Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Happy birthday, Yuri Averbakh

So how are you going to get locked
pawn chains and a big kingside
attack now, punk?
After my article on chess in schools for Comment is Free was published yesterday I was chatting to Charles Crawford on Twitter. Charles mentioned that when he was stationed in Moscow he was friendly with the leading Russian grandmaster Yuri Averbakh.

This led me to look up Yuri Averbakh on Wikipedia, where I discovered two things: he is the oldest surviving grandmaster and he is 90 today.

So happy birthday, Yuri.

I have particular reason to wish him well, because I had great success playing the Averbakh variation against the King's Indian Defence.

That Wikipedia entry links to a two-part interview with Averbakh (part 1 and part 2) in which he gives some insight into what it was like to be a leading grandmaster under the Soviet regime. He gives some insight into the darker side of chess in those days, though Charles implied that he had far more to say about it in person.

I remember reading an interview with Mark Taimanov (another veteran of that era), who said there were two rules for Soviet grandmasters: you tried your hardest against Western players and you did not beat the Soviet world champion Mikhail Botvinnik.


Frank Little said...

Fascinating. Did those biographies & memoirs referred to in the Averbakh interview all get written?

Jonathan Calder said...

It looks like good news: he has published his memoirs.