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Igor Zaitsev

Full name Igor Arkadyevich Zaitsev
Country Russia
Soviet Union
Born May 27, 1938
Ramenskoye, Moscow, Russia
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2520 (July 1971)

Igor Arkadyevich Zaitsev (Russian: Игорь Аркадьевич Зайцев; born May 27, 1938) is a Russian grandmaster of chess. He is of Armenian descent.

Early life and family

Zaitsev was born in Ramenskoye, a town outside Moscow. His Armenian father, Arkady Gevorgovich Aghaian, was a deputy commander of a warship; his mother, Anna Fyodorovna Zaitseva, was a worker at the Red Banner Textile Factory.

Chess career

In 1969, Zaitsev attained the title of Moscow Champion by defeating Yakov Estrin using the Giuoco Piano opening. The next year, Zaitsev was given the title of International Master and in 1976 he became a Grandmaster.

Zaitsev played in six USSR Chess Championships (1962, 1967, 1968-69, 1969, 1970, 1991), his best finishes being 15th-16th in Riga 1970.

His results in international tournaments include 2nd at Polanica-Zdrój 1970; 2nd at Dubna 1976; 1st at Quito 1976.

Contribution to theory

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Flohr-Zaitsev Variation in Ruy Lopez

Zaitsev is best known for his contribution to opening theory. His variation of the Ruy Lopez opening (known as the Flohr-Zaitsev Variation, being jointly named for Grandmaster Salo Flohr) follows one of the main lines of the Ruy Lopez and remains in wide use today. In the Flohr-Zaitsev Variation, Black plays 9...Bb7 after the following moves have been played: 1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6 5.0-0 Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 0-0 9.h3. The move is popular because it fianchettoes the light-squared bishop, putting pressure on White's pawn on e4.


Zaitsev became one of the trainers of World Champion Anatoly Karpov in the late 1970s, following the death of Karpov's coach Semyon Furman in March, 1978. Zaitsev was one of Karpov's seconds in a number of his World Championship matches, including the matches against Garry Kasparov in 1984 to 1990.

Karpov popularized Zaitsev's line at the top level, playing it with success for many years.

Zaitsev is Honoured Coach of USSR and Russia. In 2006 he was awarded the title of FIDE Senior Trainer.


Notable games