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The Life and Games of Mikhail Tal

4.5  ·  Rating Details ·  261 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
Mikhail Tal, the 'magician from Riga' was the greatest attacking World Champion of them all, and this enchanting autobiography chronicles his extraordinary career with charm and humor.
Paperback, 496 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Everyman Chess (first published 1978)
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Mar 01, 2010 notgettingenough rated it it was amazing
Shelves: games
I can't believe that I left home some time without this book. It's worth more than five stars.

The stories are the best. ‘Why did you play this move when it was so clearly refuted in…’ ‘Well, I was reading the latest 64 in the bath, got to this variation at the bottom of the page and thought, yes, that will do, I’ll play that today. Jumped up, grabbed a towel and…I never did turn the page.’ Or the famous hippopotamus story:

Journalist: It might be inconvenient to interrupt our profound discussio
Oct 04, 2013 Wallace rated it it was amazing
This is the best chess biography I've ever read. Tal was madly in love with chess, and his enthusiasm for the game is apparent in every page of this love story. You can't help but want to play after reading his infectious game annotations. You want to sacrifice on knight on e6 as soon as possible. Like any good teacher, Tal makes you excited about the subject. When you finish reading, you want to go play.

Tal constantly found a way to inject life into stale, technical positions. He often made the
Rupert Dreyfus
Jan 18, 2016 Rupert Dreyfus rated it really liked it
Mikhail Tal was the most creative chess player of all time. This books has Tal commentating on some of the most insane tactics in a way that's fun and accessible. It reads like a mock interview and he comes across like a funny old-school sort of fella. It's widely speculated that he played while under the influence of drink and drugs, and many of these games probably support this claim. He sacrificed in ways the average brain can't understand. Maybe one day I'll read it again absolutely hammered ...more
Sergei Moska
Sep 09, 2012 Sergei Moska rated it it was amazing
Assigning a number of stars to a given book is tricky, since there are so many dimensions to consider. Books can be

2)"important" within their field
3)of high quality
4)appealing in general
5)appealing to the reviewer, even if he knows that it's an idiosyncratic taste

Then you get Life and Games of Mikhail Tal, which solves the problem by being a five-star book in each category. If going over chess games has any appeal to you whatsoever, you will probably really like this book. Chess books a
Arthur Kyriazis
May 30, 2016 Arthur Kyriazis rated it it was amazing
Tal to my mind was a greater chess champion even than Fischer. He and Fischer shared the same styles of play and often played similar lines, and like Fischer Tal was a child prodigy.

Tal unlike Fischer had serious health issues which affected his ability to stay at the top. And, he was from Riga, and therefore was not actually ethnically Russian, which hurt him with the Soviets.

Despite this, Tal defeated Botvinnik in 1960, only to give back the title in the rematch. Tal would never be champion a
Serge Pierro
Oct 13, 2012 Serge Pierro rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chess
I don't think that there was ever a more exciting chess player than Mikail Tal. His games were a maelstrom of creativity that would explode with sound (and unsound!) sacrifices that unnerved many of his opponents. And who could forget "The Gaze"! Some of the most interesting games ever played are contained in this volume, along with some great stories by Tal himself.
John Puusa
Aug 12, 2009 John Puusa rated it it was amazing
One of the best chess books every written. Former World Chess Champion Mikhail N. Tal takes on the role of both interviewer and interviewee in this unique autobiographical work. The book includes both annotated and unannotated chess games from both the high and low points of Tal's career.
May 13, 2015 Stian rated it really liked it
Shelves: chess, 2013, owned-books
I spent a long time reading this book, making sure I squeezed every drop of pleasure from it, so to say. And it did not disappoint.

Tal is by far my favourite player (alongside Morozevich, whose style is very similar to Tal, but 'hampered' by modern opening preparation and computers) and it was a pleasure to sit down and play through his games. About half the games I played through over the board myself, setting up the positions and so on. I tried to look at a lot of positions as puzzles, and mo
Sep 22, 2014 Clintweathers rated it it was amazing

This guy was scary smart and ferocious across the board.

Just grab a board and set, a copy of this book, and don't make any plans for a few hours because you're going to be amazed at how fast time gooes by trying to figure out just how Mikhail Tall did this stuff.

You can keep Kasparov and all the modern masters, you can keep the positional guys and the old school romantics.

Tal was just no quarter given no quarter asked, and brilliant enough to back it all up.
Mar 04, 2015 Melad rated it did not like it
Shelves: melad
Aug 03, 2014 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I own the RHM press copy too, but it is dog eared and falling apart. I was thrilled they re-released it. It is fun to see the Wizard of Riga develop and understand what was going on in his life. Illness finally took its toll, but after a great run through the chess world. His Botvinik match will be legendary forever.

Wish I could calculate like Tal...
Justin P
Mar 10, 2009 Justin P rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chess
Witty and funny, Tal simultaneously gives an account of his chess career through 1975 while also giving us insightful analysis into some of his games. Stylized as a hypothetical conversation between himself and a "journalist", Tal presents himself not as a genius and World Champion, but rather as a likeable, endearing human being to whom we can relate.
Jun 10, 2013 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite reads. You really feel like you've streamed through living life. Even for a non-chess player, this book is a riveting tale and of course a classic.
Keith Halbert
Nov 23, 2010 Keith Halbert marked it as to-read
I've been trying to get through this for's fantastic, just time-consuming as you need to play through the situations to really appreciate it.
Mar 25, 2014 Seth rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fic, chess
One of the best chess books ever written. The games have the magic of Tal and the writing has his wit.
Kevin de Ataíde
Aug 03, 2011 Kevin de Ataíde rated it really liked it
Read this a long time ago. I'll have to dig it up again sometime.
Nov 29, 2013 Premkumar rated it it was amazing
chess is aweosome
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“I prefer to make my annotations 'hot on the heels', as it were, when the fortunes of battle, the worries, hopes and disappointments are still sufficiently fresh in my mind. Much as I would like to, I cannot say this about these few games which will be given below. In fact, if the annotator should begin to use phrases of the type: 'in reply to...I had worked out the following variation...', the reader will rightly say 'Grandmaster, you are showing off', since the 'oldest' of these games is now more than 25 years old, and even the 'newest' more than 20. Therefore, I would ask you not to regard the following 'stylised' annotations too severely. ” 4 likes
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