Rafael Vaganian
Rafael Artemovich Vaganian, also transliterated Vahanyan is an Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n chess
Chess is a two-player board game played on a chessboard, a square-checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an eight-by-eight grid. It is one of the world's most popular games, played by millions of people worldwide at home, in clubs, online, by correspondence, and in tournaments.Each player...

 grandmaster known for his sharp tactical style of play. Vaganian was born on 15 October 1951 in Yerevan
Yerevan is the capital and largest city of Armenia and one of the world's oldest continuously-inhabited cities. Situated along the Hrazdan River, Yerevan is the administrative, cultural, and industrial center of the country...


Chess career

He achieved International Grandmaster status in 1971, at the unusually young age of 19, following an excellent result at the Vrnjacka Banja
Vrnjacka Banja
Vrnjačka Banja is a town, municipality, and a resort, mineral spa located in Raška District of Serbia. It contains the world's only hot spring with a temperature measuring exactly that of the human body ....

 tournament the same year, where he took first place ahead of Leonid Stein
Leonid Stein
Leonid Zakharovich Stein was a Soviet chess Grandmaster from Ukraine. He won three USSR Chess Championships in the 1960s , and was among the world's top ten players during that era.- Early life :...

 and Ljubomir Ljubojevic
Ljubomir Ljubojevic
Ljubomir Ljubojević is a Grandmaster of chess. He was born on November 2, 1950, in Titovo Užice, Yugoslavia . Ljubojević was awarded the International Master title in 1970 and the GM title in 1971. He was Yugoslav champion in 1977 and 1982. He won the 1974 Canadian Open Chess Championship...

. This was also the year that he finished fourth at the World Junior Chess Championship
World Junior Chess Championship
The World Junior Chess Championship is an under-20 chess tournament organized by the World Chess Federation ....

, the winner being the Swiss player, Werner Hug
Werner Hug
Werner Hug is a Swiss chess player. Hug was World Junior Chess Champion in 1971 and was Switzerland's leading player of the 1970s.In 1968 he won the Swiss Junior Championship...

. In the wake of this disappointing outcome, he was so upset with himself that he challenged Hug to a blitz match in an attempt to salvage some pride. The players blitzed for only a few minutes and Vaganian emerged as the winner by a 10–0 scoreline.

In 1974, he was board one for the USSR team at the World Student Team Championship at Teesside, scoring 10/11 and taking the board one prize.

A cheerful and popular character on the grandmaster circuit, his tournament record is outstanding and includes further victories at Kragujevac
Kragujevac is the fourth largest city in Serbia, the main city of the Šumadija region and the administrative centre of Šumadija District. It is situated on the banks of the Lepenica River...

 1974, São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 1977, Kirovakan 1978, Las Palmas 1979, Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

 1981, Hastings
Hastings International Chess Congress
The Hastings International Chess Congress is an annual chess congress which takes place in Hastings, England, around the turn of the year. The main event is the Hastings Premier tournament, which was traditionally a 10 to 16 player round-robin tournament. In 2004/05 the tournament was played in the...

 1982/83, Biel 1985 (the Interzonal
Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship cycle.- Zonal tournaments :...

), Leningrad 1987, Toronto 1990 and Ter Apel 1992. At Moscow 1982 and Tallinn
Tallinn is the capital and largest city of Estonia. It occupies an area of with a population of 414,940. It is situated on the northern coast of the country, on the banks of the Gulf of Finland, south of Helsinki, east of Stockholm and west of Saint Petersburg. Tallinn's Old Town is in the list...

 1983, he shared first place with Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal was a Soviet–Latvian chess player, a Grandmaster, and the eighth World Chess Champion.Widely regarded as a creative genius, and the best attacking player of all time, he played a daring, combinatorial style. His play was known above all for improvisation and unpredictability....

 and at Næstved 1985 with Walter Browne and Bent Larsen
Bent Larsen
Jørgen Bent Larsen was a Danish chess Grandmaster and author. Larsen was known for his imaginative and unorthodox style of play and he was the first western player to pose a serious challenge to the Soviet Union's dominance of chess...

. He won twice the Reggio Emilia chess tournament
Reggio Emilia chess tournament
The Reggio Emilia chess tournament is a chess tournament played in Reggio Emilia, Italy. In Italian the tournament is called Torneo di Capodanno , as it starts just after Christmas and ends on the day of Epiphany...

, the 35th edition 1992/93 and the 37th edition 1994/95.

At Odessa
Odessa or Odesa is the administrative center of the Odessa Oblast located in southern Ukraine. The city is a major seaport located on the northwest shore of the Black Sea and the fourth largest city in Ukraine with a population of 1,029,000 .The predecessor of Odessa, a small Tatar settlement,...

 in 1989, he won the 56th Soviet Championship
USSR Chess Championship
This is a list of all the winners of the USSR Chess Championship. It was the strongest national chess championship ever held, with eight world chess champions and four world championship finalists among its winners...

 on his 38th birthday. In previous attempts he had shared third place in Leningrad 1974 and Moscow 1983, whilst finishing second at his hometown in 1975.

He was a world championship Candidate twice, losing out to Andrei Sokolov
Andrei Sokolov
Andrei Yurievich Sokolov is a French chess Grandmaster of Russian origin, now living in France...

 in 1986 and to Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch
Lajos Portisch is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik"...

 in 1988. It is estimated that he has won in excess of thirty tournaments in all, and as recently as 2004, was co-winner of the Moscow Aeroflot with Sergei Rublevsky
Sergei Rublevsky
Sergei Rublevsky is a Russian chess grandmaster . He won the prestigious Aeroflot Open in 2004, and became the 58th Russian chess champion after winning the Russian Superfinal in Moscow , one point clear from Dmitry Jakovenko and Alexander Morozevich.He finished in the top 10 in the 2005 FIDE...

 and Valerij Filippov. In January 2005, his Elo rating briefly reached a 21st century high at 2670, putting him back into the world's top 50, despite being in his mid-fifties.

Over the years, he has also won many medals in team competition, representing the Soviet Union and then Armenia in the Olympiad
Chess Olympiad
The Chess Olympiad is a biennial chess tournament in which teams from all over the world compete against each other. The event is organised by FIDE, which selects the host nation.-Birth of the Olympiad:The first Olympiad was unofficial...

s and European Team Championship
European Team Championship
The European Team Championship is an international team chess event, eligible for the participation of European nations whose chess federations are located in zones 1.1 to 1.9...

s. Most recently, he took team bronze and individual gold for best performance on board 3 at the 2004 Calvia Olympiad
36th Chess Olympiad
The 36th Chess Olympiad, organized by the Fédération Internationale des Échecs and comprising an open and women's tournament, as well as several events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between October 14 and October 31, 2004, in Calvià on the Spanish island of Majorca.-Chess...


Playing style

In 1985, Alexey Suetin
Alexey Suetin
Alexey Stepanovich Suetin was a Russian International Grandmaster of chess and author.-Biography:A resident of Moscow and a mechanical engineer by profession, he became an International Master in 1961 and a Grandmaster in 1965. His philosophy was always that "mastery is not enough; you must dare,...

 described him as a player with great natural gifts. Having played with him a number of times, he had sensed the Armenian's great powers of intuition – "He has a fine feeling of the dynamics of a chess battle and knows how to intensify the play at the right moment. He does not always calculate variants thoroughly, relying on his natural chess flair." Of Vaganian's volatile ideas at the chessboard, he added "... The feeling of fear or uncertainty is unknown to him. He is a perpetual optimist, full of ambitious intentions at every stage in every game, with an explosive temperament ..."

Notable chess games

External links

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