Person of day - 8 FEBRUARY 2024
Yuri Averbakh first rose to prominence in 1938, when he won the Soviet Union’s championship for schoolchildren. Greater success came after the War. In 1949 and 1950, Averbakh became the champion of Moscow and in 1954 he became the champion of the USSR. Two years later, he split 1st-3rd places in the national championship with Taimanov and Spassky, but in the additional tournament he came second.
The 1950s were the most successful years in Averbakh’s chess career. He played in two inter-zonal tournaments- in 1952 and 1958- and played in the candidates’ tournament in 1953. Although in the 1960s Averbakh did not participate in the fight for the world championship, he continued to win high places in international tournaments. For example, he won tournaments in Jakarta, Adelaide, Vienna, Moscow (the Central Chess Club championship), Rio de Janeiro, Christchurch the Rubinstein Memorial and other competitions. As a member of the Soviet team, Averbakh won the European team championships in 1957 and 1965 and played against national teams from USA, Britain, Sweden and Yugoslavia.
Averbak’s games were notable for their debuts, precise evaluations of positions and a fine endspiel technique, of which he is rightly considered a master. Yuri Averbakh devoted several works to the final part of the match which came to be considered classics. “The battle of ideas was always the most important aspect of chess for me- truth is born in a creative argument,” Averbakh wrote
Yuri Lvovich not only played in tournaments, but he also undertook large organisational tasks- in different years, he was a member of FIDE’s board of directors and chairman of the Soviet Chess Federation. He wrote and edited a lot at all times- he was the chief editor of “Moscow Chess” newspaper, “Chess in the USSR” magazine, “Chess Bulletin”, the deputy chief editor of the encyclopedic “Chess” dictionary and a lead anchor or the “Chess School” program on television for many years.
Averbakh wrote multiple wonderful chess books. Among them are “Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge”, “Small Chess Dictionary”, “Journey to the Chess Kingdom” (with M. Beilin), “Averbakh’s Selected Games”, “The World Chess Championship”, “Comprehensive Chess Endings”, “Chess Middlegames: Essential Knowledge” and several works devoted to different types of endgame.
Yuri Lvovich Averbakh was a renowned chess historian and encyclopedist. Averbakh kept on working, writing and giving lectures to the last. He continued to serve his favourite game to the last, to which he had devoted his life.
Yuri Averbakh passed away in Moscow on 2 May 2022.