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If it were Black to play after exchang-

ing rooks he would reach an easy draw. But White to move can win.

1. Re7+ Kh8 2. Kh6 Rge8 is forced. 3. Rdd7! Kg8 4. Kg6 and the rooks will soon mate.

Averbakh moves on to a “comedy.”

-+-+-+-+ +-+-+-+K -tR-+-+-vL +-+-+k+- -zp-+-+-+ +PzP-+-+- pvl-+-+-+ +-+-+-+-

White to move White has an extra rook, but Black

threatens to queen his a-pawn.

1. Rb5+ Black cannot move the king to the

fourth rank because of Rxb4+ and Ra4 stopping the pawn. Therefore:

1. ... Ke6 2. Ra5

Now if 2. ... a1=Q, 3. Rxa1 Bxa1 4. cxb4, and only White can win. So ... 2. ... Ba3, renewing the threat.

3. Bg7 a simple move, but one which doesn’t obviously solve White’s problem.

3. ... a1=Q 4. Re5+ Kd6 (4. ... Kf7 5. Rf5+, etc.). 5. Rd5+! Kc6

The rook cannot be captured in view of c4+ winning the queen! 6. Rc5+! Kb6 Again the rook is immune. 7. Rb5+! Ka6 8. Ra5+! At the end of this illustration, it’s nearly

impossible to hide my amusement. Yuri Lvovich pounces: “You are smiling! It is a comedy!”

Even dance can be found on the chess- board, and here is an example of a “ballet”:

-+-+q+k+ +-+-+-+- -+-+-mK-+ +-+-+-+- -+-+-+-+ +-+-+-+- R+-+-+-+ +-+-+R+-

White to move

White has two rooks against the queen, and the move.

1. Rg2+ Kf8 (Of course 1. ... Kh8 allows mate on the h-file.)

“And now the ballet starts.”

2. Kg5+! Kg7 Moving to the e-file allows the king and queen to be skewered.

3. Kf4+ Kf6 4. Kg3+ Kg5 5. Kf2+ Kf4 6. Kg1+! And Black finds himself without a partner, and soon without a queen!

“It means that you can represent on the

chessboard, all kinds of dramas—of the- atrical exhibitions. And this is a very interesting approach because it shows that chess is not only a sport, but chess is an art. It is very good for teaching, for instance, girls, because not every girl likes to fight, but for them a theatrical approach is more interesting.” Averbakh finds the pedagogical device

is equally effective amongst young children and his work with elderly people, using chess as a means of fending off Alzheimer’s disease. Middle-aged women have no inter- est in fighting either, but show them a position where the movement of the pieces mirrors a ballet or comedy and they can become happily engaged. Of course, Averbakh retains a wealth of

first hand knowledge about chess as a sport. In his professional career, the high point was his 1954 win of the USSR Championship, at the age of thirty-two. “In my time, the best time to be a world

champion was before forty. Thirty-two or thirty-three is best. Bronstein, Geller, Taimanov, and Petrosian were all within five years of each other. Petrosian was the best because he was younger.” Thirty years later, in 1984, Averbakh

served as an arbiter of the first Karpov- Kasparov World Championship match. “Theoretically [the] first match should

be a win by Karpov, because at that time Karpov was practically much stronger. But Karpov wanted not only to win, Kar- pov wanted to win 6-0, to crush Kasparov. But it was too much. Karpov was not so strong to play five months, and in the final he couldn’t play. He was in very bad condition. His people were trying very much to help him but he was helpless. He overestimated himself.” Averbakh believes that the controver-

sial decision by FIDE President Florencio Campomanes to stop the match was inap- propriate, in part because Karpov had a rematch clause in the rules. The interven- tion “was not sportsmanlike,” he says. He marvels at the effect the epic match

had on Kasparov, who was still just twenty-one at the time. “Kasparov began this match as a young boy, and finished as a man.” Averbakh played his last tournament in

1993 at age 71, but since then he has worked extensively as a coach. He relates an observation working with children from remote areas of Russia during a summer camp. “I discovered these children are not

developed—not on the same level as [chil- dren in] Moscow or [St. Petersburg] or a big city ... And chess can help them to take the necessary level,” not with the aim of training new chess professionals, but simply to prepare them academically. “Teaching in chess is also an art,”

Averbakh suggests, “because it’s neces- sary to have an individual approach. Let’s say you have thirty people, and [not all of them can] be world champion. Maybe one from thousands. But for many people it is just amusement, practically, and good spending of time.” For a child to succeed “it’s necessary

[that] he must be interested in it. If he’s not interested, it will be no good really.” Chess has the advantage that it’s such a rich game, allowing for a variety of styles and approaches. Unlike cards or other games, Averbakh thinks, “chess can help anybody with the right approach.” If a child is to move on to study chess

more seriously, he adds, “first of all it’s necessary to understand what he wants,” whether it be to become world champion, or simply to use chess as a means of self-development. “And after you discover [that], it’s necessary to work to develop his best qualities in this direction.” As he moves into his ninth decade,

Averbakh remains active, busying himself with work on the history of chess. Inter- estingly, the memoir, recently published in English by New in Chess, was written in Russian a few years ago, but it has yet to be published in Russia. Averbakh reports that he now has a contract with a Russian publisher and expects the work to appear there sometime this year. Averbakh is in remarkable shape for his

age, a fact he attributes to an athletic lifestyle. “When I was a young boy, I was a sportsman. I played volleyball, hockey and skating. I was in a school where sport was on a very high level.” He was also a strong swimmer, and a boxer. Ironically, it was only after he began to

focus on chess that Averbakh experi- enced an unusually late growth spurt; he says he grew more than three inches between the ages of eighteen and twenty- five. As a volleyballer, he could have really used that height! The chess world can hope that, from

this giant of the game, still of sound body and mind, his memoir will not be the last word.

These books by Averbakh are also avail- able on Chess Endings Essential Knowledge and Chess Tactics For Advanced Players.

. Chess Life — February 2012 15

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