Person of day   -  2 FEBRUARY 2021

ALEXANDER PETROV

ALEXANDER PETROV

For half a century, Petrov was the strongest chess player in Russia. He proved that by defeating K. Yashin, S. Urusov and I. Shumov. Petrov was a notable master of the combination style. He played open positions wonderfully- he advanced figures quickly, he captured open lines and turned to attack, which he usually carried out with determination, refusing to be stopped by sacrifices.

Petrov was the founder of the first chess club in Russia- the St Petersburg society of chess players, which was opened in March 1853. The club’s members included famous writers - Tolstoy, Turgenev, Saltykov-Schedrin and others.

In 1824, Petrov published a comprehensive volume about chess in 5 parts, in which he voiced several ideas which were new for his time concerning active defence, specific calculation in evaluating positions and other considerations. This book played an important role in the history of Russian chess. It was the principal text for several generations of Russian chess players. Petrov’s works about the Russian Defence (its second name is Petrov’s Defence), the debut with a knight, the King’s Gambit and other debuts also gained widespread prominence.

Petrov was also a pioneer of the Russian chess composition as an inventor of elaborate problems, the most famous of which is the “Retreat of Napoleon I from Moscow”.

In 1844-1845, Petrov published the tales about episodes from the lives of famous chess players. Petrov’s matches, problems and analysis were printed in multiple foreign magazines. “With this second Philidor, the world of chess is losing one of its leading stars, whose matches and problems were known to be classical…” wrote the German “Schachzeitung”. The English “Chessplayers’ Magazine” noted that “Petrov and his successors began to exert their influence over chess in Europe.”

Alexander Petrov died in April 1867 in Warsaw, where he lived for his last 27 years.