Tal, Mikhail Nekhemievich (1936-1992)

8th World Champion, 1960 - 1961

Born in Riga, Latvia in 1936. Tal was an attacking genius at the board, for which he got the nickname "the sorceror of Riga". His attacks often looked like sheer madness but later analysis would often show that his intuition had been correct. Full of nervous energy, chain-smoking at the board, pacing restlessly between the moves, Tal was obsessed with chess.
He defeated Mikhail Botvinnik in 1960 at the age of 24 to become the youngest grandmaster to hold the World Champion title until then. For much of his life he suffered from ill-health but his obsession with chess was made apparent when recuperating he had to be taken back to hospital on several occasions after making his escape to a local chess club.