Chess general manager Evgeny Sveshnikov, creator of variations, dies at 71

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Besides having a mountain, figure skating movement, or disease named after you, perhaps the surest way to ensure that your legacy never dies is to have your name inscribed on a chess opening. .

Caro and Kann, Richter and Rauzer, Grob and Grunfeld – all are immortalized in chess circles today for the first lines bearing their names than for the games they played. Torquemada may have been the driving force behind the Spanish Inquisition, but Ruy Lopez is the far more famous Spanish prelate of the time, according to Google hits.

He was a good player and a senior world champion, but we can probably add Russian Latvian general manager Evgeny Sveshnikov – who died on August 18 at the age of 71 – to this list, due to his explorations of a sharp Sicilian line of defense that now bears his name. Some call the ideas that Sveshnikov and his fellow Russian GM Gennadi Timoshchenko pursued in this double-edged line among the latest major advancements in modern game opening theory, not just for its characteristic 5 … e5 push (an idea that has been around since a long time while) but for the rich game system that the two men have developed around this single idea.

The greatest tribute to Sveshnikov’s work is the long line of great players who have made him part of their repertoire, including world champions Garry Kasparov and Magnus Carlsen.

It looks like Mr. Watson in Alexander Graham Bell’s next room is playing on the debut “Sveshnikov Sveshnikov”, a 1967 victory over aspiring Hungarian star Andras Adorjan. Black accepts a gaping hole on d5 and a back evil pawn for a positional counterplay. Although the theory now strongly favors 9… gxf6, Svenshikov still manages to get a good layer on file f, while that back d-pawn proves to be a difficult nut to crack.

In the end, Adorjan can’t even give up on the swap to ease the pressure, as the g-file opened and the two black crazies and ladies can’t be contained.

As is often the case, Sveshnikov only played a handful of matches with his powerful new system, once noting that his rival from a USSR championship refused to play 1.e4 for fear of falling. bump into that opening jigsaw. He recovered a notable scalp in the 1978 Soviet title tournament – longtime GM Efim Geller.

One of the attractions of the Svehsnikov is that it virtually guarantees precise play and the Geller shock is no exception. The game here is of the highest order tactics, and the outcome is uncertain until the very end. It’s the veteran who finally cracks after Black offers a daring trade sacrifice: 28. Nf4 Kxf4 !? 29. gxf4 Nf3 + 30. gxf3 Bxc4 31. Qxe4 Bxb3 32. Tb1 T8 33. Rxa5 d5 34. T1 ?? (misses a trick; a justified draw was the probable result after 34. Qxe8 +! Qxe8 35. Qxb3 Qg6 + 36. Qf1 Qd3 +) Qg6 + !, and Black wins by a stroke of 35. Qxg6 Qxe1 + 36. Qd2 hxg6, and he there is no longer a companion of lower rank.

Russian general manager Vladimir Kramnik is another world champion to integrate the Svenshnikov into his arsenal. The richness of the variation can be seen in the brilliant tilt between Kramnik and Hungarian GM star Peter Leko at the Linares 2004 tournament.

Kramink’s winning ploy is fantastic, surpassing White’s ingenious defense with an even bolder attacking idea: 32. Rad7 (see diagram) Rh5! 33. T7d6 Bf6 34. Rxf6! Qc2 !! 35. Qxh5 Qxe2 36. g4 Qf2 +, and White resigns against 37. Kh1 Qxf3 + 38. Kg1 Qxd1 + 39. Kg2 Qxg4 + 40. Qxg4 Qxg4 + 41. Kf1 Qf3 + 42. Ke1 Qf2 + 43. Rd1 Qd2 mat.

Adorjan-Sveshnikov, Hungary-Russia match, Budapest, 1967

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 Dxf6 10. Nd5 Qd8 11. c4 Ne7 12. Fe2 Nxd5 13. cxd5 g6 14. Nc2 Bh6 15. OO OO 16. Dd3 f5 17. f3 Bd7 18. Nb4 Qc7 19. a3 Rf7 20. Kh1 Db6 21. b3 Raf8 22. Ra2 Dd8 23. g3 fxe4 24. fxe4 Qe8 25. Bf3 Bh3 26. Raf2 g5 27. g4 Bxg4 28. Kg2 Qd7 29. Kg3 Bh3 30. Bh5 Kf4 31. Rxf4 gxf4 + 32. Kf3 Qg7 White resigns.

Geller-Sveshnikov, 46th USSR Championship, Tbilisi, Georgia, December 1978

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Nd5 Be7 10. Bxf6 Bxf6 11. c3 OO 12. Nc2 Bg5 13. a4 bxa4 14. Txa4 a5 15. Bc4 Rb8 16. b3 Kh8 17. OO f5 18. exf5 Bxf5 19. De2 Qd7 20. Nce3 Be6 21. Td1 Bd8 22. Ra2 Qf7 23. Dd3 Qh5 24. Nf1 e4 25. Qc2 Bh4 26. Ng3 Bxg3 27. hxg3 Ne5 28. Nf4 Rxf4 29. gxf4 Nf3 + 30. gxf3 Bxc4 31. Qxe4 Bxb3 32. Rb1 Te8 33. Txa5 d5 34. Re1 Qg6 + White resigns.

Leko-Kramnik, Linares International Chess Tournament, Linares, Spain, February 2004

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5 f5 11. Bd3 Be6 12. OO Bxd5 13. exd5 Ne7 14. Qh5 e4 15. Fe2 Bg7 16. c3 Tc8 17. Nc2 Tc5 18. Ne3 f4 19. Nf5 OO 20. a4 Nxf5 21. Qxf5 Qe7 22. axb5 axb5 23. Qxf4 Txd5 24. Tfd1 Re5 25. Qe3 26 . Qb6 f4 27. Qxd6 Qg5 28. f3 e3 29. Ra7 Kh8 30. Qd7 Tg8 31. Qh3 Qg6 32. Rad7 Rh5 33. R7d6 Bf6 34. Rxf6 Qc2 35. Qxh5 Qxe2 36. g4 Qf2 + White resigns.

• David R. Sands can be reached at 202 / 636-3178 or by email at [email protected]

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