tal vs Jack Miller, 1988 1-0
   M Bobotsov vs Tal, 1958 0-1
   Tal vs Sviridov, 1969 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 (1958)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Zurich (1959)
   USSR Championship (1957)
   Bled (1961)
   Palma de Mallorca (1966)
   Reykjavik (1964)
   USSR Championship (1972)
   Tallinn (1973)
   Riga Interzonal (1979)
   USSR Championship (1962)
   USSR Championship (1959)
   USSR Championship 1964/65 (1964)
   USSR Championship (1971)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Tal Fever by chocobonbon
   Match Tal! by amadeus
   Tal's Tournament and Matches 1949-1973 by jessicafischerqueen
   Tal-ented Indeed is an Understatement by fredthebear
   Mikhail Tal: Selected Games by wanabe2000
   Mikhail Tal's Best Games by KingG
   Tals Amazing ATTACKS!!! by Zhbugnoimt
   The Magician, supplemental by Yopo
   Tal king of chess by LESTRADAR
   remembering Tal by Yopo
   Life and Games (Tal) by Qindarka
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by MoonlitKnight
   tal best games by brager
   Veliki majstori saha 26 TALJ (Marovic) by Chessdreamer

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 113; games 1-25 of 2,804  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Tal vs Leonov 1-0251949RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
2. A Parnas vs Tal 0-1291949RigaC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
3. Tal vs C Weldon 1-0651949VilniusB40 Sicilian
4. J Klavins vs Tal 0-1181949RigaC10 French
5. Tal vs J I Zilber 1-0331949RigaC07 French, Tarrasch
6. A Nevitsky vs Tal 0-1431949Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
7. Kholmov vs Tal 0-1211949SimulD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
8. Tal vs M Strelkov 1-0161949RigaC10 French
9. Tal vs Ripatti ½-½411949RigaB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
10. Tal vs Miglan 1-0211950URS jrC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
11. Tal vs J Klavins 1-0541950Latvian jr ChampB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
12. Pakala vs Tal 0-1291950RigaD02 Queen's Pawn Game
13. Tal vs Sodell 0-1231950URSC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
14. Liepin vs Tal 0-1441950RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
15. Leonov vs Tal 0-1341950URSE17 Queen's Indian
16. Lavrinenko vs Tal 0-1381950RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
17. Ivanov vs Tal 1-0251950URSC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
18. K Klasup vs Tal ½-½411950RigaD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
19. Tal vs Pliss 1-0371950RigaC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
20. Jullik vs Tal 0-1391950RigaA16 English
21. Tal vs N Darsniek 0-1261950RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
22. A Strautmanis vs Tal ½-½321951URSE17 Queen's Indian
23. Birjanis vs Tal 0-1351951RigaA91 Dutch Defense
24. Tal vs J Klovans ½-½401951RigaD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
25. Tal vs M Zvirbulis ½-½401951RigaB15 Caro-Kann
 page 1 of 113; games 1-25 of 2,804  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 110 OF 110 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Nov-09-16  tjipa: Regards from Riga on Tal's 80th anniversary. Here we even have a brand new luxurious chess themed apartment building in the very centre of Riga, surrounded by its famous art nouveau architecture. Tal Residence it is called - so, if you have a spare million to spend, apartments are still available! It is also the place where Karpov and Sveshnikov played their rapid match in July, 2015. Karpov-Sveshnikov Rapid Match (2015)
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <tjipa> Cool! Here's a link to the Tal Apartments website.

Premium Chessgames Member
  WorstPlayerEver: Happy birthday!
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Mikhail Tal!!

Player of the Day.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Sorely missed. A great chess ambassador if there ever was one
Feb-20-17  drnooo: There is a picture on the Net in a slew of Tal photos which is NOT he. It is of Stanley Kubrick. Nobody has ever taken it down and corrected it, continues to float around after likely 10 years, showing you how little people really notice things.
Mar-07-17  ketchuplover: We the living apologize for the disrespect of your memory recently displayed at the Tal Memorial. Please forgive us. We accept whatever punishment you deem appropriate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Dionysius1: Thank you sincerely <seeminor>

<The man himself talking about his life, taking audience questions. A remarkable find from 1988>

The show is riveting, cultured and so watchable the 75 minutes or so flew by.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Johnnysaysthankyou: Chess is chess Ketchup. I'm sure Tal wouldn't mind :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: This is a pretty good book that kind of disappeared, <Attack with Tal>


I found it at a used book store, years ago. Tal takes a long look at 15 or so games, zooms in on the attacking parts of the positions, second guesses the players, where needed. I remember playing through about half of the book, years ago. If you have time, Tal's stuff is always entertaining.


Jul-30-17  Roman Petrakov: In March of this year I was in Riga.
Of course, visited him in the central park and put a white rose)

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: I really enjoyed the video in Dionysus1's post above. For anybody interested in a biography of Tal and other Soviet GMs that goes beyond chess games and strategy, I highly recommend Russian Silhouettes, which I bought online tonight and can't put down: It's the best book I've read in a long time on any subject. The author (Genna Sosonko) has 3 other e-books on amazon, one of them with a foreword by Kasparov, and I'm sure I'll end up reading all four.
Premium Chessgames Member
  catlover: <ChessHigherCat> Did you ever read Tal's autobiography? You commented once that you had bought it, and I was just curious what you thought of it.
Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: Hi <Catlover: Did you ever read Tal's autobiography? You commented once that you had bought it, and I was just curious what you thought of it.>

I did buy it and started reading it, and Tal struck me as having a good sense of humor but it was really focused on tournaments and that's the competitive side I find least attractive about the game (the spider monkeys climbing up to the top of the post). Anyway, I'm sure I'll finish it reading it sometime, I almost always do.

I found "Russian Silhouettes" to be much more interesting. I downloaded Nabokov's "Luzhin Defense" last night and it seems like a great book, too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <CHC>, have just read <Smart Chip> and begun <The World Champions I Knew>--in time, I will likely read the other works by Sosonko as well.

It has been many years since I read Tal's autobiography--probably even before meeting him in 1988--but it was a pleasure to read.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <perfidious> Thanks for reminding me about those other books. I tend to be skeptical of autobiographies and biographies written by ex-wives/family members/enemies because they're all too subjective, and on the other hand you can't believe anything by an author who just goes by hear-say, but Sosonko is just right because he knew everybody personally without being too emotionally involved to give an objective picture.
Premium Chessgames Member
  catlover: <CHC> What I liked about Tal's autobiography was how transparent he was at times. Sometimes when he miscalculated or just plain blundered and lost a game, he said that it would greatly affect his play in subsequent games. He might have a string of lost games against players he usually beat until he regained his confidence.

He described some wins that were revenge-driven, but also described a few situations in which he offered draws to people in games he thought he considered winnable because it felt like the right thing to do. In short, he came across as a passionate but surprisingly humble person.

Thanks for the recommendation of the Sosonko books.

Premium Chessgames Member
  andrewjsacks: Happy birthday to my boyhood chess hero.
Premium Chessgames Member
  edbermac: Happy Birthday to the Wizard of Riga!
Premium Chessgames Member
  gars: As long as there is Chess there will be someone studying Tal's games. My favorite ones are Bobotsov vs Tal, Varna, 1958 and Tal vs Larsen, Candidates, 1965.
Nov-09-17  Ironmanth: Grandmaster Misha, you will be forever remembered for your amazing attacks and incredible will to win. Happy birthday, Magician of Riga!
Nov-09-17  dTal: Always missed, my favourite of all WCs. RIP maestro.
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: R.I.P. Mikhail.

It would be about time that his Bio here is properly done. The current one is way to sketchy for a master of Tal's stature.

Premium Chessgames Member
  SteinitzLives: RIP Misha. Chess loved you as much as you loved it, and we all won and still win as a result of your legacy!

Thanks for everything!

Nov-10-17  ZonszeinP: Only Misha is missing and the whole Chess world seems empty
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