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Fedir Bohatyrchuk

Full name Fedir Parfenovych Bohatyrchuk
Country Ukraine Canada
Born 14 November 1892
Kiev, Ukraine

Fedir Parfenovych Bohatyrchuk (also Bogatirchuk, Bohatirchuk, Bogatyrtschuk) (in Ukrainian : Федір Парфенович Богатирчук, Fedir Parfenovych Bohatyrchuk; in Russian : Фёдор Парфеньевич Богатырчук, Fiodor Parfen'evitch Bogatyrchuk) (born 14 November 1892 in Kiev, Russian Empire - died 4 September 1984, Ottawa, Canada) was a Ukrainian-Canadian International Master of chess, and an International Master of correspondence chess. He also was a doctor of medicine (radiologist), a political activist, and a chess writer.

Russian-Ukrainian and Soviet chess

As a youth, Bohatyrchuk sometimes traveled to chess tournaments with the great Mikhail Chigorin (1850-1908), who had earlier lost a match for the World Championship to Wilhelm Steinitz. Chigorin trained the young player, and influenced his style and openings.

In 1911, Bohatyrchuk won, followed by Stefan Izbinsky, Efim Bogoljubov, etc., at Kiev. In February 1914, he lost an exhibition game against José Raúl Capablanca at Kiev. In 1914, he took 3rd at Kiev. In July/August 1914, he tied for 6th-10th at Mannheim (the 19th DSB Congress, Hauptturnier A). Bohatyrchuk, along with 10 other "Russian" players from the interrupted Mannheım tournament, was interned by Germany after the declaration of war against Russia, which began World War I. In September 1914, Bohatyrchuk and three others (Alexander Alekhine, Peter Petrovich Saburov, and N. Koppelman) were freed and allowed to return home.

Bohatyrchuk played in six USSR Chess Championships: 1923, 1924, 1927, 1931, 1933, and 1934. In July 1923, he tied for 3rd-5th at Petrograd (St Petersburg, Leningrad) at 2nd USSR Championship. In 1924, he took 2nd, behind Vilner, at Kiev (1st Ukrainian SSR Ch.). In August-September 1924, he tied for 3rd-4th at Moscow (3rd USSR Ch.).

In December 1925, he took 11th of 21 at Moscow (1st IT). The event was won by Efim Bogoljubov, followed by Emanuel Lasker, José Raúl Capablanca, Frank Marshall, etc. It was the first Soviet government-sponsored tournament, and had 11 of the world's top 16 players, based on ratings from Bohatyrchuk achieved a 2628 performance, according to the Chessmetrics website, which calculates historical ratings.

In 1926, Bohatyrchuk wrote the first chess book "Шахи" (Szachy, Shakhy, Chess) in Ukrainian. In 1927, he won at Kiev. In October 1927, he tied for 1st-2nd with Peter Romanovsky at Moscow (5th USSR Ch.). In 1929, he won at Kiev.

In November 1931, he tied for 3rd-6th at Moscow (7th USSR Ch.), with 10/17, as Mikhail Botvinnik won. In 1933, he won at Moscow (Quadrangular), with 4.5/6. In September 1933, he took 8th at Leningrad (8th USSR Ch.), with 10.5/19, as Botvinnik won again. In December 1934 /January 1935, he tied for 3rd-4th at Leningrad (9th USSR Ch.), with 11.5/19, just half a point behind the joint winners Grigory Levenfish and Ilya Rabinovich.

Success against Botvinnik

In March 1935, he tied for 16th-17th at Moscow (2nd IT), with 8/19. The event, which had 8 of the world's top 18 players, according to chessmetrics, was won by Botvinnik and Salo Flohr, but Bohatyrchuk beat Mikhail Botvinnik in their individual game. Bohatyrchuk has mentioned in his autobiography (printed in Russian in San Francisco in 1978) that just after this game the head of the Soviet chess delegation, Minister of Justice Nikolai Krylenko, approached him and said: "You will never beat Botvinnik again!" That was indeed the case as Bohatyrchuk never played Botvinnik again, leaving him with a lifetime score of (+3 =1 -0) against Botvinnik, who was, however, nearly 20 years younger.

In March 1936, he took 3rd at Kiev (8th Ukrainian SSR Ch.), with 11.5/17. In July 1937, he won at Kiev (the 9th Ukrainian Chess Championship), with 12.5/17. In 1938, he took 2nd at Kiev (USSR Ch. semi-final), with 11/17, behind only winner Vasily Panov, but he did not play at the 11th USSR Championship in 1939.

Medical career; Collaboration with the anti-communist Russian forces during World War II

Bohatyrchuk completed his high school studies in 1912, and entered the University of Kiev later that year to study medicine. During the Russian Civil War, he was employed by a military hospital, and was a professor of anatomy at the Institute of Physical Education and Sport in Kiev.

As a radiologist and medical doctor in 1940, Bohatyrchuk was seconded to a German medical research facility when Kiev fell to the Nazi armies in September 1941. During World War II, he was a head of the Ukrainian Red Cross, and the Institute of Experimental Medicine. While working with the Red Cross, Bohatyrchuk did a lot to help the Soviet prisoners of war kept in the German camps in extremely harsh conditions. These activities irritated the Germans, and in February 1942 Bohatyrchuk was arrested and spent about a month in a Gestapo detention centre in Kiev. There also exists information that, while working at the Institute of Experimental Medicine, Bohatyrchuk provided a cover to a Jewish female employee (a sister of the Kiev chess player Boris Ratner), thereby saving her from execution or deportation to a ghetto. At a later stage of the War, Bohatyrchuk signed the Prague Declaration and became viewed by the Soviet authorities as a Nazi collaborator. When the Soviet forces moved into Kiev, Bohatyrchuk, together with his family, migrated to Cracow, then Prague, in 1944. There he joined the Committee for Freedom of Peoples in Russia, an anti-communist, semi-military organization headed by the Russian general Andrey Vlasov, fighting for a Russia free of communism. (Vlasov's troops participated in the hostilities, to a limited extent, on both sides. They were supported by the Nazis because they were anti-Soviet, and were also supported by some US forces for the same reason.) Bohatyrchuk was also the leader of the Ukrainian National Council (Ukrainśka Narodna Rada). As a result of these activities, Bohatyrchuk was the number one "persona non grata" in Soviet chess until the defection of Viktor Korchnoi. The Soviets removed many of his games from their official records, but many of them were later reclaimed using outside sources.

Chess in Nazi-occupied Europe and American Zone of Occupation

In February 1944, he took 2nd, behind Efim Bogoljubow, at Radom (the 5th General Government chess tournament). In Spring 1944, he drew a match against Stepan Popel at Cracow (2 : 2). In May 1944, Bohatyrchuk played an 8-game training series against local players (Čeněk Kottnauer, Ludek Pachman, Podgorný, Průcha, etc.) at Prague (+7 =1 -0).

At the end of World War II, as the German armies were retreating, Bohatyrchuk moved to a number of cities including Berlin and Potsdam, and finally ended up in the American-controlled city of Bayreuth in May 1945. For a time he lived in Munich, playing in German chess events under the name of 'Bogenhols' ('Bogenko'), so as to avoid repatriation to the USSR. In 1946, he won, followed by Elmārs Zemgalis, Wolfgang Unzicker, etc. at Regensburg (Klaus Junge Memorial), with 7/9. In February 1947, he took 3rd at Kirchheim-Teck. In September 1947, he took 4th at Stuttgart.

Settles in Canada

After the end of World War II, the US, UK, and Canada chose to give asylum to numerous Nazi collaborators from Eastern Europe. Canada became a safe heaven for many Ukrainian collaborators. These policies were dictated by the exigencies of the Cold War, specifically by a hope to use some of these people in case the Cold War were to switch into a hot phase. Also, some of the immigrants had professional skills which were of interest to the western powers.

These policies enabled Bohatyrchuk to emigrate to Canada in 1948, where he became a professor of medicine at the University of Ottawa, and the author of many scientific studies and recollection books. At the congress of the Ukrainian federalists in Niagara Falls in 1952, he was elected Chairman of the Association of the Ukrainian Federalist Democrats, and chief editor of the press organs "Skhidnyak" and the "federalist Democrat". He is the author of many newspaper and periodical articles on the history of ODNR (Liberation Movement of Peoples of Russia), and books like "My Life Path to Vlasov and Manifesto of Prague" (San Francisco, 1978) (in Russian: Мой жизненный путь к Власову и Пражскому Манифесту, Moy zhiznennyi put' k Vlasovu i Prazhskomu Manifestu). In his publications, Bohatyrchuk never apologized for his collaboration with the Nazis, and tried to expose the Nazi-sponsored "Vlasov movement" merely as an alternative to Stalinism.

Chess in Canada

He played in three Closed Canadian Chess Championships. In 1949, he took 2nd at Arvida (winner was Maurice Fox), with 7/9, ahead of Daniel Yanofsky, Frank Anderson, and Povilas Vaitonis. In 1951, he tied for 3rd-4th places at Vancouver (winner was Povilas Vaitonis), with 8.5/12. In 1955, he tied for 3rd-5th at Ottawa (winner was Frank Anderson, ahead of Daniel Yanofsky). Bohatyrchuk also represented Canada at the 11th Chess Olympiad at Amsterdam 1954, playing board four (+7 =3 -5). In 1954 FIDE granted him the title of International Master. His earlier achievements, particularly in USSR Championships, may have been sufficient for the higher Grandmaster title, but the Soviets blocked this for political reasons. In his seventies he took up Correspondence chess, becoming Canadian Correspondence Chess Champion (1963, 1964) and playing 1st board for Canada at the Correspondence Chess Olympiad (1962-1965). Since 1967 he was ICCF International Master. Bohatyrchuk stayed active in local Ottawa chess into his early eighties, and played correspondence chess until age 85.

While living in Ottawa, Bohatyrchuk helped to train the young Lawrence Day (born 1949), who himself became a FIDE International Master in 1972, and who went on to represent Canada a record 13 times at Chess Olympiads. Day's chess style has been influenced significantly by Bohatyrchuk.

Notable chess games

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