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Grigory Levenfish
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons  

Number of games in database: 451
Years covered: 1909 to 1954
Overall record: +153 -141 =157 (51.3%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database.

With the White pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (27) 
    C77 C91 C79 C84 C90
 Nimzo Indian (25) 
    E53 E21 E34 E40 E38
 Orthodox Defense (19) 
    D52 D63 D50 D56 D53
 Caro-Kann (18) 
    B10 B16 B13 B17 B11
 Grunfeld (17) 
    D85 D94 D95 D81 D98
 Sicilian (17) 
    B84 B72 B83 B73 B29
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (35) 
    C83 C90 C77 C66 C79
 Nimzo Indian (18) 
    E22 E21 E53 E47 E40
 Slav (16) 
    D10 D11 D19 D17 D14
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (14) 
    C90 C99 C86 C84 C85
 Sicilian (14) 
    B23 B24 B40 B72 B21
 Orthodox Defense (13) 
    D50 D51 D52 D55 D59
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   I Rabinovich vs Levenfish, 1927 0-1
   Alatortsev vs Levenfish, 1937 0-1
   B Verlinsky vs Levenfish, 1924 0-1
   Levenfish vs Ragozin, 1934 1-0
   Levenfish vs S Gotthilf, 1924 1-0
   Levenfish vs Botvinnik, 1937 1-0
   Lasker vs Levenfish, 1925 0-1
   Levenfish vs M Yudovich Sr., 1933 1-0
   Levenfish vs P Dubinin, 1940 1-0
   Alekhine vs Levenfish, 1920 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   USSR Championship (1937)
   Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937)
   USSR Championship (1933)
   USSR Championship 1934/35 (1934)
   URS-ch sf Leningrad (1949)
   URS-ch sf Gorky (1950)
   USSR Championship (1924)
   Leningrad Championship (1936)
   Leningrad / Moscow training (1939)
   Moscow (1935)
   USSR Championship (1939)
   USSR Championship (1947)
   USSR Championship (1948)
   Karlsbad (1911)
   Moscow (1925)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 57 by 0ZeR0
   0ZeR0's Favorite Games Volume 56 by 0ZeR0
   Secret Hero Stoltz & Levenfish by Gottschalk
   Masterpieces and Dramas of Soviet ch, part I by nizmo11

   Rubinstein vs Levenfish, 1912

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Grigory Levenfish
Search Google for Grigory Levenfish

(born Mar-09-1889, died Feb-09-1961, 71 years old) Russia

[what is this?]

Grigory Yakovlevich Levenfish was born in Piotrków Trybunalski,* Poland. Awarded the GM title in 1950, he was Leningrad champion in 1922, 1924, and 1925 (jointly). He also won the USSR Championship (1934/35) (jointly with Ilya Leontievich Rabinovich) and 1937. Following this he drew a match with Mikhail Botvinnik (+5 -5 =3), Botvinnik - Levenfish (1937), but this was to be the last major success of his chess career. Before the war he won a match against Vladimir Alatortsev in 1940 (+5 -2 =7). His play was marked by elegant combinations, unexpected tactical blows and deep endgame analyses and unlike Alexander Alekhine, Efim Bogoljubov, Aron Nimzowitsch and Akiba Rubinstein he was one of the few pre-revolutionary masters who didn't end up abroad. He successfully passed on his knowledge to the first generation of young Soviet players, authoring Modern Openings, Izbrannye Partii I Vospominanya and Rook Endings (toegther with Vasily Smyslov). He passed away in Moscow in 1961.(**)

*Wikipedia article: Piotrków Trybunalski

(**) Crosstables of the aforementioned tournaments available at [rusbase-1], [rusbase-2], [rusbase-3], [rusbase-4], [rusbase-5], [rusbase-6], [rusbase-7]

Wikipedia article: Grigory Levenfish

Last updated: 2017-11-16 07:35:07

 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 451  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Sventitsky vs Levenfish  0-1241909Tech Institute v Politech InstituteC53 Giuoco Piano
2. A Smorodsky vs Levenfish  1-0421909St. Petersburg Tech Inst v UniversityC49 Four Knights
3. Znosko-Borovsky vs Levenfish 0-1341910Match Students - Chess CommunityC14 French, Classical
4. Levenfish vs P List 1-0311910Levenfish-List MatchC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
5. Levenfish vs P List  0-1341910Levenfish-List MatchC11 French
6. P List vs Levenfish  0-1461910Levenfish-List MatchD33 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
7. Levenfish vs P List  0-1241910Levenfish-List MatchC42 Petrov Defense
8. P List vs Levenfish  1-0511910Levenfish-List MatchD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
9. A Selezniev vs Levenfish  ½-½331911Moscow-St PetersburgC66 Ruy Lopez
10. Levenfish vs Salwe  ½-½521911KarlsbadC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
11. Alapin vs Levenfish 0-1521911KarlsbadD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
12. Levenfish vs P Johner ½-½741911KarlsbadC79 Ruy Lopez, Steinitz Defense Deferred
13. Spielmann vs Levenfish 1-0211911KarlsbadC29 Vienna Gambit
14. Levenfish vs Teichmann ½-½471911KarlsbadD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
15. Levenfish vs C Jaffe  0-1291911KarlsbadD46 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
16. O Chajes vs Levenfish  1-0451911KarlsbadC14 French, Classical
17. Levenfish vs J Perlis  0-1621911KarlsbadD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
18. F Duz-Khotimirsky vs Levenfish  0-1601911KarlsbadD04 Queen's Pawn Game
19. Levenfish vs Kostic 1-0381911KarlsbadD55 Queen's Gambit Declined
20. Alekhine vs Levenfish ½-½451911KarlsbadC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
21. Levenfish vs H Fahrni 1-0601911KarlsbadC14 French, Classical
22. A Rabinovich vs Levenfish  ½-½431911KarlsbadC66 Ruy Lopez
23. Levenfish vs Rotlewi 0-1381911KarlsbadD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
24. Duras vs Levenfish  0-1641911KarlsbadC77 Ruy Lopez
25. Levenfish vs P S Leonhardt 1-0351911KarlsbadC77 Ruy Lopez
 page 1 of 19; games 1-25 of 451  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Levenfish wins | Levenfish loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  wwall: On Feb 29, 1812, Hermann Hirschbach was born in Berlin. He is famous for the Hirschbach variation.
Jan-13-15  zanzibar: <Romanovsky later remembered: 'Attempts to associate chess mastery with pedagogical mastery are a great delusion. Only one person combines high pedagogy with great mastery - Levenfish.'>

From <Russian Silhouettes> by Sosonko.

Jan-15-15  Poisonpawns: Was his Jewish heritage the reason he was treated so harshly by the Soviet Chess establishment or other reasons? I read he was the only Soviet master without a stipend,and that he was not allowed to travel abroad, although he was the Russian champion.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Poisonpawns>
Botvinnik was of Jewish heritage and got plenty of support. I think the more likely explanation is the authorities did not trust Levenfish's political position. They might have expected that if allowed to travel abroad, he would not return.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <beatgiant> Botvinnik, as is well known, epitomised Soviet Man--his Jewish heritage was simply an accident of birth, as he played the role of establishmentarian to a tee.
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: I think the more important accident of birth was Levenfish being born too many years before the revolution, making it harder to present himself as a New Soviet Man.
Jan-16-15  Petrosianic: Yeah, when you're nearly as old as Lenin or Stalin, how can you hope to be taken seriously as a Soviet Man?
Premium Chessgames Member
  beatgiant: <Petrosianic>
<how can you hope to be taken seriously> Probably by having supported the revolution before it succeeded.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Another great player whose birthday is today.


Feb-09-16  TheFocus: Rest in peace, GM Grigory Levenfish.
Feb-09-16  ZonszeinP: In memoriam
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: I can leaven bread but I can't leaven fish.
Feb-20-16  Turtle3: The player who invented a way to fight the dragon
Feb-21-16  visayanbraindoctor: <Absentee: What kind of fish was Levenfish? A barracuda or a pampered goldfish?>

Levenfish was a lion of the Soviet seas. At his best, he was most probably a Candidates level master. Yet most outsiders barely know of his name, probably because he hardly played (or was not allowed to play) outside the USSR.

<Karpova: After Moscow 1936

Jose Raul Capablanca: <I rate Levenfish very hughly. I think that he is the strongest Soviet master after Botvinnik. But, unfortunately, he lacks composure.>

From the Russian Bulletin of the event (special issue of "64"), No. 20, 13 June 1936.

Source: Page 275 of Winter, Edward: "Capablanca: a compendium of games, notes, articles, correspondence, illustrations and other rare archival materials on the Cuban chess genius Jose Raul Capablanca, 1888-1942.", Jefferson, North Carolina, 1989>

Interesting video of Levenfish's namesake. The lionfish invades the eastern coast of north America:

Was Levenfish an invasive species in the eyes of the Soviet authorities who in the 1930s were distinctly favoring Botvinnik? I wonder if Levenfish's Polish birth had anything to do with it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Another player whose career spanned several generations. He was powerful before WW1, but could beat Smyslov over 30 years later when he was in the top three or so in the world Levenfish vs Smyslov, 1949, and Korchnoi when he was already playing in the Soviet Championship finals, probably as strong as a Candidates tournament Korchnoi vs Levenfish, 1953,
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <nimh>: Levenfish is a Russian transliteration of the German word 'L√∂wenfisch' (a lionfish).

Right you are. But it was still misplaced pedantry for Golombek to insist on using the German version rather than the English transliteration of the Russian translation. The player would just not have pronounced the name in the German way. Similarly, it would be silly to insist on writing Averbakh's name as "Auerbach", the original German source, even though the former is the right English transliteration of the way he writes and pronounces his name.

Other examples include the brilliant Russian-born Harvard biomimeticist Joanna Aizenberg; she was born Айзенберг, the Russian transliteration of Eisenberg, but uses the English transliteration.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: His photo looks like a cross between Siegbert Tarrasch and Svetozar Gligoric
Feb-22-16  visayanbraindoctor: <Jonathan Sarfati: Another player whose career spanned several generations.>

Quite right, and another piece of evidence that belies the claim that older generations of chess players can't adapt to the new.

<Pawsome: And these sad vignettes about Levenfish from Sonsonko's book: "He was the only Soviet grandmaster not to receive a stipend. He lived in great poverty in a room with firewood heating in a communal flat. He was very hard up, but he never complained to anyone about anything.

"In 1961 Boris Spassky was playing in the USSR Championship. In one of the last days of January in the Moscow subway he saw Levenfish: Aged, pale, like an apparition, he was walking along holding his head in his hands.

"'I have had six teeth removed' was all he could say. A few days later Grigory Yakovlevich Levenfish died.>

A tragedy. Was there some sort of infection in his gums, maxillary bone, and sinuses? Did he die of a CNS infection secondary to this?

Mar-09-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Grigory Levenfish.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: He stayed in Russia and supported the Working Class Revolution. Good on him!
Dec-21-17  Paint My Dragon: Very nice mini-biog from Douglas Griffin ...


Premium Chessgames Member
  Gottschalk: He was a Top-15 for two decades around 1921 to 1940 See this game against Romanovsky

Levenfish vs P Romanovsky, 1922

This understated Knight-sacrifice maybe still not very famous because the continuation of the game was not published. After 38 g3!! gxh4 39 h4! and now 39 39 ... d3 (if 39 ... Bf3 40.Qf4 + Kh5 41Rg5 + Kh6 42 Rg6 + dp kh5 43 Qh6 mat.) 40 Qf4 + Kh5 41Rg5 + Kh6 42 Rg6 + Kh6 43 Qg4 #

A relevant Levenfish's win, after a pretty and strong sacrifice.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Gottschalk: Devastating positional sacrifice!
Levenfish vs Lilienthal, 1948 Calmly exchanging the lady for two minor pieces, after which its advanced pawn cost even more.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: Grigory Levenfish was born in 1889.

Levenfish vs Korchnoi, 1953.

Korchnoi vs Carlsen, 2004. Carlsen was born on 1990.

Korchnoi had beaten players born >100 years apart.

Jul-29-23  Olavi: His name was originally Gershlik, according to the translator Douglas Griffin of the English edition of Izbrannye Partii I Vospominanya. He was baptized into the Russian Orthodox Church in 1913.
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