Leg­endary grand­mas­ter dies at 90

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

MARK Taimanov, a chess grand­mas­ter who was os­tracised by the Soviet au­thor­i­ties after los­ing to Amer­i­can Bobby Fis­cher dur­ing the Cold War, has died aged 90, Rus­sia’s chess fed­er­a­tion said on Novem­ber 28.

Taimanov was born in 1926 in Kharkiv, Ukraine, and moved to Len­ingrad, now Saint Pe­ters­burg, where he stud­ied pi­ano at the pres­ti­gious mu­sic con­ser­va­tory.

He be­came a chess grand­mas­ter at the age of 26, kick­ing off a ca­reer which flour­ished through­out the 1950s and ‘60s.

In 1956 he be­came the Soviet cham­pion, and par­tic­i­pated in the Soviet cham­pi­onship more than 20 times while pur­su­ing a pro­fes­sional ca­reer as a con­cert pi­anist.

Yet he is best known for his sting­ing 0-6 loss to Amer­i­can grand­mas­ter Bobby Fis­cher in 1971 at the World Cham­pi­onship Can­di­dates match.

Soviet au­thor­i­ties dur­ing the Cold War viewed the US-Soviet chess matches as hav­ing sym­bolic im­por­tance, and pun­ished Taimanov for the em­bar­rass­ing fail­ure, sus­pect­ing that he had lost on pur­pose.

Fol­low­ing this, of­fi­cials stripped Taimanov of his ti­tles and for­bade him from go­ing abroad for a year and a half, mak­ing it im­pos­si­ble for him to earn a liv­ing.

“I was a vic­tim of our regime be­cause of that match, they could not for­give me for los­ing,” Taimanov said in a 2009 interview. “They sus­pected me of trea­son ... I was sub­jected to a pub­lic ex­e­cu­tion.”

A chess the­o­rist whose name is memo­ri­alised in a num­ber of sig­na­ture chess moves, Taimanov went on to be­come a chess jour­nal­ist. –

Photo: AFP

Soviet chess leg­end Mark Taimanov, who died this week, plays chess in Fe­bru­ary 1956 in Moscow.

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