Sunday, 26 August 2012

Averbakh 7: Vera Nikolayevna Tikhomirova

The recent return of former world champion Boris Spassky from France to Russia prompts me to be little more topical, albeit over a quibble (the absence of a note). On page 222 Averbakh discusses some of the background to the London-Leningrad match in 1986 between Kasparov and Karpov. During the negotiations the principals disputed when it would be played and how many contestants there should be. In the book one reads:

..., Tikhomirov, who occupied a neutral position, made the commonsense suggestion - let the two of them sit down together and agree amongst themselves when they would play.

There is no note as to who this new figure is. The name may be known to Russian readers, but others are not so fortunate. Perhaps, too, it is a question of taste, for my preference is to use the feminine form when appropriate, I'd have written Tikhomirova with an a at the end.

Vera Nikolayevna Tikhomirova (1918, Rostov on Don - 2008, Moscow) won the Russian women's chess championship four times (1949, 1950, 1952, 1953) out of the fourteen she competed in. A deputy chairman of the USSR chess federation from 1963-5. Head of the Russian (not the Soviet) chess federation for what must have seemed an eternity (1958-1985). An international arbiter, she has been given the credit for instituting a chess school. See, for instance, this page.

There are quite a few Russian language articles devoted to her. For example, here are the details of her memorial tournament. She also received a medal of honour from Medvedev when he was President of the Russian Federation.

And the ties to Spassky? Well, she is in the photograph accompanying an article about the former world champion's return to Russia. The same picture, with the subjects' names given, can be found here, part of an article that is well worth reading in any instance. Tikhomirova was sitting at the far left next to Averbakh in the photo. But of incomparably greater significance, on this page one can see the credit being given to her for saving Spassky's career!

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