Ups & Downs for Ukrainian Chess

  • PeterDoggers
  • on 2014. 04. 11. 5:14.

Ukraine has been the epicenter of international news since its President was replaced and Crimea taken over by Russia. The first signs of the turmoil affecting the chess scene are there: the strong Sberbank rapid tournament, scheduled for May, has been cancelled while the Lviv Regional Chess Federation has proposed to declare Anatoly Karpov, Sergey Karjakin and Alisa Galliamova persona non grata. There is also positive news: a Ukrainian chess charity has won a national award.

None of our readers will have missed the developments in Ukraine in the past few months. Its President Yanukovich was impeached in February, illegaly in the eyes of Russia, who took control over Crimea. Since this is a chess website, international politics will not be discussed (except on one day of the year) and consequently, political debates in the comments section are discouraged. There are much better places for that.

However, it cannot be denied that the chess scene in the Ukraine has been hit too by the turmoil in the country. This week the organizers of the Sberbank rapid tournament in Kiev had to cancel their event for this year due to the political situation.

It's a big blow for chess in Ukraine, since the Sberbank tournament has been the strongest event of the year for a while. The participants in the top group for this year would have been Michael Adams, Vishy Anand, Pavel Eljanov, Sergey Karjakin, Anatoly Karpov, Alexander Moiseenko, Ruslan Ponomariov, Veselin Topalov and Loek van Wely. Last year Karjakin won the tournament ahead of Topalov.

The tournament was doing well. During the press conference in 2013, GM Alexander Areschenko praised the organizers and said he really liked it that famous chess players were in the same hall as a children's tournament, which was attended by about 180 children under the age of 16: “Young children running around, watching us play – it's great.”

Persona non grata
Earlier this week it was reported that the 
Lviv Regional Chess Federation (LRCF) has proposed to declare persona non grata Anatoly Karpov, Sergey Karjakin, Alisa Galliamova and other players who openly support the annexation of Crimea by Russia. In a letter on its website the following was written:

“The seizure of Crimea by the modern vandals provoked a fair indignation of the world community. The outstanding chess players Garry Kasparov and Vladimir Kramnik have expressed their indignation with the fact together with the civilized world. We support the attitude of the grandmaster Mikhail Golubev of Odessa and the initiatives like "chess on Maidan" organised by him, and we are also very thankful to Garry Kasparov for his support of Ukraine. We also support the letter of Ukrainian chess players “for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine” and we are surprised to know that some of the GMs who are planning to play at the Russian Team Championship in April didn't sign the petition.”

The letter refers to GM Mikhail Golubev, who has had a chess TV show in Odessa since November 2012 called Shkola Chempionov (“Champions School”). In the 34th edition he strongly opposed to the participation of Karjakin and Karpov at the Sberbank tournament because these players openly supported Russia's actions in Crimea:

Meanwhile Karjakin has responded to Soviet Sport about the initiative of the Lviv Regional Chess Federation.

I have always felt in that Crimea is Russian. I have a clear position with this issue. All my many friends and relatives are in solidarity with me. I want to stress that I have an excellent relationship with all Ukrainian chess players. I do not want to quarrel with anyone. I will still be friends with them.”

Chess for Children
Luckily there is also positive news coming from the Ukrainian chess scene. This morning received a press release about t
he All-Ukrainian Charity Foundation Chess for Children, which was declared Social Initiative of the Year at the national award ceremony Sport Stars 2013 in Ukraine.

The ceremony took place on Sunday, April 6th at the National Olympic Area in Kiev - on what was the first International Day of Sport for Development and Peace in Ukraine. This festive day was launched at the General Assembly of the United Nations on August 23rd, 2013. To celebrate this day in April 2014, the Sport Committee of Ukraine organized the festive ceremony “Sport Stars of the Year” for awarding the best sport personalities in 2013.

The winner in the Social Initiative of the Year section was Chess for Children, a charity founded in Ukraine in November 2012 by WIM Olena Boytsun. The primary purpose of the foundation is “to discover the potential of every child through engaging children into a game of chess and to promote chess and healthy lifestyle in the society.”

In 2013 the foundation ran 7 projects and implemented 20 events all over Ukraine. An example is the project Chess Ukraine, which supports establishing new chess clubs and schools all over Ukraine as well as providing consultations, chess equipment and literature. 

The greatest attention is attracted by a new modern chess club and chess school for children in Krivoy Rog. It was launched in 2013 with the support of the “Chess for Children” foundation and currently the school has more than 200 children. At the local art square near the club the highest in the world 5 meter tall chess marble piece is situated. 

Another example is the Literary Chess project which develops and distributes free books to children with the rules of the game of chess, made in an entertaining style, in order to engage children to play chess. In 2013 the foundation took part at the Lviv Book Forum and the Frankfurter Book Exhibition with the presentation of the book Babish Gilzi plays chess by Olena Boytsun. 

A photo overview of the activities of the “Chess for Children” foundation in 2012-2013 can be found here in PDF. The program for 2013-2015 can be found at its website:

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  • 3 év ezelőtt


    Quite an authentic-sounding Taimanov in those interviews in Russian.  Thanks for sharing!

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    You can read here

    and ask someone to translate this

    Просто так, за поражение всю эту травлю начать было нельзя. Поэтому, когда я возвращался из Ванкувера в жутком настроении после матча с Фишером, на таможне исчез мой чемодан. Проверяли его содержимое(улыбается). А затем проверяли уже в моем присутствии. Нашли книгу Солженицына, который, замечу в скобках, тогда еще был советским гражданином, жил на даче у Ростроповича. Я знал, что в Канаде во время матча будут пресс-конференции и вопросы о Солженицыне просто неизбежны. Купил, чтобы хотя бы знать, о чем речь. Начальник таможни мне сказал прямо: «Марк Евгеньевич, если б вы выиграли у Фишера и купили бы полное собрание сочинений Солженицына, я бы лично помог вам донести его до такси. А теперь уж не обессудьте».

    Дело в том, что нас таможенники прежде не досматривали. Относились к нам заботливо. СССР стоял на трех китах: балет, цирк и шахматы (интеллектуальное превосходство). Это сказывалось на отношении к ведущим гроссмейстерам. Еще у меня нашли валюту в конверте — 1100 гульденов. Я о ней вообще не думал. Ведь в том же конверте было и письмо от экс чемпиона мира Макса Эйве Флору, в котором он писал, что это — гонорар для самого Сало и еще кого-то за статьи о шахматах в голландской прессе. То есть из письма вытекало, что деньги не мои. Не спасло. Мстислав Ростропович потом шутил: «Слышали, какие неприятности у Солженицына? У него на таможне обнаружили книгу Тайманова ’’Защита Нимцовича’’».


    By the way that's what he says about Korchnoy:

    — Для меня — да. Я разделял соперников на противников и партнеров. Конечно, противник для меня совсем не то, что, скажем, для Корчного. Он считал, что нужно ненавидеть любого соперника во время партии. По-моему, ему это удавалось, правда, не всегда он отключал эмоции по окончании игры. Во время матча с Карповым он повесил у себя в номере портрет Анатолия и с удовольствием в него плевал. Ему и настраиваться особо было не надо. Он жил в этом мире, мире шахмат, не замечая ничего другого. Вспоминаю такой случай. Идет командное первен­ство Ленинграда. В общем, не самый важный турнир. Мы с Виктором — первые доски своих спортивных обществ и встречаемся в день рождения Корчного. Приглашены гости. Я — в числе приглашенных, поэтому понимаю, что партия должна продлиться минут 15. Сажусь за столик и спрашиваю: «Ну что, Виктор, ничья?» Тот чеканит: «Какая ничья?! Играем». А в зале Белла (жена Корч­ного. — «Спорт День за Днем»), она ждет, нервничает. Виктор не обращает на это ни малейшего внимания и вспоминает о своем дне рождения, о жене, о гостях лишь по завершении партии. Такой уж он человек.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    Your point 1 is clearly covered in the wikipedia And I read several interviews with Taimanov  where de does not deny smuggling. 

    About three years without going abroad maybe you are right. But his premium wages were suspended for a much shorter period. 

    Your talks about antisemitism in USSR are hilarious as we know that about half of the prominent Soviet GMs were Jews and that the Soviet government let go without problems all those who really wished to leave : Vladimir Liberzon, Leonid Shamkovich, Yakov Murey among the most known.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    Marignon here are the differences:

    1. Taimanov doesn't admit to have read the anti-soviet book, or smuggled them, he says it was a slandering campaign, I hope you can understand the difference. It means they fabricated lies and he couldn't defend himself, like in every civil country.

    2. He wasn't pardoned in 1 year like you say, but after 3 years!

    And about immigration for some GMs, for example Boris Gulko, it has been the end of their career trying to immigrate to a country who is not full of antisemitism like Russia! And he could have beaten Kasparov, but I guess the Soviet were afraid to discover that other people apart Fischer could beat their party members.

    Here is what Taimanov says: "In 1973, I was qualified by FIDE to participate in the interzonal tournament. My case was examined at the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the higher authorities decided to "forgive" me. The case was thus closed. As the bureaucrat whom I met explained to me: "we had the choice between hammering the nail until the end or pulling it off altogether. We have finally decided to pull it off". To me, it was quite obvious that the nail in question was my own coffin's !"

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    I agree that banning criticism was not the best part of Soviet policy. 

    But how does what I've written contradict with Taimanov's interview?

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    Marignon, you can continue to "invent" lies to defend communism and Russia, but the truth is coming out.

    Here is an interview to Chessbase, yes in a free country people are allowed to speak and give interviews, Taimanov tells what happened to him, and differ a lot from the communist propaganda version you are trying to sell.

    Taimanov: The sanctions from the Soviet government were severe. I was deprived of my civil rights, my salary was taken away from me [all Soviet grandmasters received from their government a substantial salary - J.L.], I was prohibited from travelling abroad and censored in the press. It was unthinkable for the authorities that a Soviet grandmaster could lose in such a way to an American, without a political explanation. I therefore became the object of slander and was accused, among other things, of secretly reading books of Solzhenitsin. I was banned from society for two years, it was also the time when I separated from my first wife, Lyubov Bruk. (the interview source is here:

    By the way guess the difference with a free country: I can read the books I want, when I want, where I want, and nobody is going to accuse me. For example I've read many books by Noam Chomsky and guess what? Nobody took away my passport or threatened me.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    Dear isauro, you jump from one topic to another, mix states and eras.

    You don't even understand the difference between the Soviet Union and Russia.

    I cannot heal your vision. I can only correct your wrong interpretations based on lack of information.

    For example, Taimanov was taken a passport because he smuggled some Antisoviet books. Combined with his loss to Fischer this made the authorities think that he lost on purpose. He was pardoned in a year or so.

    Yes, making people to plea allegiance to a certain ideology it is not good.


    Read the article how would you then call Mikhail Golubev who threatened Sergey Kariakin?


    And then the question of migration. I could ask why GMs Maxim Dlugi and Joel Lautier live and work in Russia? I would not mock you out and say that they "cannot stand the West". It is just more convenient for them in the same way as for Dvorestky to live in Spain.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    @Marignon, forgive me, but we don't see the things the same way.

    When Taimanov lost to Fischer, his passport was taken away, and he couldn't go abroad to play. Please show me one player, in a western country, whose passport was taken away because he lost a competition.

    In western democratic countries, the passport is taken away if you commit crimes, and they are afraid you will escape, to avoid to pay for the crimes. But this was routinely done to "soviet players."

    Then notice also how they changed the title of Kortchnoi's book.

    "Antichess" means against chess, maybe my English is not so good, but I doubt I would translate "Chess is my life" with "Anti-Chess" in any language in the world. Generally publishers have reasons when they change titles. Why the Russian publisher gave such negative title?

    By the way, in US there are a lot of chess professionals who escaped from Russia, I guess they wouldn't escape from a secret police state, like Russia, to another worse one right?

    The same for all other champions which immigrated. Yusupov, Dvoretsky etc. just to mention a couple of names of people who evidently couldn't stand to live in Russia.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    By the way, Sberbank Open was canceled. No place for chess in a failed state.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    This is hilarious. Of course I read that Korchnoy's pleading book. In Russian it was published under the name "Антишахматы"  "Antichess".

    And if we speak about this story - what damage was actually done to Korchnoy? He was safe and sound, even stronger than ever and a chess pretender.

    For all that happened in his life Korchnoy can blame only his temper and lack of manners. He always was and  now is a terrible loser - if you defeat him, he'll call you a patzer, say that you do not understand chess and whatever else. 

    Such scandals follow him for all his life. Back in 1974 he could not stand being beaten by Karpov and losing the chance to play vs Fischer. He began to blame Karpov in press, saying all his typical ranting about how bad Karpov is as a player.

    This was stupid and unfriendly and for this he was temporarily suspended from the Soviet national team. He even continued playing in tournaments abroad.

    So, if we think about a murderous government that chases the champion all over the globe, we should remember Bobby Fischer's case. That's that.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    @Marignon, you can continue with the typical lies made up by your communist regime, but the truth can be found in the books you are not allowed to read.

    In "Chess is my life" Kortchnoi explains clearly what they have done to him, there is "no paranoia," but of course, you are trying to dismiss the accusation of the murderous government and regime you live in, because it is convenient for you.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    All grasps of paranoia mentioned by you do not deny the simple fact that Karpov maintained good relationships with Korchnoi's family.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    @Marignon, sorry but the KGB propaganda version you are giving, contrast with History:

    1. Kortchnoi first asked asylum in the Netherlands, and since Communism was so good for the Soviet citizens and their health (read it as: they were routinely murdered by the KGB) the Dutch government had to give Kortchnoi a special police unit for his protection.

    2. Kortchnoi was the target of a KGB operation, of which GM Estrin was part, in 1978, in Germany.

    3. Luckily other people escaped from Communist Russia, and gave a glimpse of how dirty their operations were: in 1999 KGB Agent Mitrokhin fled to England, and brought some papers on what happened in Bagujo 1978. One of the paper had the following: "17 KGB officers have been sent to the Philippines to help Karpov secure victory against Korthcnoi..."

    Of course I can go on and on upon the lives of chess players who have been destroyed by communism, I doubt that nowadays young Americans, or Canadians in this forum can even imagine the tragedies for this people and their families.

    Just to be sure everyone understand: I don't care if some people believe I've been brainwashed by American propaganda, since as many immigrants here, I've found a country which is the home of freedom and democracy, with all the past sins, or imperfections the country has, I would choose United States over any other country without blinking or thinking 1 second.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    "It is just enough to remember that Kortchnoi's son was arrested when Kortchnoi was playing for the world championship, just to remember him what would happen to his family if he didn't let Karpov win."


    I should comment on this nonsence. When Korchnoi left, he broke all ties with his family and soon created a new one in Switzerland. He took no care for his family left in the USSR.

    Karpov who was a friend of Kortchnoi before 1974 (whien their pretenders final spoilt the relations) helped Bella (Viktor's wife) and Igor (Victor's son) a lot.

    Igor was commited to emigrate but he evaded the draft, which was a criminal act. It was again Karpov, who asked to grant Igor a pardon as an exception and let him go.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    what  a wonderful discussion where every opinion or point of view is 

    absolutely right

    all i am saying is keep it verbal and philosophical not nuclear

    i saw 3 a-bombs go off in vegas 1950 the house trembled from 70 miles

    (100 kilometers) one stupid move by a hysterical shmuk and chess , 

    pussy..everything could blow up all politicians should sit down with lots of

    good wine ..reefer thorazine etc and cool out

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    _valentin_, your exposure is all nice and pinkish, but unfortunately it contains some innacuracies (I don't want to say more). In practice, the diversity put together brings some serious problems, maybe you have heard about NINJA credits and what Chancellor Merkel said about "multikult is dead". And second, what you call eastern philosophies are in fact religions, and since I don't want to talk about politics and religion -at least not on I will debate with you no more.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    @mcris:  You make some very germane and thought-provoking points about the ultimate source of our identities; thank you for bringing this up.

    I think one need not deny their own cultural heritage or the caleidoscope (nice word!) of peoples who live in this world in order to feel unbound by identities and labels.  Those labels can still be useful to point to specific customs and behaviors, and geographic places in the world -- but without the strong attachment that they usually carry along.  It is that automatic attachment (to a label or identity) that blinds many people to our humanity as a source of commonality.  True, that attachment has a strong pull, because many of us have been conditioned with certain beliefs (in labels and identities) virtually from the time we were born.  But with enough awareness, we can gradually change that conditioning and over time also reduce the conditioning on our own kids -- thanks to both our free will and our increasingly deeper understanding of our common humanity.  (Readers who are interested in the issue of overcoming attachments can read more, e.g., in Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr.'s book on "The Five Levels of Attachment" -- it's quite accessible and also illuminating in many ways.)

    For example, I come from Bulgaria (though I display the international flag), I now live in the US, I like Indian food, and appreciate my Chinese friends, I enjoy listening to Russian broadcasts on chess, I like French chansons and German soccer, I admire the natural beauty of South America and the Pacific islands, and I appreciate the depth of Eastern philosophies.  See, that's qualitatively different from "I am X, X is great, and everything that's not X is inferior" (which would be an extreme version of how a label can infect a person's mind and poison their relationships).  

    One can start by acknowledging and celebrating diversity, which leads to more peace among all of us.  Peace to all!

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    isauro2013's comment sure doesn't help keep the things out of politics. Especially when it sounds so provocative...

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    @gauranga: Team spirit is not evil, probably you have not ever heard of fair-play. Also see my updated last post.

  • 3 év ezelőtt


    It is hard to believe that chess is not politics when you see the flag of every player posted on the table in all the big tournaments .... as a matter of fact ... it is also done on this website.

    BUT, I am ok with people knowing that i am from Canada.

    Therefore, whether it is discouraged or not (see above from request from Mr Doggers) ... there will always be political discussion when chess is involved ... 

    I am not saying this is good.  Just that it is  ... can we change that ?  Maybe ...  i for one would like to try ... but i feel that i am outnumbered in this one.  Lets play chess ... regardless of political or  religious belief ... we all love the game and this gives us more in common than separates us.

    ps even though Valentin's request may be "in-vain", it is only when these ideas are brought up and discussed that they are possible. I like his ideas and thoughts.

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