Happy Birthday Igor Zaitsev

Happy Birthday Igor Zaitsev

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There are four Grandmasters who were born on "This Day in Chess History."

  1. Igor Zaitsev of Russia, born 1938, GM 1976.
  2. Gennady Tunik of Russia, born 1953, GM 2002.
  3. Eduardas Rozentalis of Lithuania, born 1963, GM 1991.
  4. Meelis Kanep of Estonia, born 1983, GM 2006.

Igor Arkadyevich Zaitsev (RussianИгорь Аркадьевич Зайцев) was born 27 May 1938. in Ramenskoye, a town outside Moscow. His Armenian father, Arkady Gevorgovich Aghaian, was a deputy commander of a warship; his mother, Anna Fyodorovna Zaitseva, was a worker at the Red Banner Textile Factory.

In 1969, Zaitsev attained the title of Moscow Champion by defeating Yakov Estrin using the Giuoco Piano opening. The next year, Zaitsev was given the title of International Master and in 1976 he became a Grandmaster. Zaitsev played in six USSR Chess Championships (1962, 1967, 1968–69, 1969, 1970, 1991) His results in international tournaments include 2nd at Polanica-Zdrój 1970; 2nd at Dubna 1976; 1st at Quito 1976.

Zaitsev is best known for his contribution to opening theory. His variation of the Ruy Lopez opening (known as the Flohr–Zaitsev Variation, jointly named for Grandmaster Salo Flohr) follows one of the main lines of the Ruy Lopez and remains in wide use today. In the Flohr–Zaitsev System.


Zaitsev became one of the trainers of World Champion Anatoly Karpov in the late 1970s, serving as one of Karpov's seconds in a number of his World Championship matches, including the matches against Garry Kasparov in 1984 to 1990. (Karpov popularized Zaitsev's line at the top level, playing it with success for many years). Zaitsev is Honoured Coach of USSR and Russia. In 2006 he was awarded the title of FIDE Senior Trainer.

Anatoly Karpov Training with Igor Zaitsev

The following is one of several games which Zaitsev wins using the opening that bears his name: