From the Writer's desk

Mikhail Tal was (and still is) one of my heroes in chess. It's no surprise really - he is one of those players who is revered among all levels of chess players, whether they are beginners, strong club players, or Grandmasters. But what's the reason behind this? The biggest one is definitely his attractive style of play. You will find countless Tal games where he has sacrificed minor pieces, Rooks, Queens; a pawn sacrifice is tame for Tal's standards! This style of play does wonders to attract new players towards the game - I was one of them. The feeling of sacrificing a piece and creating a checkmating attack never gets old - it is a thing a beauty for everyone. And once you're hooked in to his games and start to know Tal as a person through books, magazines, and videos, you become even deeply engrossed - the man had a colorful life and personality!

The "Magician from Riga" in deep thought at 39th International Chess Congress in Hastings, England, December 30th 1963. Photo: Dennis Oulds/Central Press/Getty Images

Mikhail Tal became the World Champion in 1960 by defeating Mikhail Botvinnik - a World Championship match which is now a certified classic and considered essential study for upcoming chess players. In his illustrious career, there are hardly any tournaments Tal didn't win - Reykjavik, Hastings, Wijk Aan Zee, Candidates, Olympiad - you name it. His wonderful tactical play, his colorful personality, his amazing work as a chess author, these are things which are discussed a lot and rightly so. But today I want to talk about Tal's longevity. Now this one might seem puzzling at first - Tal passed away when he was 55 years old, and he remained the World Champion for only a year, losing the 1961 return match to Botvinnik. Longevity is a term not used very much about Tal! But let's take a look at his performance in the 1988 World Blitz Championship.

A photo to remember for ages to come! Mikhail Tal shakes hands with a young Bobby Fischer in the Zurich International tournament, 1959. Photo: RDB/ullstein bild via Getty Images

The World Blitz Championships in 1988 took place at St. John's, Canada. It was a great lineup consisting of youth and experience: Kasparov, Karpov, Tal, Vaganian, Speelman, Yusupov, Seirawan, Georgiev, Salov - these were some of the biggest names! This was a Knockout tournament with many upsets - Chernin knocked out Karpov, Kasparov was eliminated by Georgiev were the two biggest shocks. But who won this event? Misha Tal himself. At 51 years of age, Tal played with what was described as "the speed of a young man", reaching the finals in confident fashion and defeating Rafael Vaganian 3-1 in the finals. Mind you, Tal passed away in 1992, just 4 years after this event, and was suffering with numerous health issues during this period. Surely one of Tal's finest achievements!

Tal being interviewed after becoming the World Blitz Champion. Photo: Vladimir Barsky

Vasily Smyslov, Viktor Korchnoi, Emanuel Lasker, Vishy Anand - these are few names which come to mind when talking about chess players with longevity, and justly so. All four of these players maintained a great level of play even after reaching advanced ages - Smyslov played Candidates Finals at the age of 62! While Tal's untimely demise at the age of 55 cut his career short, he continued to play chess till his last breath. His last classical win came against GM Vladimir Akopian in Barcelona 1992 - the same year he passed away. Do check out this wonderful article by GM Akopian on his memorable first and last game against Tal!

Mikhail Tal's Best Games 3 - The Invincible by Tibor Karolyi

For a look into Mikhail Tal's life and games after his World Championship match win in 1960, I would highly recommend our readers to read this wonderful book by IM Tibor Karolyi linked above - Mikhail Tal's Best Games 3 - The Invincible by Tibor Karolyi. Where did you learn about Mikhail Tal for the first time? Let us know the story - email us at! - Himank Ghosh

Abhimanyu Puranik clinches 40th Cappelle la Grande Open 2024 with a 2686 performance

GM Abhimanyu Puranik and GM Lorenzo Lodici (ITA) scored 7.5/9 each at 40th Cappelle la Grande Open 2024. Abhimanyu won the tournament due to better tie-breaks, Lorenzo was placed second. Nine players scored 7/9 each. Out of them, IM Alberto Barp (ITA) secured third place. The total prize fund in the Open tournament was €12000. The top three prizes were €2000 + trophy, €1500 and €1200 each respectively. This is Abhimanyu's third rating tournament triumph of the year. Earlier, he won 33rd Keres Memorial Blitz Open 2024 in January. Then he won Bangabandhu Premier League 2024 for Bangladesh Police and now he won his first individual Classical rating tournament in 2024. Photos: L'Echiquier Cappellois

Capelle La Grande Open Final Report


Vincent Lanius Eaton, American Chess Bulletin, 1946

White to play and mate in 2

Since the g8 bishop pins the pawn on f7 and Black cannot push f7-f5, it makes sense for White to target the vulnerable f6 square in the position. 1.Qf4, threatening 2.Qf6#, is a tempting try. If Black captures 1...Nxf4, then the recapture 2.Nxf4 is mate. If Black defends f6 with 1...Nxd3 or any random move of the e5 knight, opening the b2 bishop, White has 2.Qd6#. On the other hand, 1...Nc4, which guards both d6 and f6, blocks the c2 rook, allowing 2.Nxc5#. But unfortunately, 1.Qf4 fails to the simple 1...axb6—this makes d5 available to the enemy king, refuting mate in 2.

The key move is the even more spectacular 1.Qxc5!, guarding e7 a second time and thus threatening 2.Rf6#. Note that not only is the white queen en prise on c5, it is also pinned against its own king! Black has a few ways to parry the threat, but each incurs some defect, allowing White to deliver checkmate in another way.

If 1...Rxc5+, then simply 2.Nxc5 is mate. If 1...Nf4, White has 2.Nxf4#. 1...Rxf2 unpins the white queen, allowing 2.Qd6#. 1...Nc6 and 1...Nc4 also unpin the white queen by cutting the pin line, running into 2.Qd6# and 2.Qd5#, respectively. 1...Nd7 blocks the a4 bishop; hence, 2.e8=Q/R is mate. And finally, 1...Nxd3 (Nf3, Nxg4) is met with 2.Nxa4#.

Problem This Week

White to play and mate in 2

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Praggnanandhaa and Vaishali will feature at 57th Biel Chess Festival GMT 2024

GM R Praggnanandhaa and GM R Vaishali have participated in the Master Tournament of the historic Biel Chess Festival in 2021. For the first time in their career, the FIDE Candidates 2024 siblings will play in the Grandmaster Tournament (GMT) in Masters and Challengers section. Both sections will feature six players who will battle in Classical, Rapid and Blitz events. After the players have faced each other in all three formats, the top four in each Masters and Challengers will play against each other in Classical time controls with reversed colors. This is a new addition to the 57th edition of Biel GMT. Masters: Praggnanandhaa, Vincent Keymer (GER), Liem Quang Le (VIE), Javokhir Sindarov (UZB), Haik Martirosyan (ARM) and Abhimanyu Mishra (USA). Challengers: Jonas Bjerre (DEN), Alexander Donchenko (GER), Salem Saleh (UAE), Marc' Andria Maurizzi (FRA), Ihor Samunenkov (UKR) and Vaishali. Photo: Amruta Mokal

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Shyam Sundar M wins Prague International Chess Festival 2024 Rapid Open, Saravana Krishnan third

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Kushagra Mohan wins 20th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Closed Circuit 2024

IM Kushagra Mohan and IM Anton Sitnikov (UKR) scored 7/9 each at 20th Tamil Nadu IM-norm Closed Circuit Chess Tournament 2024. Kushagra won the tournament as he defeated Anton in the penultimate round. The direct encounter tie-break went in favor of Kushagra, Anton was placed second. IM David Gochelashvili scored sole 6.5/9 to finish third. The six-day ten-player round-robin tournament was organized by Tamil Nadu Chess Association at Hotel Alankar Grande in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu from 27th February to 3rd March 2024. Tournament Coordinator - IA R Srivatsan writes the tournament report. Photos: IA R Srivatsan

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The new executive of the All India Chess federation has been elected unopposed

The result of the election for new office bearers of the All India Chess federation for the tenure of 2024 to 2027 has been declared today by former Justice of the Allahabad High Court, Rang Nath Pandey, and former Justice of the Delhi High Court, SS Sistani. It was already decided that the election of the All India Chess Association would be unopposed when only 15 names remained for the 15 available posts on March 4 for withdrawal of nominations. With this, the All India Chess Federation has become the new sports association implementing the National Sports Code. Among the key office bearers, Nitin Narang of Haryana has been elected as President, Dev Ajay Patel of Gujarat has been elected as Secretary, and International adjudicator Dharmendra Kumar of Bihar has been elected for the post of Treasurer. Read this article: Photos - All India Chess Federation

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