Sunday, June 30, 2013
Doctor Zhivago of chess
By ANDY SOLTIS
Last Updated: 11:08 PM, June 29, 2013
Posted: 9:43 PM, June 29, 2013
Boris Spassky recalled how he met the Doctor Zhivago of chess:
En route to a tournament in Winnipeg, Spassky was visited at his hotel by Fyodor Bohatyrchuk, a famed radiologist and one of the greatest players of the 20th century.
But Spassky had seen an official list of “evil enemies” of the USSR. Their names could not be uttered — and Bohatyrchuk was at the top of the list.
Bohatyrchuk’s crime was that during World War II, while heading a Red Cross unit in occupied Ukraine, he fled with the retreating Nazi army and emigrated to Ottawa. He was denounced as a traitor.
But Spassky was charmed during his 1967 meeting with Bohatyrchuk, which he called “a gift of fate.”
Yet, when he later showed former world champion Mikhail Botvinnik a postcard he got from Bohatyrchuk, Botvinnik said, “I would personally hang this man in the city center.”
Spassky recalled his encounter this month, after the publication of a biography, “Fyodor Bohatyrchuk, the Doctor Zhivago of Soviet Chess” by Sergey Voronkov.