A native Citizen of St Petersburg.
Dedicated to the 70th Birthday of Yakov Feldman.
I was born on the 22-nd of June in Leningrad......on a tragic day for hundreds of millions of people. But it was some years earlier, in truth. A boy's recollections are fresh and clear cut... the war broke the happy days of childhood in the family of parents. More brightly than anything else the blockade winter of 1941 is stuck in the memory. My father worked at the railway, and somehow he managed to get horse flesh. It was a definite help to a meagre blockade ration. One day I went with my friend to work, and we saw a terrible picture: a woman down the floor was dragging out her man's corpse and left it at a lower staircase. People had no strength to bury their relatives. When I came back, there was missing a part of the dead man's leg... Our family, which outlived the fearful first blockade winter, was evacuated along the famous "Road of Life" over Lake Ladoga towards the town of Molotov (now called Perm). There was no romance as described in books in this terrifying journey. Here is an episode which is etched in my memory. The car we were in had broken down on the road. My mother gave up her gold watch in order to accelerate the process of its repair. That sacrifice most likely saved our lives. The column ran the danger of bombardment. The thin Ladoga ice did not withstand this, but the car which we were in succeeded in leaving the dangerous zone early enough... Our life in evacuation differed from the blockade one, but it was also far from peaceful. I remember distinctly the taste of frozen cabbage soup till now. At school I enjoyed schi and track athletics. But when my cousin Yaakov taught me to play chess, the physical culture was over. My cousin had "a chess father", Master of Sports Rovner. Thus, Dmitry Osipovich has two Yaakovs. I was the younger Janya. Every day we played friendly games at a small boy's interest, five copecks each. This disciplined us and made us approach the game in the spirit of a serious battle.
Back in Leningrad after the war, I lived in Fifth Sovetskaya street, Borya Spassky in the Seventh Sovetskaya. We both studied with (the trainer) Zak, he gave the 'lion's share' of school- hours to Spassky. I played with him four games, with overall victory going to me. Once, having despaired over how to win, Borya in the heat of struggle declared mate to my king. But we both did not notice in the time trouble that there was no mate... I remember also my victory over Boris. It was at one of the youth championships in Leningrad. Spassky as white played rather unsuccessfully the Catalan opening and somewhere near the 15th move he went to A.Cherepkov to exchange views... Boris came up to the chessboard quite upset and I found at once a winning combination with temporary sacrifice of a Bishop! We had many personal contacts, exchanged views on many topics. I remember, Boris confided in me that he sat analyzing a Meran variation of the Slav Defense until almost 3 o'clock in the morning. After studies at the Palace of Pioneers accompanied by young chessplayers (Vladimirov, Nekrasov, Pevzner, Gurevich, Korchnoi) I went to the Palace of Culture "Vyborgsky", where simultaneous games are played in the evening. These were remarkable times. The sensation of something great and bright did not leave me these years. In chess circles and on the whole the intercourse between people was in general more simple and, what is not of small importance, much more well-wishing... Once Botvinnik gave a simultaneous display on 15 boards against the Leningrad joint youth team. The first thing Mikhail Moiseevich asked Zak: "Who is Spassky?" One may say, the champion of the world played strongly against Boris and won, of course. The total score was quite adequate for Botvinnik; only Vadim Zakharov managed to vanquish the world champion. My game was a draw after a short struggle.
Having become a lawyer, I worked at the closed enterprise NPO "Uran". Torpedoes were designed then one of which has burst on the "Kursk", quite recently. At that time exits of employees of "post boxes" were in practice impossible. The reason I did not achieve something greater in chess was an established system of exits abroad. Afterwards, having become a Master, I participated in one tournament in Vilnius, according to a scheme masters against candidates! Romanishin, Vaganian, Mikenas, Bykhovsky and other strong chessplayers participated in that tournament. Afterwards many of them became Grandmasters. I played quite successfully, took the third place behind Bykhovsky and Mikenas. Before the tournament Kusin, head trainer of 'Spartak', rang up to me and said: "Vaganian will play in this tournament - he is our comrade!" And suddenly... the first chess game is with Vaganian. Rafik's trainer was Mnatsakanian. French Defense, I come up to him: "Kusin rang me to explain things, I offer a draw"... Having got a refusal, I was infuriated and ...won. After this we became friends. When the USSR championships passed in Leningrad, Vaganian lived with us and I helped him much, and was even considered to be his trainer.
Some years earlier when there were in practice matches for a rank of master the same Kusin directed me to Novosibirsk to examine Karpenko, a city champion. I was given a warm reception there. The city officials needed a victory for their fellow-townsman. But contrary to the habit of those years the challenger for the title of master rank was unable to become a master...
In the middle of seventies when I played already rather little in real competitions, I was offered a proposal to play for the Leningrad joint team at the USSR team's championship. Our team was headed by master Reshko; I played on the third board. In a sharp competition with the Russian Federation joint team we won that championship.
My chess successes helped me sometimes at work. Having received the Soviet gold medal, I went to the NPO director, Isakov. Having congratulated me with the success, Radiy Vasilievich, who himself had many decorations said:"Please don't put the medal on, otherwise I cannot criticize you!"
Many times I defended ethics the honour of my dear NPO, participating in different rank tournaments. My best game I consider a victory over one of the most dangerous masters of Leningrad, Mark Tseitlin. In that final of Leningrad championship he was the victor. And here in the game with me... he yielded! I had an opportunity to sacrifice in strict succession a rook and twice the queen. This game is remarkable as well in another respect. It was commented by Grandmaster A.Kotov in 11th volume of the Yugoslav 'Informator', and by the results of voting it entered the ten best game of this edition.
Annotation by IGM A.Kotov for the "Chess Informator" N11/129
1.e4 g6 2.d4 Bg7 3.Nc3 c6 4.Nf3 d6 5.g3 Bg4 6.Bg2 Qb6!? 7.d5?!
Better 7.Ne2! Nf6 8.h3!? only this move!
8.0-0! Bxc3 9.bxc3 Qxe4 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 Qa4 12.Rb1 Qa6 13.Qd4 Nf6 14.Re1 Nbd7
15.Rxb7! c5 16.Qxf6! 0-0-0
[16...Nxf6 17.Rexe7+ Kd8 18.Bg5!+-]
17.Rxe7 Qxb7 18.Bg4! Qxd5
19.Rxd7 Rxd7 20.Qxh8+ Kc7 21.Bxd7 Kxd7 22.Bf4+- Qd1+ 23.Kg2 Qd5+ 24.Kh2 Qxa2 25.Qb8 Qa6 26.h4 f6 27.Qf8 f5 28.Qf7+ Kc6 29.Qe6 Kb5 30.Bxd6 1-0
After many years I had a memorable meeting with Victor Korchnoi. I was busy playing lightning games with Genrikh Chepukaitis near a small book shop. And I hear suddenly:
"Mr. Feldman, why don't you want to buy my book?"
I turn my head and see Korchnoi with his wife Petra - I'm going to buy it! Allow me to present it to you."
Victor takes the book from the counter. Meanwhile the conversation continues...
"And do you remember that we played together on the day of Stalin's death?"
I am simply quite amazed at his staggering memory!
"I remember that I played with you, but I didn't remember that it was played on that particular day".
I begin to recollect the particulars. The House of Culture named after Dzerzhinsky, Alekhine's Defense, I had somewhat the better chances. I either lost a pawn, or sacrificed it. One always has initiative in that variation...
He has listened to all this and is writing on page of the book: "To Mr. Feldman in the memory of our chessboard meeting on the death day of the moustachioed leader of all peoples!"!
Chess is an interesting intellectual game; it helped me both at work on my lawyer's career and in life, having had contacts with well-known chessplayers I won many friends. In combining both vocations my life acquired harmony and diversity. I am very much grateful to my wife, Stella Borisovna for love and support during the whole life. My son Dmitry who studied chess in childhood found himself another vocation. As well as time, however, it gave him very much! As with many other chessplayers I have collected chess literature for a long time. My library contains more than a thousand books. Comparatively not so long ago life gave me a new present: a new passion for philately! I succeed in sitting at chessboard more seldom. In my view, collection-making allows one to maintain dedication to my favorite art on a new level. Looking back in the past, as formerly, I am full of optimism. My life is a success!
Recording and treatment by IM S.Bystrov.
Translation by Vasily Sergeev. Town of Pushkin.
Edition by Douglas Griffin (Scotland).