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Levenfish 
Photograph courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.  
Grigory Levenfish
Number of games in database: 388
Years covered: 1910 to 1954
Overall record: +128 -123 =137 (50.6%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games
      Based on games in the database; may be incomplete.

MOST PLAYED OPENINGS
With the White pieces:
 Nimzo Indian (23) 
    E53 E34 E21 E38 E32
 Ruy Lopez (22) 
    C77 C88 C79 C83 C91
 Orthodox Defense (20) 
    D52 D63 D55 D50 D68
 Sicilian (17) 
    B84 B73 B29 B72 B83
 Grunfeld (15) 
    D85 D94 D81 D98 D84
 Caro-Kann (14) 
    B10 B16 B13 B17 B15
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (29) 
    C77 C83 C90 C75 C99
 Nimzo Indian (15) 
    E22 E21 E48 E47 E59
 Slav (14) 
    D10 D15 D14 D11 D19
 French Defense (13) 
    C14 C19 C18 C12 C02
 Sicilian (13) 
    B24 B40 B23 B21 B64
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (12) 
    C90 C99 C88 C86 C85
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   J Rabinovich vs Levenfish, 1927 0-1
   Alatortsev vs Levenfish, 1937 0-1
   Levenfish vs Alekhine, 1913 1-0
   Levenfish vs M Yudovich Sr., 1933 1-0
   Lasker vs Levenfish, 1925 0-1
   Botvinnik vs Levenfish, 1937 0-1
   Levenfish vs Riumin, 1936 1/2-1/2
   Levenfish vs S Gotthilf, 1924 1-0
   Korchnoi vs Levenfish, 1953 0-1
   Verlinsky vs Levenfish, 1924 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1933)
   USSR Championship (1923)
   USSR Championship 1934/35 (1934)
   Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937)
   USSR Championship (1924)
   Leningrad/Moscow training (1939)
   Vilnius All-Russian Masters (1912)
   USSR Championship (1925)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Championship (1947)
   USSR Championship (1948)
   Karlsbad (1911)
   Moscow (1925)
   USSR Championship (1949)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Botvinnik-Levenfish Match 1937 by suenteus po 147
   USSR Championship 1933 by Phony Benoni

GAMES ANNOTATED BY LEVENFISH: [what is this?]
   Rubinstein vs Levenfish, 1912

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GRIGORY LEVENFISH
(born Mar-09-1889, died Feb-09-1961, 71 years old) Russia

[what is this?]
Grigory Yakovlevich Levenfish was born in Piotrkˇw Trybunalski,* Poland. Awarded the GM title in 1950, he was Leningrad champion in 1922, 1924, and 1925 (jointly). He also won the USSR Championship (1934/35) (jointly with Ilya Leontievich Rabinovich) and 1937. Following this he drew a match with Mikhail Botvinnik (+5 -5 =3), Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937), but this was to be the last major success of his chess career. Before the war he won a match against Vladimir Alatortsev in 1940 (+5 -2 =7). His play was marked by elegant combinations, unexpected tactical blows and deep endgame analyses and unlike Alexander Alekhine, Efim Bogoljubov, Aron Nimzowitsch and Akiba Rubinstein he was one of the few pre-revolutionary masters who didn't end up abroad. He successfully passed on his knowledge to the first generation of young Soviet players, authoring Modern Openings, Izbrannye Partii I Vospominanya and Rook Endings (toegther with Vasily Smyslov). He passed away in Moscow in 1961.(**)

*Wikipedia article: Piotrk%C3%B3w Trybunalski

(**) Crosstables of the aforementioned tournaments available at [rusbase-1], [rusbase-2], [rusbase-3], [rusbase-4], [rusbase-5], [rusbase-6], [rusbase-7]

Wikipedia article: Grigory Levenfish


 page 1 of 16; games 1-25 of 388  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Znosko-Borovsky vs Levenfish 0-134 1910 St PetersburgC14 French, Classical
2. Levenfish vs P M List 1-030 1910 Vienna (Austria)C83 Ruy Lopez, Open
3. Levenfish vs Salwe  ½-½52 1911 KarlsbadC88 Ruy Lopez
4. Alapin vs Levenfish  0-152 1911 KarlsbadD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
5. Levenfish vs P F Johner  ½-½74 1911 KarlsbadC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
6. Spielmann vs Levenfish 1-021 1911 KarlsbadC29 Vienna Gambit
7. Levenfish vs Teichmann ½-½47 1911 KarlsbadD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
8. Levenfish vs C Jaffe  0-129 1911 KarlsbadD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
9. O Chajes vs Levenfish  1-045 1911 KarlsbadC14 French, Classical
10. Levenfish vs J Perlis  0-162 1911 KarlsbadD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
11. Dus Chotimirsky vs Levenfish  0-160 1911 KarlsbadD04 Queen's Pawn Game
12. Levenfish vs B Kostic  1-038 1911 KarlsbadD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Alekhine vs Levenfish  ½-½45 1911 KarlsbadC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
14. Levenfish vs Fahrni 1-060 1911 KarlsbadC14 French, Classical
15. A Rabinovich vs Levenfish  ½-½43 1911 KarlsbadC66 Ruy Lopez
16. Levenfish vs Rotlewi  0-138 1911 KarlsbadD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
17. Duras vs Levenfish  0-164 1911 KarlsbadC77 Ruy Lopez
18. Levenfish vs Leonhardt  1-035 1911 KarlsbadC77 Ruy Lopez
19. Rubinstein vs Levenfish 1-029 1911 KarlsbadC14 French, Classical
20. Levenfish vs E Cohn  ½-½43 1911 KarlsbadB73 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
21. Nimzowitsch vs Levenfish 1-037 1911 KarlsbadC02 French, Advance
22. Levenfish vs Vidmar 0-175 1911 KarlsbadC50 Giuoco Piano
23. Marshall vs Levenfish 1-059 1911 KarlsbadC66 Ruy Lopez
24. Levenfish vs Tartakower ½-½74 1911 KarlsbadC60 Ruy Lopez
25. Burn vs Levenfish 0-123 1911 KarlsbadB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
 page 1 of 16; games 1-25 of 388  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Levenfish wins | Levenfish loses  
 

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 5 OF 5 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-07-13
Premium Chessgames Member
  nimh: Levenfish is a Russian transliteration of the German word 'L÷wenfisch' (a lionfish).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pterois

An '÷' in German texts is transliterated as an 'e' in the cyrillic script.

Nov-01-13  Karpova: Double round-robin Leningrad Championship tournament 1924:

1. L÷wenfisch 8.5
2. Rabinowicz 7.5
3. Romanowski 4.5
4. Jl. Zenewski 4.0
5. A. Kubbel 3.0
6. Gotthilf 2.5

Levenfish remained undefeated with +7 -0 =3, winning all his mini-matches.

They say that it just ended, so it was concluded at the end of April.

From page 141 of the April-May 1924 'Neue Wiener Schachzeitung'

Mar-09-14  gars: <Phony Benoni> and <botvinnik64>: chessgames.com may rotate the players as much as it wants, but March 9th SHOULD BE Bobby Fischer's Day forever, along with November 9th (Tal), November 19th (Capablanca) and Morphy's birthday.
Mar-09-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. GM Grigory Levenfish.
Mar-09-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: <gars> Why restrict the honor to so few players? Why not April 13 for Garry Kasprov Day? May 23 for Anatoly Karpov Day? December 24 for Emanuel Lasker Day? June 22 for Milan Vidmar Day?

Picking another player for March 9 is no slight against Fischer, but a chance to give a lesser-known but still great player some recognition. Why should Levenfish suffer because Fischer happened to be born on his birthday?

Mar-09-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  Shams: Are there any famous players born on Feb. 29th?
May-12-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: On Feb 29, 1812, Hermann Hirschbach was born in Berlin. He is famous for the Hirschbach variation.
Jan-13-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <Romanovsky later remembered: 'Attempts to associate chess mastery with pedagogical mastery are a great delusion. Only one person combines high pedagogy with great mastery - Levenfish.'>

From <Russian Silhouettes> by Sosonko.

Jan-15-15  Poisonpawns: Was his Jewish heritage the reason he was treated so harshly by the Soviet Chess establishment or other reasons? I read he was the only Soviet master without a stipend,and that he was not allowed to travel abroad, although he was the Russian champion.
Jan-15-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Poisonpawns>
Botvinnik was of Jewish heritage and got plenty of support. I think the more likely explanation is the authorities did not trust Levenfish's political position. They might have expected that if allowed to travel abroad, he would not return.
Jan-15-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <beatgiant> Botvinnik, as is well known, epitomised Soviet Man--his Jewish heritage was simply an accident of birth, as he played the role of establishmentarian to a tee.
Jan-15-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: I think the more important accident of birth was Levenfish being born too many years before the revolution, making it harder to present himself as a New Soviet Man.
Jan-16-15  Petrosianic: Yeah, when you're nearly as old as Lenin or Stalin, how can you hope to be taken seriously as a Soviet Man?
Jan-16-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Petrosianic>
<how can you hope to be taken seriously> Probably by having supported the revolution before it succeeded.
Mar-09-15
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Another great player whose birthday is today.

:)

Feb-09-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Rest in peace, GM Grigory Levenfish.
Feb-09-16  ZonszeinP: In memoriam
Feb-10-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I can leaven bread but I can't leaven fish.
Feb-20-16  Turtle3: The player who invented a way to fight the dragon
Feb-21-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Absentee: What kind of fish was Levenfish? A barracuda or a pampered goldfish?>

Levenfish was a lion of the Soviet seas. At his best, he was most probably a Candidates level master. Yet most outsiders barely know of his name, probably because he hardly played (or was not allowed to play) outside the USSR.

<Karpova: After Moscow 1936

Jose Raul Capablanca: <I rate Levenfish very hughly. I think that he is the strongest Soviet master after Botvinnik. But, unfortunately, he lacks composure.>

From the Russian Bulletin of the event (special issue of "64"), No. 20, 13 June 1936.

Source: Page 275 of Winter, Edward: "Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare archival materials on the Cuban chess genius Jose Raul Capablanca, 1888-1942.", Jefferson, North Carolina, 1989>

Interesting video of Levenfish's namesake. The lionfish invades the eastern coast of north America:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ez7...

Was Levenfish an invasive species in the eyes of the Soviet authorities who in the 1930s were distinctly favoring Botvinnik? I wonder if Levenfish's Polish birth had anything to do with it.

Feb-21-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Another player whose career spanned several generations. He was powerful before WW1, but could beat Smyslov over 30 years later when he was in the top three or so in the world Levenfish vs Smyslov, 1949, and Korchnoi when he was already playing in the Soviet Championship finals, probably as strong as a Candidates tournament Korchnoi vs Levenfish, 1953,
Feb-21-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <nimh>: Levenfish is a Russian transliteration of the German word 'L÷wenfisch' (a lionfish).

Right you are. But it was still misplaced pedantry for Golombek to insist on using the German version rather than the English transliteration of the Russian translation. The player would just not have pronounced the name in the German way. Similarly, it would be silly to insist on writing Averbakh's name as "Auerbach", the original German source, even though the former is the right English transliteration of the way he writes and pronounces his name.

Other examples include the brilliant Russian-born Harvard biomimeticist Joanna Aizenberg; she was born Айзенберг, the Russian transliteration of Eisenberg, but uses the English transliteration.

Feb-21-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: His photo looks like a cross between Siegbert Tarrasch and Svetozar Gligoric
Feb-22-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: Another player whose career spanned several generations.>

Quite right, and another piece of evidence that belies the claim that older generations of chess players can't adapt to the new.

<Pawsome: And these sad vignettes about Levenfish from Sonsonko's book: "He was the only Soviet grandmaster not to receive a stipend. He lived in great poverty in a room with firewood heating in a communal flat. He was very hard up, but he never complained to anyone about anything.

"In 1961 Boris Spassky was playing in the USSR Championship. In one of the last days of January in the Moscow subway he saw Levenfish: Aged, pale, like an apparition, he was walking along holding his head in his hands.

"'I have had six teeth removed' was all he could say. A few days later Grigory Yakovlevich Levenfish died.>

A tragedy. Was there some sort of infection in his gums, maxillary bone, and sinuses? Did he die of a CNS infection secondary to this?

Mar-09-16
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Grigory Levenfish.
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