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Mikhail Tal
Number of games in database: 2,803
Years covered: 1949 to 1992
Highest rating achieved in database: 2705

Overall record: +1120 -298 =1279 (65.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 106 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (337) 
    B43 B46 B32 B82 B96
 Ruy Lopez (253) 
    C95 C92 C93 C96 C84
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (162) 
    C95 C92 C93 C96 C84
 Caro-Kann (104) 
    B18 B17 B14 B12 B10
 French Defense (95) 
    C07 C18 C09 C05 C16
 English (94) 
    A15 A14 A13 A17 A16
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (328) 
    B43 B40 B46 B92 B22
 King's Indian (111) 
    E69 E92 E98 E62 E66
 Modern Benoni (84) 
    A56 A64 A61 A70 A62
 Nimzo Indian (81) 
    E48 E56 E52 E46 E53
 English (80) 
    A15 A14 A10 A13 A17
 Queen's Pawn Game (73) 
    A46 E10 A40 E00 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 Jack Miller, 1988 1-0
   Tal vs Karpov, 1987 1-0
   M Bobotsov vs Tal, 1958 0-1
   Botvinnik vs Tal, 1960 0-1
   Tal vs Sviridov, 1969 1-0

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

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

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Tal Fever by chocobonbon
   Match Tal! by amadeus
   Tal-ented Indeed is an Understatement by fredthebear
   Tal's Tournament and Matches 1949-1973 by jessicafischerqueen
   Mikhail Tal's Best Games by KingG
   Mikhail Tal: Selected Games by wanabe2000
   Tals Amazing ATTACKS!!! by Zhbugnoimt
   The Magician, supplemental by Yopo
   Tal king of chess by LESTRADAR
   remembering Tal by Yopo
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by Retarf
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by newfiex
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by nakul1964
   The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal by MoonlitKnight

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Mikhail Tal
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(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 six, he learned chess from his father, a medical doctor (source: Tal interview in <Chess Life>, May 1967). Tal won his first Latvian Championship in 1953, and earned the title of Soviet Master the following year. In 1957, aged twenty, 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), Tal 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, Tal lost the rematch with Botvinnik in 1961. 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. Tal 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 and becoming only the third player after Fischer and Karpov to reach a rating of 2700.* In 1988, Tal 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


Last updated: 2018-07-24 17:47:20

 page 1 of 113; games 1-25 of 2,803  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Tal vs J I Zilber 1-0331949RigaC07 French, Tarrasch
2. Kholmov vs Tal 0-1211949SimulD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
3. Tal vs M Strelkov 1-0161949RigaC10 French
4. Tal vs Ripatti ½-½411949RigaB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
5. A Nevitsky vs Tal 0-1431949Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
6. Tal vs Leonov 1-0251949RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
7. A Parnas vs Tal 0-1291949RigaC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
8. Tal vs C Weldon 1-0651949VilniusB40 Sicilian
9. J Klavins vs Tal 0-1181949RigaC10 French
10. Lavrinenko vs Tal 0-1381950RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
11. Ivanov vs Tal 1-0251950URSC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
12. K Klasup vs Tal ½-½411950RigaD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Tal vs Pliss 1-0371950RigaC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
14. Jullik vs Tal 0-1391950RigaA16 English
15. Tal vs N Darsniek 0-1261950RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
16. Tal vs Miglan 1-0211950URS jrC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
17. Tal vs J Klavins 1-0541950Latvian jr ChampB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
18. Pakala vs Tal 0-1291950RigaD02 Queen's Pawn Game
19. Tal vs Sodell 0-1231950URSC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
20. Liepin vs Tal 0-1441950RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
21. Leonov vs Tal 0-1341950URSE17 Queen's Indian
22. Tal vs S Giterman 1-0631951LeningradD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
23. Tal vs J Fride 1-0401951RigaB28 Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation
24. Tal vs V Veders 1-0341951RigaC13 French
25. Tal vs Gaiduk ½-½411951LeningradC07 French, Tarrasch
 page 1 of 113; games 1-25 of 2,803  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 109 OF 112 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: one of the ten best chess books of all time:


Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: Beautifully written indeed!
Aug-08-16  indianchessupdates: Unbeaten Streak in Chess without defeat in classical games

Mikhail Tal in 1973-74 - 93 games
Mikhail Tal in 1972-73 - 86 games
Milan Drasko in 2006-2007 - 84 games
Vladimir Kramnik in 1999-2000 - 82 games
Wang Yue in 2008 - 82 games
Vachier Lagrave in 2015-2016 - 67 games

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: I believe Schlechter is supposed to be in that list somewhere.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <indianchessupdates: Unbeaten Streak in Chess without defeat in classical games Mikhail Tal in 1973-74 - 93 games
Mikhail Tal in 1972-73 - 86 games ...>

What is this nonsense?

1972 Mikhail Tal 3 losses.

1973 13 losses

1974 4 losses.

All those are from normal tournaments; I've excluded blitz games and such.

Aug-09-16  Olavi: No nonsense, well known fact. The first one ended in the Moscow 1973 team tournament, the second one started at the 1973 USSR championship and ended in the last or penultimate round of the 1974 championship. See
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Olavi: No nonsense, well known fact....>

Very well-known, but I have never seen any accurate lists.

The timeline would have to go something like this:

1972 Tal loses 3 games. After the third loss he goes 86 games without defeat, ending sometime in

1973 After that loss he has a mixture of results including 13 losses, but after the last loss he goes 93 games without defeat ending sometime in

1974, and after that loss he had 3 more losses during the year.

If that scenario is correct then Tal must've been playing a lot of chess.

Another puzzling thing is the 13 losses in 1973. If there was only a short gap between the two Non-losing sequences then he must have lost a lot of games in a very short period.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: You might be interested in <jessicafischerqueen>'s excellent Tal collection:

Game Collection: Tal's Tournament and Matches 1949-1973

Aug-09-16  Olavi: He lost 12 games in 1973, the 13th is a clock simultaneous. The streaks fit easily in his record. The Leningrad Interzonal and the USSR ch were not among his best.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: <Olavi: He lost 12 games in 1973, the 13th is a clock simultaneous.>

Thanks, <Olavi>. I missed one.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Olavi....The first (undefeated run) ended in the Moscow 1973 team tournament, the second one started at the 1973 USSR championship and ended in the last or penultimate round of the 1974 championship....>

The latter unbeaten string actually ended with Tal vs N K Ivanov, 1974, played in an event which began the second week of October. The 1974 Soviet championship started the last day of November.

Aug-25-16  seeminor: The man himself talking about his life, taking audience questions. A remarkable find from 1988.

Aug-25-16  Bruce Graham: <seeminor> Thanks so much. A <remarkable find> indeed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: Not necessarily the best, but certainly the most likable character in Chess. Ever.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Tal said, <"The time that we don't have is more precious than the piece we do have.">

I think that would be a perfect epitaph for a man who lived life at a constant 90mph.

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.

Nov-09-16  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.

Jun-16-17  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.


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