Advent calendar: December 15

by André Schulz
12/15/2016 – From December 1 to December 24 we invite our readers every day to open a door in our advent calendar. Click and enjoy a little chess treat. Today's treat is by a player who never became grandmaster but whose tactical brilliancy even impressed Mikhail Tal. Advent calendar, door 15.

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Chess artist Rashid Nezhmetdinov

Players die, tournaments are forgotten, but the works of great artists
are left behind them to live on for ever in memory of their creators.

Mikhail Tal on Rashid Nezhmetdinov

The Soviet Union had a lot of fantastic chessplayers. Some of them were internationally famous but others for a long time were practically unknown in the "West". Rashid Nezhmetdinov was such a player.

Rashid Nezhmetdinov was born on December 15, 1912 in Aktjubinsk, in Kazakhstan, near the Russian border. His parents were Tartarian peasants who died in the hard times after the Russian Revolution. Nezhmetdinov and his brother moved to Kazan where he  learned the rules of chess by watching people play in the local chess club.

In 1927 he won the tournament of the young pioneers with 15.0/15. During this time he also learnt to play draughts, in which he also reached master level. In the draughts championships of Kazan he won the semifinals, finished second in the finals and then came sixth at the Russian Championships. But later he managed to Russian Champion in draughts.

In 1941 Nezhmetdinov was drafted into the army and deployed in the Baikal region where he played a couple of chess tournaments. In 1946 he also played a tournament in Berlin which the army had organized - one of the few tournaments Nezhmetdinov played outside of the Soviet Union. In 1947 he was discharged from the army and started a career as chess and draughts player.

In 1950 he won the Russian Championship - all in all he won the Russian Championship five times: 1950, 1951, 1953, 1957 and 1958 - that's a record. He also finished second a couple of times and he often finished ahead of better known players. He also took part in USSR Championships where he was, however, less successful. But he qualified five times for the finals and in Kiew 1954 he finished seventh - his best result in the USSR Championships.

Rashid Nezhmetdinov

Despite his obvious strength and his successes Nezhmetdinov never became a grandmaster. However, the Fide awarded him the title of an International Master after he finished second behind Kortschnoi in Bukarest 1954.

Nezhmetdinov was an extremely strong and dangerous tactical player. If he had an active position he could beat everyone. In the Soviet Union this was well-known and even strong players feared his brilliant masterstrokes. Nezhmetdinov had a positive score against Tal and he also had a positive score from the 20 games he had played against World Champions during his career. When Tal prepared for his World Championship match 1960 against Botvinnik, Nezhmetdinov was part of Tal's team.

Nezhmetdinov congratulates Tal

The following games give an impresson of Rashid Nezhmetdinov's incredible tactical abilities.

Nezhmetdinov's masterstrokes

Nezhmetdinov knew early how to attack:

Kosalapov-Nezhmetdinov, 1936


In the following game Nezhmetdinov surprises his opponent with a queen sacrifice out of the blue:

Nezmetdinov- Chernikov, 1962



In 1957 Nezhmetdinov gave the young Mikhail Tal a lesson in tactics:

Nezhmetdinov-Tal, 1957



The following game was played at the Russian Championships 1958. It is Nezhmetdinov's "Immortal Game".

Polugayevsky-Nezhmetdinov, 1958



Rashid Nezhmetdinov died on June 3, 1974 and is buried on the Arskoe cemetery in Kazan.

Photo: Wikipedia, "Bogdanov-62"


Translation: Johannes Fischer

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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