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Yuri Averbakh

1922 – 2022


John Bain

Yuri at chessboard looking over top of glasses at chess pieces

A Role Model

February 8, 1922 – May 7, 2022

Yuri Averbakh passed away on May 7, 2022, three months after celebrating his 100th birthday on  February 8, 2022.

In 1925 in Moscow, 3-year-old Yuri and his family lived in a municipal flat shared with three other families. The flat had no heating and no electricity! The four families shared a common kitchen with a simple stove for cooking. In the mid-1930s, the flats in the multi-storied house received central heating.

Yuri was born on February 8, 1922 in Kaluga, Russia.

On his 100th birthday, despite his deteriorating vision and hearing, he continued to play chess and to devote time to chess-related activities.

He was the world’s oldest living chess Grandmaster ever–also, the first and only Grandmaster ever to reach 100 years old!

In His Prime

Young Yuri with big hair at chessboard seated in coat & tie behind the black pieces

Averbakh at the match USA vs. USSR, New York City, 1954

Yuri Lvovich Averbakh was a Russian chess Grandmaster and author.

In his prime, Yuri was one of the strongest players in the USSR and the world. In 1953 he rose to the top 15 players in the world, taking part in the legendary Candidates Tournament in Zurich, finishing in 10th place.

Growing Up

Young Yuri with big hair in dark coat & black jacket

Yuri Averbakh

He was born into a Jewish family. His father was an immigrant from Germany and his mother was a Russian from the Kaluga area, southwest of Moscow.

Yuri’s father worked as a forester at the time of his son’s birth, and had immigrated from Germany–the original family name was “Auerbach.”

When Yuri Averbakh was three years old, along with his younger sister, the family moved to Moscow and lived only a short walk from the Central Chess Club.


Yuri hand on cane in tweed sports coat

Averbakh joined the Moscow Chess Club, which was located in the basement of the Ministry of Justice. Averbakh made steady progress and in 1938 won the Under-16 Soviet Championship. Then, in 1949, 1950 and 1962 Averbakh won the Moscow Championship.

After finishing high school he started to study engineering, but in 1952 he gave up his studies to focus entirely on chess.

Also in 1952 he earned the FIDE Grandmaster title, and qualified for the 1953 Candidates Tournament in Zurich.

He became the first FIDE Grandmaster to reach 100 years.


Yuri at chessboard moving a white Rook

In retirement, Yuri was chairman of the USSR Chess Federation from 1973 to 1978. After his active career Averbakch worked as author, editor, theoretician, second and official.

100 Years Old!

On February 8, 2022, Yuri turned 100 years old, and he was still playing chess!

Yuri wearing glasses at chessboard with glass of wather

Despite his eyesight and hearing having worsened, at 100 years old, Yuri found time to play chess and to devote to chess-related activities.

Learn to Play Chess
Yuri Averbakh Plays Chess!

The Path to Grandmaster Can Begin Here

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Beginner’s BookChess Rules For Students

Chess Rules For Students workbook

Chess Rules For Students is a workbook for students learning the game of chess and for beginning students returning to the game. No previous knowledge of chess is necessary. Parents unfamiliar with chess will find this booklet a valuable guide to their child’s new interest.

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Beginners & Intermediate Book – Checkmate! Ideas For Students

Checkmate! Ideas For Students

Checkmate! Ideas For Students is a workbook for beginning and intermediate students. Checkmate! covers the tactics used in checkmate attacks with clear explanations, diagrams and arrows to pinpoint the key features.

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Checkmate In One Prize
Chess Rules For Students Workbook
An instructional workbook designed for students learning the game of chess. Click here to learn more!
Checkmate In Two Prize
Checkmate! Ideas For Students
An instructional workbook containing tactics in worksheet format used to checkmate--like Pins, Sacrifices, Removing the Guard, Attraction, Clearance, and Attacking Flight Squares!
Checkmate In Three Prize
Chess Tactics For Students
An instructional workbook containing 434 carefully selected problems presented in worksheet format.

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