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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Cut From the Same Cloth

    My book on Rashid Nezhmetdinov, Super Nezh by Alex Pishkin, has an interesting commentary by the author. He wondered what would have happened had Nezhmetdinov (December 15, 1912 – June 3, 1974) been born 50 years later. Could he have played the same creative masterpieces for which he was famous?
     Pishkin speculates that had Nezhmetdinov been born in the 1960s he might have been recognized as having had enough talent to attend Botvinnik's chess school as did Kasparov. He might have had better playing conditions and coaching and access to chess literature. And there is no doubt he would have been recognized as a Grandmaster. But, it's unlikely he would have been the same player.
     Pishkin observed that today results are what matters and creativity and improvisation are absent. Ratings and money are what's important. According to Pishkin tournament organizers prefer packing their event with mediocre players with a high rating rather than Don Quixotes. 
    It's been that way for a long time. I can remember Nicolas Rossolimo complaining that even though he won many brilliancy and best-game prizes (which if memory serves included some 8 or so with Queen sacs), when he tried to publish a book of his best games publishers weren't interested because his rating was not that high and he didn't score points. I sort of understand decisions made by publisher's. Does anybody even buy game collections and tournament books anymore? And if they do, are they going to buy those of long forgotten players and tournaments? Do they want notes written by the players telling us what their reasoning was and what was going through their head, or do readers prefer sanitized computer generated notes that are examples of absolutely perfect chess?
     It's Pishkin's opinion that players like Nehmetdinov, Alexander Tolush, Vladimir Simagin and later Viktor Kupreichik wouldn't survive long in today's chess world. I am familiar with the others mentioned by Pishkin, but Viktor Kupreichik? I know nothing about him. 
     He was a Belarusian GM who was born in Minsk on July 3, 1949 and passed away in Minsk at the early age of 68 on May 22, 2017. Like some of those just mentioned his peak rating was “only” 2580 back in July 1981.

     Known for his fighting chess, he would often grab the early lead but then run out of steam and end up with a modest finish. In the 1979 and 1980 Soviet Championships he won his first five games and then collapsed finishing a modest 6th on both occasions.
     GM Alex Yermolinsky admitted that he was one of Kupreichik's fans from an early age. As Yermolinsky put it. “... the old, tired names of the likes of Geller, Smyslov, Korchnoi and Petrosian, did not excite me. I wanted a new wave of chess talent to come and sweep them away. I followed the games of Balashov, Sveshnikov, Timoschenko, Averkin, Gulko and Vaganian, and rooted for their success.” His description of Kupreichik's style was “swashbuckling” and added that they were “a breath of fresh air we all could use after feeling burned-out by the modern game that values the result and result alone.” Bent Larsen said Kupreichick was one of the best player ever and John Donaldson wrote that Kupreichik enjoyed the reputation as a caveman attacker. I never knew that about him.
     There is a paperback book authored by Gene McCormick that's advertised on Amazon titled The Games of Viktor Kupreichik. There are two used available. The price is $1,130.32 if you buy it from some place called Chris's Bargains and a seller named Moonlit City is asking $3,617.02. Supposedly both books are in good condition and both offer free shipping. Any takers?
     Playing over several of Kupreichik's games begs the question, how did it happen that I never noticed this guy's games?


  1. Nice article. http://www.chessgames.com/perl/ezsearch.pl?search=kupreichik

  2. collections pinpointing his strong attacking games.


  3. Kupreichik's 2580 in 1981 would have made him the #24 rated player in the world. Not too bad. Today the #24 player is Wei Yi, rated around 2730. So rating inflation makes Kupreichik look less successful than he actually was.