Soviet-Latvian world champion chess player
Russian chess master; 60's chess champ; Youngest world chess
champion before Kasparov; Chess
champion, Mikhail; Latvian chess master
once a year
in English language:
27354 / 86800
must take your opponent into a deep dark forest where 2+2=5, and
the path leading out is only wide enough for one ~ Tal
Tal (November 9, 1936 – June 28, 1992) was a Soviet-Latvian
chess player, a Grandmaster, and the eighth World Chess Champion.
was often called "Misha" (a diminutive for Mikhail) and
also "The magician from Riga" for his daring
combinational style. Both The Mammoth Book of the World's
Greatest Chess Games (Burgess, Nunn & Emms 2004) and Modern
Chess Brilliancies (Evans 1970) include more games by Tal than
any other player.
was also a highly-regarded chess writer. Many authorities
consider him to have been the greatest attacking player of all
loved the game in itself and considered that "Chess, first
of all, is Art." He was capable of playing numerous blitz
games against unknown or relatively weak players purely for the
joy of playing.
as "The Magician from Riga," Tal was the archetype of
the attacking player, developing an extremely powerful and
imaginative style of play. His approach over the board was very
pragmatic – in that respect, he is one of the heirs of
ex-World Champion Emanuel Lasker. He often sacrificed material in
search for the initiative in chess, which is defined by the
ability to make threats to which the opponent must respond. With
such intuitive sacrifices, he created vast complications, and
many masters found it impossible to solve all the problems he
created over the board, though deeper post-game analysis found
flaws in some of his conceptions. Although his playing style was
scorned by ex-World Champion Vasily Smyslov as nothing more than
"tricks," Tal convincingly beat virtually every notable
grandmaster with his trademark aggression. Viktor Korchnoi and
Paul Keres are two of the very few with a significant plus record
against him. It is also notable that he adopted a more sedate and
positional style in his later years; for many chess lovers, the
apex of Tal's style corresponds with the period (approximately
from 1971 to 1979) when he was able to integrate the solidity of
classic chess with the imagination of his youth.
the current top-level players, the Latvian-born Spaniard Alexei
Shirov has probably been most influenced or inspired by Tal's
sacrificial style. In fact, he studied with Tal as a youth. Many
other Latvian grandmasters and masters, for instance Alexander
Shabalov and Alvis Vitolins, have played in a similar vein,
causing some to speak of a "Latvian School of Chess."
Tal contributed little to opening theory, despite a deep
knowledge of most systems. But his aggressive use of the Modern
Benoni defense, particularly in his early years, led to a
complete re-evaluation of this variation at the time, though it
is seldom seen in tournament play in the 21st century.
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