Chess tournaments Chess strategy Computer chess Chess players FIDE Chess variants Chess rules and history

Mark Taimanov

Full name Mark Evgenievich Taimanov
Country Soviet Union
Born February 7, 1926
Kharkiv, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2600 (July 1971)

Mark Evgenievich Taimanov (Russian: Марк Евгеньевич Тайманов; born 7 February 1926, Kharkiv) is a leading Soviet and Russian chess player and concert pianist.



He was awarded the International Grandmaster title in 1952 and played in the Candidates Tournament in Zurich in 1953, where he tied for eighth place. From 1946 to 1956, he was among the world's top ten players. He played in 23 USSR Chess Championships (a record equalled by Efim Geller), tying for first place twice. In 1952 he lost the playoff match to Mikhail Botvinnik, while in 1956, he beat Yuri Averbakh and Boris Spassky for the title. He is probably best known for his 6-0 loss to Bobby Fischer in the 1971 World Championship Candidates match. However, few players have beaten six world champions (Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Mikhail Tal, Tigran Petrosian, Spassky, and Anatoly Karpov) as Taimanov has.

After his loss to Fischer, the Soviet government was embarrassed, and, as Taimanov later put it in a 2002 interview, found it "unthinkable" that he could have lost the match so badly to an American without a "political explanation". Soviet officials took away Taimanov's salary and no longer allowed him to travel overseas. The official reason given for punishing Taimanov was that he had brought a book by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn into the country, but that explanation was secondary in nature. The officials later "forgave" Taimanov, and lifted the sanctions against him. Fischer's 6-0 win against Bent Larsen later in 1971 may have helped change their minds.

He has opening variations named after him in the Sicilian Defence, Modern Benoni and Nimzo-Indian Defence. He has written books on two of his named variations, as well as an autobiographical best games collection.


Taimanov was a top concert pianist in the Soviet Union. With his first wife, Lyubov Bruk, he formed a piano duo, some of whose recordings were included in the Philips and Steinway series Great Pianists of the 20th Century.

Personal life

Taimanov was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine, to Jewish parents. His mother, a piano teacher, introduced him to music. His family moved to Saint Petersburg when he was 6 months old. Eleven years old, he played a young violinist in the 1937 Soviet film "Beethoven Concerto".

He remarried late in life and became the father of twins at the age of 78. Fifty-seven years separate his oldest child and his twins.

Read more: