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Yuri Averbakh
Averbakh, playing at Hoogovens, 1963.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Number of games in database: 734
Years covered: 1938 to 2007
Last FIDE rating: 2445

Overall record: +210 -126 =394 (55.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 4 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 King's Indian (53) 
    E73 E75 E67 E68 E60
 Sicilian (44) 
    B62 B90 B92 B28 B93
 Ruy Lopez (30) 
    C92 C97 C98 C83 C75
 Nimzo Indian (23) 
    E59 E26 E32 E54 E53
 Queen's Gambit Declined (19) 
    D37 D38 D35 D30 D31
 English, 1 c4 e5 (18) 
    A29 A25 A21 A22 A20
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (66) 
    B60 B56 B77 B88 B39
 Nimzo Indian (63) 
    E58 E46 E53 E34 E59
 Ruy Lopez (59) 
    C92 C98 C90 C95 C96
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (47) 
    C92 C98 C95 C90 C87
 Sicilian Richter-Rauser (23) 
    B60 B67 B65 B63 B61
 Queen's Gambit Declined (19) 
    D38 D30 D35 D37 D31
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Geller vs Averbakh, 1954 0-1
   Najdorf vs Averbakh, 1953 0-1
   Averbakh vs Spassky, 1956 1/2-1/2
   Averbakh vs Taimanov, 1953 1-0
   Averbakh vs Bondarevsky, 1948 1/2-1/2
   Averbakh vs V Zak, 1947 1-0
   Korchnoi vs Averbakh, 1959 0-1
   Averbakh vs Panno, 1954 1-0
   Averbakh vs Sarvarov, 1959 1-0
   Novotelnov vs Averbakh, 1951 0-1

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Hastings 1959/60 (1959)
   USSR Championship (1956)
   USSR Championship (1958)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1952)
   Palma de Mallorca (1972)
   USSR Championship (1951)
   USSR Championship (1960)
   USSR Championship 1961b (1961)
   USSR Championship (1959)
   Portoroz Interzonal (1958)
   USSR Championship (1970)
   Zurich Candidates (1953)
   USSR Championship 1968/69 (1968)
   USSR Championship (1948)
   USSR Championship (1950)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Averbakh's Selected Games, 1943-1975 by Resignation Trap
   USSR Championship 1956 by Phony Benoni

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Yuri Averbakh
Search Google for Yuri Averbakh
FIDE player card for Yuri Averbakh

(born Feb-08-1922, 98 years old) Russia
[what is this?]

Yuri Lvovich Averbakh was born in Kaluga, Russia. He was awarded the IM title in 1950, the GM title in 1952 and played in the Zurich Candidates (1953).

Notable tournament results: Averbakh won the USSR Championship in 1954 (1) ahead of Mark Taimanov, Viktor Korchnoi, Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian, Efim Geller and Salomon Flohr he was also equal first in the Soviet Championship of 1956, but lost in the playoff for first place. He won the Championship of Moscow in 1949 (2), 1950 (3) (jointly), and 1962 (jointly). Averbakh also won international tournaments in Vienna in 1961, Moscow in 1962 and Rio de Janeiro in 1965 (4).

Theoretician, author and historian: Averbakh is renowned as an opening and endgame theorist. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he co-edited a five-volume anthology on the endgame, Shakhmatnye okonchaniya, which was revised in 1980-84 and translated as Comprehensive Chess Endings. A list of Averbak's books can be found in the Wikipedia article about him (see footnotes below). He also edited the magazines Shakhmaty v SSSR and Shakhmatny Bulletin, and has published more than 100 endgame studies and written several books, mainly about endgame theory. Averbakh has a deep interest in chess history, shown in his most recent book about life in the chess world called Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes. He also gave an in depth interview about the history of chess and other board games on his 90th birthday. (5)

Eponymous opening variations: Opening variations named for Averbakh include:

King's Indian Defence, Averbakh Variation (E73): 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Bg5:

click for larger view

Kings Indian Defence, Semi-Averbakh system (E73): 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.Be2 0-0 6.Be3

click for larger view

Modern Defense: Averbakh variation (A42): 1.d4 g6 2.c4 Bg7 3.Nc3 d6 4.e4

click for larger view

Other: Averbakh became an International Judge of Chess Composition in 1956 and an International Arbiter in 1969. He was President of the Soviet Chess Federation from 1972 until 1977 and took an active role on a number of important FIDE committees.

Aged 97, Averbakh is currently the world's oldest living grandmaster.

Sources and references: Wikipedia article: Yuri Averbakh; 1[rusbase-1]; (2) [rusbase-2]; (3) [rusbase-3]; (4) [brasilbase-1]; (5)

Last updated: 2019-02-08 18:55:21

 page 1 of 30; games 1-25 of 734  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Averbakh vs Y Neishtadt 1-0331938MoscowC70 Ruy Lopez
2. Averbakh vs Smyslov 0-1241939Moscow-chA06 Reti Opening
3. Averbakh vs A Ebralidze  0-1361940Candidate to MasterB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
4. V Liublinsky vs Averbakh  0-1481940Candidate to MasterC28 Vienna Game
5. Averbakh vs Lilienthal 1-0631944RUSC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
6. Averbakh vs Ragozin  ½-½431944Ch URS (1/2 final)A10 English
7. Averbakh vs Flohr  ½-½181944Ch URS (1/2 final)C82 Ruy Lopez, Open
8. Averbakh vs Kotov 0-13019441/2 finalB51 Sicilian, Canal-Sokolsky (Rossolimo) Attack
9. Averbakh vs Botvinnik ½-½401944RussiaC07 French, Tarrasch
10. Averbakh vs Bondarevsky 1-0581946Moscow-chA34 English, Symmetrical
11. Smyslov vs Averbakh 1-0681946Moscow ChampionshipE53 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
12. Panov vs Averbakh  ½-½181946Moscow-chB14 Caro-Kann, Panov-Botvinnik Attack
13. Lilienthal vs Averbakh ½-½281946RUSE53 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
14. Bronstein vs Averbakh 1-0411946Moscow ChampionshipB71 Sicilian, Dragon, Levenfish Variation
15. Averbakh vs Kotov ½-½691946Moscow ChampionshipB63 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack
16. Averbakh vs Simagin  ½-½291946Moscow ChampionshipB16 Caro-Kann, Bronstein-Larsen Variation
17. Averbakh vs Kholmov 1-0261947URS-ch sfA15 English
18. Averbakh vs V Zak 1-0261947Match for Masters TitleC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
19. Petrosian vs Averbakh 0-1401947URS-ch sfC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
20. Simagin vs Averbakh 1-0371948Moscow Team ChC89 Ruy Lopez, Marshall
21. Averbakh vs V A Vasiliev  1-06019481st Soviet Team-ch finalC74 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
22. Averbakh vs Flohr  ½-½421948USSR ChampionshipB10 Caro-Kann
23. Keres vs Averbakh  ½-½421948USSR ChampionshipD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
24. Averbakh vs Bondarevsky ½-½741948USSR ChampionshipC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
25. Furman vs Averbakh 1-0361948USSR ChampionshipE37 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
 page 1 of 30; games 1-25 of 734  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Averbakh wins | Averbakh loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <tpstar>

OK, I googled-image him, and found this one from his younger years:

That's a nice one, no?

Feb-08-18  Marmot PFL: <If we ever significantly improve maximum lifespan, the first things the scientists will have to address is what to do with all the blind people that arise of this improvement :D>

Premium Chessgames Member
  alexmagnus: Last survivor of...

For a start, 1948 Soviet championship and 1953 Candidates (but not 1952 Interzonal - Matanovic is alive too). I know it because I always track the earliest Soviet Championship, Interzonal, Candidates and WC match that has survivors.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: Last survivor of the 1950 USSR championship as well. As for the 1951 USSR championship, the last place, Evgeny Terpugov, is either alive at 100 or his date of death is unknown.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: I believe he is also the last survivor of the 1954 USSR championship.

Also, a number of USSR championships in the 1950s featured both Averbakh and Spassky. For example, both are the last survivors of USSR Championship (1958).

As for USSR Championship (1956), in addition to Averbakh and Spassky, there is Abram Khasin, who is 94.

From USSR Championship (1955), in addition to Averbakh and Spassky, there is Vitaly Sergeevich Sherbakov (86).

From USSR Championship (1959), there are five survivors: Averbakh, Spassky, Krogius (87), Vasiukov (84), and Nikitin (83).

May-28-18  Kapmigs: <...It says of me in the book that my best quality as player was my energy, which I think was right. My biggest fault? Well it is interesting you ask me that. This book does not say it because I think you cannot estimate it, it is only the person himself who really knows. I will tell you: let me try to say it like this. When you are a player, if you lose it is big shock for you every time. It is much more than unhappiness, it is deep distress. But when you win, you should experience as compensation very great joy, it surges up from inside of you like this. If you do not have that feeling, then you cannot be truly great player. And I am sorry to say, I do not know why it was but I never myself had that feeling. I liked to play and I liked to win; but never once did I have joy from winning. Pain and sadness when I lost yes, but when I won joy was not there. It was because I knew I did not have that necessary thing that I retired from playing soon after I was forty, and began to edit magazines and write books on chess instead....>

--from the transcript of Yuri Averbakh's interview with Tony Parker

May-28-18  Muttley101: I grew up with Averbakh's endgame series that Batsford produced in English, and studying the KID and the Averbakh system. One of the joys of chess is the remarkable history and characters. I am glad there are still some around to bear witness.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: Happy Birthday to Yuri Averbakh, oldest living GM in the world.
Feb-08-19  Granny O Doul: I think that "fault" that Averbakh describes above is extremely common, and probably more so the farther up the ladder you go. In thanking Gary Carter for talking after the Mets had just fallen down 0-2 in the 1986 World Series, Joe Garagiola even stated "it hurts more to lose than it feels good to win".
Premium Chessgames Member
  norami: Averbakh is quoted as saying he’s seen two geniuses - Tal and Fischer. I wonder when he said that. Would he include Kasparov, or for that matter Karpov and Carlsen, if he said it now?
Feb-11-19  rgr459: He must not have been much of a smoker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  norami: Also interesting that he did not include Botvinnik, the most successful player of his generation.
Apr-28-19  ewan14: or Spassky ! Perhaps he has still not forgiven him for that .... Nc6 move
Jun-13-19  Caissanist: The "genius" quote is from an interview Averbakh gave to Larry Evans for <Chess Life> in 1990, later reprinted in Evans' anthology <This Crazy World of Chess>. The entire interview can be found here: Here is the complete quote:

<I have seen two geniuses in my time. One was Tal. The other was Fischer. Maybe Kasparov also. In chess you cannot be a genius forever, only for a short burst. Fischer’s highest level was after the Candidates matches in 1970 where he beat Larsen and Taimanov 6-0 and then crushed Petrosian and Spassky. Fischer was very strong with Black. With White everybody can win, but the main problem is how to win with Black.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Outstanding photo!

He looks a bit like Spassky, wouldn't you agree?

Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Having lived to the ripe old age of 97, GM Averbakh should write a book on his dietary preferences.

What does he eat? Does he smoke or drink alcohol? Has he ever smoked tobacco or consumed alcohol?

Most Russians love their vodka - is a shot or two a day his secret? Or maybe he eats raw eggs & calf liver?

Could it be fresh Cloudberries every summer that is the key to health?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <ewan14: or Spassky ! Perhaps he has still not forgiven him for that .... Nc6 move>

Which game is this referring to?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Retireborn: Averbakh vs Spassky, 1956
Premium Chessgames Member
  Fusilli: <Retireborn> OMG. That is the craziest move I've ever seen. I mean it.
Jul-26-19  Chesgambit: Opening master
Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: In his book "Damenendspiele" (Queen endings) Averbakh begins the chapter about queen+rook pawn vs queen with two positions having two queens vs one.

This is the first one.

click for larger view

Averbakh states that Black can draw, if and only if the Black king stands on d3, e4, b5, b4 or c5. It seems to me that he missed three more squares: c2, d2 and e3 (checked with Nalimov tablebases).

Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: This is the second position. Black to move.

click for larger view

Here Avebakh's draw condition is as follows: Black can achieve a draw, if his king is on b5 or c5 (or symmetrically g5 or f5) and if he is able to keep White's king enclosed in the rectangle a1-c1-c3-a3.

First af all, this seems to be a sufficient condition only, which is less precise than that of the first position, because of its second part. I am not exactly sure what the symmetry statement means, because the position is not symmetrically with respect to Black's queen.

From the tablebases I got:

Black's king on b5 or c5: draw if and only if White's king is in the rectangle (legal squares only, of course).

Black's king on f5 or g5: draw if and only if White's king stands on g2 or h3. So, three legal squares in the rectangle f1-h1-h3-f3 favour White.

There are a lot of other squares for Black's king that give possible draws, most significantly c7 and f7.

Black's king on c7: White can win, if and only if his king is on c5, d5, f7 or h2. There is no win on the remaining 26 legal squares.

Black's king on f7: White can win, if and only if his king is on c5, d5 or h2. Here, no win for 29 legal squares.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: He is 98 today!

"Now, finally, I can try to overtake Kirk Douglas."

Feb-12-20  ndg2: Not sure whether he can catch Kirk but I want him to overtake Lilienthal. Happy birthday my endgame mentor!
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: from Andy Soltis' Chess Life 2020 April..

<In his book In Search of Truth, Yuri Averbakh, the great Soviet-era grand master, recalled how in the middle of the simultaneous exhibition with colleague Isaac Boleslavsky he arrived at a board and saw he was suddenly down a rook. “Where’s my rook?” he exclaimed. “Isaac blundered it,” his amateur opponent said. Later, Averbakh asked his teammate about it. “What blunder?” Boleslavsky replied. “You blundered, not me.” Then they both realized they had been conned by an amateur using his one swindling mind.>

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