Hardinge Simpole

Mikhail Tal
The shooting star of chess
By Golombek, Harry and others
ISBN 184382079x
Paperback  First  168 pages
Subject [Chess ] [Chess - History ] [Tal ]
Published 26 March, 2004
UK Price £14.95   
US Price $27.00   

Morphy, Charousek, Pillsbury, Fischer... the history of chess is illuminated by shooting stars who burn briefly across the chess firmament, only to vanish without trace. The parabolic career of the Latvian genius Mikhail Tal conforms all too well to this astonishing pattern. As a virtually unknown student in 1957 Tal swept aside the revered phalanxes of Soviet Grandmasters and ultimately annihilated the Red Czar of Soviet chess himself - Mikhail Botvinnik - all within a mere three year period. Yet, within a further two years, Tal had been crushed by Botvinnik in their revenge match and then finished in a share of last place in the Candidates’ Tournament won by Tigran Petrosian. What had caused this sudden debacle? Illness, an inflexible reliance on tactically suspect openings which had outlived their shock value, or an inherent unsoundness in his style? Or was it a lethal cocktail of all three? This book answers such questions. Although Tal recovered, continuing to produce outstanding games and results, he never recaptured the dream of becoming world champion. The core of this book is composed of four remarkable eye-witness accounts by Harry Golombek. The 1958 Interzonal, the 1959 Candidates’ tournament and the World Championships of 1960 and 1961 were all attended by Golombek in his capacity as arbiter - he therefore profited from unrivalled and extensive inside access to the thoughts and comments of both Soviet and international experts. Golombek himself enjoyed impeccable credentials as chess correspondent of The Times, Grandmaster Emeritus and perhaps the greatest stylist ever to wield a pen in chess journalism.

Harry Golombek was perhaps the king of chess writers. Chess correspondent for The London Times and The Observer, he possessed an unrivalled gift for transforming a chess game into an heroic saga with himself as the bard, singing the exploits of his chosen heroes of the mind. Several times British Champion, Golombek also played top board for England in the Olympiad and represented the British Chess Federation in the FIDE World Championship cycle. He was fluent in Russian and personally attended the World Chess Championships from 1954 to 1966 as a judge.

© Hardinge Simpole, an imprint of Zeticula Ltd., Unit 13, 196 Rose Street, Edinburgh EH2 4AT, Scotland