4 April 2015

One More Achievement by the Balashovs

Boris Dolmatovsky attends a concert of the famous grandmaster's son.

Several years ago, the Tsar Tower gallery was reopened at Moscow's Kazansky train station. The gallery, aiming at promoting the traditional perception of railway stations as cultural and intellectual centers, hosts expositions of artists and photographers – both well-known ones and beginners. The main musical hall has been renovated and its acoustics have been improved; Yuri Bashmet and his Moscow Soloists chamber orchestra have performed here.

On April 1, the hall was at the disposal of young musicians – winners of many competition prizes: Alexey Balashov (oboe), Ekaterina Pripuskova (mandoline), Fedor Stroganov (piano), Oleg Bezinskikh (counter-tenor) and the moderator Ksenia Fedorova. The musicians performed works by Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, an other composers. The concert was a tremendous success! 
Some of the readers of the Russian Chess Federation's website are now probably wondering whether the author of this text has published his observations on the wrong site. Well, I haven't! It is well-known that many excellent musicians were, and are, good chess players: take Sergei Prokofiev, David Oistrakh, Nikolai Lugansky, Alexander Kniazev, Vadim Repin, and Vladimir Dashkevich. The latter four have frequently performed at major chess tournaments and world championships as musicians. Other examples include pianist Mark Taimanov, singer Lajos Portisch and, of course, Vasily Smyslov, who passed an opera singers' audition to perform at Moscow's Bolshoi Theater! Evidently, chess players and musicians have much in common.  

More than 20 years ago, the editorial office of the Sportivnaya Moskva newspaper asked me to visit the Balashov family: Yuri Balashov is a grandmaster, his wife Elena is a chess master, and they have five children. To my knowledge, this record has not yet been beaten by any chess family despite all the efforts: some already have three children, but they are still far behind the Balashovs.

Years have passed... The children grew up and can play chess. Aleksei is the best player among them, and has obtained a candidate master's title. But Yuri and Elena never sought to turn their children into world-class chess players. Each of them got the profession he or she wanted. Natalia has a PhD in history, Olga is an economist, Aleksei finished oboe studies in a conservatory and won many prizes at international competitions, Tatyana is an artist. Every chess book for children published by her mother has original illustrations done by Tatyana. Alexander is studying at a music college; he is a skilled computer user and composes music.

Do you agree with me now that we are publishing this text for a reason? Particularly since this wonderful concert was attended by many chess players along with myself: Aleksander Nikitin, Sergei Rosenberg, Jaroslav Ulko, Maksim Notkin, Tatiana Bogumil, Larisa Khropova, and others.