From an early age, Lev Aptekar practiced his chess moves like few others. In the Art of Chess, a celebrated three-volume series he wrote about his life’s celebrated activity, he presented the game like an art gallery, with some of his own creative enjoying pride of place, in particular his knack for exciting combinations and tricky endgames, always emphasising the need to spot typical positions in which specific tactical themes tend to occur.
Aptekar was born in Kiev on November 26, 1936, at the tail end of a period in which anti-Semitic attitudes permeated the world of European chess and Jews actively excluded from many leading clubs. Nevertheless, he pursued the game with rare passion.
In time, he became a member of that cultivated and brilliant generation of Soviet chess players, whose ranks include Boris Spassky, Mikhail Tal and Viktor Korchnoi, who once dominated the international game like none before or since.
Like Tal and Korchnoi, he was also born into a Jewish family; unlike those fellow grandmasters, he was to find his ultimate home not on the board or in the USSR. In 1975, he left the Soviet Union for New Zealand, where he quickly made a mark, sharing a first prize with future grandmaster Murray Chandler in the national championships held the following year in Upper Hutt .
In 1980 he represented New Zealand at the Chess Olympiad in Malta. As National Chess Coach in 1988 and 1990 he was official manager of the New Zealand Olympiad teams in Thessaloniki and Novi Sad. He moved to Sydney, Australia, in 2011.
Image above header: Photograph courtesy of Lev Aptekar. © Lev Aptekar 2013