Person of day   -  4 DECEMBER 2021

ALEXEY VYZMANAVIN

ALEXEY VYZMANAVIN

Alexey Vyzmanavin began to play chess late, aged 14. The mother of the future grandmaster died early and the father worked as a street-cleaner, but viewed his son’s interest in a positive light. Vyzmanavin was enrolled in a class at the Stadium of Young Pioneers taught by the famous trainer Luydmila Sergeevna Belavenets. Alexey made determined progress, while at the same time he became the bane of the famous Sokolniki Park, where devotees of gambling gathered alongside blitz-chess players.

 “Not everyone would dare to sit at the same table as such a super-grandmaster of blitz as Alexey Vyzmanavin, whose star was soaring at that time. Alexey set himself 30 seconds on the timer and have his opponents 5 minutes, yet he still managed to defeat strong chess players. As if bewitched, we watched the stunning flashes of figures and pawns, and we could not believe that it’s physically possible to check-mate in less than 30 seconds! But Vyzmanavin did. Even now, Alexey’s pale face stands before my eyes. Mysteriously, it whitens in the darkness of the park, pale, with unnaturally shining eyes due to over-concentration, the face of the player…crumpled five-ruble notes exchanged fists and disappeared in trouser pockets. As far as I remember, Alexey almost always won…” (Y. Vasilyev)

20 year-old Vyzmanavin first announced himself in a formidable Moscow championship in 1981- the chess player without a rating took 6th place and was given an immediate individual coefficient of 2490. Soon after, Alexey was conscripted into the army, where he served with the future grandmaster and noted theoretic Andrey Kharitonov. Cooperation with Kharitonov considerably strengthened Vyzmanavin and Muscovite continued to rise. He was the champion of armed forces in 1987, a participant in several finals of the Soviet championship, the winner of the Chigorin Memorial in 1989 and a champion of RSFSR. Alexey deservedly became a grandmaster. 

At the start of the 1990s, Alexey Vyzmanavin’s rating surpassed the mark of 2600 and the grandmaster was called up to the Russian team after the collapse of the USSR. He was the Olympic champion and a European champion as a member of the Russian team in 1992 and a bronze medallist of the team world championship in 1993.

He was the participant of the zonal tournaments of 1990 and 1993 and the Intel Grand Prix series in 1994-1995, where in the “Stars of the Kremin” tournament in 1994, he played in the semi-final against Kramnik, having knocked out Shyrov and Korchnoi. Vyzmanavin had every chance of making it to the final, where Anand would be waiting for him, but mistakenly offered a draw while playing white in “Armageddon” in a winning position. For some reason, Alexey thought that a draw would secure his passage to the next round. He is the vice-champion of Russian and a competitor in the Eurocup as a member of the Kazan team.

In 1996, Alexey’s results deteriorated considerably- Vyzmanavin under-performed in several starts. After the finish of the tournament in Nizhny Novgorod in 1997, where Alexey dropped the flag in a victorious ending with knights, he finally gave up the sport. The grandmaster’s family fell apart and he himself was in a difficult physical and psychological state.

On New Year’s Eve in 2000, Alexey Vyzmanavin died in his flat in unresolved circumstances.

“Vyzmanavin was not easy in relations, but knew how to be friends and never ignored an appeal for help. Despite the external roughness, he was very kind and helped me enormously when I was in Moscow, alone in a huge, alien city. He was a colossal natural talent who played blitz chess phenomenally. Alongside that, he was played brilliantly with control, depth and subtlety- he had all the qualities of a strong chess player. Unfortunately, at the end of the 1980s the USSR and the Iron Curtain” still existed, and Alexey, alongside many of his generation, could not fully realise himself. At one time, we lived close to each other, often visited each other, played training matches, blitzed and were regular neighbours at tournaments, where circumstances forces us to live in a double room…I am sure that he could have adapted to the computer epoch, and with his competence and love for chess, he would surely have retained a place in the chess elite.” (A.Dreev)