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A Chess Incubator

  • GM Gserper
  • | Sep 23, 2012
  • | 9305 views
  • | 31 comments

The Soviet Junior Championships traditionally took place in January, during the Winter school break.  It was really an incubator of future champions since as far as I know, every single chess star from the former Soviet Union played there at some point of his or her chess career. I played in five of them and the most memorable one for me was Kirovabad 1984. The tournament was deservedly won by the future FIDE World Champion Alexander Khalifman. You can see the decisive game of that championship in one of my previous articles here: http://www.chess.com/article/view/the-fischers-patent

I came only fifth, so why will I remember this tournament my whole life? The reason is that beside the main Champion title under 18 years old, there was a competition for the title under 16 years old. Before the tournament the head coach of the Soviet Junior chess program, Anatoly Bykhovsky, announced that the winner of the under 16 category would qualify to the World Championship Under 16, which was going to take place in France the same year. Since Alexey Dreev was the defending World Champion under 16 and was already seeded into the coming World Championship, he didn't participate in the competition for the only qualification spot. I managed to win it half a point ahead of both Ivanchuk and Komarov and was extremely excited about my first World Championship and the first tournament abroad (those who lived behind 'the iron curtain' would probably understand what it meant for a little Soviet schoolboy).

I had already started preparation for the World Junior Championship when my coach (Master Sergey Pinchuk) and I were notified by  Anatoly Bykhovsky that there was going to be a match between Ivanchuk and Komarov and the winner would play in the World Championship under 16. After the initial shock passed, my coach asked Bykhovsky why the winner (Serper) wasn't going to the World Championship according to the regulation announced by Bykhovsky himself in the presence of all the participants of the tournament and their coaches.  Bykhovsky’s answer was very simple: “Serper is not a good chessplayer”. My coach tried the last chance and asked: “Ok, if you think that Serper is a weak player and don’t allow him to play in the World Championship, at least allow him to play a match-tournament where Ivanchuk, Komarov, and Serper will decide who is the strongest Soviet Junior under 16”. Bykhovsky’s answer was the same : “Serper is no good even for such a match-tournament ”.  And when my coach said: “ Ok, if Serper is that bad, he’ll lose all the games and the question will be closed” . And here came the shocking response from Bykhovsky that I will remember my whole life. He said: “Yes, but what happens if Serper wins this match-tournament?"  So, in the end I wasn’t allowed to play neither the World Junior Championship, nor the match-tournament.  As the result the players who tied for 2-3 places (Ivanchuk and Komarov) played the qualification match, Ivanchuk won and proceeded to play in the World Championship, which was won by Alexey Dreev again.  

28 years have passed since that event and everything is different today.  The mighty Soviet Union has disappeared from the World Map. The city of Kirovabad is called Ganja (Azerbaijan) now. More than half of the kids who played in the tournament are Grandmasters today.  So who is the the head coach of the Russian Junior chess program today?  Why, Anatoly Bykhovsky of course!

Most of the games from the Soviet Junior Championship of 1984 are unfortunately gone.  Let me offer you to solve puzzles from some of the games played there:







Comments


  • 12 months ago

    rohan_29

    good 

    inspiring article

  • 23 months ago

    ramsingh444

    good puzzle

  • 24 months ago

    fireballz

    a Compliment of such nature indeed last a lifetime. It had inspired you, and was calculated by a man who is a philosopher, and his mind had given you a present that will always remain immortal.

    We thrive on opportunity. We get a chance at gold,  but in his words there are a greater means to what we face in life.

     "Once a victory is analysed, it can no longer be destinguished from defeat" (a famous quote) - through his words, he made you an immortal winner!

    It mean, that whenever you "analyse" a game, you will find lost   "opportunity" 

    It is water under the bridge. They say what make a person successful is to create a sense of "hunger" to "prove them wrong"! 

    You are very professional indeed. 

  • 24 months ago

    fireballz

    a Compliment of such nature indeed last a lifetime. It had inspired you, and was calculated by a man who is a philosopher, and his mind had given you a present that will always remain immortal.

    We thrive on opportunity. We get a chance at gold,  but in his words there are a greater means to what we face in life.

     "Once a victory is analysed, it can no longer be destinguished from defeat" (a famous quote) - through his words, he made you an immortal winner!

    It mean, that whenever you "analyse" a game, you will find lost   "opportunity" 

    It is water under the bridge. They say what make a person successful is to create a sense of "hunger" to "prove them wrong"! 

    You are very professional indeed. 

  • 24 months ago

    Ricardoruben

    I think that when such injustice takes place you must search in all directions for support and struggle to make them change their minds, many times this is not done out of fear for the consecuences of such ¨movements¨, but I consider it to be the only fruitful path in the long run, not only for you but for all the ones after you that will be treated the same.

    Only an oppinion. I am sorry you missed that chance!. :(

    Nice games! Thanks! :)

  • 2 years ago

    mobidi

    @ Eternity_08-Yes!-I think,CHIPS is very good thing for Politics ,and homeless dogs-everyone politic and dog must have the chip!Walstreet and Kremlin dogs must have very strong cheps-every minute we must to know,what they are doingCool

  • 2 years ago

    Eternity_08

    sofouuk, true. It is even in Great Britain. Autocratic world regime is going to put chips under our skins as our id cards. Some days ago Russian government declared about electronic temporary id cards (for 3-5 years). If americans can choose now, Russians are not allowed to choose (americans will not be allowed later). Bank owners want to make chess pieces from us, to make us slaves. Psychological-radio-wave weapon of the 21st century lets to make from people everyone they want because this weapon can make even our emotions as our own (glad, sad, panic, pain, selfkilling). Such kind of chips is used in USA for volunteers. And also used on many dogs in Moscow (especially homeless) as another trial version. Another kind of chips can be used. Chips on laser technology that can not be identified from satellite. But it is not going to be used. How do you think, why? The answer is very simple. Most greedy and cowardly people want unlimited power. Lets stay chess players, not become chess pieces!

  • 2 years ago

    Eternity_08

    The 9th of March 2020. Natalia Pogonina has the first rating in the World -- 2950. Russian high-ranked officials: "Her rating is too high to believe that she does not use any computer assistance". Laughing

  • 2 years ago

    sofouuk

    to be fair, it may have been fairly clear at the time that ivanchuk was going to become the stronger player Tongue Out not sure about komarov, tho. or how anyone could have the cheek to announce one thing, then arbitrarily change it when they don't get the result they want. then again, autocratic regimes will tend to generate little hitlers (and i speak as someone who lives in one Yell)

  • 2 years ago

    robert-f-pr

    It is always like that everywhere.  The powerful one do things just for the sake of making it known its pleasure.  But I am sure you got wisdom and patience that the other "best" (really WORST) player than you in that moment.  It a moment to get stronger the temple.

  • 2 years ago

    shahrokh1975

    I am with ishamael13.It was completely a loss,but you shouldn't recall it again. Everybody who lives in the atmosphere of his loss is usually a loser.so my recomendation to you is ''Enjoy playing chess!!''Wink

  • 2 years ago

    NajdorfDefense

    Sounds like Dave Patrick in the 1968 Olympic Trials at the 1500m. Initially, it was announced instead of 1 meet there would be two at LA and Tahoe because of fears of running in Mexico City at high altitude. The best 3 runners would be then chosen by committee.

    Patrick won the LA trials. He had also run the NCAA that year and run the fastest times all season.

    In Tahoe there were preliminary heats, Semis, and the Final. Patrick ran the fastest time of all runners in Tahoe, in the Semis.

    The track & field committee decided NOT to pick him for the 1500m so they could take guys who didn't even run in the first of the two Trials events.

    Patrick had run 0.2 sec faster in Tahoe than Jim Ryun, who would win the silver medal in the Olympics.

  • 2 years ago

    WGM Natalia_Pogonina

    I can feel your pain, Grigory. When I was rated #3 in Russia and still wasn't invited to play for the national team, one of the high-ranked chess officials said that "her openings are too unsound for team tournaments". Yes, I did have the Dragon and Benko as main weapons for Black at that time, but my score in those lines was like 60+%  against decent opposition Laughing Later there were other issues: "she is not young enough, we need someone aged below 20".

    Furthermore, in 2010 I came to the Russia vs. China match only to find out that I am not simply playing there, but trying to qualify for the Olympiad! This shock affected my play a lot. At that point I was rated like 2500, so they made up another reason: "her play in a recent GM-norm tournament was shaky". I performed there at 2500+ level, but I guess that's what they call shaky. As a result, the RCF "kindly" asked me to lead the second (junior) team instead of the main one. Nothing changes... Smile Later that year I shared first at the Russian Superfinal, and another official said that this "was a surprise" and I have "jumped above my head".

    Luckily enough, in 2012 I won both the Superfinal and two gold medals at the Olympiad. Feeling better now and treating all this in a humorous way.

  • 2 years ago

    merchco

    Just sue the man so he is not in a position to do itto any other person

  • 2 years ago

    Eternity_08

    Wonderful set of very strong chess patterns! It was really very unfair in relation to Gregory who won the tournament! Very sad story!

  • 2 years ago

    mehti_1

    ...I would prefer to live in 1984 forever... That was My country the biggest & the greatest in the world... What we have left now in the post-soviet republics? Drugs, prostitution, increasing crime rate ... a whole generation of uneducated youngsters who worship moneyFrown

  • 2 years ago

    AllogenicMan

    So sorry to hear of your missed 'opportunity', Mr. Serper, but just remember 'this': it is no small miracle that Fischer actually won (let alone played) his [first] match against Spassky - but in fact, a huge one! - in consideration of all the events leading up to, and into it.  To put it plainly, the Russians [still] do not like (nor care to even think about) losing, at anything for that matter - and at any cost.

    If perhaps it could be surmised that many - if not most[?] - of their [present] leaders are [still] as insecure as the citizens they represent, then I'd be only inclined to gather that the game of chess is but one of the few remaining things they have yet to proffer towards proving to themselves, and perhaps within their own 'world' - for what it means, or matters, to be 'superior'.

    And that's the way 'I' see it! ...

  • 2 years ago

    NM GreenLaser

    That junior championship took place in 1984. In the Soviet Union, every year was 1984. When there is regime change, the bureaucracy is reluctant to dispose of their old calendar. For many, it is still 1984.

  • 2 years ago

    ishamael13

    That's a shame of course. The only positive thing out of it that I could think of was that at least, I am hoping, you didn't have to deal any more with people like Bykhovsky too much and could simply enjoy chess for its own sake, without the politics.

  • 2 years ago

    Darthstapler8

    Didn't Botvinnik once say that Karpov had no future in chess?

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