|Tal, Mikhail Nekhemyevich|
| Latvian player.
International Grandmaster, 1957.
World Champion, 1960-1961.
USSR Champion, 1957, 1958, 1967, 1972, 1974, 1978.
Biography by Bill Wall
Mikhail Nekhemievich Tal (born Mihails Tals) was born in Riga, Latvia on November 9, 1936. Hi father was a medical doctor, At age 7, Mikhail became interested in chess when he saw it being played in his father's waiting room. He learned the rules of the game from his cousin.
In 1948 Mikhail joined the chess section of the Pioneers in Riga.
In 1949 Mikhail was coached and trained by one of Riga's top masters, Alexander Koblencs.
In 1951 Tal participated in the Riga Championship and the USSR Junior Championship, but without good results.
In 1953 Mikhail won the championship of Latvia at age 16 and became a master. Later that year he played board two for Latvia at the USSR Team Championship. Their team took 4th place.
In 1954 Tal was a student at Riga University studying Russian language and literature. He won the championship of Riga that year.
Tal participated in the semi-finals of the USSR championship in Vilnius in 1955 and tied for 3rd-4th place.
Tal took 5th-7th place at the 23rd USSR championship in 1956. He then played 4th board in the World Junior Team Championship in Sweden and scored 4-1.
In 1957 Mikhail won the 24th USSR championship with 9 wins, 10 draws, and 2 losses, ahead of Paul Keres and David Bronstein. He was awarded the Grandmaster title by the World Chess Federation, FIDE.
Tal won the 25th USSR championship and Zonal in 1958 with 10 wins, 5 draws, and 3 losses.
At the Portoroz, Yugoslavia Interzonal in 1958, Tal took first place with 8 wins, 11 draws, and 2 losses. This was 2 1/2 points ahead of the rest of the field.
Tal had the best individual score at the 13th world team tournament, the 1958 Munich Olympiad. He was the gold medalist with 13 1/2 out of 15, scoring 90 percent and no losses.
Tal took second place, behind Tigran Petrosian, at the 26th USSR championship in 1959.
Tal won Zurich 1959 with 10 wins, 3 draws, and 2 losses. In October, 1959 he won the Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates tournament with 16 wins, 8 draws, and 4 losses. He thus became the challenger for the world chess championship.
In March, 1960 Tal began his match with world champion Mikhail Botvinnik in Moscow. Tal won the match with a score of 6 wins, 13 draws, and 2 losses. He became the youngest world champion at age 23 up to that time. In 1985 Garry Kasparov beat his record by becoming world chess champion at 22 years, 210 days.
Mikhail Tal edited the Latvian chess magazine, SAHS, from 1960 to 1970.
A year later in Moscow Tal lost a rematch with Botvinnik for the world championship. Tal scored 5 wins, 6 draws, and 10 losses in that match. He had been world champion for 1 year and 5 days, the briefest reign of any world chess champion.
At Bled 1961, Tal took first place, ahead of Fischer, with 11 wins, 7 draws, and 1 loss.
In 1962 Tal began play at the Curacao Candidates tournament, but had to withdraw because of kidney trouble.
In late 1962 Tal came in second at the USSR championship, behind Korchnoi, with 11 wins, 5 draws, and 3 losses.
Tal took first place at Miskolc 1963 with 10 wins and 5 draws.
Tal tied for first place at the Amsterdam interzonal of 1964 and again became a Candidate.
In 1965 he defeated Lajos Portisch in the quarter-finals, defeated Bent Larsen in the semi-finals, but lost to Boris Spassky in the final match.
In 1966 Tal was hit in the head with a bottle during a bar room fight at the 1966 chess olympiad in Havana. He was taken to the hospital and missed the first five rounds of the Olympiad because of his injuries.
Tal tied with Lev Polugaevsky at the 1967 USSR championship at Kharkov.
In 1968 Tal defeated Gligorich in the quarter-finals of the Candidates matches, but lost to Korchnoi in the semi-finals.
In 1969, Mikhail Tal had one of his kidneys removed.
Tal tied for first place with Paul Keres at Tallinn in 1971. He won the 1972 USSR championship and took first place at Wijk aan Zee 1973 and Tallin 1973. From July 1972 to April 1973 Tal had played 86 games in international competition without defeat. He had won 47 games and drawn 39 games in master play.
Tal tied for first place with Szabo and Kuzmin at Hastings 1973-74.
In 1974 Tal took first place at Halle, then tied for first place with Beliavsky in the USSR championship at Leningrad.
Tal won at Leningrad 1977 and tied for the 1977 USSR championship with Tseshkovsky.
Tal and Karpov tied for first place at Montreal in May 1979 and took first place at the 1979 Riga interzonal with 11 wins and 6 draws.
In 1981 Tal won at Riga and Porz.
In 1982 Tal tied with Vaganian at Moscow, then took first place at Sochi.
In 1983 Tal tied with Vaganian at Tallinn for first place.
In 1985 Tal tied with Mikhail Gurevich at Jurmala for first place.
Tal tied for first place at Tbilisi 1986 with Azmaiparashvili.
Tal tied for first at Jurmala 1987 and took first place at Termes de Rio Hondo.
Tal lost his match with Polugaevsky in 1979 after qualifying from the 1979 Riga interzonal.
Tal took 4th place at the 1985 Montpellier Candidates tournament. He then drew a match with Jan Timman, winning 1 game, drawing 4 games, and losing one game. He lost the match on tiebreak.
In 1988 Mikhail Tal won the world blitz championship.
In Olympiad play, Mikhail Tal won 59 games, drew 32 games, and lost only 2 games. He played close to 3,000 tournament games, winning over 65 percent of the time.
Mikhail Tal died of kidney failure in Moscow on June 28, 1992 at the age of 55.
Mikhail Tal won 11 games, drew 19 games, and lost 12 games in world championship play. His highest Elo rating was 2700.
by Bill Wall
At a tournament in Poland in 1974, Tal was playing White against Adamski with both players in time trouble. Adamski's flag fell but Tal lost a piece and resigned. At that moment, Tal's wife said, "Black has not yet made 40 moves." A referee intervened and awarded the win to Tal since the flag falling happened before Tal resigned. Adamski appealed but his protest was rejected. Tal won the tournament. Tal's parents were cousins. In 1966 Tal was hit in the head with a bottle in a bar during the 1966 Olympiad in Havana and beaten up. He missed the first five rounds of the Olympics because of his injuries. He won the World Blitz Championship in 1988. In 1972-73 Tal played 86 games without a loss in international competition, winning 47 and drawing 39. He died of kidney failure in Moscow.
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