Friday, August 26, 2011

Mark Taimanov: Concert pianist and chess grandmaster

In my recent post on the film Bobby Fischer Against the World I mentioned the Soviet grandmaster Mark Taimanov, whom Fischer demolished 6-0 in a match on his way for qualifying for the right to challenge Spassky for the world title.

Taimanov is a remarkable figure who deserves a post in his own right. Not only was he one of the world's top grandmasters throughout the 1950s and 1960s, but he was also a concert pianist. The recordings of duets he made with his first wife Lyubov Bruk are included in several collections of the greatest piano recordings, including the Philips Greatest Pianists of the 20th Century.

Before he was a pianist or chess player, Taimanov was a child film star, and he recently became the father of twins with his second wife - 57 years after his first son was born.

You can read all about his remarkable life and careers in an interview on Chess in Translation from earlier this year.

And Mark Taimanov is still playing chess. He has just taken part in a tournament for veteran grandmasters held near Moscow to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Soviet World Champion Mikhail Botvinnik.


Frank Little said...

I remember a report for Chess magazine from a member of an English team - could even have been Raymond Keene - playing the Russians: Taimanov was the only Russian who looked sad when he was losing and happy when he was winning.

Many thanks for the link which greatly expanded my knowledge of, as you say, a remarkable figure.

Jonathan Calder said...

I have read said that Boris Spassky felt he gave away his emotions about the game too easily when he was young. So he trained himself to show a "clown's mask" whether he was winning or losing.

Bill Hartston said that as a result he was disconcerting to play. He gave you no idea how he felt about the position.