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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. A Parnas vs Tal 0-1291949RigaC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
2. Tal vs C Weldon 1-0651949VilniusB40 Sicilian
3. J Klavins vs Tal 0-1181949RigaC10 French
4. Tal vs J I Zilber 1-0331949RigaC07 French, Tarrasch
5. Kholmov vs Tal 0-1211949SimulD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
6. Tal vs M Strelkov 1-0161949RigaC10 French
7. A Nevitsky vs Tal 0-1431949Semi Finals Youth ChampionshipC49 Four Knights
8. Tal vs Ripatti ½-½411949RigaB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
9. Tal vs Leonov 1-0251949RigaB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
10. Tal vs J Klavins 1-0541950Latvian jr ChampB74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
11. Pakala vs Tal 0-1291950RigaD02 Queen's Pawn Game
12. Tal vs Sodell 0-1231950URSC91 Ruy Lopez, Closed
13. Liepin vs Tal 0-1441950RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
14. Leonov vs Tal 0-1341950URSE17 Queen's Indian
15. Lavrinenko vs Tal 0-1381950RigaB59 Sicilian, Boleslavsky Variation, 7.Nb3
16. Ivanov vs Tal 1-0251950URSC90 Ruy Lopez, Closed
17. K Klasup vs Tal ½-½411950RigaD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
18. Tal vs Pliss 1-0371950RigaC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
19. Jullik vs Tal 0-1391950RigaA16 English
20. Tal vs N Darsniek 0-1261950RigaC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
21. Tal vs Miglan 1-0211950URS jrC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
22. Birjanis vs Tal 0-1351951RigaA91 Dutch Defense
23. Tal vs Klovans ½-½401951RigaD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
24. Tal vs M Zvirbulis ½-½401951RigaB15 Caro-Kann
25. Tal vs Gipslis 1-0241951TournamentE30 Nimzo-Indian, Leningrad
 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 110 OF 112 ·  Later Kibitzing>
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
Feb-27-18  Mikhail1962: I lost two games to him in1986
May-26-18  indianchessupdates: Since his defeat to Giri in the 2nd match of 3rd Wenzhou Grandmaster Match in September 2017. Ding Liren is now undefeated in 73 games in classical games. Can he beat his country man record of Wang Yue and also that of Tal.

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 2006-07 - 84 games
Vladimir Kramnik in 1999-2000 - 82 games
Wang Yue in 2008 - 82 games
Ding Liren in 2017-18 - 73 games (ongoing)
Vachier Lagrave in 2015-16 - 67 games

May-26-18  indianchessupdates: Updated list of unbeaten Streak in Chess without defeat in classical games ===================
(min 60 games without loss)

Mikhail Tal in 1973-74 - 95 games
Mikhail Tal in 1972-73 - 84 games
Milan Drasko in 2006-07 - 84 games
Vladimir Kramnik in 1999-00 - 82 games
Wang Yue in 2008 - 82 games
Ding Liren in 2017-18 - 73 games (ongoing)
Wesley So in 2016-17 - 67 games
Vachier Lagrave in 2015-16 - 67 games
Capablanca during 1916-24 - 60 games

Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: Undisputed. So far.
May-26-18  Howard: Chess Life mentioned a certain unbeaten streak that IM William Martz once ran up except...some of those games were against nonmasters.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: <Howard:>

"newzild: Bill Martz went 104 games in a row without losing, which is a world record." --> William E Martz

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Supposedly, Tal's book on the 1960 WC Match with Botvinnik is superb. I haven't read it myself, but maybe someday...

I did enjoy his book on his life and games, although supposedly there was a ghost writer involved.

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: I used "supposedly" twice in the previous post. Was I wrong to do so?
Premium Chessgames Member
  morfishine: <thegoodanarchist: I used "supposedly" twice in the previous post. Was I wrong to do so?> Of course not since its the best word. However, for flow, you could've substituted 'reportedly' or 'from what I've heard'
Premium Chessgames Member
  PawnSac: < Mikhail1962: I lost two games to him in 1986 >

l lost one to him in 1988. It's the only loss I'm happy to announce. I GOT TO PLAY HIM. lol What a great player. The wizard of chess.

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