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Grandmaster Interview with Boris Avrukh

GM Boris Avrukh

GM Boris Avrukh

Boris Avrukh is one of the best active chess grandmasters in Israel, boasting an impressive FIDE rating of 2625. While Avrukh is a native of Kazakhstan, he immigrated at a young age to Israel to find stronger chess opposition. Avrukh began training with renown chess grandmaster Alex Huzman, and the rest is history. Avrukh’s rapid ascent towards the Grandmaster title included winning the Worlder Under-12 Chess Championship in 1990. Boris Avrukh has played for Israel 6 times at the Chess Olympiad, and has also won the Israeli Chess Championship in 2000 and 2008. The most recent major tournament victory for Avrukh came in 2009 at the Zurich Jubilee Open, where he tied for first with Alexander Areshchenko. We would like to thank GM Boris Avrukh for taking the time to participate in our How to be a Grandmaster series.

Check Out an Awesome Boris Avrukh Attack Here!

When did you learn chess and who taught you?

I started to play chess when I was 6 years old and was taught by my father who is quite good (even now he has a 2260 rating).

When did you begin playing chess tournaments and how did you do?

I started to play official chess tournaments from age 7 and was improving very fast. No wonder I won the World championship under 12 in 1990 as at age 12 I was already playing around 2300 strength.

When did you begin making legitimate progress in your game and How?

I believe around age 10 I started to play decent level without blunders and with good positional understanding.

Can you recall a specific turning point? (a game, event, working with a chess coach, etc..)

I got my first rating of 2440 in 1993, and for two years I was kind of stuck on this level – it was really hard to improve from this point in the place where I was living because I was by far the best player. Fortunately in 1995 my family immigrated to Israel (one of the main motivations was my chess career), where there were excellent conditions for improvement.

What are your top book recommendations for beginner to intermediate players? (<2200)

I believe “My System” by Nimzovich is a must-read book. I strongly recommend to study the best games of Top players (World Champions and players like Keres, Bronstein, Stein, etc..) In Russian it’s called “Black Series” – I have no idea if this exists in other languages.

What are your top book recommendations for advanced chess players? (2200+)

I like most of Dvoretsky books, “Learn from Chess Legends” by Marin, and “Chess Defence” and “Attacking Manual” by Jacob Aagaard are excellent. Talking about Openings my books are very recommended, as well as “1. c4” by Marin.

How did you become a GM? (What tournaments, did you have a chess trainer, etc..)

When I came to Israel I worked with two highly qualified chess coaches: Alex Huzman (permanent second of Gelfand) and Mark Tseitlin. I played a lot of tournaments in Europe and Israel and my rating started to grow very quickly. In 1997 I got the GM title after achieving the last norm in the Linares Open.

What was your exact study regimen when you were working towards GM?

Usually I had 2 hours session with one of my trainers, but of course most of the work was done by myself (updating the openings, endgame study, etc..)

What is your study routine now? (how is it different?)

Now it’s completely different – I have plenty of chess lessons every day, work for my future projects like books or surveys, so I try to find useful things for myself in every work. Quite often I have training sessions with other GMs.

What is next in your chess career?

My dream is to get back to practice and improve my rating because now it’s fallen down to 2600.

Nature or Nurture: Do you think top chess players are born with a natural ability/gift or do they become so talented through hard work and the right environment?

Definitely both, but you cannot develop even the biggest talent into something serious without hard work.

How do you feel about cheating in chess? (specific deterrents/punishments?)

It is becoming a big problem in chess – I was very surprised when I discovered that even the program in my iPhone is able to beat me. So what is for sure is that all electronic devices shouldn’t be allowed in the tournament hall. The punishment should definitely be very severe, but I’ll leave that to FIDE.

Who is your favorite player and why?

Kasparov – for his powerful style and killer instinct, that is how you become a World Champion and keep the title for many years. I still believe nobody is close to his power nowadays.

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