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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Igor Bondarevsky

     Igor Bondarevsky (May 12, 1913 - June 14, 1979 was a Soviet GM in both over-the-board and correspondence chess, an International Arbiter, trainer and chess author. 
     He first came into prominence in 1936 when he finished at the top of the USSR tournament of first category players and won a number of games with excellent tactical style. Later in his career, like Salo Flohr, he began leaning towards purely technical lines and the stunning tactics of old were rarely seen. The result was a lot of dull draws and a sharp decline in his tournament results.
     Bondarevsky made comparatively few international appearances. At Moscow 1937, his first international event, he struggled and scored only 2.5-4.5 and finished tied 7-8th place; the winner was Reuben Fine.  The year 1937 was Fine's most successful.  He finished first at a small tournament in Leningrad with a 4-1 score ahead of Levenfish who had shared first in that year's Soviet Championship.  He then scored 5-2 in Moscow.  Those two small tournaments made him a member of a small group of foreigners who had won tournaments in Russia.
     For an interesting anecdote about Fine at Moscow in 1937 see Edward Winter's Chess Note 7053, Fine v. Yudovich
     In Bondarevsky's first Soviet Championship in 1937 he shared 10th-12th place, but his play steadily improved which each successive Soviet tournament as he added to his positional understanding. 
     At the very strong international Leningrad-Moscow event in 1939, his performance was disappointing as he only scored 5-12 and finished in 17th place. 
     After his poor performance at Leningrad-Moscow, Bondarevsky was back in form for the 11th USSR Championship at Leningrad 1939. He joined the Soviet elite by placing sixth at the with 10-7 score which qualified him for the final. In 1940, in the USSR Championship, he produced many brilliant games and tied for first with Lilienthal ahead of many of the country’s most prominent players.
     Botvinnik was not happy with his poor showing in the 1940 event and was afraid it would have a bad effect on his chances for a match against Alekhine, so in 1941 he finagled a match-tournament for the title of Absolute USSR Champion between the top six finishers of the 12th final. Botvinnik won that additional event with the runner-up being Keres followed Boleslavsky, Smyslov, Lilienthal and Bondarevsky in last place. 
     Bondarevsky played in the 1948 Interzonal and qualified for the Candidates Tournament at Budapest 1950, which earned him the GM title. However, he was unable to play in Budapest because of illness. Thereafter he played in very few tournaments, a notable result being his second place behind Svetozar Gligoric at Hastings 1960/61
     In 1954 Bondarevsky was awarded the title of International Referee and he played an active role in Soviet chess as a member of the USSR Chess Federation.  He authored one book, Soviet Chess Players in the United States, Britain and Sweden as well as many chess articles in Soviet magazines.
     Bondarevsky coached Boris Spassky during his ascent to the World Chess Championship, beginning in the early 1960s, culminating with Spassky's win over Tigran Petrosian in the 1969 title match. He was married to WGM Valentina Kozlovskaya
Mrs. Bondarevsky

     The below scoresheet is from the 31th USSR Championship, Leningrad 1963, from the game Bondarevsky – Spassky. It’s signed by the players and one of the arbiters . 

     The following game against Kotov was Bondarevsky’s “Immortal” in which he played a brilliant five move mate. 

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