"There are two types of sacrifices in chess, sound ones and my own."

I have often encountered this amusing quotation often attributed to Tal in my reading and in online discourse. I have often wondered whether a reliable written source referrence to this quotation actually exists.

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    The "standard" (googlable) formulation is 'Some sacrifices are sound; the rest are mine.' Could be a translation issue. (Couldn't find a source for neither, though) Dec 26, 2023 at 8:16
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    I did some searching and, from what I can tell, there is no "reliable written source". If it does exist, it's probably in Russian or maybe Latvian. That would make searching hard, and raise translation issues. Maybe there is a Russian speaker here who can help?
    – Peter Flom
    Dec 26, 2023 at 13:05

1 Answer 1


Edward Winter, the chess historian, at the end of his page about Mikhail Tal asks the same question:

As shown in A Unique Chess Writer, page 171 of Dimitrije Bjelica’s Wonderful world of chess quotes Mikhail Tal:

‘There are two kind of sacrifices – the corrects ones, and mine’s.’

Before being tossed into the Bjelica mangling machine, the Tal quote was something like:

‘There are two kinds of sacrifices – sound ones, and mine.’

We write ‘something like’ because other wordings can be found, such as ‘two types of sacrifice’, but the above version is what Anthony Saidy gave on page 303 of the June 1973 Chess Life & Review. However, he merely reported there that Tal ‘once said’ it.

Chess literature teems with things that players purportedly ‘once said’, ‘said on one occasion’, ‘used to say’, ‘liked to say’ and other vague variants, but what is the truth about the remark ascribed to Tal? When did he say, or write, such a thing, and in which language? When was it first recorded in print? What was the context? Did it relate to a specific game? What indication, if any, did Tal give that such a statement was made in jest (or, as anecdotalists like to say, ‘with a twinkle in his eye’)?

So earliest source for this quotation is Saidy's article in Chess Life & Review, but even this one is based on "once said".

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