Remembering Isaac Boleslavsky

Remembering Isaac Boleslavsky

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"Today in Chess History" brings us the birthdays of five grandmasters:

  1. Issac Boleslavsky of the Soviet Union, born 1919, GM 1950, Died 2/15/1977.
  2. Radoslav Simic of Serbia, born 1948, GM 1984.
  3. Attila Grószpéter of Hungary, born 1960, GM 1986.
  4. Klaus Bischoff of Germany, born 1961, GM 1990.
  5. Radosław Jedynak of Poland, born 1982, GM 2006.

Isaac Yefremovich Boleslavsky was born in Zolotonosha, on the 9th day of June 1919, and he taught himself chess at age nine. In 1933, he became schoolboy champion of Dnipropetrovsk. Three years later, he won third prize in the 1936 USSR All-Union Junior Championship, held in Leningrad.

In 1938, at nineteen, Boleslavsky won the Ukrainian Championship; the following year, he won the Ukraine SSR championship, qualified to play in the USSR Chess Championship at the age of 20, and gained his national chess master title. (He earned a degreein philology at Sverdlovsk University). At the end of 1940 he won the Ukrainian Championship for the third consecutive year.

In 1946, his daughter Tatiana was born; she later married David Bronstein. Boleslavsky and Bronstein had become friends in the late 1930s, and remained so throughout their lives. In 1950 Boleslavsky was one of the inaugural recipients of the International Grandmaster title from FIDE.

In 1951, Boleslavsky was Bronstein's second during his match with Botvinnik for the world championship, which wound up drawn after 24 games. In 1952, he scored 7 out of 8 at the Helsinki Olympiad, helping the Soviet team to the gold medals. This was the only Olympiad he would play in his career, but he attended several others to provide support for the Soviet team.

In 1951 Boleslavsky moved to Minsk and that same year became the champion of this city (he repeated his victory in 1953/54). He won the Belarusian Championship in 1952 (joint) and 1964.

Boleslavsky (2nd from left) at the 1953 Candidates Tournament.

In 1961, he took first place at an international tournament in Debrecen. He was world champion Tigran Petrosian's assistant from 1963 to 1969.

In 1968 he captained the USSR students' team, which won the World Championship at Ybbs. His last tournament appearance was in Minsk in 1971, at age 52. Boleslavsky was the chief trainer of the USSR Chess Federation in the 1960s, and he remained until his death a very well respected analyst and chess writer, particularly in opening theory.

He died in Minsk on February 15, 1977, at the age of 57, after falling on an icy sidewalk, fracturing his hip and contracting a fatal infection while in hospital.