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Monday, December 16, 2013

Vladimir Liberzon

     Liberzon was born in Moscow on March 23, 1937 and emigrated to Israel in 1973. He graduated from an engineering college and claimed never to have been a professional chess player. Liberzon was the first grandmaster from the Soviet Union who was allowed to emigrate to Israel in 1973 and became Israel's first grandmaster.
     Known for his disciplined professionalism, Liberzon played in several Soviet championships, his best result being fourth at the 36th Championship, Alma-Ata 1968/69. Other results were less notable; his first entry led to a lowly finish at Tbilisi 1966/67, but he achieved solid mid-table performances at Moscow 1969 and at Riga 1970.
     He was first in the Central Chess Club Championship in Moscow in 1963, 1964, and 1965, fourth at Kislovodsk 1964, fifth at Yerevan 1965, second at Leipzig 1965, first at Zinnowitz 1967, first at Debrecen 1968, second at Amsterdam 1969, third at Dubna 1971 and third equal at Luhačovice.
     After moving to Israel he scored well in international tournaments finishing first at Venice 1974, first at Lone Pine 1975, second equal at Netanya 1975, second equal at Reykjavík 1975, first equal at Beer-Sheva 1976, first equal at Netanya 1977, 3rd at Amsterdam 1977, first equal at Lone Pine 1979, and fourth equal at Beer-Sheva 1984.
     He was a leading member of the Israeli teams in the Olympiads between 1974 and 1980. During his career he scored victories over Mikhail Tal, Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian. Botvinnik was luckier; twice he barely escaped defeat.
     For many years Liberzon worked as a chess trainer and authored two chess books in Hebrew. In one of his books he posed the question, "What is the best variation of Alekhine's Defense?" Answer: "They are all bad." Liberzon was not considered a cultured man and William Hartston tells the story that when he first met Liberzon in a tournament in Iceland in 1974, Liberzon walked over to him before they had been introduced, grinned broadly and asked Hartston in Russian: "Do you speak Hebrew?" Hartston replied "nyet", but told him that he did speak a little Russian. Liberzon then told Hartston that people with noses as big as his usually spoke Hebrew. Liberzon spent the rest of the tournament telling Hartston dirty jokes in Russian.
     Liberzon died in 1997 at the age of 59.
     His opponent in this game is FM Robert Sulman (born 1961) who is a USCF Life Master (meaning he played over 300 rated games and maintained a rating over 2200) who had a rating high of 2406 in 1992, but it has since fallen below 2200.
     This 1979 tournament held from the 25th of March to the 4th of April was the ninth in the series of annual events. The lead changed hands a number of times in this nine round Swiss Tournament but in the end four players; Liberzon, Gheorghiu, Gligoric and Hort shared top honors. They each received $8,875 and Gligoric and Liberzon made history by becoming the first players to win twice at Lone Pine.
     Liberzon was the sole winner of the 1975 event and Gligoric was a joint winner in the 1972 event. Hans Ree could have joined the leaders but an oversight in a winning rook ending against Sahovic in the last round cost him a GM norm and dropped him into the group which included Larsen, Gruenfeld, Lombardy, Sahovic and Sosonko. They each received $1008.
     Another notable performance in this tournament was that of 19-year-old Yasser Seirawan who played all four winners and in the process he defeated Miles and Larsen as well. Seirawan and the four winners scored the only GM results. Seirawan, along with DeFirmian and van der Sterren earnt IM titles. Morris, Bradford, Peters and Odendahl achieved IM norms and Root and Strauss achieved FM norms. Oleg Romanishin and Vitaly Tseshkovsky were slated to play but when it was discovered that Korchnoi would also be playing the Soviet authorities cancelled their entries.
     Top finishers were:

Florin Gheorghiu 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5) Svetozar Gligoric 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5) Vladimir Mikhailovich Liberzon 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5) Vlastimil Hort 6.5/9 (+4 -0 =5)

Bent Larsen 6/9 (+4 -1 =4) Hans Ree 6/9 (+4 -1 =4) Dragutin Sahovic 6/9 (+5 -2 =2) William James Lombardy 6/9 (+3 -0 =6) Gennady Sosonko 6/9 (+3 -0 =6) Yehuda Gruenfeld 6/9 (+4 -1 =4)

Mark Diesen 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Samuel Reshevsky 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Julio P Kaplan 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) John A Peters 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Walter D Morris 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Arthur Bisguier 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Viktor Korchnoi 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) Anatoly Lein 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) James E Tarjan 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) Ludek Pachman 5.5/9 (+4 -2 =3) Yasser Seirawan 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5) Leonid Alexandrovich Shamkovich 5.5/9 (+3 -1 =5)

Anthony Miles 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Helgi Olafsson 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Peter Biyiasas 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Gert Ligterink 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Gudmundur Sigurjonsson 5/9 (+2 -1 =6) Pal Benko 5/9 (+3 -2 =4) Nick DeFirmian 5/9 (+3 -2 =4)

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