First Grandmaster of the Soviet Union

A Chess Biography of Boris Verlinsky
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Born in Bakhmut, Ukraine, and brought up in Odessa, Boris Verlinsky (1888-1950) was the first holder of the grandmaster title in the Soviet Union, and he was consistently one of the top Soviet players in the 1920s.

He earned the master’s title at the 1924 Soviet Championship and won fourth prize at the 1925 Championship, defeating the tournament winner Bogoljubov along the way. Verlinsky then crushed Capablanca at the 1925 Moscow International Tournament, where he finished twelfth equal with Rubinstein and Spielmann, both of whom he also beat. He won the Soviet Championship in 1929, for which he was awarded the grandmaster title, and came third in 1931 despite poor health. Verlinsky played in five Soviet Championship finals in total. He also won a number of other major Tsarist and Soviet-era tournaments, including the Southern Russia Championship, Odessa Championship, Ukrainian Championship, Moscow Championship and others. Moreover, he achieved all this despite being profoundly deaf.

According to the Chessmetrics website, Verlinsky’s highest world ranking was #15 in 1926, and that year he achieved his highest rating of 2627.Verlinsky possessed a sharp attacking style. As Grandmaster Dmitry Kryakvin highlights in his foreword, “I think that this great attacking player was way ahead of his time, and in his best years he played spectacular, beautiful, dynamic and modern chess more characteristic of the famous players of the second half of the twentieth century. As you study Verlinsky’s brilliant victories, you think of the masterpieces of Mikhail Tal, Leonid Stein, Viktor Kupreichik, Alexei Shirov, and other modern successors of the ‘Fire-On-Board’ dynasty.”

Ukrainian historian and former world champion at composing chess studies Sergei Tkachenko presents a comprehensive biography of this unique player. This book analyzes 130 games and fragments, in which opponents include Capablanca, Alekhine, Botvinnik, Bronstein, Bogoljubov, Spielmann and other stars. The games are frequently annotated by Verlinsky or his opponents and contemporaries, and they have all been reviewed using modern engines by grandmasters or international masters especially for this work.


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Publication date:
October 02, 2023
Number of pages:
629 gram

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