The 1961 World Chess Championship was played between former champion Mikhail Botvinnik and champion Mikhail Tal in Moscow from March 15 to May 13, 1961. Tal had unseated Botvinnik in the 1960 match; thus, Botvinnik was entitled to this rematch the next year. Tal was considered a strong favourite due to his heavy win the previous year, and being 25 years younger.
|Mikhail Tal||Mikhail Botvinnik|
|Born 9 November 1936
24 years old
|Born 17 August 1911|
49 years old
|Winner of the 1960 World Chess Championship||Former world champion|
|← 1960||1963 →|
Botvinnik won convincingly, by a 13–8 margin, regaining the world title. Although Tal suffered kidney illness in 1962, there was no hint of it at the time, and commentators put the victory down to Botvinnik playing a superior strategy, and being able to combat Tal's attacking style. However, in 2002, Yuri Averbakh revealed that Tal was having health issues, and his doctors in Riga advised that he should postpone the match for health reasons. When Botvinnik would agree to a postponement only if Tal was certified unfit by Moscow doctors, Tal decided to play, thinking he would win anyway.
The win made Botvinnik the first (and only) person to have three separate reigns as World Champion. At 49 years of age, it also makes him (as of 2021) the oldest player since 1891 to win a World Championship match.
The match was played as best of 24 games. If it ended 12–12, Tal, the title holder, would retain the Championship.
|Mikhail Botvinnik (Soviet Union)||1||0||1||½||½||½||1||0||1||1||1||0||1||½||1||½||0||1||0||½||1||13|
|Mikhail Tal (Soviet Union)||0||1||0||½||½||½||0||1||0||0||0||1||0||½||0||½||1||0||1||½||0||8|
- "Tal Will Defend Crown in Chess; Latvian to Meet Botvinnik in Moscow on March 15 for World Championship", New York Times, March 5, 1961
- "Botvinnik Wins Chess Title", New York Times, May 13, 1961
- "Russian First to Regain World Chess Title", Montreal Gazette, June 1, 1961, p. 27
- Kingston, T. (2002). "Yuri Averbakh: An Interview with History – Part 2" (PDF). The Chess Cafe. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-03-25.
- 1961 World Chess Championship at the Internet Archive record of Graeme Cree's Chess Pages