My Favorite Game Of. Number 26. Alexander Belyavsky.

My Favorite Game Of. Number 26. Alexander Belyavsky.


Afternoon Everyone. I have a day off today!! Having done a number of heavyweight articles of late,  I decided to add another player to this - not so little - series,  now up to number 26 I think - with a game that came into my head from nowhere. 

So, Alexander Belyavsky ( as usual, other transliterations are available so don't give me the 'correct' nonsense!!! The database standard transliteration is not the same as the one in my head!) A player that I grew up studying - he played in the world juniors a couple of years before I started taking a real interest in the game. I have studied every one of his games that I have been able to get hold of - back in pre-internet days that meant buying tournament books/bulletins, etc. and, for me, he was a 'must study' player.

Not only 'was' he extremely strong, a World title Candidate in the days of 8 player knock-out matches and a USSR champion, so don't question the fact that he could seriously play, but if you wanted to understand the game you had to look at what he was doing. 

Like all great players  - he is still with us last I saw, but I may be wrong on that - he 'could', if you will excuse the idea that he is from the past, do everything very well. However, the stand out thing for me was his willingness to debate - over the board - the most topical and sharpest lines in the opening. If he played an opening line - and he had a wide repertoire - you studied what he was doing. He was always prepared to play the sharpest and most topical opening lines against anyone - back in pre-engine days that took courage!! I learned a lot from his games, and I am sure that many players way better than me also did so. 

I have a nice book of his

and it is full of opening references. 

Before I get to my faourite game of his, let's throw in some games to show just how he could play against the very best. Off-hand, I can think of him beating no less than 8 World Champions, but I haven't searched for all of those games, or the statistics - limited time here, and trying to keep an eye on the cricket!! Not so many can boast such a record.

Belyavsky's record against Karpov was desperately poor - +3, -16, =10 according to one set of figures. Karpov's solid positional style did not suit him. It reminds me of the figures between Capablanca and Janowski for example, But Belyavsky had a few days where it went well.

He did not do as badly against Kasparov. The big meeting was in the candidates matches where, as Belyavsky says, he did no chess preparation, preferring to get some rest after a long and hard period of intense play. Again, however, he had his good days.

A few more wins against World Champions that come to mind. Sadly, lazy writers on the internet seem to 'forget' , or never bother to study his games properly ( the most likely scenario!!) that Tal was a fine all round chess player - that really annoys me! - and that his attacks were not always crowned with brilliant victories. Black's 33rd move is really wonderful!

A quick picture to link along the way.

via Pinterest.

Karpov, Tal and Belyavsky.

Here's a game against the great - and underestimated - Boris Spassky, in one of his most favoured - he beat Fischer in it - opening lines. As I say, Belyavsky was utterly fearless!

One against the mighty Tigran Petrosian, who was still one of the very best at the time. Not many could - even then - outplay him in such style.

Even Kramnik found himself on the receiving end, in a fascinating and complex endgame. To reiterate the point, great players have always been able to do everything very well.

Before I forget, I have mentioned elsewhere that Belyavsky and Viktor Kupreichik

had a long running personal battle, with some fantastic chess. Belyavsky didn't always come off worst.

So, let's get to my favourite Belyavsky game. He was an absolute monster in that year. He scored, I think, 3 1/2 out of 4 in the USSR - Rest of the World Match - I have the bulletin upstairs somewhere - and won the USSR championship, I think. ( corrections welcomed - on memory here!!) In the absence of Kasparov and Karpov, he was on top board for the USSR at the Olympiad, and - again from memory - scored something like 8 out of 10. One of his games particularly caught my eye  in the tournament book. 

As I say, he was prepared to debate the sharpest opening lines over the board with anyone. I spent HOURS with this game in my opening preparations back in my c.c. games, where I was using a similar set-up with White, and scoring massively. First of all there is a predecessor - which Belyavsky does not give in his notes in the above book, played shortly before. He did not get the best of the oening exchanges, but went on to win a fascinating game.

O.K. Apologies for not doing notes to this - in severe time trouble and too much to do. Wanted to post this before it got forgotten about. I recall an over the board game of mine where a bizarre thought came into my head. I realised that if i could put all of my pieces - as Black - on the e6 square, then my position would be totally winning!!! So look at how Belyavsky uses the d5 square in this game. Really wonderful!

As I say, I spent many, many hours on these kinds of positions - with some kind help from my friend the English c.c. I.M. Jon Tait - back in my games as a correspondence chess international. Back then - before engines replaced the skills of doing your own analysis - you had to do such things. AHH!, the good old days!! Indeed, the best move I ever played - after at least 7 hours of hard work, was played in an game that I played after studying this one. Modern engines come up with the move after about 10 seconds - as I discovered recently, having been sent the moves of my game by the wonderful Tim Harding - such are the changes that technology has brought to the game. Belyavsky was a player of his time - one of the last to enter into complicated and dangerous opening lines, reliant on his own analytical skills, courage and self confidence, against World Class opponents. In doing so he produced many really beautiful games such as this one. White's only clear mistake was putting his Bishop on to b2 rather than d2, underestimating Black's chances. On such tiny things do games turn in such positions.

I present the game with my humble thanks to a true Grandmaster. With thanks for inspiring me with your games. 2016.