Friday, 19 August 2016

The Unknown Tal

The Unknown Alekhine 1905-1914 by Fred Reinfeld, published by Pitman, London, 1949 and The Unknown Capablanca by David Hooper and Dale Brandreth, published by Batsford, London, 1975,  are both very well known and highly regarded chess books. 


Much less known is The Unknown Tal, Selected Games of World Champion Mikhail Tal 1951-1956 by Valdemārs Zemītis, published in cooperation with The California Chess Reporter, San Francisco, 1960.

Several books featuring Mikhail Tal's games were published following his World Championship success against Botvinnik in May 1960 and The Unknown Tal was the first collection of Tal's games published in English.

Valdemārs Zemītis, the Latvian Chess historian, emigrated to the USA in 1951,  eventually settling in California. A biography of Zemītis by John Donaldson can be seen on the US Chess Federation website.  Donaldson states that The Unknown Tal was produced with the assistance of Bob Burger (although this is not mentioned in the book) and I assume this is Robert E. Burger author of The Chess of Bobby Fischer, Radnor, Pennsylvania, 1975. Zemītis also produced, with J. Vitomskis and others, the Encyclopedia of Latvian Chessplayers, 2009, a two volume work of over 800 pages.

The Unknown Tal was printed in a limited edition of 500 copies and includes 33 of Tal's early games from 1951, when he was just 15, up to 1956. Some of the analyses are by Tal and there are indexes of games, openings and opponents.

© Michael Clapham 2016

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