Eduard Gufeld

by Bill Wall

Eduard (Eddie) Efimovich Gufeld was born in Kiev in the Ukraine on March 19, 1936. His mother was Eva Yulievna. He had one sister, Lydia.

He played in his first chess tournament in 1953 at the age of 17.

In 1954, he won the Ukrainian junior chess championship.

He moved to the Tbilisi in the Republic of Georgia and lived there for more many years. He became the trainer of Maya Chiburdanidze. She became the youngest women's world chess champion in 1978. He later became coach and trainer of the USSR Olympiad Chess team.

By 1956 he was playing in many Tbilisi chess tournaments.

In 1957 he played in the Armed Forces Chess League, and continued to play in this league for almost 20 years.

He first competed in the Soviet Semi-Finals chess championship in 1958, taking 4th place. He later joined the Russian army.

He competed in his first USSR chess championship (26th USSR Championship) in 1959 and held in Tbilisi, ending up in 12th-13th place with Bronstein.

In 1960 he took 14th place in the 27th USSR championship in Leningrad.

In 1961 he took 14th place in the 28th USSR championship in Moscow.

In 1962 he played in the World Student Chess Olympiad in Marianske Lazne.

In 1963 he took 7th place in the 31st USSR chess championship in Leningrad with 6 wins, 10 draws, and 3 losses. He would play in a total of 8 USSR chess championships.

He became an International Master in 1964 after competing in tournaments in Baku and Sarajevo. He was one of the top 50 players in the world at the time and playing at Grandmaster strength.

In 1965 he took 15th-17th place in the 33rd USSR championship in Tallinn.

In 1966 he took 13th place in the 34th USSR championship in Tbilisi.

He became an International Grandmaster in 1967 for his performance in Leningrad, Moscow, and Tbilisi.

In 1968 he participated in tournaments in Gori, Kecskemet, Kislovodsk, Odessa, and Riga.

In 1969 he took 20th place in the 37th USSR championship in Moscow.

In 1970 he played in tournaments in Debrecen, Dneproptrovsk, Magyarorszag, Moscow, and Tbilisi.

In 1971 he took 5th place in the 39th USSR championship semifinals in Novosibirsk, but failed to qualify and play in the finals (he had to be in the top 4) by 1/2 point. Later, he played on board 2 for Tbilisi in a match against Soviet Georgia and won his game.

In 1972 he took 17th-20th place in the 40th USSR championship in Baku.

In 1973 he won a game against Bagirov and considered it his best game, his Mona Lisa. The game was played in a tournament at Kirovabad. It involved a rook sacrifice that leads to mate.

In 1974 he took 2nd place at Camaguey, Cuba (Capablanca Memorial) with 9 wins, 4 draws, and 2 losses. He took 1st place at the Goglidze Memorial in Tbilisi.

In 1975 he played in Vilnius, Riga, and Odessa.

In 1976 he played in Novosibirsk and Vrnjacka Banja.

In 1977 his Elo rating was 2570 and ranked 16th in the world. He played in Jurmala.

In 1978 he played in Daugavpils and Jurmala.

In 1979 he played in Beltsy, Moscow, and Sochi.

In 1980 he took 1st place at Tbilisi with 7 wins and 8 draws. He also played in Leipzig and Baku.

In 1981 he played in Tallinn, Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Sochi.

In 1982 he was the trainer for the USSR women's team at the Chess Olympiad in Switzerland. He played in Vinkovci.

In 1983 he played in Dortmund and Tbilisi.

In 1984 he was the trainer for the USSR women's team at the Chess Olympiad in Greece. He played in New Delhi, Athens, and Cienfuegos.

In 1985 he took 1st place in Havana. He was captain of the USSR men's team at the World Team Championship. He wrote Eduard Gufeld a collection of 106 games of his.

In 1986 he was giving daily free chess lectures at the World Chess Olympiad in Dubai. He wrote Short Encyclopedia of Chess Openings. In 1986 he visited Perth, Australia. The winner of the Perth chess championship wins the Gufeld Cup. In December, 1986 he played in Hastings.

In 1988 he was at the chess Olympiad in Salonika, Greece as a chess trainer to the Russian women's team. He played in New Zealand, Belgrade, Hastings, and Tbilisi.

In January, 1989 he lectured and commented during the Karpov-Hjartarson chess match in Seattle. I first met Gufeld there when I was introduced to him by Bob Karch and Campomanes. I interviewed him and invited him to give a simultaneous exhibition at my chess club in Palo Alto, California after the match was over. He accepted and played 20 boards in Palo Alto in February. I believe he won 19 games and drew one (to me, Bill Wall). I encouraged him to leave Russia and settle in the United States. At the time, I was an Air Force major and was later visited by the FBI. They suspected that he was a KGB agent, but that was never proven. He did have unrestricted travel plans always approved by Russia to go anywhere he wanted in the world. He would always say, "My English is better than your Russian." He spoke perfect English.

If he wasn't a KGB agent, there were allegations that he was an informant for the KGB reporting in the conduct of Russian chess players. A bad report on Russian chess players would lead to them seeing their privileges being revoked.

In Seattle I went with him to his downtown hotel room on the 10th floor after one of the evening games was over with Karpov. I didn't know it but he was cooking in the hotel room (chicken Kiev I guess). He had forgotten and was talking about chess when the smoke alarm went off. I don't think he knew what that was. I went into the back room and put out a small grease fire that had started, which now smoked up the room even more. The room was next door to Karpov. He opened up the outside window to a balcony and almost fell over, which I am glad he did not. Hate to be accused of pushing a Russian grandmaster over the balcony of a 10 story building.

In 1989 he scored 6 out of 9 at the New York Open. He also played in Palma de Mallorca and Biel.

In October, 1989, he travelled to Hong Kong and was the first Russian to be able to stay in Hong Kong for more than one day. He stayed for 3 weeks.

In 1990 he played in Kusadasi.

In 1991 he played in Baku and Penang.

In 1992 he played in Helsinki, Podolsk, Calcutta, Oviedo, and Hastings.

In 1993 he wrote Russian Handbook of Chess Openings and Inside Chess Openings. He played in Alushta, Calcutta, and Hastings.

In 1994 he wrote The Art of Mastering Chess and My Life in Chess: The Search for La Gioconda. He played in Calcutta, Kuala Lampur, London, and Hastings.

On October 26, 1995 he emigrated from the Republic of Georgia to Hollywood, California. He played in the US Senior Open in Las Vegas (tied for 1st place with Denker) and the American Open. He also played in Hastings.

In 1996 he wrote An Opening Repertoire for the Attacking Player, The Modern Tarrasch Defense, and Vasily Ivanchuk's Best Games. He played at the US Open in Hawaii.

In 1997 he wrote The Complete Dragon. He tied for 1st place at the Western Masters' Championship in Los Angeles.

In 1998 he wrote French Defense - Classical System.

In 1998 he worked the press center on the Women's Candidates Tournament in Batumi, Georgia.

In 1998 he opened a chess club in his apartment building, the Gufeld Chess Academy.

In August, 1999 he participated in the US Open chess championship in Reno, but arrived 4 rounds late.

In 1999 he won the American Open.

In 2000 he had a USCF rating of 2565.

In March, 2000, he tied for 1st-13th at the National Open in Las Vegas. At 64, he was the oldest grandmaster in the competition. He defeated Joel Benjamin in the final round with a queen trap, and then danced around the table.

In March, 2001, he wrote 'Inventors and Novelty Makers' for Chess Life magazine. It won the Chess Journalists of America (CJA) best analysis for an opening category prize.

In 2001 he wrote Exploiting Small Advantages, and Chess: The Search for Mona Lisa, both published by Batsford. His Mona Lisa book contains 116 of his games. He also wrote Leonid Stein: Master of Risk Strategy, published by Thinkers' Press.

In 2001 he made a chess video called Science of Chess Strategy.

In 2002 he was teaching chess at some of the local universities in Los Angeles.

In 2002 he wrote Bobby Fischer, Chess Genius to Legend.

In March, 2002 he played in his last chess event, the National Open in Las Vegas.

He died on September 23, 2002 at a Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after a stroke. He had suffered a massive stroke two weeks earlier and had been in a coma since. He was 66. He was buried at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

He had written more than 100 chess books, which sold 3.5 million copies worldwide. He was considered as the world's most flamboyant chess grandmaster. He was one of the most travelled grandmasters in chess history. He visited over 100 countries. In Russia he earned the status of "chess emeritus."

In his day, he defeated Tal, Spassky, Korchnoi, Bronstein (6 times), Polugaevsky (4 times), Taimanov (3 times), and Smyslov. He drew with Petrosian, Kasparov, Karpov, Geller, and Keres.

He started the FIDE Committee on Chess Art and Exhibition and was instrumental in reviving the brilliancy prize in top tournaments.

The Pasadena Chess Club started an Eduard Gufeld Memorial in 2003.

One of Gufeld's quotes is "After losing a game I play the next one better. After losing the 2nd game I play like a lion. After 3 defeats in a row, anyone can beat me!"

Gufeld - Klovans, Moscow 1956

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.O-O d6 6.c3 Bd7 7.Re1 Be7 8.a3 O-O 9.h3 Qc8 10.d4 exd4 11.cxd4 d5 12.Nc3 dxe4 13.d5 Rd8 14.dxc6 Bxh3 15.cxb7 Qg4 16.Nh4 Qxh4 17.bxa8=Q Rxa8 18.g3  1-0


Smyslov–Gufeld, Spartakiade, Moscow 1967
1.c4 Nf6 2.Nf3 g6 3.b4 Bg7 4.Bb2 0-0 5.e3 b6 6.d4 c5 7.dxc5 bxc5 8.b5 a6 9.a4 Ne4 10.Bxg7 Kxg7 11.Qd5 Qa5+ 12.Ke2 Bb7 13.Qxb7 Nc6 14.Nfd2 Ra7 15.bxc6 Rxb7 16.cxb7 Qb4 17.Nxe4 Qb2+ 18.Nbd2 Qxa1 19.Nxc5 Rb8 20.g3 Qa3 21.Nxd7 Rxb7 22.Bh3 Qd6 23.c5 Qd5 24.f3 Rb2 25.Rd1 e6 26.c6 Qc4+ 27.Ke1 Qd3 28.Bf1 Qxe3+ 29.Be2 a5 30.f4 f6 31.c7 Rc2 32.Kf1 Rxc7 33.Nc4 Rxc4 34.Bxc4 Qf3+ 35.Ke1 Qc3+ 0–1