The Sergey Kaminer case
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The Sergey Kaminer case

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Sergey Kaminer was a rare chess composing talent. Although, an unjust loss [like Kaminer's] always has a positive effect in human minds, he definitely was something in chess composition. Probably, what's following is already known to most of you, but I felt happy enough discovering this great chess composer about 2 months ago, that I wanted to post something about him [even via reproducing].

Sergey Mikhailovich Kaminer [13(26) of August, 1908 - 27th of September, 1938], firstly studied in Leningrand schools. Then, in 1926, moved to Moscow and entered in Bauman Moscow State Technical University as a chemical student. Afterwards worked as a chemical engineer.

Kaminer was one of the founders of the [about 1925] young generation of Soviet chess composing school and a great composer. Published about 60 endgame studies, of which 1/3 was awarded [source russian wiki, with a reference in F. S. Bondarenko, Triumph of the Soviet Chess Study, 1984].

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via wiki

He was the first close chess friend of Botvinnik [They've also played a 3-game training match in 1924]. Andy Soltis reproduces a Botvinnik's saying: "When Seryozha played chess he was always looking for a study that was not there..." [in Andy Soltis's Mikhail Botvinnik, 2014, p. 18].

Botvinnik describes his talent as equal to Troitsky's, brothers Platov's and Kubbel's.

Here's a study composed by the two friends, Kaminer and Botvinnik.

#1 White to play and win

A nice incident narrated by Botivinnik took place in the spring of 1925. Then, young Sergey represented to Botvinnik and Kubbel the following chess diagram. Although Kubbel was usually really fast in solving, this time asked for the solution and Kaminer with pride told g3-g4!!!

[Botvinnik in the preface of R.M. Kofman's Selected Studies From Kaminer and M. Liborkin, found also in Mikhail Botvinnik's Analytical and Critical Work, 2016, p. 356 (snippet in google books in Russian), full text in Russian found here and here, while Andy Soltis's Mikhail Botvinnik, 2014 (snippets in google books) was a real help to fully understand the translated texts.]

Here's the first original form of it.

#2 White to play and win

And here's how this idea was used in a published study.

#3 White to play and win

Wasn't beautiful?

Kaminer unfortunately was lost at the age of 30. Botvinnik [in the above mentioned sources] mentions that in autumn 1937 received an unexpected phone call by Kaminer. Afterwards Sergey gave him a notebook with his studies, so not to be lost. Then he was disappeared. This one notebook was published by Kofman in 1981. Now sources say that he was one of the Kommunarka's victims [check here and here]. Andy Soltis also mentions it [p. 103]. He probably was shot on September 27, 1938.

Some Kaminer's studies

[source: R. M. Kofman's Selected Studies From Kaminer and Liborkin as represented in this blog and Sutherland's and Lommer's 1234 Modern Endgame Studies] [check also this older chess.com blog posting].

The first publication

#4 White to play and win

Some easy

#5 White to play and win

#6 White to play and win


#7 White to play and draw

#8 White to play and win



Some drawish

#9 White to play and draw

#10 White to play and draw

#11 White to play and draw

Some that engines are harder to find

#12 White to play and win

[edit:07/07/2018 It has been noted the similarity of this puzzle with a final position of Levenfish vs Romanovsky, USSR Championship (1933), 1-0, game.                                                  ...end of edit]

#13 White to play and win

#14 White to play and win

One more

#15 White to play and win

One enjoyfull long line

#16 White to play and win

And one that don't exist in Kofman's book as represented in this blog but appears in Sutherland's and Lommer's 1234 Modern Endgame Studies, 1968, #926. [??]

#17 White to play and win

Some reference links

(1)  (2)  (3)  (4)  (5)  (6)  (7)  (8)

I hope you've enjoyed it...