Michael Tal: biography, creativity, career, personal life

Biography: early years

Mikhail Nehemievich Tal was born on November 9, 1936 in Riga. He has Jewish roots. Parents came to each other by cousins and brother. Probably blood kinship caused the abnormality of Michael’s intrauterine development: he was missing two fingers on his right hand. His father worked as Latvia’s chief neuropathologist.

There is a stain in Tal’s biography that he tried hard to hide. His biological father was rumored to be a completely different person, a family friend and subsequently Tal’s mother’s second spouse — Robert Papirmeister. This was known by Mikhail himself and a narrow circle of his acquaintances. However, after Tal’s death, his widow and daughter denied this assumption.

When Michael was barely knocked 1.5 years old, he underwent a severe form of meningitis. The illness put a serious imprint on his health. It will let Tal down a lifetime, but he never murmured to fate.

The absence of two fingers on his right hand did not stop Michael from mastering piano playing. He began practicing chess at the age of nine. By modern standards it’s late. However, in just a couple of years, he from a novice player turned into a rising star of chess.


the age of thirteen, Mikhail entered the youth team of the Latvian SSR, and four years later became the champion of the republic.


In 1957, Tal, after defeating the strongest chess players in the country, became Union champion. The following year, he secured the result and was eligible to play in the inter-zonal tournament. Mikhail it brilliantly passed, as well as superiority of applicants. Thanks to these victories, in 1960 Tal was eligible to play in the World Cup. In the final, his opponent was Mikhail Botvinnik himself, whom he idolized and considered an idol in the world of chess. The tournament was held at the Pushkin Theatre in the capital. Before that Botvinnik and Tal had never met on the board.

Mikhail’s desperate style of play was out of the teeth of the reigning world champion. Tal celebrated the victory ahead of schedule with the score of 12, 5:8 .5 points. He became the youngest world champion in chess history, eighth overall. Only 25 years later will he be “outspat” by the famous Garry Kasparov.

A year later, Michael “lost” the crown of champion. He will endure defeats on the board many times, but that hasn’t stopped him from going into chess history as a bright player with a beautiful, combinational style. Tal’s parties are still invariably versed in chess textbooks.

In 1961, Michael began to have health problems. The chess player was tormented by terrible kidney pains. At the time, colic was very hard to buy. The seizures were repeated almost daily. Tal had to participate in tournaments while on pricks.
Soon, medics found out that Michael had the rarest congenital pathology: a third kidney and a third ureter. In the late 60s, a chess player will lie under the knife of a surgeon. After surgery, he will feel better and even barrage still. Here only to return the champion crown Mikhail couldn’t.

Personal life

Mikhail Tal was married officially three times. His first spouse was Sally Landau. Then she was already a very famous theatre actress and pop singer, was part of Eddie Rosner’s popular ensemble, and collaborated with Raymond Pauls. Sally enjoyed great success with the male half of the Union. Tal had to make quite a bit of effort for her to agree to become his wife. Their relationship was not easy, but eventually Sally gave up.

Tal and Landau’s wedding took place in 1959, a few months before Michael’s championship. Soon after Tal’s triumph, family life went downhill. By that point, Landau was already pregnant. Despite this, the chess player’s house was turned into a passing yard. There were people in it all the time. Tal liked to stage tournaments right in his own home, as well as teach the game of pioneers.

In October 1960, Hera’s son came to light. Raising the child lay on the shoulders of Sally as Michael was passionate about chess. He adored a spouse and a son, but allowed himself to start fleeting novels with other women. Tal wasn’t shy and didn’t hide it. For each tournament, he took his mistress with him. When the party called him for a conversation, he stated that no one could stop him from seeing women. In response, the chess player was banned from leaving the Union. After 11 years of marriage, Sally filed for divorce.

Tal was not long alone. In the early 70s, he remarried. His second spouse was a little-known actress from Georgia. The marriage to her lasted only a few days.

Soon, Mikhail met Angelina Petukhova. The meeting took place in her native Riga, where she worked as a typist in the local magazine “Chess”. Their affair was impetuous, already a couple of months later they played a wedding. In 1975, Jeanne’s daughter came to light.

Angelina, unlike Sally, became a housewife. For a while, she managed to keep her husband in check. However, his polygamy took over anyway. Tal continued hiking on the side, as he did during his marriage to Sally. Soon Angelina, along with her daughter, emigrated to Germany. Tal remained in the Union.

In the early 90’s with Mikhail was constantly there Marina Filatova. She is known to come from Leningrad. Friends of the chess player frankly disliked her, but it was Marina who was with him in the last days of his life.

Tal died in 1992 in a Moscow hospital. He is buried in the Jewish cemetery of Riga.

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