Mikhail Tal the Magician from Riga

Mikhail Tal was a creative genius and one of the best attacking players of all time. In 1960 he defeated Botvinnik to become the youngest world chess champion at 23. Tal lost the rematch the next year but remained a formidable chess player.

Tal suffered ill-health from an early age. His bohemian lifestyle of playing chess, heavy drinking and chain-smoking did not help either. Yet Tal was incredibly artistic, witty, and cheerful. His book “Botvinnik–Tal 1960” is one of the best chess books ever written.

Tal’s sacrifices were often intuitive. They complicated the position and Tal’s opponent would eventually blunder. This is what happened in the 6th game of the 1960 world championship match. Let’s have a look.

Tal won the official World Blitz Championship in 1988 at the age of 51. In 1992, just days before his death, he defeated Kasparov in a blitz game. Tal had a kidney removed in 1969 and eventually died of kidney failure at the age of only 55.

That’s all for today. Stay on top of COVID-19 by following the WHO Guidelines and keep living and dying for chess like Mikhail Tal, the Magician of Riga.

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