According to Sally's compelling account, Tal saw all this as just an extension of his chessboard battles: 'He made no distinction between life and chess . . . the people around him were chess pieces who could be sacrificed, and who were meant to lead him to victory, because nothing else was possible.'
Therefore, any human 'chess piece' suddenly displaying its independence genuinely astonished Misha. 'When I told him that he had betrayed me and exchanged me, he simply smiled and said: 'Saska! You are my main and most wonderful piece. It's wrong to exchange such pieces!'