[Home]Baryshnikov, Boris Antonovich

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(1960- )

One of the modern masters of MC, but rather underrated in this country. Also a keen chess-player who might have been a Chess Grandmaster had he not chosen MC as his career, and had he not been narrowly beaten by Kasparov twice in the late 70s youth championships. His career has been dogged by the politics of the Cold War until recently, and by a distinct lack of charisma outside of the MC arena.

He first came to public notice in 1978, winning the Russian MC championship and gaining the title of International Master at the age of 18. And then came the World Championship of 1980 - held in Moscow to promote the cause of MC behind the Iron Curtain, and boycotted by most leading Western players in sympathy with the Olympics that year: only Stannard defied the boycott, and the aging Ruttsborough who came out of retirement for the second and final time to 'beat the Ruskies in their own back yard', and reached the final with some flashes of his old genius, only to lose heavily to Baryshnikov (who thus gained his Grandmaster title.)

That championship was largely ignored by press and public alike, denuded as it was of the entire top twenty in the rankings, so Baryshnikov was dismissed as a weak winner of a weak tournament. The world had to sit up and take notice, however, when three years later he defeated Mrs Trellis for the first (and so far only) time in an epic battle at Chalk Farm, overcoming a 43-podume deficit with an incredible 26 consecutive forcing passes with Mrs Trellis, herself in a position where passing was impossible, forced to move into a weaker position each time (the situation in which she found herself having been since nicknamed "Boris" in recognition of that feat, and the nickname has gained official status) to allow an unimpeded straddle to MC to win the deciding game of the '83 World Championship Final.

He defected to the West in order to defend his title the following year, when the USSR ordered a boycott - again in sympathy with the Olympics - but on this occasion he lost in the final, as Mrs Trellis had her revenge. He was to be welcomed back to his home country in 1989 (when the Iron Curtain fell) in triumph as he won the third of his three World Championships so far, and was seen sitting on a tank alongside such people as Yeltsin, Kasparov and the cellist Rostropovich to defy the attempted hardline coup against Gorbachev.

His form has slumped since then, but there are signs of a revival and he is making his way up the rankings again: peaking at sixth rank, but currently only ranked 28th in the world since he seems to have taken more to writing theory books about the game than actually playing it. Opinion is divided as to whether he will become the new Favisham, or fade out into obscurity writing books that nobody but he will ever understand (and even that is debatable, given that all his theorising has not helped him win a fourth championship), even in the original language let alone in translation …

Categories: A to Z, Famous Players

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Last edited March 31, 2007 7:39 pm by Simons Mith (diff)