Chess - Life and Style - The Independent

Chess

I first met Vladimir Liberzon in a tournament in Iceland in 1974. All he knew about me was that I was English and I played chess. Yet he strode over to me before we had been introduced, grinned broadly and asked me, in Russian: "Do you speak Hebrew?"

Somewhat startled, I said "nyet", but told him that I did speak a little Russian. He grinned again and apologised, then told me, in a totally inoffensive way, that people with noses as big as mine usually do speak Hebrew. Anyway, I think that's what he was saying. He was certainly looking in my nose's direction when he said the word "fiziognomicheskiy".

Anyway, he spent the rest of the tournament telling me dirty jokes in Russian which I think I would have been unlikely to understand even if I'd had a far better grasp of the language.

Vladimir Liberzon was not a cultured man, but his disciplined professionalism made him one of the most consistent performers in grandmaster tournaments in the Sixties and Seventies. As the first ex-Soviet grandmaster to make his home in Israel, he played a large part in turning that country into a force in the chess world.

Vladimir Liberzon died earlier this year at the age of 59. He will be remembered for some good tournament victories, but particularly for the following game from Moscow 1963 in which he gave the great Mikhail Tal a lesson in the attacking potential of opposite-coloured bishops.

White: Vladimir Liberzon

Black: Mikhail Tal

1 d4 Nf6 28 a5 Rb3

2 c4 e6 29 Rg1 b5

3 Nc3 Bb4 30 axb6 axb6

4 e3 0-0 31 g4 fxg4

5 Bd3 d5 32 hxg4 Rg5

6 a3 dxc4 33 gxh5 Rbb5

7 Bxc4 Bd6 34 Rdd1 Kf7

8 Nf3 Nc6 35 e4 Kg8

9 Nb5 e5 36 Ke3 Kf8

10 Nxd6 Qxd6 37 Ra1 Rxg1

11 dxe5 Qxd1+ 38 Rxg1 Rxh5

12 Kxd1 Ng4 39 Rxg7 Bc2

13 Ke1 Ngxe5 40 Rb7 b5

14 Nxe5 Nxe5 41 e5 Bf5

15 Be2 Bf5 42 Rxb5 Rh6

16 Bd2 Nd3+ 43 Rb8+ Ke7

17 Bxd3 Bxd3 44 Rb7+ Kd8

18 Rc1 Rac8 45 Ba5+ Ke8

19 f3 c5 46 Kf4 Bd3

20 Kf2 f5 47 Bb4 Kd8

21 Rhg1 Rc6 48 Rg7 Ke8

22 Bc3 h5 49 Bd6 Be2

23 h3 Rg6 50 Kg5 Rh1

24 a4 c4 51 f4 Rh5+

25 Rgd1 Rd8 52 Kg6 Rh1

26 Rd2 Rd5 53 e6 Bd3+

27 Rcd1 Rb6 54 Kf6 resigns

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