Chess and Music – the Conservatory Open

1/18/2006 – The interest of musicians for chess is not new – the strongest player in Europe durint the 18th century was also a famous composer. But that the members of a famous music Conservatory take place in a serious yearly chess tournament does sway from the normal. Anvar Tourdyev of the Moscow State Conservatory tells us all about it.

Chess and Music – Шахматы и музыка

By Anvar Tourdyev

On Friday, January 6th, a day before Orthodox Christmas, the traditional New Year open chess championship of the Moscow State Conservatory took place in Oktyabr’sky Chess Club. There were 14 participants: professors and students of the Conservatory, famous Moscow musicians and composers, and soloists of the Bolshoy Theatre.


Conservatory Open in the Oktyabr’sky Chess Club

Musicians’ interest in chess is not occasional and has deep roots. It is known that the strongest player of Europe in the second half of the 18th century, François André Danican Philidor, was also a famous composer, his name can be found in history of music textbooks.

However, if we are talking about traditions, a real connection between chess and music cultures began in Soviet times, when the interest to these fields of human activity was as high as never before. An important role in it of course belongs to creative side of chess as well as Bohemian atmosphere in both environments. There are memories about a chess match between composer Sergey Prokofiev and outstanding Soviet violinist David Oistrakh (convincingly won by the latter). By the way, Prokofiev played in Capablanca simuls and was on friendly terms with the great Cuban.


Great musician, established or studying, playing in a chess tournament

On the other hand, some professional chess players also had a direct connection to music. First of all, I must mention Mark Taimanov, who is not only a grandmaster and world championship candidate, but also a pianist who graduated from the Leningrad Conservatory and had a successful concert career in a duo with Lyubov Bruk. Among Muscovites one cannot but mention Boris Abramovich Shatskes, who wrote a book “English Opening” and at the same time taught piano at the Moscow Conservatory. A special place in this list belongs to the ex-world champion Vassily Vassilyevich Smyslov, whose vocal gift in known outside the chess circles.

Without exaggerating one may say that the Soviet epoch was a golden age for both chess and music in Russia. A chess section was organized in the Conservatory, and its team actively participated in intercollegiate competitions, sometimes finishing as high as 2nd overall (behind the Physical Culture Institute team formed by professional players, but ahead of the Moscow State University).

The chess section was closed in the 90s as well as many other chess and not only chess organizations in the turbulent country. However, as the economic and cultural state in Russia began to recover, many once forgotten traditions took their legitimate places.

The new MSC chess section has existed for five years. The New Year blitz tournament of musicians is one of the fruits of the section’s activity. This time the competition took place for the fifth time. Normally there are about 20 people participating, and this time the number was only little smaller, despite a severe frost that struck Moscow a day before. Unfortunately, some avid chess players withdrew due to illness, including our Chaikovsky International Competition winners cellist Alexander Knyazev and violinist Nikolay Savchenko, the dean of the Composition department (experienced candidate master, former champion of Kislovodsk) Alexander Koblyakov, famous pianist and MSC Professor Alexey Nasedkin, and clarinet student Alexey Balashov, son of grandmaster Yury Balashov.

Nevertheless, the tournament was pretty strong. It was attended by


Chaikovsky International Competition winner Nikolay Lugansky at work...


... and at play, during the Moscow State Conservatory Open


Composer Yury Kasparov (white hair), playing against me.

Kasparov is a namesake of the world’s strongest player, but not related. By the way, Garry’s uncle was also composer, an Honored Artist of Azerbaijan


Honored Artist of Russia and MSC teacher Oleg Tantsov (clarinet) vs Nikolay Lugansky


Associated Professor of the MSC Alexander Kirov (violin), famous for having beaten Anatoly Karpov as Black in a simul given in Karpov’s best years


Bolshoy Theatre orchestra soloist Sonya Belyaeva (oboe)


Well-known Moscow blitz player Boris Begelman (violin)


Anvar Tourdyev, student of the Conservatory and author of these lines

The New Year atmosphere is perfectly fitted by blitz with its humor, nervousness, haste, surprises and sudden twists of fate. The formula of the tournament looks attractive: first all the players take part in a round robin, and then the eight winners proceed to a knock out stage, playing two-game matches. The final is played out of four games. In case of a tie a sudden death game 4 minutes against 5 with draw odds is played.


Semifinals between Boris Begelman (violin) and Oleg Tantsov (clarinet)

A qualification round robin saw a fierce fight for the qualifying spots, only the first place was secured long before the end: Borya Begelman took the lead from the first rounds and, having lost only once, remained on top until the end. I managed to secure the 2nd place in the penultimate round.

N

Name

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

0

1

2

3

4

Pts

Places

1

Galynin

*

1

0

0

0

1

1

=

0

1

0

1

1

1

7=

6-7

2

Pogorelsky

0

*

0

0

0

0

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

1

3

11-13

3

Begelman

1

1

*

1

0

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

1

12

I

4

Lugansky

1

1

0

*

0

0

1

0

1

1

=

1

1

1

8=

4-5

5

Tourdyev

1

1

1

1

*

1

1

1

1

=

=

1

=

=

11

II

6

Parsadanov

0

1

0

1

0

*

0

0

1

1

1

1

0

1

7

8

7

Oseev

0

0

0

0

0

1

*

0

0

=

0

1

0

1

3=

10

8

Busyrev

=

1

0

1

0

1

1

*

1

1

0

1

1

1

9=

III

9

Kasparov

1

1

0

0

0

0

1

0

*

1

1

1

=

1

7=

6-7

10

Belyakova

0

1

0

0

=

0

=

0

0

*

=

0

0

=

3

11-13

11

Tantsov

1

1

0

=

=

0

1

1

0

=

*

1

1

1

8=

4-5

12

Kolesnikov

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

0

*

=

0

1=

14

13

Kirov

0

1

0

0

=

1

1

0

=

1

0

=

*

0

5=

9

14

Belyaeva

0

0

0

0

=

0

0

0

0

=

0

1

1

*

3

11-13

The knockout pairings and results:

Begelman 1,1.
Parsadanov

Begelman
Tantsov 1,1

Tantsov
Tourdyev 1,1,0,=

Tantsov 0,1,1
Lugansky
Busyrev 1,0,1
Kasparov

Busyrev
Tourdyev 1,1

Tourdyev 1,1
Galynin

After a tense fight I succeeded in all three matches and became the Conservatory champion for the fourth time straight (experienced chess veteran Koblyakov triumphed in 2001).


The Finals: Oleg Tantsov vs Anvar Tourdyev

I would like to say words of gratitude for warm welcome and celebrative atmosphere to the Oktyabr’sky Club staff – the Moscow’s best club without a doubt. After the tournaments all finalists and female players received presents, and the club’s administration improvised a festive dinner. And I think this fest of friendly chess intercourse left everybody happy – players, organizers, and even arbiters of the event!

Tourdyev,Anvar - Belyaeva,Sonya [D07]
Conservatory Open Moscow, 06.01.2006

Before the game I offered my opponent a draw, but the offer was turned down. It did not surprise me, as it is the fifth straight year I am offering a draw only to hear Sonya decline it. Nevertheless, all our encounters as a rule end peacefully. This time the game was funny.

1.d4 d5 2.c4 Nc6 3.Nf3 Bg4 4.cxd5 Bxf3 5.dxc6 Bxc6 6.Nc3 e6 7.e4 Qd7?! 8.d5 exd5 9.exd5 Qe7+ 10.Be3 0-0-0

11.dxc6?! I made this move with the light heart. 11...Rxd1+ 12.Rxd1 bxc6?! It was better to develop the pair of idle pieces. Now the White’s sneaky bishop develops to a threatening position with tempo: 13.Ba6+ Kb8 14.0-0 Nf6 15.Bc5!? Qe8 16.Bxf8

16...Qxf8! I anticipated16...Rxf8 17.Rfe1! trapping the queen, and planned to ‘look for something’ after the text move. Now White will have to put some effort to remain in the game.

17.Rd4 Nd5 18.Rfd1 Qc5? 19.Nxd5 cxd5 20.Rxd5 Qe7 21.Rb5+ Ka8 22.Bb7+ Kb8

23.Be4+ ½-½. Attention is deserved by 23...Kc8 24.Bg4+, winning the queen. But who can say that victory is worth more than good mood? [Click to replay]


Prize winners Busyrev, Tantsov, Tourdyev and Begelman

Anvar Tourdyev, post-graduate student of the Moscow State Conservatory.
Translation by Misha Savinov


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