I had the good fortune last week of browsing through Tibor Károlyi’s booked titled “Mikhail Tal’s Best Games 2” published by Quality Chess of the UK which retails for USD 29.95.
This is the second volume of a 3 volume series on the late of Mikhail Tal who was also known as the “Magician from Riga”. The first volume was titled “The Magic of Youth” which covered the period 1949 to 1959. The second volume covers the period 1960 to 1971 and the third volume is entitled “The Invincible” and covers the period 1972 to 1992.
Mikhail Tal from Latvia (former USSR) became World Chess Champion in 1960 when he defeated the great Mikhail Botvinnik to grab the title at the young age of 23.
Mikhail Tal is not my favorite world chess champion. I guess it is because he was only World Champion for one year before he was dethroned by Mikhail Botvinnik in the return match in 1961. Another reason would mainly because of his fantastic tactical style while I prefer a slow gradual kind of game. My favorite World Champion remains Anatoly Karpov followed by Gary Kasparov.
I have two other books on Mikhail Tal and I will compare and contrast the 3 books. The other books are Tal’s 100 Best Games by Benard Cafferty published by Batsford and “The Life & Games of Mikhail Tal” by Mikhail Tal and published by R.H.M Press. The only problem with both these books is that they are in the descriptive notation.
The book by R.H.M Press has some photos but the book binding is of poor quality and so are the photos.
After reading Tibor Károlyi’s book has given me time to pause and think. Yes – he was a great player. Consider the following facts;
Winner of 6 Soviet Championship (1957, 1958, 1967, 1972, 1974 & 1978).
Played 95 consecutive games between 23rd October 1973 to 16th October 1974 without a loss with 46 wins and 49 draws.
He had numerous victories in various events around the globe including coming out joint first with Karpov in the 1979 “Tournament of Stars” in Montreal. This was all done against a backdrop of his constant poor medical condition related to kidney stones.
Tibor’s book covers many of Tal’s great games and gives extensive back ground information on many of the matches and games played. He points out that Tal was not really ready for the return match against Mikhail Botvinnik who had taken great effort to study Tal and his style.
The best part about this book are the anecdotes about Tal. Did you know that he and Viktor Korchnoi had been involved in a bar brawl just before the start of the Havana Chess Olympiad in 1966. Tal had a bandage on his head and Korchnoi had a black eye. Tal missed the first 4 rounds of the Olympiad due to this injury which was reportedly caused by the husband of a woman that Tal flirted with!
I have done a story on Victor Korchnoi as well in this blog – see http://www.kenyachessmasala.com/2015/08/viktor-lvovich-korchnoi-indomitable-lion.html
Tibor has gone to great extend to analyse many of the games which means this would be good for those players of higher strength rather than mere wood-pushers. I found the analysis fairly heavy which puts me in the group of wood-pushers.
In 1969 Tal was informed that his operation for the kidney would mean that he would be unable to play in the Soviet Championship. Tal being Tal postponed his operation so that he could take part in the championship! His final score was a poor 10.5/22 in this event.
I now have deep respect for Tal after going through the book and realising that he had huge difficulties with his health and his personal life and yet still played exceptionally strong chess.
I would highly recommend this book especially for those who love to know more about the times and tribulations of Soviet chess players during the Cold War period. I only wish Tibor had included some photos to make the book more interesting.