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Friday, May 31, 2019

Abram Khasin - Nonagenarian

     Abram Iosifovich Khasin was born on February 15, 1923 and is the world's oldest master on the FIDE active list...his last rated game was played in June of 2015. 

Further reading:
# Today's 90 Year Olds Are Mentally Sharper Than Their Predecessors  
# How To Keep Your Brain Young  
# Brutal Truths About The Aging Brain 

     Khasin was awarded the IM title in 1964 and the Correspondence GM title in 1972. Currently his FIDE rating is 2318. Chessmetrics estimates his highest rating was in 1969 at a hefty 2625 placing him at number 45 in the world.
     Khasin was born in Zaporozhye in the Ukraine, but his parents soon moved to Kiev, the capital and most populous city of Ukraine. He taught himself to play chess at the rather later age of 16 and joined the Pioneers’ Palace where Bronstein and other famous players trained. His progress was rapid and he was soon playing at the Candidate Master (2125-2250) level. 
     In 1941 he qualified for the finals in the Kiev City Championship, but the tournament was not finished because of the war and the Khasin family was evacuated. Khasin volunteered to go to the front where he served in a mortar division. 
     In December 1942, he was severely wounded in Stalingrad and was hospitalized suffering from wounds which resulted in both legs being amputated. If that wasn’t bad enough, he was suffering from frostbite, pneumonia, blood infection and other illnesses. 
     After the war, Khasin graduated from the institute of foreign languages and went to work in a school as a teacher of English. He continued to play chess and became one of the USSR’s strongest players. Khasin often participated in Moscow’s championships and performed well. He qualified for the final USSR championship five times. Gradually he abandoned play and focused on teaching.
     In 1968 he was recognized as a trainer in the USSR and taught chess in the Central Chess Club, the Pioneers’ Palace and the chess faculty of a sports school that was attended by talented children from all over the country. Among his pupils were Olga Rubtsova, Elena Fatalibekova, Yuri Razuvaev, Boris Gulko and Evgeny Bareev. Since 2002, Khasin has been living with his family in Essen, Germany. 
     Khasin was Bronstein’s victim in a celebrated game from the 1957 USSR Championship in a game that has been praised for Bronstein’s unusual 25th move.  

White to play
    Kirby, writing in Chess World in 1957, called Bronstein's 25 Qa3 "the most remarkable, the most unbelievable winning move in chess. Believe it or not, Russian analysis has shown that it is the only clearly winning move.” 
     Bronstein’s explanation was that Khasin had a weak nervous system, so he decided to sac the Pawn because he knew that this was his best winning chance against an emotionally unstable opponent. 
     It’ not clear to me why 25.Qa3 was singled out as the winning move except that it was “unusual.” According to Stockfish it was indeed a do-nothing move in a position that was quite equal after Khasin grabbed the c-Pawn with 25...Bxc4.
     But...here’s the big reveal...Stockfish evaluates the position after Bronstein’s 26.f4 as being at least -1.50, so it’s strongly in black’s favor. White should have played 26.Bf3 or even 26.Ne5?! 
     Khasin went badly astray on move 28. After the moves 25.Qa3 Bxc4 26.f4 g4 27.e4 Bd4+ 28.Bf2 Bxf2+?? white is better, but it took further mistakes by Khasin to lose. Correct was 28...b5!! and it’s black who has a winning attack. 
     Of course in those days they didn’t have engines and in many cases the game was annotated based more on the result than anything else. 
     The following game was played in the third World Senior Championship. The first three were all held in Bad Wildbad, Germany. Originally, the age limit was 60 years for the men, and 50 for the women. 
     Since 2014, the Senior Championship is split in two different age categories with consequently two male and two female titles: 50+ and 65+. The championship is an eleven-round Swiss and is open tournament. A separate women's tournament is held if there are enough participants (at least 10 women from four different FIDE zones). The men's winner is awarded the title of GM; the women's winner receives the Woman GM title. 
    So far only two World Champions have won the Senior title: Vasily Smyslov for the men and Nona Gaprindashvili for the women. The loser of this game, Evgeny Vasiukov, won the title in 1995. 

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