Yuri Averbakh
Yuri Lvovich Averbakh is a Soviet and Russian
The Russian people are an East Slavic ethnic group native to Russia, speaking the Russian language and primarily living in Russia and neighboring countries....

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...

 player and author. He is currently the oldest living chess grandmaster.

Life and career

His father was German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 Jewish, and his ancestors came from Germany and were named Auerbach
Auerbach, a German language generic toponym coming from Aue  + Bach, meaning "floodmeadow brook", can refer to:-In Germany:*Auerbach, Erzgebirgskreis, in the Erzgebirgskreis district, Saxony...

, meaning "meadow brook." His mother was Russian. Both sets of grandparents disapproved of their marriage because his father was a likely atheist and his mother was Eastern Orthodox, as well as the fact that his maternal grandmother died very young so his mother was expected to look after the family. Yuri himself calls himself a fatalist. Ruti Averbakh is a holocaust survivor, having spent a year in Auschwitz
Auschwitz concentration camp
Concentration camp Auschwitz was a network of Nazi concentration and extermination camps built and operated by the Third Reich in Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany during World War II...

 in 1945.

Tournament successes

His first major success was first place in the Moscow Championship
Moscow City Chess Championship
-References: ****** from chessbase.com...

 of 1949, ahead of players such as Andor Lilienthal
Andor Lilienthal
Andor Arnoldovich Lilienthal was a Hungarian and Soviet chess Grandmaster. In his long career, he played against ten male and female world champions, beating Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Alexander Alekhine, Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, and Vera Menchik...

, Yakov Estrin
Yakov Estrin
Yakov Borisovich Estrin was a Russian chess International Master, theoretician, and writer.After a brief foray into "over-the-board" play, he turned to correspondence chess in the early 1960s with immediate success Yakov Borisovich Estrin (April 21, 1923 – February 2, 1987) was a Russian chess...

 and Vladimir Simagin
Vladimir Simagin
Vladimir Simagin was a Russian Grandmaster of chess. He was three times Moscow champion , helped to train Vasily Smyslov to the World Championship, and made many significant contributions to chess openings...

. He became an International Grandmaster
International Grandmaster
The title Grandmaster is awarded to strong chess players by the world chess organization FIDE. Apart from World Champion, Grandmaster is the highest title a chess player can attain....

 in 1952. In 1954 he won the USSR Chess 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...

 ahead of players including Mark Taimanov
Mark Taimanov
Mark Evgenievich Taimanov is a leading Soviet and Russian chess player and concert pianist.-Chess:He was awarded the International Grandmaster title in 1952 and played in the Candidates Tournament in Zurich in 1953, where he tied for eighth place. From 1946 to 1956, he was among the world's top...

, Viktor Korchnoi
Viktor Korchnoi
Viktor Lvovich Korchnoi ; pronounced in the original Russian as "karch NOY"; Ви́ктор Льво́вич Корчно́й, born March 23, 1931 is a professional chess player, author and currently the oldest active grandmaster on the tournament circuit...

, Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was a Soviet-Armenian grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else...

, Efim Geller
Efim Geller
Efim Petrovich Geller was a Soviet chess player and world-class grandmaster at his peak. He won the Soviet Championship twice and was a Candidate for the World Championship on six occasions...

 and Salo Flohr
Salo Flohr
Salomon Mikhailovich Flohr was a leading Czech and later Soviet chess grandmaster of the mid-20th century, who became a national hero in Czechoslovakia during the 1930s. His name was used to sell many of the luxury products of the time, including Salo Flohr cigarettes, slippers and eau-de-cologne...

. In the 1956 Championship he came equal first with Taimanov and Boris Spassky
Boris Spassky
Boris Vasilievich Spassky is a Soviet-French chess grandmaster. He was the tenth World Chess Champion, holding the title from late 1969 to 1972...

 in the main event, finishing second after the playoff. Later Averbakh's daughter, Jane, would marry Taimanov. Averbakh's other major tournament victories included Vienna 1961 and Moscow 1962. He qualified for the 1953 Candidates' Tournament (the last stage to determine the challenger to the World Chess Champion), finishing joint tenth of the fifteen participants. He also qualified for the 1958 Interzonal at Portorož
- External links :**...

, by finishing in fourth place at the 1958 USSR Championship at Riga. At Portorož, he wound up in a tie for seventh through eleventh places, half a point short of advancing to the Candidates' Tournament.

Playing style

His solid style was difficult for many pure attackers to overcome, as he wrote: :"...Nezhmetdinov
Rashid Nezhmetdinov
Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov was an eminent Soviet chess player, chess writer, and Checkers player.-Early life:Nezhmetdinov was born in Aktubinsk, Russian Empire, in what is now Aqtöbe, Kazakhstan, of Tatar ethnicity. His parents died when he was very young, leaving him and two other siblings...

, who if he had the attack, could kill anybody, including 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....

. But my score against him was something like 8½–½ because I did not give him any possibility for an active game. In such cases he would immediately start to spoil his position because he was looking for complications."


Averbakh was also a major endgame study
Endgame study
An endgame study, or just study, is a composed chess position—that is, one that has been made up rather than one from an actual game—presented as a sort of puzzle, in which the aim of the solver is to find a way for one side to win or draw, as stipulated, against any moves the other side...

 theorist. He has published more than 100 studies, many of which have made notable contributions to endgame theory. In 1956 he was given by FIDE the title of International Judge of Chess Compositions
International Judge of Chess Compositions
International Judge of Chess Compositions is a title award by FIDE via the Permanent Commission of the FIDE for Chess Compositions to individuals who have judged several chess problem or study tournaments and who are considered capable of judging such awards at the highest level.The title was...

 and in 1969 he became an International Arbiter
International Arbiter
In chess, International Arbiter is a title awarded by FIDE to individuals deemed capable of acting as arbiter in important chess matches . The title was established in 1951....


Averbakh was also an important chess journalist and author. He edited the Soviet chess periodicals Shakhmaty v SSSR
Shakhmaty v SSSR
Shakhmaty v SSSR was a Russian chess magazine published 1931-91. It was edited by Viacheslav Ragozin for several years. Yuri Averbakh was also an editor. From 1921 or 1925 through 1930 it was titled Shakhmatny Listok and edited by Alexander Ilyin-Genevsky. The circulation was 55,000....

and Shakhmatny Bulletin
Shakhmatny Bulletin
Shakhmatny Bulletin was a Russian chess magazine. It was published monthly from 1955–1990 and published about 2,500 complete games per year. Yuri Averbakh was an editor. The circulation was 20,000. Bobby Fischer called Shakhmatny Bulletin "the best chess magazine in the world."...

. From 1956 to 1962 he edited (with Vitaly Chekhover
Vitaly Chekhover
Vitaly Chekhover was a Soviet chess player and chess composer. He was also a pianist.- Composing career :...

 and others) a four-volume anthology on the endgame, Shakhmatnye okonchaniya (revised in 1980-84 and translated as Comprehensive Chess Endings, five volumes).

Openings contributions

Averbakh is the eponym
An eponym is the name of a person or thing, whether real or fictitious, after which a particular place, tribe, era, discovery, or other item is named or thought to be named...

 of several opening
Chess opening
A chess opening is the group of initial moves of a chess game. Recognized sequences of opening moves are referred to as openings as initiated by White or defenses, as created in reply by Black. There are many dozens of different openings, and hundreds of named variants. The Oxford Companion to...

 variations, perhaps most notably the Averbakh System in the King's Indian Defence
King's Indian Defence
The King's Indian Defence is a common chess opening. It arises after the moves:Black intends to follow up with 3...Bg7 and 4...d6.The Grünfeld Defence arises when Black plays 3...d5 instead, and is considered a separate opening...

: 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5.


In the 1960s, Averbakh worked for the Soviet journal Znanie - sila (Knowledge is Power), which published science and science fiction stories, and once even played a simultaneous game against representatives from the notorious state censorship organ 'Glavlit'. A colleague claims to have begged him before the match "Yuri, have a heart and lose!"


  • Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge, by Yuri Averbakh, 1966, 1993, Everyman Chess
    Everyman Chess
    Everyman Chess is a major publisher of books and CDs about chess. The company was formerly called Cadogan Chess. "Everyman" is a registered trademark of Random House and the company headquarters is in London. Former World Chess Champion Garry Kasparov is their chief advisor and John Emms is the...

    , ISBN 1-85744-022-6.
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 1: Bishop Endings, Knight Endings by Averbakh and Chekhover, 1983, Pergamon, ISBN 0-08-026900-1
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 2: Bishop vs Knight Endings, Rook vs Minor Piece Endings by Averbakh, 1985, Pergamon, ISBN 0-08-026901-X
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 3: Queen Endings by Averbakh, 1986, Pergamon, ISBN 0-08-026904-4
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 4: Pawn Endings by Averbakh and Maizelis, 1987, Pergamon, ISBN 0-08-032043-0
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 5: Rook Endings by Averbakh, 1987, Pergamon, ISBN 0-08-032048-1
  • Chess Tactics for Advanced Players, by Averbakh, 1985, Pergamon, ISBN 0-87568-218-9
  • Chess Tactics for Advanced Players, by Averbakh, 2008, Lebate, ISBN 0-87568-219-0

External links

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