Yuri Averbakh

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Yuri Averbakh
Averbakh at his 80th birthday
Full nameYuri Lvovich Averbakh
CountrySoviet Union → Russia
Born (1922-02-08) February 8, 1922 (age 99)
Kaluga, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
TitleGrandmaster (1952)
FIDE rating2445 (December 2021)
Peak rating2550 (July 1971)

Yuri Lvovich Averbakh (Russian: Ю́рий Льво́вич Аверба́х; born February 8, 1922) is a Russian chess player and author. He was chairman of the USSR Chess Federation from 1973 to 1978.

Life and career[edit]

Averbakh was born in Kaluga, Russia. His father was German Jewish,[1] and his ancestors came from Germany and were named Auerbach, meaning "meadow brook". His mother was Russian. Both sets of grandparents disapproved of their marriage because his father was likely an atheist and his mother was Eastern Orthodox, as well as the fact that his maternal grandmother died very young so his mother was expected to look after the family. Averbakh himself calls himself a fatalist.

Tournament successes[edit]

His first major success was the first place in the Moscow Championship of 1949, ahead of players including Andor Lilienthal, Yakov Estrin and Vladimir Simagin. He became an international grandmaster in 1952. In 1954 he won the USSR Championship ahead of players including Mark Taimanov, Viktor Korchnoi, Tigran Petrosian, Efim Geller and Salo Flohr. In the 1956 Championship, he came equal first with Taimanov and Boris Spassky in the main event, finishing second after the playoff. Later Averbakh's daughter, Jane, would marry Taimanov. Averbakh's other major tournament victories included Vienna 1961 and Moscow 1962. He qualified for the 1953 Candidates' Tournament (the last stage to determine the challenger to the World Chess Champion), finishing joint tenth of the fifteen participants. He also qualified for the 1958 Interzonal tournament at Portorož, by finishing in fourth place at the 1958 USSR Championship at Riga. At Portorož, he wound up in a tie for seventh through eleventh places, half a point short of advancing to the Candidates' Tournament. He played in the 1993 Maccabiah Games in Israel, coming in fourth.[2][3][better source needed]

Playing style[edit]

His solid style was difficult for many pure attackers to overcome, as he wrote:"...Nezhmetdinov, who if he had the attack, could kill anybody, including Tal. But my score against him was something like 8½–½ because I did not give him any possibility for an active game. In such cases he would immediately start to spoil his position because he was looking for complications."[4]

He has plus records against the world champions Max Euwe and Tigran Petrosian.


Averbakh is also a major endgame study theorist. He has published more than 100 studies, many of which have made notable contributions to endgame theory. In 1956 he was given by FIDE the title of International Judge of Chess Compositions and in 1969 that of International Arbiter.

Averbakh is also an important chess journalist and author. He edited the Soviet chess periodicals Shakhmaty v SSSR and Shakhmatny Bulletin. From 1956 to 1962 he edited (with Vitaly Chekhover and others) a four-volume anthology on the endgame, Shakhmatnye okonchaniya (revised in 1980-84 and translated as Comprehensive Chess Endings, in five volumes).

Openings contributions[edit]

Averbakh is the eponym of several opening variations.

Honours and awards[edit]


  • Chess Endings: Essential Knowledge, 1966, 1993, Everyman Chess, ISBN 1-85744-022-6.
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 1: Bishop Endings, Knight Endings by Averbakh and Chekhover, 1983, Pergamon, ISBN 4-87187-503-2
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 2: Bishop vs Knight Endings, Rook vs Minor Piece Endings, 1985, Pergamon, ISBN 4-87187-504-0
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 3: Queen Endings, 1986, Pergamon, ISBN 4-87187-505-9
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 4: Pawn Endings, with Ilya Maizelis, 1987, Pergamon, ISBN 4-87187-506-7
  • Comprehensive Chess Endings 5: Rook Endings, 1987, Pergamon, ISBN 4-87187-507-5
  • Chess Tactics for Advanced Players, 1985, Pergamon, ISBN 4-87187-508-3
  • Chess Tactics for Advanced Players, 2008, Lebate, ISBN 978-0-87568-219-8
  • A History of Chess from Chaturanga to the Present Day, 2012, Russell Enterprises, ISBN 978-1-936490-44-8
  • Journey to the Chess Kingdom, with Mark Beilin, 2014, Chess Evolution, ISBN 978-83-934656-6-8
  • Centre-Stage and Behind the Scenes: A Personal Memoir, 2011, New In Chess, ISBN 978-9056913649
  • Chess Middlegames: Essential Knowledge
  • Averbakh's Selected Games
  • Rook v Minor Piece Endings
  • The World Chess Championship, with Mark Taimanov
  • Small Chess Dictionary



  • Petursson, Margeir (1996). King's Indian Defense: Averbakh Variation. Cadogan Books. ISBN 978-1-85744-118-5.
  • Averbakh's Selected Games by Averbakh, 1998, Everyman Chess, ISBN 1-85744-548-1
  • Interview in The Day Kasparov Quit by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam

See also[edit]

External links[edit]