Going strong at 85 – Mark Taimanov's birthday

2/16/2011 – For decades he was one of the world's top grandmasters. Mark Evgenievich Taimanov, who last week turned 85, has led a very full life, as a child actor, concert pianist and as a proud father (having children 57 years apart!). For his birthday this extraordinary personality gave a number of interviews and with them a unique insight into contemporary chess and his personal life.

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Mark Taimanov at 85 – a chess career and more

Mark Evgenievich Taimanov was born on February 7, 1926. He became a chess grandmaster in 1952, and was in the world's top ten for over a decade. He played in the USSR Championships a total of 23 times and twice tied for first, losing the playoff against Botvinnik in 1952 and beating Averbakh and Spassky in the tiebreaks in 1956.

Taimanov played in the Candidates Tournament in Zurich in 1953, where he tied for 8th. In 1971 he was a candidate for the World Championship, but lost 6-0 to Bobby Fischer, severely embarrassing the Soviet government in the process. The "disgrace" was moderated somewhat when GM Bent Larsen was also defeated 6-0 by the American some months later.

Mark Taimanov has opening variations named after him in the Sicilian Defense and Nimzo-Indian.

Interviews at 85

For his 85th birthday, Taimanov, still in sparkling form, gave a number of interviews, including the following:

  • Sport Weekend: “The best musician among chess players and the best chess player among musicians”, Vladimir Vashevnik
  • Rossijskaja Gazeta: “Life is a game”, Evgeny Tsinkler
  • Izvestia: “Playing black and white”, David Genkin

Chess in Translation has provided us with some of the highlights from those interviews.


Music and chess (Rossijskaja Gazeta)

Taimanov was introduced to music by his mother, who taught the piano at the conservatory in Kharkov, Ukraine, before the family moved to Leningrad. His first brush with stardom came early on. He became famous for playing the role of the violinist in the film “Beethoven’s Concerto”. But how did an 11-year-old boy play a violinist in a film, despite being a pianist?

Rossijskaja Gazeta]

 


An NDR Russian YouTube portrait of Mark Taimanov (in Russian)

We wish Mark Evgenevich good health and to preserve the charge of cheerfulness for many years to come. Happy 85th Birthday!

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