Sochi and Chess
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, located on the Back Sea near the border between Soviet Georgia and Russia. It is Russia’s largest resort city and home of the XXII Winter Olympics in 2014. It is also famous for great chess tournaments, such as the Chigorin Memorial.
In 1937, Joseph Stalin (1878-1953) had a villa built in Sochi, complete with pool table, movie theater, and an oversized chess set. His chess set is still on display in what is now the Green Grove sanatorium and museum. Stalin enjoyed playing chess in his summer residence in Sochi.
In 1950, David Bronstein (1924-2006) gave a simultaneous display in Sochi. One of his games went like this:
Bronstein – NN, Simul in Sochi, 1950
1.e4 e5 2.d4 exd4 3.Qxd4 Nc6 4.Qa4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d5 6.Bg5 dxe4 7.Nxe4 Qe7 8.O-O-O Qxe4 9.Rd8+ and Black resigned 1-0
In May-June 1952, the semi-finals of the 20th USSR championship was held in Sochi and won by Vladimir Simagin (1919-1968). 15 years later, he would tie at the 7th Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In June 1958, Sochi was the site of the 18th Russian (RSFSR) chess championship. It was won by Rashid Nezhmetdinov (1912-1974). 2nd-4th went to Viktor Korchnoi, Lev Polugaevsky, and Semyon Furman.
In the 1950s, Sochi built a pavilion for chess and other table games.
In July 1961, the “Burevestnik” club championship was held in Sochi. Vladimir Liberzon and Vasily Bivshev tied for 1st place.
In 1963, the “Spartak” club championship was held in Sochi. It was a three-way tie between Semyon Furman, Anaatoly Lutikov, and Anatoly Bannik.
In 1963, the Chigorin Memorial, a chess tournament played in honor of Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908), was established as a major event in Sochi. The event was held in Sochi from 1963 to 1990, when the event returned to St. Petersburg.
In June 1963, the first Chigorin Memorial held in Sochi (3rd Chigorin Memorial) was won by Lev Polugaevsky (1934-1995), followed by Vasily Smyslov (1921-2010).
In 1964, Nikolia Krogius won the 4th Chigorin Memorial, held in Sochi. 2nd-3rd went to Ratmir Kholmov and Mato Damjanovic. Boris Spassky took 4th place.
In 1965, the “Dinamo” club championship was held in Sochi. The event was won by Viktor Boiarinov.
In August-September 1965, Boris Spassky and Wolfgang Unzicker tied for first at the 5th Chigorin Memorial, held in Sochi. Spassky also spent a session playing blindfolded with 8 of Sochi’s strongest chess players.
In 1966, Viktor Korchnoi won the 6th Chigorin Memorial, held in Sochi. Lev Polugaevsky took 2nd place. Boris Spassky tied for 5th-6th place with Anaoly Lein.
In 1967, there was a 5-way tie at the 7th Chigorin Memorial in Sochi. Tied for first were Boris Spassky, Leonid Shamkovich, Nikolia Krogius, Vladimir Simagin, and Alexander Zaitsev.
In 1968, Sochi was the host city for the USSR vs. Yugoslavia match. The Soviet won 30.5 to 17.5. Some of the Soviet players included Efim Geller, David Bronstein, and a young Anatoly Karpov.
In 1970, a Grandmasters vs Young Masters match was held in Sochi. The grandmasters won by the score of 51.5 to 46.5. The grandmasters included Mikhail Tal, Leonid Stein, Alexey Suetin, Leonid Shamkovich, Vladimir Liberzon, and Viktor Korchnoi. The young masters included, Gennady Kuzmin, Vladimir Tukmakov, Viktor Kupreichik, Boris Gulko, Rafael Vaganian, and Alexander Beliavsky.
In May 1972, Boris Spassky spent some of his time preparing for the world chess championship match with Bobby Fischer in Sochi. Anatoly Karpov was also there to assist.
In 1973, Tal won the Chigorin Memorial, held in Sochi.
In 1974, Lev Polugaevsky won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1976, Polugaevsky and Evgeny Sveshnikov tied at the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1977, Mikhail Tal won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1979, Nukhim Rashkovsky won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In the early 1980s, Womand Grandmaster Elena Donaldson-Akhmilovskaya (1957-2012) lived and trained in Sochi.
In 1981, Vitaly Tseshkovsky won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1982, Mikhail Tal won the Chigorin Memorial, held in Sochi.
In 1983, Sveshnikov and Anatoly Vaisser won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1984, Georgy Agzamov won the Chigorin Memorial, held in Sochi.
In 1985, Sveshnikov won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1986, Svetozar Gligoric, Alexander Beliavsky, and Rafael Vaganian tied for 1st at the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1986, the Soviet Junior championship was held in Sochi, won by Ivanchuk.
In Octiber 1987, Sergey Smagin, Evgeny Pigusov, and Andrei Kharitonov tied for 1st at the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi. The festival in Sochi also included an international women’s tournament.
In 1987, Sochi made a bid to host the world chess championship for $1 million.
In 1988, Sergey Dolamtov won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1989, Alexey Vyzmanavin won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 1990, Vadim Ruban won the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi.
In 2007, former world chess champion Vladimir Kramnik was on the committee to support Russia’s bid to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
In 2007, the Russian Team Championship was held in Sochi.
In 2008, a Grand Prix event was held in Sochi. The event was won by Levon Aronian, followed by Temour Radjabov, Wang Yue, and Gata Kamsky.
In 2012, the 19th Russian Team championship was held in Sochi.
In April 2013, the 20th Russian Team championship was held in Sochi.
In 2013, FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhino told a press conference of his intention to submit chess as a demonstration sport for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Like chess boxing, I think they should combine chess with skiing, or chess and ice hockey.
One of the torchbearers of the 2014 Winter Olympics was 14-year-old Dinara Dordzhieva, one of the leading teenage chess players in the world. He participated in Russian, European, and world championship events. He was the youngest torchbearer for the Winter Olympics.
In February 2014, former world champion Garry Kasparov compared Sochi 2014 and Putin to Berlin 1936 and Hitler. He later wrote, “I hope the journalists in Sochi complaining about a lack of doorknobs and WIFI, pay as much attentions to the lack of free speech and elections.”
World chess champion Magnus Carlsen attended the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and was a guest on several TV shows.