Sally Landau and Mikhail Tal: And at night he taught her to play chess …
He could play blindly on ten chessboards, not recording anything and memorizing his every move, while at the same time accurately calculating the opponent’s moves ahead. Mikhail Tal was a winner in life, bursting into the chess world like ball lightning. For him, there were no authorities and measured chess. His victims on the chessboard were inexplicable, and the traps he set up led to victory after victory. But there was in his life the most important and longest game that he lost. Mikhail Tal could not beat the beauty Sally Landau in a life tournament.
At the crossroads of two worlds
They met in the most chic restaurant “Astoria” in Riga at the New Year’s Eve. Sasha Zamchuk, a fan of Sally, introduced her to the rising star of the chess world, Mikhail Tal. And all evening, common acquaintances tirelessly talked about the young chess player. But Sally at that time was herself a fairly well-known personality: the popular theater actress and pop singer was successful with men and was loved by the audience.
In addition, the world of chess was of no interest to her, and Mikhail did not make exactly any impression on the actress. She left the restaurant with friends, and after one of them informed Sally about Tal’s invitation to come to visit him.
It was there that she first performed Rachmaninoff’s Elegy for Mikhail and his parents. At that moment, they did not yet know that the words from this work would become the main theme of their feelings: “I have not told you all the words …”
They began to meet, but the relationship was not easy. Tal tried to completely subjugate his lover, controlling her every step. Each delay after the performance or the fan’s look in her direction led to scandal. The proud beauty was panting. The last straw was Mikhail’s reluctance to let her go to the theater for a rehearsal. Sally’s attempts to explain that theater is her life were futile. They quarreled, Tal slapped her in the face, after which the girl decidedly left, being confident in the final separation.
Mikhail then lay down, his legs simply refused. This already happened when he found out about the death of his father. Then he was saved by a game of chess. Mima took him to the tournament, and defeating him, Tal began to recover. This time everything seemed much more complicated. Mom persuaded Sally to visit her sick son, who was to travel to the applicants’ tournament in Yugoslavia. She did not like the choice of her son at all, but for her sake she was ready to come to terms with her. But Sally categorically refused to meet.
When Tal returned home with a victory, one of his acquaintances accidentally threw Sally that now he did not need her. But the girl was sure: all she had to do was call Mikhail, how he would rush to her. And so it happened. However, the girl did not suspect that her imaginary victory is one of those traps that the ingenious chess player loves so much. Six months later, he brought Sally to the registry office to file an application, assuring the bride that she could refuse at any time, because they would give them for thought for half a year. She entered the registry office Sally Landau, and left it already as the wife of Sally Tal. She became the wife of Michael, without even having time to understand what happened.
Union with genius
Sally was hard. After Tal became the world champion at 23, beating Botvinnik himself, there were always people in their house. Pioneers came to adopt the celebrity playing style, friends visited the cottage, who at first also played chess, and then had fun until dawn. And then she was waiting for the birth of a child. Hera was born in October 1960.
In everyday life, Tal was unbearable. If he wanted to eat, then by default it was believed that Saska, as he called her, was also starving to death. If he decided to play chess, she would certainly be with him.
Tal adored his wife and young son, but at the same time believed that his fleeting relationship with other women had absolutely nothing to do with his family. He called her from everywhere, spoke a lot of affection, was interested in the affairs of Buns or Gusyonka (as he affectionately called his son) even when he was next to another woman. At the same time, he took his mistress with him everywhere, not considering it necessary to hide his adventures.
When he was summoned to the Central Committee and offered to determine his status, he declared that he had the right to decide how he should live: with his wife, with his mistress, or both at once. In response, he was banned from leaving the country. Sally solved the problem by filing for divorce.
But even after the divorce, they lived in the same apartment, where Mikhail began to bring his women. After Sally, she could not stand it and started an affair with a senior official. That was the end.
Later, Sally Landau will leave for Germany, where she will marry and try to become happy. Mikhail Tal will be officially married twice more. The second wife, a Georgian actress, will run away from him a few days after the wedding, the third Gel for many years will become a faithful friend.
But from all over the world he will call Sally and sing into the phone: “I have not told you all the words …”
25 years have passed after his death, and she is still waiting for a call from him.