To his special day we would like to reveal impressive, tragic, and odd facts about the Latvian chess player:
+ Mikhail Tal was born on in Latvia on November 9, 1936 with only three fingers on his right hand.
+ Despite this handicap, Tal played table tennis and piano.
+ When the Germans invaded Latvia on July 1, 1941 Tal’s Jewish family spectacularly fled the country: Mikhail and his parents barely caught the last train departing from Riga. They had to leave behind all their possessions.
+ Tal began playing chess at seven years old
+ Due to his intellectual giftedness he skipped first and second grade and attended university at the young age of seventeen (Russian philology).
+ In 1959, he beat young Bobby Fischer in four out of four matches as the Candidates’ Tournament.
+ Tal was said to have an obsession for chess and a hypnotic gaze. An American grandmaster thus tried to ‘shield off’ this gaze with sunglasses in 1959, but lost the duel anyway.
+ Mikhail Tal became 8th World Champion in 1960 after defeating Mikhail Botvinnik.
+ His style was unique: dynamic, fascinating, implicit, brave, and risk-seeking.
+ In 1960, he wrote a book with broad insight into his World Championship duel and revealed his strategy and thoughts.
+ This turned into a fatality one year later: He lost the title to Botvinnik and became youngest former Chess World Champion of all time.
+ He was dealing with severe health problems during the second (and lost) World Championship battle.
+ Tal suffered from kidney failure, smoked and drank too much. For a period of time he had a serious addiction to morphine.
+ From 1973 to 1974 he won 93 chess duels in a row which had never been accomplished by any grandmaster before him.
+ Between 1958 and 1982 he won the Chess Olympics eight times as a member of the Soviet team.
+ He didn’t care much about money: All his life he never owned a wallet. Once he had money in his hands, he spent it immediately.
+ In 1988, Mikhail Tal became World Champion in Rapid Chess.
+ He never paid much attention to what other people thought of him. There was a time when he even lived in one apartment with his ex-wife, their son, his new girlfriend, mother, and brother.
+ In his last Rapid Chess tournament, shortly before he passed away, he beat Garri Kasparov (see video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cm9nKUIkYyw).
+ Mikhail Tal died on June 28. 1992 at the age of 55 from the fatal consequences of incorrectly performed surgery.
written by Sarah, translated by Birthe