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Friday, February 4, 2011

Fedir Bohatirchuk

Fedir Bohatirchuk (born 14 November 1892 in Kiev, Ukraine - died 4 September 1984, Ottawa, Canada) was an International Master in both OTB and Correspondence Chess. He was also a medical doctor (radiologist), political activist and chess writer. As a youth, he occasionally traveled to tournaments with Chigorin who strongly influenced his style and openings.
     In 1911, he won at Kiev then in February 1914, he lost an exhibition game against Capablanca at Kiev and then finished 3rd in the tournament. In July/August 1914, he tied for 6th–10th at Mannheim. It was at this event that Bohatirchuk, along with 10 other "Russian" players from the interrupted Mannheım tournament, was interned by Germany after the declaration of war against Russia at the outbreak of World War I. In September 1914, Bohatirchuk, Saburov, and Koppelman were freed and allowed to return home.
     Bohatirchuk played in six USSR Chess Championships: 1923, 1924, 1927, 1931, 1933, and 1934. In 1923, he tied for 3rd–5th at Petrograd, the 2nd USSR Championship. In 1924, he took 2nd, behind Vilner, at Kiev and in 1924, he tied for 3rd–4th at Moscow at the 3rd USSR Championship.
     In 1925, he took 11th of 21 at Moscow. This great tournament was won by Bogoljubov, followed by Lasker, Capablanca, and Marshall. According to Chessmetrics.com. Bohatirchuk scored a 2628 performance at this event.
     Other notable successes were:

1927, won at Kiev and tied for 1st–2nd with Romanovsky at Moscow (5th USSR Ch.)
1929, won at Kiev.
1931, tied for 3rd–6th at Moscow (7th USSR Ch.
1933, 1st in the Moscow (Quadrangular)
1933 8th at Leningrad (8th USSR Ch.)
1934/1935, tied for 3rd–4th at Leningrad (9th USSR Ch.)
1935, tied for 16th–17th at Moscow. This event was won by Botvinnik and Flohr, but Bohatirchuk beat Botvinnik in their individual game. Bohatirchuk wrote in his autobiography that after this game the head of the Soviet chess delegation, Minister of Justice Nikolai Krylenko, told him, "You will never beat Botvinnik again.” Bohatirchuk never played Botvinnik again, and had a record of 3 =1 –0 against Botvinnik. Because of this incident he was not invited to the Moscow International the following year. He also had problems in Kiev in 1937 also because some young gifted chess players, Konstantinopolsky, Pogrebyssky and Polyak published an article against Bohatirchuk in a main Ukrainian newspaper Communist of Ukraine. The main point of the article was that Bohatirchuk, being a head of Ukrainian chess organization, spent too much money building the city chess club, but spent little time "working with youth", etc. As a result he did not engage in much chess activity and concentrated on his medical research.

1936, 3rd at Kiev (8th Ukrainian SSR Ch.)
1937, 1st at Kiev (the 9th Ukrainian Championship
1938, 2nd at Kiev (USSR Ch. semi-final)

During the Russian Civil War Bohatirchuck was employed by a military hospital, and was a professor of anatomy at the Institute of Physical Education and Sport in Kiev.  As a doctor in 1940, Bohatirchuk was sent to a German medical research facility when Kiev fell to the Nazis in September 1941. During World War 2 he was a head of the Ukrainian Red Cross.
     While working with the Red Cross Bohatyrchuk did a lot to help the Soviet prisoners of war kept in the German camps in extremely harsh conditions. These activities irritated the Germans, and in February 1942 Bohatirchuk was arrested and spent about a month in a Gestapo detention centre in Kiev. There is some evidence that during that time he provided a cover to a Jewish female employee (a sister of the Kiev chess player Boris Ratner), thereby saving her from execution or deportation to a ghetto. At a later stage of the War, though, Bohatirchuk became a Nazi collaborator and when the Soviet army forced the Germans from Kiev, Bohatirchuk and his family fled to Cracow then Prague in 1944.
     There he joined the Committee for Freedom of Peoples in Russia, a Nazi-sponsored, semi-military organization headed by the Nazi collaborationist Russian general Vlasov who’s troops participated on the German side. He was also the leader of a Nazi-sponsored project called the Ukrainian National Council. As a result of these activities, Bohatirchuk was persona non grata in the Soviet Union and they removed many of his games from their official records.

1944, 2nd, behind Bogoljubow at Raom and drew a match against Stephan Popel.  I have done a post on Popel HERE.
1944, played an 8-game training series against local players (including the well known names of Kottnauer, Pachman and Podgorny) scoring +7 =1 –0.

     After WW2, as the German armies were retreating, Bohatirchuk moved to a number of cities before finally ending up in the American controlled city of Bayreuth in May, 1945. For a time he lived in Muncih and played in a number of German tournaments under as assumed name in order to avoid repatriation to the USSR.

1946, he won the Klaus Junge Memorial at Regensburg ahead of Elmars Zemgalis and Unzicker.
1947, 3rd at Kirchheim-Teck and finished 4th a Stuttgart
     After the end of WW2, the USA, UK, and Canada chose to give asylum to numerous Nazi collaborators from Eastern Europe with Canada accepting many Ukrainian collaborators. The reason for offering asylum to many of the people was because they had advanced scientific knowledge which was of interest to the western powers.
     While living in Canada he played in three Canadian championships. In 1949, he took 2nd at Arvida ahead of the strong Canadian players, Abe Yanofsky, Frank Anderson and Povilas Vaitonis.
1951, tied for 3rd-4th places at Vancouver
1954, represented Canada at the Chess Olympics
1955, tied for 3rd–5th at Ottawa

     In 1954 FIDE awarded him the title of IM. His earlier achievements were sufficient for the GM title but the Soviets blocked this for political reasons and he was awarded the IM title as a compromise.
     In his seventies he took up CC and won the Canadian CC championship twice as well as playing 1st board for the Canadian CC team in the Correspondence Chess Olympiad from 1962–1965. He was awarded the CC IM title in 1967 by the ICCF. He continued to play correspondence chess until age 85.
     Chess historian Edward Winter has a very interesting article on chess and politics about Bohatirchuck and Ludek Pachman HERERalph Marconi has also written an interesting brief bio of Bohatirchuck HERE.
     Here is a link to a viewable game with Bohatirchuck’s notes of the game he won from Botvinnik at Moscow in 1935:  LINK

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