Mikhail Tal – World Chess Champion from Riga

His play was characterised by taking initiative at all costs, disregarding sacrifice, boldly creating obscure and sharp situations. His motto in chess was:” Sacrifice for the sake of not falling victim yourself”

He is considered chess romantic whose talent can never be outrivaled.

Mikhail Tal is born on 9th November 1936 in Riga. His father Nekhemia Tal was a doctor and his mom Sally was an actress at the Riga Youth Theatre.

There are legends about Mikhail Tal`s childhood…age three he could read, age five he could do mental multiplication of three digit numbers. His father taught him chess at the age of seven. Age twelve he concluded that he was invincible in chess.

In 1960 Mikhail Tal sat at the final table in the World chess championships against Mikhail Botvinnik and won, thus becoming the eight World Chess champion at the age of 24! Here is this game replayed on Youtube.

Arriving to Riga from Moscow where the tournament was held he was met at the train station by thousands of his talent admirers.

Next year there was a repeat of the previous final, but this time Mikhail lost and Botvinnik regained his title.

He also became the first World Champion in blitz chess held in Canada in 1988, with all top chess players participating, including A. Karpov and G. Kasparov.

Today if you walk around Vērmanes Park in Riga you will see many playing chess by the stage on benches – this is where Tal started his career..

Amongst playing chess Tal was also outstanding chess reporter. Frm 1960 to 1970 he was editor-in-chief of the journal Šahs (Chess; published in Latvian and Russian) this journal gained popularity in all world. He also was a witty journalist and commentator, as well as the author of books” The Botvinnik-Tal Match”(1960), “Into the fire of attack”(1978) and “When the Pieces Turn Alive”(1983)

Mikhail Tal died on 28th of June in 1992 in Moscow and was buried in Šmerlis Cemetery in Riga. Google Maps

Whenever we have had people on our tours that even in slightest now chess very many now his name. In those moments i am very proud that i am from the same city as Mikhail Tal!