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Mikhail Tal's Best Games
Compiled by markkumatt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tal vs Tolush, 1956 
(B97) Sicilian, Najdorf, 31 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tal vs Portisch, 1976 
(C91) Ruy Lopez, Closed, 37 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 Ljubojevic, 1979 
(E16) Queen's Indian, 57 moves, 1-0

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

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

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

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

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

Tal vs Velimirovic, 1979 
(A30) English, Symmetrical, 30 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 Ftacnik, 1982 
(B97) Sicilian, Najdorf, 32 moves, 1-0

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

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

Tal vs Miles, 1981 
(B17) Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation, 24 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 Korchnoi, 1987 
(C80) Ruy Lopez, Open, 57 moves, 1-0

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

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

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

Tal vs A Sokolov, 1988 
(E04) Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3, 41 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 J Miller, 1988 
(C55) Two Knights Defense, 33 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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