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Mikhail Tal's Best Games
Compiled by mneuwirth

The best games of Tal's career.

Believe me, playing in such a style, this guy has no chess future. – Peter Romanovsky (on a young Tal)

Later, I began to succeed in decisive games. Perhaps because I realized a very simple truth: not only was I worried, but also my opponent. – Mikhail Tal

Tal enjoys excitement and hair-raising complications, and in that kind of game he can find his way around better than anyone else. – Paul Keres

I like to grasp the initiative and not give my opponent peace of mind. – Mikhail Tal

The chess story of Mikhail Tal is about the act itself of straining against the leash of limited human imagination to create mammoth combinations on the chessboard. During his games, Tal wished to go where no chess player had ever gone before, choosing the middlegame as his métier for creative expression. He burned energy profligately. A chain-smoker and a heavy drinker, Tal pulsated nervous energy, pacing like a caged tiger in between moves. And as a young man with those famous fierce, hooded eyes and that imposing hooked nose, he bulldozed all before him. – Larry Parr

Tal doesn't move the pieces by hand; he uses a magic wand. – Vyacheslav Ragozin

There are two kinds of sacrifices; correct ones and mine. – Mikhail Tal

Some sacrifices are sound; the rest are mine. – Mikhail Tal

First, how to sac my queen, then rook, then bishop, then knight, then pawns. – Mikhail Tal (on what he thinks about after his opponent moves)

I will not hide the fact that I love to hear the spectators react after a sacrifice of a piece or pawn. – Mikhail Tal

Tal develops all his pieces in the center and then sacrifices them somewhere. – David Bronstein

Even after losing four games in a row to him I still consider his play unsound. He is always on the lookout for some spectacular sacrifice, that one shot, that dramatic breakthrough to give him the win. – Bobby Fischer (on Tal)

They compare me with Lasker, which is an exaggerated honor. Lasker made mistakes in every game and I only in every second one! – Mikhail Tal

Tal was a fearless fighter. Nobody could successfully accomplish so many incorrect maneuvers! He simply smashed his opponents. – Bent Larsen

Tal's genius consists of posing his opponents with tempting ways to go wrong. – Larry Evans

I was surprised by his ability to figure out complex variations. Then the way he sets out the game; he was not interested in the objectivity of the position, whether it's better or worse, he only needed room for his pieces. All you do then is figure out variations which are extremely difficult. He was tactically outplaying me and I made mistakes. – Mikhail Botvinnik (on Tal)

I realized that you cannot tackle him if the pieces are mobile and active. I played closed positions in which Tal could gain no advantage. Tal had no positional understanding for closed games. – Mikhail Botvinnik (on their '61 rematch)

If Tal would learn to program himself properly, then it would become quite impossible to play against him. – Mikhail Botvinnik

Botvinnik's right! When he says such things, then he's right. Usually, I prefer not to study chess but to play it. For me chess is more an art than a science. It's been said that Alekhine and I played similar chess, except that he studied more. Yes, perhaps, but I have to say that he played, too. – Mikhail Tal

When I lost the title to Botvinnik, chess could be played quietly again! – Mikhail Tal

Mother, I have just become Ex-World Champion. – Mikhail Tal (on returning home after losing the '61 rematch to Botvinnik)

I did not take the tournament too seriously. I walked around the pressroom, smoked a few cigarettes and sacrificed some pieces. I am waiting until next year when I can become a new ex-world champion. – Mikhail Tal (on the '88 World Blitz Championship, which he won)

It's funny, but many people don't understand why I draw so many games nowadays. They think my style must have changed but this is not the case at all. The answer to this drawing disease is that my favorite squares are e6, f7, g7 and h7 and everyone now knows this. They protect these squares not once but four times! – Mikhail Tal

For him chess was his life. Without the game he could not exist. – Engelina Tal (on her late husband Mikhail)

The man who has proved that you can reach the top and remain human. – Mikhail Tal (on who his chess hero was)

My head is full of sunshine. – Mikhail Tal

I couldn't make myself dislike him. – Mikhail Botvinnik (on Tal)

If you wait for luck to turn up, life becomes very boring. – Mikhail Tal

In chess, at least, the brave inherit the earth. – Edmar Mednis (commenting on Tal)

Analyzing his chess games is tantamount to discussing what God looks like. - Vladimir Kramnik

Tal vs M Pasman, 1953 
(B93) Sicilian, Najdorf, 6.f4, 40 moves, 1-0

J Mileika vs Tal, 1953 
(A60) Benoni Defense, 23 moves, 0-1

I Birbrager vs Tal, 1953 
(A70) Benoni, Classical with 7.Nf3, 38 moves, 0-1

Tal vs P Kampenuss, 1953 
(C67) Ruy Lopez, 37 moves, 1-0

Tal vs J Visockis, 1954 
(E87) King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox, 41 moves, 1-0

V Saigin vs Tal, 1954 
(A31) English, Symmetrical, Benoni Formation, 29 moves, 0-1

Tal vs R Skuja, 1955 
(E67) King's Indian, Fianchetto, 43 moves, 1-0

D Rovner vs Tal, 1955 
(C05) French, Tarrasch, 26 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Tolush, 1956 
(B97) Sicilian, Najdorf, 31 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Simagin, 1956 
(B07) Pirc, 45 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Lisitsin, 1956 
(B71) Sicilian, Dragon, Levenfish Variation, 54 moves, 1-0

J Szukszta vs Tal, 1956 
(E86) King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox, 7.Nge2 c6, 20 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Ragozin, 1956 
(D15) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 80 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Aronin, 1957 
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 36 moves, 1/2-1/2

Tal vs Tolush, 1957 
(E80) King's Indian, Samisch Variation, 42 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Koblents, 1957 
(B63) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 37 moves, 1-0

Tal vs K Klaman, 1957 
(B61) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, Larsen Variation, 7.Qd2, 34 moves, 1-0

Keres vs Tal, 1957 
(E10) Queen's Pawn Game, 44 moves, 0-1

B Gurgenidze vs Tal, 1957 
(A78) Benoni, Classical with ...Re8 and ...Na6, 27 moves, 0-1

Tal vs A Kolarov, 1957 
(B94) Sicilian, Najdorf, 30 moves, 1-0

Bobotsov vs Tal, 1958 
(E81) King's Indian, Samisch, 30 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Panno, 1958 
(C92) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 57 moves, 1-0

Averbakh vs Tal, 1958 
(A76) Benoni, Classical, 9...Re8, 35 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Tolush, 1958 
(E53) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, 28 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Geller, 1958 
(C96) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 33 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Fischer, 1959 
(E93) King's Indian, Petrosian System, 34 moves, 1-0

Fischer vs Tal, 1959 
(B87) Sicilian, Fischer-Sozin with ...a6 and ...b5, 52 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Smyslov, 1959 
(B10) Caro-Kann, 26 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Polugaevsky, 1959 
(B94) Sicilian, Najdorf, 34 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Gligoric, 1959 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 64 moves, 1-0

Tal vs E Nievergelt, 1959 
(B63) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 37 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Smyslov, 1959 
(B84) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 41 moves, 1-0

A Nikitin vs Tal, 1959 
(B94) Sicilian, Najdorf, 44 moves, 0-1

J Klavins vs Tal, 1959 
(B99) Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line, 45 moves, 0-1

Fischer vs Tal, 1959 
(B90) Sicilian, Najdorf, 33 moves, 0-1

Tal vs D Keller, 1959 
(D44) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 34 moves, 1-0

Keres vs Tal, 1959 
(B42) Sicilian, Kan, 40 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Bronstein, 1959 
(C96) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 43 moves, 1-0

Tal vs S Johannessen, 1959 
(D15) Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, 27 moves, 1-0

Geller vs Tal, 1959 
(A71) Benoni, Classical, 8.Bg5, 42 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Najdorf, 1960 
(B80) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 26 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960 
(B18) Caro-Kann, Classical, 41 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Botvinnik, 1960 
(C18) French, Winawer, 32 moves, 1-0

Botvinnik vs Tal, 1960 
(E69) King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line, 47 moves, 0-1

Fischer vs Tal, 1960 
(C18) French, Winawer, 21 moves, 1/2-1/2

Tal vs Unzicker, 1960 
(C95) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer, 25 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Koblents, 1961 
(B99) Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line, 32 moves, 1-0

Ivkov vs Tal, 1961 
(E92) King's Indian, 68 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Botvinnik, 1961 
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 29 moves, 1-0

Tal vs H Hecht, 1962 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 49 moves, 1-0

Tal vs NN, 1963 
(B96) Sicilian, Najdorf, 19 moves, 1-0

Tal vs T Ghitescu, 1963 
(C93) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense, 41 moves, 1-0

F Thorbergsson vs Tal, 1964 
(E77) King's Indian, 39 moves, 0-1

Smyslov vs Tal, 1964 
(A36) English, 72 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Lutikov, 1964 
(C40) King's Knight Opening, 31 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Vasiukov, 1964 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 58 moves, 1-0

Portisch vs Tal, 1964 
(A04) Reti Opening, 39 moves, 1/2-1/2

Tal vs I Bilek, 1964 
(B94) Sicilian, Najdorf, 23 moves, 1-0

Tal vs G Tringov, 1964 
(B06) Robatsch, 17 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Larsen, 1965  
(B82) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 37 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Portisch, 1965 
(B10) Caro-Kann, 27 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Larsen, 1965 
(B04) Alekhine's Defense, Modern, 34 moves, 1-0

Spassky vs Tal, 1965 
(B43) Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3, 40 moves, 0-1

Tal vs B Brinck-Claussen, 1966 
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 45 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Botvinnik, 1966 
(B14) Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack, 45 moves, 1-0

Tal vs R Byrne, 1966 
(B69) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 11.Bxf6, 36 moves, 1-0

Hort vs Tal, 1966 
(A30) English, Symmetrical, 40 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Filip, 1967 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 27 moves, 1-0

Tal vs J H Donner, 1968 
(C18) French, Winawer, 30 moves, 1-0

Tal vs B Gurgenidze, 1969 
(B15) Caro-Kann, 34 moves, 1-0

Tukmakov vs Tal, 1969 
(A77) Benoni, Classical, 9...Re8, 10.Nd2, 28 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Gulko, 1969 
(B82) Sicilian, Scheveningen, 26 moves, 1-0

N Spiridonov vs Tal, 1970 
(E94) King's Indian, Orthodox, 36 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Sviridov, 1969 
(B75) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 18 moves, 1-0

Larsen vs Tal, 1969 
(E98) King's Indian, Orthodox, Taimanov, 9.Ne1, 40 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Suetin, 1969 
(B42) Sicilian, Kan, 21 moves, 1-0

Reshevsky vs Tal, 1970 
(A65) Benoni, 6.e4, 34 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Najdorf, 1970 
(B47) Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation, 43 moves, 1-0

A Bokuchava vs Tal, 1970 
(B43) Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3, 28 moves, 0-1

Gulko vs Tal, 1970 
(D87) Grunfeld, Exchange, 34 moves, 0-1

Tal vs A Kolarov, 1970 
(B15) Caro-Kann, 35 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Uhlmann, 1971 
(C07) French, Tarrasch, 19 moves, 1-0

Tal vs A Vooremaa, 1971 
(B48) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 29 moves, 1-0

K Honfi vs Tal, 1972 
(B46) Sicilian, Taimanov Variation, 33 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Shamkovich, 1972 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 29 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Timman, 1972 
(A04) Reti Opening, 20 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Savon, 1972 
(D35) Queen's Gambit Declined, 38 moves, 1-0

Spassky vs Tal, 1973 
(E30) Nimzo-Indian, Leningrad, 38 moves, 0-1

G Botterill vs Tal, 1973 
(B43) Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3, 51 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Keres, 1973 
(C72) Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 5.O-O, 44 moves, 1-0

Tal vs M Stean, 1974 
(B96) Sicilian, Najdorf, 34 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Bronstein, 1973 
(B07) Pirc, 24 moves, 1-0

Timman vs Tal, 1973 
(A56) Benoni Defense, 32 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Szabo, 1973 
(B06) Robatsch, 36 moves, 1-0

Tal vs W R Chandler, 1974 
(B01) Scandinavian, 22 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Petrosian, 1974 
(B08) Pirc, Classical, 23 moves, 1-0

Tal vs M Stean, 1975 
(D34) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 31 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Portisch, 1976 
(C91) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 37 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Andersson, 1976 
(B83) Sicilian, 34 moves, 1-0

Tal vs R Byrne, 1976 
(B53) Sicilian, 22 moves, 1-0

Tal vs A Mikhalchishin, 1978 
(D44) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 34 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Larsen, 1979 
(B63) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 22 moves, 1-0

Spassky vs Tal, 1979 
(E14) Queen's Indian, 22 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Gheorghiu, 1979 
(B50) Sicilian, 64 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Velimirovic, 1979 
(A30) English, Symmetrical, 30 moves, 1-0

Polugaevsky vs Tal, 1979 
(A34) English, Symmetrical, 28 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Ljubojevic, 1979 
(E16) Queen's Indian, 57 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Huebner, 1979 
(B18) Caro-Kann, Classical, 41 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Spassky, 1980 
(C95) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer, 44 moves, 1-0

Tal vs J Flesch, 1981 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 32 moves, 1-0

Bronstein vs Tal, 1982 
(B70) Sicilian, Dragon Variation, 41 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Van der Wiel, 1982 
(A13) English, 24 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Ftacnik, 1982 
(B97) Sicilian, Najdorf, 32 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Miles, 1981 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 24 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Van der Wiel, 1982 
(A17) English, 22 moves, 1-0

Tal vs G Garcia Gonzalez, 1983 
(C42) Petrov Defense, 29 moves, 1-0

Ribli vs Tal, 1985 
(A06) Reti Opening, 28 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Oll, 1986 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 22 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Hjartarson, 1987 
(C97) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 43 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Korchnoi, 1987 
(C80) Ruy Lopez, Open, 57 moves, 1-0

Tal vs R Forbis, 1988 
(B77) Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack, 30 moves, 1-0

Vladimirov vs Tal, 1988 
(A56) Benoni Defense, 32 moves, 0-1

Tal vs A Sokolov, 1988 
(E04) Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3, 41 moves, 1-0

Tal vs J Miller, 1988 
(C55) Two Knights Defense, 33 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Speelman, 1988 
(B08) Pirc, Classical, 34 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Spassky, 1988 
(B09) Pirc, Austrian Attack, 56 moves, 1-0

Tal vs M Neibults, 1991 
(B21) Sicilian, 2.f4 and 2.d4, 24 moves, 1-0

Tal vs V Akopian, 1992 
(B30) Sicilian, 38 moves, 1-0

Tal vs F Reinemer, 1991 
(A80) Dutch, 32 moves, 1-0

Tal vs Kupreichik, 1969 
(E67) King's Indian, Fianchetto, 40 moves, 1-0

Barcza vs Tal, 1971 
(A07) King's Indian Attack, 23 moves, 0-1

Tal vs Filip, 1958 
(C98) Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin, 38 moves, 1-0

132 games

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