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USSR Championship 1920
Compiled by Phony Benoni
--*--

The 1st USSR Championship was held in Moscow from October 4 - October 22, 1920, and was not the 1st USSR Championship. Instead, it was advertised as the All-Russian Olympiad, though nobody really knew what was going on. In the wake of World War I everything was confusion in the Soviet Union, and it was not even known with certainty which players were alive or dead, let alone could play. So a kind of casting call was sent out, empty slots filled with local Moscow players, and the following field resulted:

Alexander Alekhine Benjamin Markovich Blumenfeld Dawid Daniuszewski Ivan Golubev Nikolay Dmitrievich Grigoriev Alexander Ilyin-Zhenevsky Arvid Kubbel Grigory Levenfish August Mundt Dmitry Nikolaevich Pavlov Nikolay Pavlov-Pianov Abram Isaakovich Rabinovich Ilya Leontievich Rabinovich Peter Arsenievich Romanovsky Nikolay Tselikov Nikolay Zubarev.

Living conditions were not good at the time in the country, and the tournament was no bed of roses either. Levenfish later wrote: <"I arrived from Petrograd on the day before the first round and was billeted in an unheated room of a military training hostel. For our meals we were temporarily included amongst the military trainees. The hunger and destruction caused by the intervention and the civil war could be felt at every step, and the food was more than modest">.

Alexander Illyn-Zhenevsky, who organized the tournament, recalled that seven of the players signed a petition threatening to go on strike if the food was not improved and a cigarette ration included. Alekhine did not sign the protest, but said he would act in solidarity with the strikers ..."as he did not think it right to play against hungry opponents." (It is not known whether he extended his solidarity to sharing his food.)

The tournament started as a three-way race, with Abram Rabinovich having a half-point lead over Alekhine and Romanovsky after eight rounds. However, he faded badly with only 2 points in the last seven games and ended tied for fifth, while Alekhine finished with 6/7 to win the title a point ahead of Romanovsky.

1 Alekhine * = = 1 1 1 1 = = = = 1 1 1 1 1 12 2 Romanovsky = * 1 0 = 1 1 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 11 3 Levenfish = 0 * 0 1 = 1 = 1 = 1 1 = 1 = 1 10 4 Rabinovich,I 0 1 1 * 0 0 0 = = 1 1 1 1 = 1 1 9 5 Grigoriev 0 = 0 1 * 1 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 1 8 6 Rabinovich,A 0 0 = 1 0 * 1 = 1 = 0 1 0 1 1 1 8 7 Kubbel 0 0 0 1 0 0 * = 1 = = 1 1 1 1 1 8 8 Blumenfeld = 1 = = 1 = = * 0 = 0 1 0 1 = = 8 9 Illyn-Zhenevsky = 0 0 = 1 0 0 1 * 1 0 = 1 0 = 1 7 10 Daniuszewski = 0 = 0 1 = = = 0 * = = 0 1 = 1 7 11 Zubarev = 0 0 0 1 1 = 1 1 = * 0 0 0 1 0 6 12 Pavlov Pianov 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 = = 1 * 1 = 1 1 6 13 Tselikov 0 0 = 0 0 1 0 1 0 1 1 0 * 0 0 1 5 14 Mundt 0 0 0 = 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 = 1 * = 0 4 15 Pavlov 0 0 = 0 0 0 0 = = = 0 0 1 = * = 4 16 Golubev 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 = 0 0 1 0 0 1 = * 3

Very few of the games are available. For some reason, we are missing about half of Alekhine's games but have all the games of Niklolay Pavlov Pianov. Perhaps his Italian cousin Giuoco Pianov quietly saved them.

At any rate, I have been able to prepare this conjectural list of pairings. While it fits all the known facts, it should not be considered definitive without first hand confirmation.

Round 1, (Monday, 10/4/1920): Grigoriev 0 Alekhine*; Pavlov 0 A. Rabinovich; Pavlov Pianov 1 Tselikov*; llyn-Zhenevsky 0 Kubbel*; Golubev 1/2 Blumenfeld; Romanovsky 1 Levenfish*; I. Rabinovich, 1 Zubarev; Daniuszewski 1 Mundt

Round 2 (Tuesday, October 5): Alekhine 1 Mundt; Zubarev 1/2 Daniuszewski; Levenfish 0 I. Rabinovich; Blumenfeld 1 Romanovsky; Kubbel 1 Golubev; Tselikov 0 Illyn-Zhenevsky; A. Rabinovich 1 Pavlov Pianov*; Grigoriev 1 Pavlov

Round 3 (Thursday, October 7): Pavlov 0 Alekhine; Pavlov Pianov 0 Grigoriev*; Illyn-Zhenevsky 0 A. Rabinovich*; Golubev 0 Tselikov; Romanovsky 1 Kubbel; I. Rabinovich 1/2 Blumenfeld; Daniuszewski 1/2 Levenfish; Mundt 1 Zubarev

Round 4 (Friday, October 8): Alekhine 1/2 Zubarev; Levenfish 1 Mundt; Blumenfeld 1/2 Daniuszewski; Kubbel 1 I. Rabinovich*; Tselikov 0 Romanovsky*; A. Rabinovich 1 Golubev; Grigoriev 0 Illyn-Zhenevsky; Pavlov 0 Pavlov Pianov*

Round 5 (Sunday, October 10): Pavlov Pianov 0 Alekhine*; Illyn-Zhenevsky 1/2 Pavlov; Golubev 0 Grigoriev; Romanovsky 1 A. Rabinovich*; I. Rabinovich 1 Tselikov; Daniuszewski 1/2 Kubbel; Mundt 0 Blumenfeld; Zubarev 0 Levenfish

Round 6 (Monday, October 11): Alekhine 1/2 Levenfish*; Blumenfeld 0 Zubarev; 43 Kubbel 1 Mundt; Tselikov 1 Daniuszewski; A. Rabinovich 1 I. Rabinovich; Grigoriev 1/2 Romanovsky; Pavlov 1/2 Golubev; Pavlov Pianov 1/2 Illyn-Zhenevsky*

Round 7 (Tuesday, October 12): Illyn-Zhenevsky 1/2 Alekhine*; Golubev 0 Pavlov Pianov*; Romanovsky 1 Pavlov; I. Rabinovich 0 Grigoriev; Daniuszewski 1/2 A. Rabinovich; Mundt 1 Tselikov; Zubarev 1/2 Kubbel; Levenfish 1/2 Blumenfeld

Round 8 (Thursday, October 14, 1920): Alekhine 1/2 Blumenfeld; Kubbel 0 Levenfish; Tselikov 1 Zubarev; A. Rabinovich 1 Mundt; Grigoriev 0 Daniuszewski; Pavlov 0 I. Rabinovich; Pavlov Pianov 1 Romanovsky; Illyn-Zhenevsky 1 Golubev

Round 9 (Friday, October 15): Golubev 0 Alekhine; Romanovsky 1 Illyn-Zhenevsky; I. Rabinovich 1 Pavlov Pianov*; Daniuszewski 1/2 Pavlov; Mundt 0 Grigoriev; Zubarev 1 A. Rabinovich; Levenfish 1/2 Tselikov; Blumenfeld 1/2 Kubbel

Round 10 (Sunday, October 17): Alekhine 1 Kubbel*; Tselikov 1 Blumenfeld; A. Rabinovich 1/2 Levenfish*; Grigoriev 0 Zubarev; Pavlov 1/2 Mundt; Pavlov Pianov 1/2 Daniuszewski*; Illyn-Zhenevsky 1/2 I. Rabinovich; Golubev 0 Romanovsky

Round 11 (Monday, October 18): Romanovsky 1/2 Alekhine; I. Rabinovich 1 Golubev; Daniuszewski 0 Illyn-Zhenevsky*; Mundt 1/2 Pavlov Pianov*; Zubarev 1 Pavlov; Levenfish 1 Grigoriev; Blumenfeld 1/2 A. Rabinovich; Kubbel 1 Tselikov*

Round 12 (Tuesday, October 19): Alekhine 1 Tselikov; A. Rabinovich 1 Kubbel; Grigoriev 0 Blumenfeld; Pavlov 1/2 Levenfish; Pavlov Pianov 1 Zubarev*; Illyn-Zhenevsky 0 Mundt; Golubev 0 Daniuszewski; Romanovsky 0 I. Rabinovich

Round 13 (Thursday, October 21): I. Rabinovich 0 Alekhine*; Daniuszewski 0 Romanovsky; Mundt 0 Golubev; Zubarev 1 Illyn-Zhenevsky; Levenfish 1 Pavlov Pianov*; Blumenfeld 1/2 Pavlov; Kubbel 0 Grigoriev*; Tselikov 1 A. Rabinovich*

Round 14 (Friday, October 22): Alekhine 1 A. Rabinovich; Grigoriev 1 Tselikov; Pavlov 0 Kubbel*; Pavlov Pianov 0 Blumenfeld*; Illyn-Zhenevsky 0 Levenfish; Golubev 1 Zubarev; Romanovsky 1 Mundt*; I. Rabinovich 1 Daniuszewski

Round 15 (Sunday, October 24): Daniuszewski 1/2 Alekhine*; Mundt 1/2 I. Rabinovich; 115 Zubarev 0 Romanovsky*; Levenfish 1 Golubev; Blumenfeld 0 Illyn-Zhenevsky; Kubbel 1 Pavlov Pianov*; Tselikov 0 Pavlov; A. Rabinovich 0 Grigoriev

Thanks to chessgames.com for quickly correcting a blunder I made during the submission process.

Sources: <The Soviet Championships>, by Bernard Cafferty and Mark Taimanov, p. 12-13.

Round 1 (Monday, October 4)
N Grigoriev vs Alekhine, 1920 
(C60) Ruy Lopez, 25 moves, 0-1

Round 1 (Monday, October 4)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs N Tselikov, 1920
(C48) Four Knights, 45 moves, 1-0

Round 1 (Monday, October 4)
Ilyin-Zhenevsky vs A Kubbel, 1920
(C60) Ruy Lopez, 45 moves, 0-1

Round 1 (Monday, October 4)
P Romanovsky vs Levenfish, 1920 
(B16) Caro-Kann, Bronstein-Larsen Variation, 42 moves, 1-0

Round 2 (Tuesday, October 5)
A Rabinovich vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920 
(C18) French, Winawer, 49 moves, 1-0

Round 3 (Thursday, October 7)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs N Grigoriev, 1920
(A47) Queen's Indian, 74 moves, 0-1

Round 3 (Thursday, October 7)
Ilyin-Zhenevsky vs A Rabinovich, 1920 
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 29 moves, 0-1

Round 4 (Friday, October 8)
A Kubbel vs I Rabinovich, 1920
(C49) Four Knights, 62 moves, 1-0

Round 4 (Friday, October 8)
N Tselikov vs P Romanovsky, 1920
(D63) Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, 32 moves, 0-1

Round 4 (Friday, October 8)
D N Pavlov vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920
(B40) Sicilian, 50 moves, 0-1

Round 5 (Sunday, October 10)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs Alekhine, 1920 
(C01) French, Exchange, 27 moves, 0-1

Round 5 (Sunday, October 10)
P Romanovsky vs A Rabinovich, 1920
(C56) Two Knights, 29 moves, 1-0

Round 6 (Monday, October 11)
Alekhine vs Levenfish, 1920 
(D32) Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch, 35 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 6 (Monday, October 11)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs Ilyin-Zhenevsky, 1920
(D43) Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, 46 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7 (Tuesday, October 12)
Ilyin-Zhenevsky vs Alekhine, 1920 
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 40 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 7 (Tuesday, October 12)
I Golubev vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920
(C46) Three Knights, 31 moves, 0-1

Round 7 (Tuesday, October 12)
N Zubarev vs A Kubbel, 1920
(C49) Four Knights, 45 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 8 (Thursday, October 14)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs P Romanovsky, 1920
(D37) Queen's Gambit Declined, 60 moves, 1-0

Round 9 (Friday, October 15)
I Rabinovich vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920
(B16) Caro-Kann, Bronstein-Larsen Variation, 55 moves, 1-0

Round 10 (Sunday, October 17)
Alekhine vs A Kubbel, 1920 
(C83) Ruy Lopez, Open, 20 moves, 1-0

Round 10 (Sunday, October 17)
A Rabinovich vs Levenfish, 1920
(B01) Scandinavian, 29 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 10 (Sunday, October 17)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs D Daniuszewski, 1920
(C77) Ruy Lopez, 23 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 11 (Monday, October 18)
D Daniuszewski vs Ilyin-Zhenevsky, 1920 
(D52) Queen's Gambit Declined, 49 moves, 0-1

Round 11 (Monday, October 18)
A Mundt vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920
(C46) Three Knights, 74 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 11 (Monday, October 18)
A Kubbel vs N Tselikov, 1920
(C48) Four Knights, 45 moves, 1-0

Round 12 (Tuesday, October 19)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs N Zubarev, 1920
(A47) Queen's Indian, 47 moves, 1-0

Round 13 (Thursday, October 21)
I Rabinovich vs Alekhine, 1920 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 39 moves, 0-1

Round 13 (Thursday, October 21)
Levenfish vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920
(D02) Queen's Pawn Game, 67 moves, 1-0

Round 13 (Thursday, October 21)
A Kubbel vs N Grigoriev, 1920
(C48) Four Knights, 26 moves, 0-1

Round 13 (Thursday, October 21)
N Tselikov vs A Rabinovich, 1920
(C68) Ruy Lopez, Exchange, 36 moves, 1-0

Round 14 (Friday, October 22)
D N Pavlov vs A Kubbel, 1920 
(E12) Queen's Indian, 26 moves, 0-1

Round 14 (Friday, October 22)
N Pavlov-Pianov vs B Blumenfeld, 1920 
(A47) Queen's Indian, 31 moves, 0-1

Round 14 (Friday, October 22)
P Romanovsky vs A Mundt, 1920
(B12) Caro-Kann Defense, 27 moves, 1-0

Round 15 (Sunday, October 24)
D Daniuszewski vs Alekhine, 1920
(B40) Sicilian, 30 moves, 1/2-1/2

Round 15 (Sunday, October 24)
N Zubarev vs P Romanovsky, 1920 
(C48) Four Knights, 37 moves, 0-1

Round 15 (Sunday, October 24)
A Kubbel vs N Pavlov-Pianov, 1920
(C46) Three Knights, 52 moves, 1-0

36 games

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