This week’s episode of the New In Chess Podcast features a narration from “The Essential Sosonko”, a collection of chess portraits based on personal stories authored by chess grandmaster Genna Sosonko.

This episode delves into the life and career of one of the most enigmatic figures in chess history: Mikhail Tal. Known for his daring, imaginative play, Tal, often called "The Magician from Riga," mesmerized the chess world with his audacious approach to the game. His legacy includes a stellar achievement as the eighth World Chess Champion, a title he claimed in 1960 at the tender age of 23, making him one of the youngest ever to do so. Tal's career, however, was marred by poor health, which often impacted his ability to sustain his peak competitive performance. Despite these challenges, his brilliance at the chessboard remained undimmed, showcasing his resilience and determination.

Genna, who was Tal's confidant for over two decades, offers listeners an intimate glimpse into this chess genius's personal life. The stories shared reveal Tal's charismatic, playful personality off the board. From heartwarming anecdotes to solemn moments reflecting on Tal's health struggles, “My Misha” is a tribute to friendship and the profound influence of a legendary figure.

Enjoy this week’s episode of the New In Chess Podcast! Remember, you can find us on popular platforms like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts, making it convenient for you to browse the chapters and listen to your favourite parts. 

00:00 – Intro
01:15 – Misha’s victory in the 1959 Candidates Tournament
01:52 – Misha’s early reputation as a reckless player
02:53 – Stories of Misha’s first meeting with Mikhail Botvinnik
03:47 – Genna’s experience analysing openings with Misha
05:34 – Misha’s deep love of chess, especially blitz
06:55 – Misha’s very complicated family
10:16 – Misha’s simple and lazy lifestyle
11:57 – Alcohol
13:36 – Misha’s talent on the piano despite his physical deformity, his love of football
15:23 – Misha’s poor health, addiction
16:40 – AD BREAK
17:19 – Misha’s imposing appearance, piercing eyes, and mental strength
20:03 – Genna’s personal Misha stories
27:35 – Witnessing Misha’s declining health, Misha’s last tournaments
30:14 – Genna’s last letter from Misha