Rarely seen images
The Tal vs Botvinnik World Championship matches of 1960 and 1961 attracted millions of new chess fans around the world. The reason is simple enough: unlike most of the previous World Championship matches in the 20th century, this match was played between representatives of two entirely different generations of players.
Botvinnik, born in 1911, represented the status quo, those who held power and authority; Tal, born in 1936, represented the ambitions of the twenty-somethings who were about to mark their place in the new order of things.
Today I managed to get my hands on some old Russian chess magazines that covered the matches between these two chess icons and below I present some of the images (photos and drawings) found in them. Enjoy!
The opening ceremony of the 1960 match, held between March 15th and May 7th in Moscow. (The 1961 match took place around the same time, March 23rd to May 20th, at the same locale.)
Play was televised! Chess was (and still is, but to a lesser degree) the national sport in Russia and was state sponsored.
Tal dominated the 1960 match, almost right from the start. He won the first game against Botvinnik’s French defence. Botvinnik did not play it again for the duration of the match, preferring the solid Caro instead.
Tal’s first wife, Salli Landau, (born 1938) was a frequent visitor to the match. They were married between 1959 and 1970. Landau is still alive and well at age 81!
Big and important chess events were always organized in prestigious and cultural centres.
Tal and his friend, trainer and coach, Koblentz, arriving at the tournament hall.
Botvinnik, always a loner, arriving at the tournament hall.
The match was frequently portrayed as a boxing match!
Tal won the match by a score of 12.5 to 8.5, becoming the youngest World Champion in history at the time. But Botvinnik had the right to a re-match the following year.
The 1961 Match
Tal struggled in the 1961 match, Botvinnik just months short of 50! Here we see both players in the 8th game (March 31) with Tal pondering his 14th move. This game he would win brilliantly in 29 moves!
A series of photos of Botvinnik at play in the 9th round (April 7). An English opening, Tal lost in the ending.
A series of photos of Tal in game 7 (March 29). Tal got crushed! (The chess diagram has nothing to do with game 7) But heh, in those days the players were out for blood and trying to win each game! None of this Carlsen-Caruana (2018) twelve straight draws bullshit !
Tal and Botvinnik shaking hands at the end of the final game of the match. Tal lost by a score of 13-8, losing 10 times but winning 5 times. Tal made no excuses for losing, a gentleman as always.
Unfortunately, fate would have it that Tal never played another match for the World Championship, though he remained a Candidate up until 1985. He died in 1992. Botvinnik died in 1995.