Mikhail Tal
Number of games in database: 2,806
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2645
Overall record: +1117 -297 =1303 (65.1%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.
      89 exhibition games, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (339) 
    B46 B43 B82 B32 B40
 Ruy Lopez (254) 
    C92 C95 C93 C96 C84
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (163) 
    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 B46 B22 B52
 King's Indian (112) 
    E94 E92 E98 E69 E62
 Queen's Pawn Game (83) 
    E10 A46 E00 A40 A41
 English (79) 
    A15 A14 A10 A13 A17
 Nimzo Indian (79) 
    E48 E52 E53 E46 E56
 Modern Benoni (74) 
    A56 A64 A61 A62 A65
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 Koblents, 1957 1-0
   Tal vs Sviridov, 1969 1-0
   M Bobotsov vs Tal, 1958 0-1
   Fischer vs Tal, 1959 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)
   USSR Championship (1959)
   Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
   Zurich (1959)
   Bled (1961)
   USSR Championship (1962)
   USSR Championship 1964/65 (1964)
   Amsterdam Interzonal (1964)
   USSR Championship (1971)
   USSR Championship (1972)
   Tallinn (1973)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Tal Fever by chocobonbon
   Match Tal! by amadeus
   Mikhail Tal: Selected Games by wanabe2000
   Mikhail Tal's Best Games by KingG
   Tal king of chess by LESTRADAR
   The Magician, supplemental by Yopo
   remembering Tal by Yopo
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by MoonlitKnight
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by newfiex
   tal best games by brager
   Tals Amazing ATTACKS!!! by Zhbugnoimt
   Road to the Championship - Mik Tal by Fischer of Men
   TAL by chessdeviant
   Guess-the-Move Chess: 1960-1979 (Part 3) by Anatoly21

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Tal
Search Google for Mikhail Tal

(born Nov-09-1936, died Jun-28-1992) 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 Portoro˛ 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

 page 1 of 113; games 1-25 of 2,806  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. Tal vs Leonov 1-025 1949 RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
5. Tal vs C Weldon 1-065 1949 VilniusB40 Sicilian
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. Nevitsky vs Tal 0-143 1949 Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
9. J Klovans vs Tal 0-118 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 Kliavin 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. Berg vs Tal 0-125 1951 RigaA34 English, Symmetrical
23. Tal vs V Veders 1-034 1951 RigaC13 French
24. Tal vs J Fride 1-040 1951 RigaB28 Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation
25. Tal vs S Giterman 1-063 1951 LeningradD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
 page 1 of 113; games 1-25 of 2,806  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 104 OF 104 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jul-23-13  BUNA: <The Rocket: <keypusher: > Why do you always insist on defending the russians?

<"Bronstein, in his last book, Secret Notes, published in 2007 just after his death the previous year, confirmed long-standing rumours by writing that the nine Soviet grandmasters (out of a field of 15 players) at Zurich were under orders from both their chess leadership and the KGB to not let Reshevsky win the tournament under any circumstances, with Smyslov being the preferred victor.">>

Apparently the KGB forgot to tell Kotov about their choosen challenger. He dared to win against Smyslov in round 21, helping Reschevsky to catch up. (Smyslov and Reschevsky shared the lead after round 21 with 12.5 points.)

Kotov vs Smyslov, 1953

Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: <The Rocket: <"Same reason Smyslov wasn't">

Smyslov was russian ;rolleyes*.>

And Botvinnik was a Jew. Hey, you're the one who can't understand how Tal was <allowed> to win the title. How about Botvinnik getting pushed off the 1952 Olympic team by Smyslov, Keres, and Bronstein?

<The Rocket: <keypusher: > Why do you always insist on defending the russians?>

Because it's fun to twit the kibitzers who swallow everything Bronstein says.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <keypusher>: More fun yet to ignore some of the 'knowledgeable' posters such as <Rocket>-y'know, the player who proclaims himself GM strength, yet wastes time here amidst the unwashed masses.
Aug-28-13  Poisonpawns: july1972-april 1973 90 games without loss and Oct1973-oct1974 95 games without loss. The one loss in the gap was to IM Rukavina
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Poisonpawns>: If your kibitz is meant to imply-or state outright-that Tal lost only the one game to Rukavina, not so.

There were six losses by Tal at Leningrad Interzonal (1973), of which J Rukavina vs Tal, 1973 was merely the last.

Oct-15-13  PawnJockey: Tal is not dead!

He sacrificed his life to create an attack.

Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: Game Collection: Tal vs the World Champions Decisive Games
Nov-08-13  drnooo: my hunch here is that the soviet
paranoia did not extend to Jews
particularly, that was Bobby's specialty de la maisson

however Bronstein had to be worried about
the fate of his father
just as Korchnoi was about the fate of
his family there is after all such a
thing as fear compounded by ambivalence

something that Fischer likely was hounded and wounded by AFTER winning the title

chess is a very emotional game
except unless played by
Tal he seemed particularly worry free

Premium Chessgames Member
  ketchuplover: happy birthday herr tal
Nov-09-13  gars: <Gryz>: I think you refer to "Schachtraining mit Exweltmeister Tal", by Alexander Koblenc (Koblenz or Koblentz, sometimes), published in 1978 by Walter Rau Verlag, Düsseldorf. This book was translated into English by Mike Price and published by B. T. Batsford. This translation was edited by John Littlewood, who added many diagrams to the German version. However, the copy I own has forty games, instead of twenty.
Nov-09-13  Kikoman: <Player of the Day>

R.I.P. GM Mikhail Tal.

Nov-09-13  gars: <Lysem and Malacha> (both quoted on page 2): please contact me:
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. ;)
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