Boris Markovich Verlinsky (8 January 1888, Bakhmut, Ukraine – 30 October 1950, Moscow, Russia) was a Ukrainian-Russian International Master of chess. He was one of the top Soviet players of the 1920s. Verlinsky was deaf as a result of Meningitis as a youngster.
In 1909, Verlinsky tied for 10th-11th in St. Petersburg, the All-Russian Amateur Tournament. The event was won by Alexander Alekhine. In 1910, he won in Odessa. In 1911, he tied for 6-8th in St. Petersburg (Stepan Levitsky won). In 1912, he won the Odessa Championship. In 1913, he took 3rd in St. Petersburg behind winner Alexander Evenson.
After World War I, Verlinsky moved from Ukraine to Russia. In 1923, he tied for 1st with Kutuzov in Petrograd. In 1923, he took 2nd, behind Sergeev, in Petrograd. In 1924, he tied for 10-11th in Moscow (3rd USSR Chess Championship). The event was won by Efim Bogoljubow. In 1924, he took 2nd, behind Grigoriev, in Moscow (5th Moscow Championship). In 1925, he tied for 2nd-3rd, behind Sergeev, in Moscow (6th Moscow Championship). In August–September 1925, he took 4th in Leningrad (4th USSR Chess Championship) – Bogoljubow won.
In November–December 1925, he tied for 12th-14th in Moscow (1st Moscow International Tournament) – the winner was Bogoljubow. But in this event, Verlinsky scored many beautiful wins over strong players, with perhaps the most impressive being his victory over World Champion José Raúl Capablanca with the Black pieces in a dazzling tactical display. In 1926, Verlinsky tied for 1st with Marsky in Odessa (3rd Ukraine Championship). In 1926, he tied for 8th-9th in Moscow (7th Moscow Championship) – Abram Rabinovich won. In 1928, he won the 9th Moscow City Championship.
In 1929, Boris Verlinsky won the 6th Soviet Championship, held in Odessa. Because of this he was awarded the title of Soviet Grandmaster, the first to be awarded this title, according to David Bronstein. The title had been established in 1927, but was taken away in 1931 when the title was abolished. Later it was thought more politically correct to make Mikhail Botvinnik the first Soviet GM, as occurred in 1935.
According to the site chessmetrics.com, Verlinsky was rated at 2627 in May 1926, and this placed him 16th in the world at that time. Chessmetrics provides historical ratings for players and events throughout chess history. Official ratings were introduced by FIDE only in 1970.
In 1930, Verlinsky took 7th in Moscow (A. Rabinovich won). In November 1931, he tied for 3rd-6th in Moscow (7th USSR Chess Championship), with a solid score of 10/17 – Botvinnik won. In February 1933, he took 2nd, behind Fedor Bogatyrchuk, in Moscow (Quadrangular). In 1933/34, he took 12th in Moscow (14th Moscow Championship).
Verlinsky was less active at chess in his later life, but could still provide a competitive test for strong masters. After many years away from top competition, he attempted to qualify for the Soviet Championship final in 1945, at age 53, but could only manage 4.5/15 in the semi-final, and did not advance. But he defeated rising star Bronstein in this event. Verlinsky's last major competitive event was the 1945 Moscow Championship, where he scored 5/16.
Verlinsky was awarded the International Master title in 1950, the same year he died at age 62.
Style and legacy
Verlinsky was exceptionally strong in the classical openings with both colours. At his peak, he was a formidable tactician who could provide a stiff battle for the very best players, as his wins over Alexander Alekhine, José Raúl Capablanca, Efim Bogolyubov, Grigory Levenfish, Akiba Rubinstein, Rudolf Spielmann, and David Bronstein, among others, attest. His physical disability of being a deaf mute, and success at overcoming this in chess, is impressive. He was Jewish. Verlinsky never got a chance to compete outside the Russian Empire or the Soviet Union.
Notable chess games
- Peter Romanovsky vs Boris Verlinsky, All-Russian Championship, St. Petersburg 1909, Four Knights' Game (C49), 0-1 At just 21 years of age, Verlinsky makes a successful debut at the top level.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Alexander Alekhine, Odessa 1916, Scotch Game (C45), 1-0 Quite a tasty tactical victory.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Ilya Rabinovich, USSR Championship, Moscow 1924, Ruy Lopez, Closed, Bogolyubov Variation (C91), 1-0 Impressive positional triumph.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Grigory Levenfish, Moscow International 1925, Queen's Gambit Declined, Vienna Variation (D37), 1-0
- Jose Raul Capablanca vs Boris Verlinsky, Moscow International 1925, Queen's Pawn Game (D00), 0-1 It was exceptionally rare for Capablanca to lose to anyone, and virtually unheard of for him to be beaten up in this sort of tactical slugfest. Likely Verlinsky's best game, and one of the top games of the century.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Rudolf Spielmann, Moscow International 1925, Ruy Lopez, Closed Variation (C79), 1-0 Two skilled tacticians battle it out, and Verlinsky emerges on top.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Akiba Rubinstein, Moscow International 1925, Reti Opening (A09), 1-0 Verlinsky takes a shot with the hypermodern Reti, departing from his classical style, and scores a hard-fought win in a beautiful game.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Efim Bogolyubov, USSR Championship, Leningrad 1925, Nimzo-Indian Defence, Classical Variation (E38), 1-0 Verlinsky defeats Bogolyubov, the winner of the Moscow 1925 International tournament.
- Boris Verlinsky vs Fodor Bohatirchuk, USSR Championship, Moscow 1931, Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defence (C71), 1-0 The two Ukrainians, both of whom would be unfairly denied the Grandmaster title, showcase their classical chess prowess.
- Alexander Konstantinopolsky vs Boris Verlinsky, USSR Championship semi-final, Kiev 1938, English Opening (A11), 0-1 Konstantinopolsky was one of the rising stars of that time, a five-time Kiev champion of the 1930s.
- Boris Verlinsky vs David Bronstein, USSR Championship semi-final, Moscow 1945, King's Indian Attack (A05), 1-0 Bronstein would go on to challenge for the world title six years later.