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USSR Championship Tournament

Mikhail Botvinnik12.5/16(+11 -2 =3)[games]
Vasily Smyslov10.5/16(+8 -3 =5)[games]
Isaac Boleslavsky10/16(+6 -2 =8)[games]
Salomon Flohr9.5/16(+5 -2 =9)[games]
Vladas Mikenas9/16(+7 -5 =4)[games]
Vladimir Andreevich Makogonov9/16(+6 -4 =6)[games]
Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush8.5/16(+8 -7 =1)[games]
Andre Lilienthal7.5/16(+4 -5 =7)[games]
Alexey Sokolsky7.5/16(+5 -6 =5)[games]
Gavriil Veresov7.5/16(+5 -6 =5)[games]
Viacheslav Ragozin7/16(+5 -7 =4)[games]
Alexander Kotov7/16(+5 -7 =4)[games]
Abram Leonidovich Khavin7/16(+6 -8 =2)[games]
Georgy Lisitsin7/16(+5 -7 =4)[games]
David Bronstein6.5/16(+4 -7 =5)[games]
Vladimir Alatortsev5.5/16(+3 -8 =5)[games]
Grigory Ionovich Ravinsky4.5/16(+2 -9 =5)[games]
* Chess Event Description
USSR Championship (1944)

The 13th Soviet Chess Championship was held in the capital of Moscow from May 21st to June 17th. Twelve of the Soviet Union's best chess masters qualified from three semifinal tournaments played earlier in the year. Andor Lilienthal, Vladimir Makogonov, Vladas Mikenas, and David Bronstein qualified from Baku. Alexander Kotov, Salomon Flohr, Gavriil Veresov, and Vladimir Alatortsev qualified from Moscow. Alexey Sokolsky, Abram Khavin, Isaac Boleslavsky, and Alexander Tolush qualified from Omsk, and Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Viacheslav Ragozin, Georgy Lisitsin and Grigory Ravinsky were invited to fill the remaining five seats. It was the first USSR championship since the USSR Absolute Championship (1941). Botvinnik finished with eleven wins and twelve and a half points out of sixteen. It was his third consecutive title (counting the absolute championship) and his fourth Soviet crown, out of an eventual total of six. The war had interrupted Botvinnik's chances for a world championship with Alexander Alekhine, and his performance in this and the USSR Championship (1945) were attempts to prove that he remained the rightful challenger.

The final standings and crosstable:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1 Botvinnik * 1 1 1 1 Ѕ 0 1 Ѕ 1 Ѕ 1 1 1 0 1 1 12.5 2 Smyslov 0 * 0 Ѕ 1 1 1 0 Ѕ 1 1 1 Ѕ 1 Ѕ Ѕ 1 10.5 3 Boleslavsky 0 1 * Ѕ Ѕ Ѕ 1 1 0 Ѕ Ѕ 1 1 1 Ѕ Ѕ Ѕ 10.0 4 Flohr 0 Ѕ Ѕ * Ѕ Ѕ 1 Ѕ Ѕ Ѕ 0 Ѕ 1 1 1 Ѕ 1 9.5 5 Mikenas 0 0 Ѕ Ѕ * Ѕ 1 0 1 Ѕ 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 9.0 6 Makogonov Ѕ 0 Ѕ Ѕ Ѕ * 0 0 1 0 1 Ѕ 1 1 Ѕ 1 1 9.0 7 Tolush 1 0 0 0 0 1 * Ѕ 1 1 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 8.5 8 Lilienthal 0 1 0 Ѕ 1 1 Ѕ * Ѕ Ѕ 0 0 1 Ѕ 0 Ѕ Ѕ 7.5 9 Sokolsky Ѕ Ѕ 1 Ѕ 0 0 0 Ѕ * 0 0 Ѕ 1 1 1 1 0 7.5 10 Veresov 0 0 Ѕ Ѕ Ѕ 1 0 Ѕ 1 * 1 0 0 0 1 1 Ѕ 7.5 11 Ragozin Ѕ 0 Ѕ 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 * 0 1 Ѕ 0 Ѕ 1 7.0 12 Kotov 0 0 0 Ѕ 0 Ѕ 0 1 Ѕ 1 1 * 0 Ѕ 1 1 0 7.0 13 Khavin 0 Ѕ 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 * 1 1 1 Ѕ 7.0 14 Lisitsin 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 Ѕ 0 1 Ѕ Ѕ 0 * Ѕ 1 1 7.0 15 Bronstein 1 Ѕ Ѕ 0 0 Ѕ 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 Ѕ * 0 Ѕ 6.5 16 Alatortsev 0 Ѕ Ѕ Ѕ 1 0 0 Ѕ 0 0 Ѕ 0 0 0 1 * 1 5.5 17 Ravinsky 0 0 Ѕ 0 0 0 0 Ѕ 1 Ѕ 0 1 Ѕ 0 Ѕ 0 * 4.5

This collection would not have been possible without the efforts of <Phony Benoni>.

Original collection: Game Collection: USSR Championship 1944, by User: suenteus po 147. SOURCE: Die XIII. Schachmeisterschaft der UdSSR 1944: 136 partien / herausgegeben von L. Toth. Kecskemet, Ungarn: Magyar Sakkvilag, 1949.

 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 136  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Tolush vs Bronstein 0-1401944USSR ChampionshipA54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
2. V Makogonov vs Flohr  ½-½261944USSR ChampionshipD22 Queen's Gambit Accepted
3. Ragozin vs A Khavin  1-0371944USSR ChampionshipA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
4. Alatortsev vs Ravinsky  1-0621944USSR ChampionshipD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
5. V Mikenas vs Smyslov 0-1541944USSR ChampionshipD18 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav, Dutch
6. Kotov vs Veresov 1-0281944USSR ChampionshipD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
7. Lisitsin vs Lilienthal  ½-½211944USSR ChampionshipA13 English
8. Botvinnik vs Sokolsky  ½-½331944USSR ChampionshipE40 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
9. A Khavin vs Tolush 1-0421944USSR ChampionshipB03 Alekhine's Defense
10. Lilienthal vs Botvinnik 0-1571944USSR ChampionshipD44 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
11. Flohr vs Kotov  ½-½401944USSR ChampionshipE32 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
12. Bronstein vs Alatortsev 0-1391944USSR ChampionshipC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
13. Boleslavsky vs V Mikenas  ½-½411944USSR ChampionshipB05 Alekhine's Defense, Modern
14. Ravinsky vs Lisitsin  0-1351944USSR ChampionshipB73 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
15. Veresov vs Ragozin  1-0571944USSR ChampionshipD94 Grunfeld
16. Smyslov vs V Makogonov 1-0601944USSR ChampionshipB12 Caro-Kann Defense
17. Sokolsky vs Lilienthal  ½-½221944USSR ChampionshipC51 Evans Gambit
18. V Makogonov vs Boleslavsky  ½-½401944USSR ChampionshipD81 Grunfeld, Russian Variation
19. Tolush vs Veresov  1-0341944USSR ChampionshipD48 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
20. Lisitsin vs Bronstein  ½-½461944USSR ChampionshipE94 King's Indian, Orthodox
21. Ragozin vs Flohr 1-0491944USSR ChampionshipD28 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
22. Kotov vs Smyslov 0-1411944USSR ChampionshipD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
23. Botvinnik vs Ravinsky 1-01261944USSR ChampionshipD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
24. Alatortsev vs A Khavin  0-1431944USSR ChampionshipA54 Old Indian, Ukrainian Variation, 4.Nf3
25. Boleslavsky vs Kotov 1-0601944USSR ChampionshipC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
 page 1 of 6; games 1-25 of 136  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-12-14  ughaibu: Anyone know why Ravinsky was invited?
Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: <ughaibu> Ravinsky was apparently well-respected as a trainer and theorist. No idea why he was invited specifically......but somebody obviously felt he deserved a spot as a wild card.
Jul-01-14  ughaibu: Okay, thanks. I don't remember another occasion when an invitee didn't seem clearly indicated, though I guess in this tournament, Lisitsin too might raise some eyebrows.
Premium Chessgames Member
  zydeco: Looking at the crosstables of a couple of the other USSR championships, Boris Ratner is another inexplicable invitee (for the 1945 championship). I can't figure out who the hell Ratner is.....although he did marginally better than Ravinsky.
Jul-02-14  ughaibu: I've looked through a few more, starting from this championship, and the only oddities I've noticed are Ravinsky, in 1944, and in 1945, Ratner pointed out by you and also Koblents.

I think Koblents can be explained, as he was Latvian champion that year and Latvia would have just become part of the Soviet Union. Unfortunately Ratner's page isn't wildly informative, but it does state that he was Ukrainian. However, the Ukranian championship of 1945 was won by Bannik, so that doesn't seem to help. And in any case, Ravinsky was Russian, so no further light there either.

Premium Chessgames Member

<zydeco, ughaibu>

Part of the mystery might be related to an over-representation from the <Moscow Semifinal 1944>:

You'll note that 7 of the 8 top finishers made it in to the championship, including <Lisitsin> in 7th and <Ravinsky> in 8th.

Compare this representation to that from the other two semifinals.

<Baku 1944>

<Omsk 1944>

Curious eh?

Jul-02-14  ughaibu: That looks reasonable. I guess there were transport and accommodation difficulties around that time.
Premium Chessgames Member

<ughaibu> Yes, good point. The <Baku 1944> semifinal, for example, was played literally in the footsteps of the retreating Germans.

<David Bronstein's> route from <Baku> to the USSR Championship (1944) was somewhat adventurous in terms of "travel and accomodation":

<"By February 1944 the Germans had been driven back to the Dneiper River, and <<<Bronstein>>> joined the USSR Championship Semifinal in Baku. His 4th place finish qualified him for the final and drew the interest of Boris Vainstein, who quickly became an avid promoter of Bronstein's chess career. Vainstein was an influential member of the Communist Party, and he managed to have Bronstein relocated to Moscow from his job rebuilding a steel factory in the ruins of Stalingrad. Bronstein managed only 15th place at the USSR Championship (1944), but he was hardly disgraced, since he won his game against the incumbent "Absolute Soviet champion": Bronstein vs Botvinnik, 1944.">

David Bronstein

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <One> draw for Tolush in sixteen games, and one big win, against no less than Botvinnik, Tolush's only career victory against the future world champion.
Aug-27-16  ughaibu: 13th: "his second consecutive win (counting the absolute championship)"

14th: "his second consecutive title"

Either the 14th was his third consecutive title or the 13th was not his second consecutive title.

Premium Chessgames Member


<<One> draw for Tolush in sixteen games, and one big win, against no less than Botvinnik, Tolush's only career victory against the future world champion.>

Tolush vs Botvinnik, 1944

According to <Tal>, <Tolush> was a fearsome blitz player, in no small part due to his habit of shouting "ON, KAZIMIROVICH!" after each move.

Jan-16-20  AlexPomor: <jessicafischerqueen>

<According to <Tal>, <Tolush> was a fearsome blitz player, in no small part due to his habit of shouting "ON, KAZIMIROVICH!" after each move.>

According to <Botvinnik>: "Go ahead, Kazimiryich!" (not "Kazimirovich" - in russian it sounds too official) - when he pushed his passed pawn. In russian: "Вперед, Казимирыч!" "Cannon fodder resists!" - when the Tolush's position was winning, but his rival didn't resign. In russian: "Пушечное мясо сопротивляется!" "Last Amen to pies" - when his rival resigned. In russian: "Аминь пирожкам". "Zing-Zilyevich is catched up!" - when he resigned. In russian: "Дзынь-Дзилевич схвачен!" "The infantry is divided from the tanks!" - when he forced rival's Queen was passive in a game. In russian: "Пехота отрезается от танков".

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