The Fabulous 50s: Fischer takes on Petrosian in Blitz, 1958

Young Bobby

At the Moscow Central Chess Club, 1958, the following photograph was taken.

15-year-old Bobby Fischer was taking on future-WC Tigran Petrosian in blitz.   Click on the photo to enlarge. The interesting question is, who are the onlookers?


I posed this question on the social networking website “Facebook”.  It’s amazing what we found out.

The easiest identification is third from the left, standing.  That’s many-times Candidate GM Yefim Geller.

That leaves us with the puzzle of the others….first of all, GM Fedorowicz informed that the young fellow standing on the left is American Larry Evans!  (probably not a GM yet).

Then, Tom Bartell informed me that the person seated next to the board is Anatoly Volovich!  I played Volovich fully 30 years later at Hunter College, NYC, in 1988, in the fantastically named “Gnomes of Zurich” Swiss-system tournament (result=draw).  How did Tom know that?  Anatoly told Tom :).   The 1988-vintage Anatoly had a beard; it would have a stretch for me to have named him.

So now we are “hunting” for more names to put on the faces!

Postscript April 5, 2010

This just in from Dan Scoones:

Here is another photo taken during the same blitz session.  From this angle it’s pretty obvious that the guy in the upper left is Yakov Estrin.  And it’s also a good bet that the guy sitting to Petrosian’s right is Evgeny Vasyukov, who is also known to have played Fischer on this occasion.  The downside is that there are a lot more guys in the background who we will probably never identify!
Dan Scoones

Estrin! Vasiukov!


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12 Responses to “The Fabulous 50s: Fischer takes on Petrosian in Blitz, 1958”

  1. Dan Scoones Says:

    I don’t know who the guy standing on the left is, but there’s no way it’s Larry Evans! I thought the seated guy might be Evgeny Vasyukov, who is known to have played Fischer at that session, but the evidence of an eyewitness is pretty convincing. The guy in the light jacket right behind Fischer looks familiar from old issues of Shakhmaty v SSSR, etc., but I can’t put a name to him right now.

    Why can’t it be Evans? Just curious. Does anyone have Evans’s email?

  2. nezhmet Says:

    We need to ask some old-timers such as Anatoly Lein, etc. (need an email).

  3. Granny O'Doul Says:

    Isn’t the guy on the left Jack Kerouac? Anyway, I don’t think it is Evans either, as for one thing he did not play in the Portoroz interzonal and I never heard of him having been Fischer’s second then, so I don’t think he’d have accompanied Fischer on the Moscow trip just prior.

  4. Dan Scoones Says:

    I’ve come to believe that the man in the light jacket directly behind Fischer is Yakov Estrin. Try this link for a photo of Estrin from the early 1980s:

    With all respect, and although there is a slight resemblance, the man on the left cannot be Larry Evans. The hairline, the nose, the complexion, etc., do not match.

    It is a sure bet that all of the spectators are strong players. The USSR Central Chess Club was never a drop-in centre for woodshifters!

  5. Granny O'Doul Says:

    Actually, there is a resemblance between Evans and the Petrosian of these pics.

  6. charles Says:

    there is a gentleman in miami that owns a chess set that was played on in a cuban olympiad between fischer and petrosian… he owns the tournament books with pictures.. craziness.

  7. Paul Denham Says:

    Without a doubt the man standing behind the guy to the right of Fischer is Yakov Neishtadt (He has moustache and prominent nose). Think he was Editor of 64 or one of the other big Chess Magazines. Sosonko covered his life in an article in the book Smart Chip from St Petersburg

  8. Paul Denham Says:

    The guy sitting with the thick glasses could well be Vladimir Bagirov

  9. Irina Huynh Says:

    Actually, the guy sitting next to the board in the first photo and to the left of the board in the second photo is Anatoly A. Bykhovsky, featured here My dad, his lifelong friend identified him in this photo. When he told Anatoly Bykhovsky that he was mistakenly identified as A. Volovich, Bykhovsky said that they’ve mistaken one for the other all of their lives. Even thought he does not think they look alike, the do have the same first name and surname (Anatoly Abramovich).

  10. tomate Says:

    I think the guy behind the clock is Makogonov
    and the man standing behind Makogonov and Vasiukov
    is Goglidze

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