Anatoly Bykhovski turns 90!

by Adrian Mikhalchishin
4/30/2024 – He was the coach of the USSR Youth National team from the mid-60s, until the collapse of the Soviet Union – a driving force behind the great generations of Soviet chess, but always in the shadow. On 30 April Anatoly Awraamowitsch Bykhovsky celebrates his 90th birthday. Chess Trainer Adrian Mykhalchyshyn describes the career of the man who helped created the chess zenith of the USSR.

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Our boss - the father of the late Soviet chess school

 chess, trainers are not exposed personalities like in other sports. Everyone grew up under the leadership of Anatoly Bykhovsky – from the generation of Tukmakov, Balashov, Karpov to Kramnik and Shirov. “Including” Kasparov, Yusupov, Ivanchuk, Gelfand  and Akopyan along the way.

In the mid-60s, in Soviet chess suddenly there were no young, promising players  – of course, the reason was the war. During the war, as you know, children are malnourished and grow up clearly weaker than the next generations. Among born during the war, only the greatest talent, Vitaly Tseshkovsky, managed to become a major chess player. And the Soviet chess school was experiencing difficulties. It was decided to create a youth program and place an experienced person in this direction. It was not easy to find such a person – great coaches Boleslavsky and Bondarevsky did not live in Moscow. The Federation had huge luck – they  found international master Anatoly Bykhovsky, working as an engineer at a rocket center in the Moscow region. He came from a famous family – his father was a Hero of the Soviet Union, director of one of the country's largest tank factories. He reported personally to Stalin more than once. They lived in Penza and Izhevsk.

After the War family moved to Moscow and Anatoly Avramych came to the chess club of the Palace of Pioneers to Evgeniy Penchko. Anatoly became member of Moscow Youth team and played successfully in Soviet team Championships against Victor Korchnoi, Nikolai Krogius and Boris Spassky! It is a very interesting fact that before Women World Champion the French player Chaud de Silans came too early to Moscow, and asked to play training match with some young player. Of course, it was Anatoly Bykhovsky!

He stayed in chess for life. It was difficult to combine playing chess with engineering work, even in the USSR. But, nevertheless, he became the champion of Moscow in 1963, played in the USSR Championship in 1965, where he was in the middle of the table. And here the longing for chess stuck. Fortunately, the Sports Committee introduced the position of youth team coach. This happens very rarely (and maybe never) when they simply found the best person for the position.

We adored our boss - and all generations of his teams asked his opinion about our girls, sought professional advices in case of failures. We called him simply "Boss"! It is interesting that at the beginning of his career the boss had a serious competitor for the position of coach of the USSR youth team – Alexander Roshal, himself famous chess journalist, coach of the Moscow team and protégé of the great Tigran Petrosyan.

In 1991, the USSR collapsed and the position of national team coach disappeared. The great coach Alexander Nikitin had two young students – Alexander Grischuk and Dmitry Yakovenko. He couldn't handle two. And he gave the “less promising” one to Bykhovsky. It was Grischuk! So the boss made him his best student.

Sometimes Bykhovsky plays in veterans tournaments and takes the position of the Arbiter on the Olympiads or other big tournaments. A funny fact is that there is a much younger player, IGM Anatoly Bykhovsky, who represents Israel. They are not relatives. But in chess databases both are often mixed up, and there is no trace of our boss!

IM Anatoly Bykhovski, IGMs Oleg Romanishin, Sergei Makarichev, Adrian Mikhalchishin and Aleksandr Beliavsky in Mexico 1977, World Students Championship.

This is how he is described in the Russian Wiki-page:

Anatoly Bykhovsky, a famous playboy in his youth, close to the capital's creative Bohemia, was friends with actors and writers Vladimir Kornilov, Leonid Zorin, Oleg Dahl, Andrei Myagkov, Boris Spassky. He got married for the first time at the age of 45, his wife’s name is Galina, a manager at Unilever. The couple have a son, Vsevolod (born 1979), works in a bank in Netherlands. Granddaughter Alice (born 2013).

Here some descriptions of Bykhovsky (on the RuChess page):

Boris Spassky, tenth World Champion: “Anatoly Bykovsky has three qualities that I value: he is smart, honest and amicable. This, by the way, is a rarity. I associate the best memories of my life in Anatoly.”

Garry Kasparov, 13th World Champion: “A whole epoch of the development of Soviet junior chess is connected with Anatoly Bykhovsky’s name: almost a quarter of a century, starting in the late 1960s … the successes of the Soviet chess school formed out of the everyday work of specialists like Bykhovsky.” 

Alexander Grischuk, grandmaster: “I can say that Anatoly taught me to play chess without any exaggeration. He taught me to play in the centre, to develop and activate pieces, to play powerful openings like 1.e4 e5 or 1.d4 d5. All in all, he bestowed a decent style on me, devoid of any excesses: in my view, that is exactly what a ten-year-old player needs, and that was exactly what Bykhovsky gave me.”

Boris Gelfand, grandmaster: “Bykhovsky has carried his love for chess for his whole life. Nowadays, I am very happy to see him as arbiter at large tournaments. There are those who see an opportunity to demonstrate their power when they are arbiters, but Anatoly always follows common sense and uses his position to maximise the players’ comfort and to watch interesting matches from nearby.”

And here are two games of the Master in his prime:

Born in 1954 in Lvov and a Grandmaster since 1978, Mikhalchishin is currently among the top 5 world trainers and the Chairman of the FIDE Trainers' Commission. The Ukrainian trained the team of USSR in 1980s, national teams of Slovenia, Poland and the Netherlands, and was the trainer of Anatoly Karpov (1980-1986), he trained Zsuzsa Polgar, Alexander Beliavsky, Maja Chiburdanidze, Arkadij Naiditsch and Vassily Ivanchuk.
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Frederic Frederic 5/1/2024 10:28
@stikmat: Yep, this is the database's decision. It is confused by the exact same name. And no amount of entreaty will convince it to use the other picture. These apps have a mind of their own.
stikmat stikmat 4/30/2024 08:52
The players database selects the wrong Bykhovsky picture.