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Rashid Nezhmetdinov

Full name Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov
Country Soviet Union
Born December 15, 1912
Aktiubinsk, Russian Empire
Title International Master
Peak rating 2455 (January 1973)

Rashid Gibiatovich Nezhmetdinov (Tatar: Cyrillic Рәшит Һибәт улы Нәҗметдинов, Latin Räşit Hibät ulı Näcmetdinov, Russian: Рашид Гибятович Нежметдинов; December 15, 1912 - June 3, 1974) was an eminent Soviet chess player, chess writer, and checkers player.

Early life

Nezhmetdinov was born in Aktubinsk, Russian Empire, in what is now Aktobe, Kazakhstan, in a Tatar family. His parents died when he was very young, leaving him and two other siblings to be raised by their brother. The orphaned, impoverished family moved to Kazan, Tatar ASSR.

Nezhmetdinov had a natural talent for both chess and checkers. He learned chess by watching others play at a chess club, whereupon he challenged one of the players, won, and then challenged another player, winning that game as well. At 15, he played in Kazan's Tournament of Pioneers, winning all 15 games. He also learned to play checkers at this time. During the same month in which he learned the game, he won Kazan's checkers semi-final and placed second in the finals. In the same year, he placed sixth in the Russian Checkers Championship. He later won the Russian Checkers Championship at least once. Later, however, he gave up checkers for chess.


During World War II, Nezhmetdinov served in the military, thus delaying the further progress of his chess career until 1946. In 1949, the Russian Checkers Semifinals were held in Kazan. Nezhmetdinov attended as a spectator, but when one of the participants failed to show up, Nezhmetdinov agreed to substitute for him even though he hadn't played checkers for 15 years. He won every game, qualifying him for the Finals, which were to be held immediately after a chess tournament in which he was also participating. He won the tournament and immediately thereafter placed second in the Russian Checkers Championship.

Chess career

Playing style

Nezhmetdinov was a fierce, imaginative, attacking player who beat many of the best players in the world.

Russian Championship

Nezhmetdinov got the historical record of five wins of the Russian Chess Championship.

International Master title

FIDE awarded him the International Master title for his second-place finish behind Korchnoi at Bucharest 1954, the only time he was able to compete outside of the Soviet Union. Despite his extraordinary talent, he never was able to obtain the grandmaster title. Grandmaster Yuri Averbakh, a strong positional and endgame player, suggested a possible reason for this in his interview by Dirk Jan ten Geuzendam in The Day Kasparov Quit:

Nezhmetdinov, ... if he had the attack, could kill anybody, including Tal. But my score against him was something like 8½-½ because I did not give him any possibility for an active game. In such cases he would immediately start to spoil his position because he was looking for complications.

Results against world champions

Nezhmetdinov won a number of games against world champions such as Tal, against whom he had a lifetime plus score, and Spassky. He also had success against other world-class grandmasters such as Bronstein, Polugaevsky, and Geller. He achieved a plus score in the 20 games he contested against World Champions. But in addition to his aforementioned dismal score against Averbakh, he could only score +0−3=2 each against excellent defenders Petrosian and Korchnoi.


Kazan Chess school is currently named after Rashid Nezhmetdinov.


Bronstein also wrote that Nezhmetdinov was "a fantastic mathematician."

Illustrative games

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Polugaevsky-Nezhmetdinov, position after White's 24th move

This is Nezhmetdinov's most celebrated brilliancy, featuring a queen sacrifice:

Polugaevsky-Nezhmetdinov, 28th RSFSR Championship, Sochi 1958 1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 d6 3.Nc3 e5 4.e4 exd4 5.Qxd4 Nc6 6.Qd2 g6 7.b3 Bg7 8.Bb2 O-O 9.Bd3 Ng4 10.Nge2 Qh4 11.Ng3 Nge5 12.O-O f5 13.f3 Bh6 14.Qd1 f4 15.Nge2 g5 16.Nd5 g4 17.g3 fxg3 18.hxg3 Qh3 19.f4 Be6 20.Bc2 Rf7 21.Kf2 Qh2+ 22.Ke3 Bxd5 23.cxd5 Nb4 24.Rh1 Rxf4!! 25.Rxh2 Rf3+ 26.Kd4 Bg7!! A "quiet" move, threatening 27...b5! and 28...Nec6#. 27.a4 c5+ 28.dxc6 bxc6 29.Bd3 Nexd3+ 30.Kc4 d5+ 31.exd5 cxd5+ 32.Kb5 Rb8+ 33.Ka5 Nc6+ 0-1 Polugaevsky is quoted as saying, "I must have beaten Rashid a dozen times. But that one loss was so good I would have traded them all to be on the other side of the board."

Nezhmetdinov-Tal, Baku 1961 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 e6 6.Be2 Nbd7 7.O-O a6 8.f4 Qc7 9.g4 b5 10.a3 Bb7 11.Bf3 Nc5 12.Qe2 e5 13.Nf5 g6 14.fxe5 dxe5 15.Nh6 Ne6 16.Bg2 Bg7 17.Rxf6 Bxf6 18.Nd5 Qd8 19.Qf2 Nf4 20.Bxf4 exf4 21.e5 Bxe5 22.Re1 f6 23.Nxf6+ Qxf6 24.Qd4 Kf8 25.Rxe5 Qd8 26.Rf5+ gxf5 27.Qxh8+ Ke7 28.Qg7+ Ke6 29.gxf5+ 1-0

Nezhmetdinov-Paoli, Bucharest 1954 (First Brilliancy Prize) 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 d6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 a6 6.Bg5 e6 7.Qf3 Be7 8.O-O-O Qc7 9.Rg1 Bd7 10.g4 Nc6 11.Be3 h6 12.h4 Rc8 13.g5 hxg5 14.hxg5 Ne5 15.Qg2 Ng8 16.f4 Nc4 17.Bxc4 Qxc4 18.f5 b5 19.Kb1 b4 20.g6 e5 21.b3 Qxc3 22.gxf7+ Kd8 23.Qxg7 exd4 24.Bxd4 Qxc2+ 25.Ka1 Rh2 26.Bb6+ Rc7 27.Qxg8+ 1-0

Nezhmetdinov-Chernikov, Rostov 1962 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 g6 5.Nc3 Bg7 6.Be3 Nf6 7.Bc4 O-O 8.Bb3 Ng4 9.Qxg4 Nxd4 10.Qh4 Qa5 11.O-O Bf6 12. Qxf6!? A stunning conception - a positional sacrifice of his queen for two pieces and a strong initiative. Ne2+ 13.Nxe2 exf6 14.Nc3 Re8 15.Nd5 Re6 16.Bd4 Kg7 17.Rad1 d6 18.Rd3 Bd7 19.Rf3 Bb5 20.Bc3 Qd8 21.Nxf6 Be2 22.Nxh7+ Kg8 23.Rh3 Re5 24.f4 Bxf1 25.Kxf1 Rc8 26.Bd4 b5 27.Ng5 Rc7 28.Bxf7+ Rxf7 29.Rh8+ Kxh8 30.Nxf7+ Kh7 31.Nxd8 Rxe4 32.Nc6 Rxf4+ 33.Ke2 1-0