GM Ivan Bukavshin Dies At 20

GM Ivan Bukavshin Dies At 20

| 69 | Chess Event Coverage

GM Ivan Bukavshin has died at the very young age of 20 years old. The cause of death was a stroke, according to the Russian Chess Federation.

Two-and-a-half years after the death of Igor Kurnosov and two years after the death of Vugar Gashimov, the chess world has lost yet another young and talented chess player.

GM Ivan Bukavshin suffered from a stroke and died Tuesday. He was 20. The sad news was brought this morning by the Russian Chess Federation.

Ivan Aleksandrovich Bukavshin was born May 3, 1995 in Rostov-on-Don, 950 km south of Moscow. He lived in Togliatti. 

In his short career he collected a fair amount of prizes. He:

  • won the Russian Championship under 10 in 2005, under 14 in 2008 and under 21 in 2014 and 2015;
  • won the European Championship under 12 in 2006, under 14 in 2008 and under 16 in 2010;
  • tied for first place with 10 other players at the 2013 Chigorin Memorial;
  • tied for first place with Ivan Ivanisevic at the 2014 Chigorin Memorial;
  • came third at the 2015 Aeroflot Open behind Ian Nepomniachtchi and Daniil Dubov;
  • tied for first with Vladislav Artemiev and Alexander Motylev at the 2015 Russian Championship Higher League;
  • won the Ugra Governor's Cup in December 2015;
  • won the Russian Cup knockout tournament, defeating Dmitry Kokarev in the final.

It's clear that Bukavshin was very talented. He just had an excellent year in which he went from 2622 (January 2015) to 2658 (January 2016). His rapid rating was even higher: 2692.

GM Ivan Bukavshin 1995-2016. | Photo Eldar Mukhametov.

“I did not really know him all that well, but I thought he was extremely promising,” Peter Svidler told “I knew he was on the fringes of selection for the national team. I rated him very highly. He seemed very nice in person, too, in my limited experience.”

Svidler said he played Bukavshin once, in this year's Superfinal. “A crazy game we both enjoyed, even with all the mistakes.”

From the same tournament, here's an instructive, positional win by Bukavshin, annotated by GM Dejan Bojkov. He defeated Ildar Khairullin in a typical middlegame with hanging pawns. 

From our tournament report: “White managed to provoke the advance of one pawn, made use of the square that came available, and kept on playing very instructive chess, finishing off with a tactic. Sounds like a Karpov game!”


Here's a game from the strong 2015 Aeroflot Open, where Bukavshin finished in clear third place. A nice tactic suddenly decided the game in his favor:

A game that should be included, even though Bukavshin lost, is the following. It was a fantastic fight against Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, where everything is hanging at move 19!

Here's Nisipeanu explaining this crazy game:

Bukavshin's last event was the Nutcracker tournament in December, where Boris Gelfand stated that he was impressed particularly by Bukavshin's (and Artemiev's) play. The Israeli number one said to

“I am in total shock... He was just 20. I just played with Ivan in Nutcracker. After our classical game we went to dinner together and he made a very good impression. Talented, ambitious, with a classical attitude, very creative in openings.

“I was sure he'll get 2700 in forthcoming years. A very friendly young man. Very deep condolences for his family and friends. It is hard to accept this loss and focus on saying more...”

In what seems to be his very last recorded (rapid) game, at the Nutcracker tournament last month, Bukavshin drew with Leko:

GM Vladimir Fedoseev, a good friend of Bukavshin, said to “I have no words about this tragedy, we were on good terms, and in all tournaments we fought against each other. Though were competitors, many of our games will always remain in my memory...

“He was a great man, a great talent. All who surrounded him, felt very comfortable. Together we dreamed of becoming great chess players. I сan't believe...”

Mark Gluhovsky, executive director of the Russian Chess Federation, said to “He was not just strong player, he was also very interesting player with a specific style. It's a real tragedy for the Russian chess community. He had the potential to become one of the best Russian players.”

Our thoughts are with Bukavshin's family and friends. 

Update: Another friend of Bukavshin, IM Daniil Yuffa, sent us the following statement:

“Yes, I was shocked when I learnt about this this, I was trying not to believe... First, I want to thank Ivan for being a good friend of mine and other people that knew him well.

“He was a very intelligent, clever and honest person with a wonderful sense of humor — these features of character we all will remember. Also, he was a wonderful chess player. Very talented, strong in the opening, middlegame, and endgame.

“Being brilliant in positional play and the endgame, he was very accurate in calculations and complicated positions. Personally, I played against Ivan several times in different tournaments and didn't manage to win even once. I've been a devoted fan of the chess he played, and, moreover, I was very proud of being a friend.

“Ivan, I wish you will rest In peace. My condolences for the whole chess community and friends of this wonderful person, Ivan Bukavshin.”

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