Study Chess with Tal by Mikhail Tal and Alexander Koblencs

Book Review: Study Chess with Tal by Mikhail Tal and Alexander Koblencs

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Table of Contents

Study Chess with Tal is a classic that offers a glimpse into the mind and style of one of the greatest chess players of all time, Mikhail Tal. 

The book is based on the diaries of Tal’s coach, Alexander Koblencs, who accompanied him from his early years until he became the world champion in 1960. 

The book contains over 40 annotated games, each with a thematic title and diagrams, that showcase Tal’s brilliant tactical ability and intuitive sacrifices. 

The book also reveals how Tal prepared for his opponents, how he used psychological tricks, and how he developed his unique positional understanding.

The book is not a typical instructional manual, but rather a personal and historical account of Tal’s chess journey. 

Study Chess with Tal: chess tactics from the grandmaster

This book, first published in the early 1980s, is based on diaries kept by Tal’s coach during their training sessions. It provides a unique perspective on Tal’s journey to greatness and is written in an engaging language that is suitable for teenagers and older readers alike. The book shows how Tal achieved his success through hard work, dedication, and the guidance of a world-class coach.

It is written in an engaging and lively language, with many anecdotes and insights from Koblencs. 

About The Writers Of The Book 

Mikhail Tal and Alexander Koblencs are the authors of this legendary book.

Mikhail Tal was a Soviet-Latvian chess player and the eighth World Chess Champion. 

He is considered a creative genius and is widely regarded as one of the most influential chess players. 

He was known for his attacking and daring combinatorial style. 

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1936, Tal won his first Latvian Championship in 1953. 

In 1954, he became a Soviet Master and won the first of his six Soviet Championships in 1957. 

He qualified for the World Championship by winning the Interzonal and the Candidates tournaments in 1958 and 1959. 

In 1960, he defeated Mikhail Botvinnik to become the youngest world champion at the time. However, he lost the title back to Botvinnik in 1961.

Tal continued to play at the highest level until his death in 1992, winning many tournaments and setting a record for the longest unbeaten streak in competitive chess history with 95 games. 

However, this record was broken by the 16th world champion Magnus Carlsen, who had an unbeaten streak of 125 games. 

Tal was popularly known as the “Magician from Riga” and the “Wizard of the Chessboard” for his amazing games and sacrifices.

Alexander Koblencs was a Latvian chess master, trainer, and writer. 

He is best known as the trainer of the 1960-61 World Champion Mikhail Tal. 

He also wrote several chess books and edited chess magazines. He died in Berlin, a year after Tal’s death.

Now, let’s quickly take a look at the summarised content of this book.

Book Content Summary

This classic book of over 270 pages was written under 42 topics. 

So much was talked about. This includes themes like:

  • Explosion on g7
  • The Bewitched square f2
  • The exploding center
  • Castling opposite sides
  • Counterattacking 
  • Pawn chain strategy,
  • Preventing simplification 
  • Giving up a bishop for an attacking tempo, etc.

Here’s a well-written version of the sentence:

This is just a small selection of the 42 topics that were discussed. 

There are a total of 40 games of Tal annotated by Tal himself. 

Who is this Book for?

The book is suitable for chess players of all levels, as it offers both entertainment and inspiration. 

Some readers may also prefer to get additional books on defensive and strategic games, as the book mostly focuses on Tal’s attacking prowess. 

Pros Of This Book 

If you get this book, you will gain a lot of valuable insights and knowledge from one of the greatest chess players of all time, Mikhail Tal. 

You will learn how he played his amazing games, how he prepared for his opponents, and how he developed his own style and intuition. 

You will also enjoy the stories and anecdotes from his coach and friend, Alexander Koblencs, who accompanied him throughout his career. 

Reading this book will help you improve your chess skills, especially your tactical ability and creativity. 

Cons Of This Book 

There is not much to lose after spending your resources to get the book, as it’s a valuable and enjoyable chess book that can help you improve your game and learn from one of the best players in history. 

However, some possible drawbacks are:

– The book is not cheap, as the used version costs around $150, and the new cost ~$240 for the paperback version. The Kindle edition costs $19.99 on Amazon though.

– The book is not very recent, as it was first published in the early 1980s and updated in 2013. 

Some of the analyses and variations may be outdated or inaccurate, as they do not reflect the current chess theory and computer engines. 

You may need to check the book with modern chess software or a database to verify the correctness and relevance of the moves.

– The book is not very balanced, as it’s mostly focused on Tal’s attacking and tactical style. 

You may miss some important aspects of chess, such as defense, strategy, endgame, or positional play. 

You may need to complement the book with other sources that cover these topics more thoroughly.

– The book is not very objective, as it is written by Tal’s coach and friend. 

You may encounter some bias or exaggeration in favor of Tal, as Koblencs often praises his genius and downplays his mistakes. 

You may need to take some of the comments and evaluations with a grain of salt and form your own opinion based on the evidence on the board.

Final Thoughts

As a person, I like Mikhail Tal for the kind of player he is. 

He is such a sound player and so many players have always wanted to learn of his attacking and risky style of play. 

He simply has depth in thinking. 

Try out the book to learn the great depth of knowledge it contains and get ready to partake in the practical aspect of the questions and answers section of the book.

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