Yochanan Afek Earns GM Title For Composition

Yochanan Afek Earns GM Title For Composition

To share something with only six people in the world is quite special. IM Yochanan Afek can say so: he has earned the grandmaster title for endgame composition.

IM Yochanan Afek is a well-known player, trainer, endgame study composer and writer. Soon we can call him grandmaster too. 

A few weeks ago it became clear that the Israeli chess centipede has achieved all requirements to receive the official FIDE title Grandmaster of Chess Composition. It was an early birthday present for Afek, who turned 63 on April 16.

To achieve the composition GM title is incredibly difficult, arguably more difficult than becoming a regular GM.

Together with FIDE, the World Federation for Chess Composition (WFCC) publishes a collection of the best chess compositions every three years. Each composer who finds one or more of his positions in the album earns points: 1 for a problem (e.g. mate in two), 1.67 for an endgame study.

Any composer who reaches 25 points can request the IM title, which Afek achieved back in 1989. One needs 70 points for the grandmaster title, and with the publication of the 2010-2012 FIDE album, Afek has exceeded that number. In fact he has now collected 75 points.

Afek's first study was published 48(!) years ago. His work includes over 300 studies and over 100 problems which earned him over 120 prizes. Most of the FIDE album points were scored with endgame studies.

The Israeli composer is now one of only seven living grandmasters of composition, together with David Gurgenidze (Georgia), Oleg Pervakov and Nikolaj Kralin (Russia), Jan Rusinek (Poland), Emilian Dobrescu and Virgil Nestorescu (Romania).

Famous historical endgame composers who also earned the GM title include Genrikh Kasparyan and Ernest Pogosyants. You can find the full list here.

Afek, who lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands is an active player himself. He is an IM, but holds one GM norm. Besides, he has published several chess books.

His Invisible Chess Moves, written together with Emmanuel Neiman, was published in six languages and won the ChessCafe 2011 Book of the Year 2011 Award.

For several years, on a weekly basis, studies selected by Afek were published on the website ChessVibes.com and later they also appeared in Chess.com's The Master's Bulletin. Often, these studies were composed by himself.

Below are four examples of Afek's work, which you may want to try and solve yourself!

Afek,Y
1972 

Afek,Y
1977 


Afek,Y
1997 

Afek,Y
2005

Afek will be awarded the grandmaster of composition title in August at the FIDE Congress in Poland. Warm congratulations from Chess.com!


David Klein's nice article in Dutch was used as the main source for this report.

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