Who beat Tal?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

In the world of chess, there have been many talented players who have challenged and defeated each other throughout history. One notable player who achieved the impressive feat of defeating the legendary Mikhail Tal is the Latvian chess champion, Aivars Zilber.

Zilber’s victory over Tal took place in 1952 when Tal was still a teenager. It is important to note that at that time, Tal had not yet reached the peak of his chess career and was still developing his skills. Nevertheless, defeating Tal, even as a young player, is a remarkable accomplishment.

Aivars Zilber, born in Latvia, was an exceptionally skilled chess player. His most significant achievement came in 1958 when he won the Latvian Chess Championship. This victory established him as one of the top chess players in his country during that period.

However, Zilber’s life took an unexpected turn in the 1980s. He found himself homeless and struggling to make ends meet. Despite his challenging circumstances, Zilber remained passionate about chess and continued to play in Washington Square Park, which is renowned for its chess scene.

Remarkably, even during his time as a homeless individual, Zilber showcased his remarkable chess skills and was regarded as one of the top players in Washington Square Park. This demonstrates his unwavering dedication to the game and his innate talent.

It is fascinating to reflect on the diverse paths that chess players can take in their lives. While some, like Tal, go on to become world champions and leave an indelible mark on the chess world, others, like Zilber, face challenges and adversity but continue to pursue their passion for the game.

Aivars Zilber, the Latvian Chess Champion of 1958, achieved the impressive feat of defeating the teenage Mikhail Tal in 1952. Zilber’s triumph over Tal showcases his exceptional talent and skill in the game of chess. Additionally, his later struggles and perseverance as a homeless chess player in Washington Square Park further highlight his unwavering dedication to the game.