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Eugene Znosko-Borovsky

Eugene Alexandrovich Znosko-Borovsky (1884-1954) was a Russian chess master, writer, teacher and literary critic.

Born in St. Petersburg on August 16th 1884, he learnt to play chess as a young boy, gaining prizes in local and regional tournaments whilst progressing to a first class education at the prestigious Lyceum of the Emperor Alexander I.

Making his international chess tournament debut at Ostend in 1906, where he won the brilliancy prize for his game against Amos Burn, Znosko-Borovsky's playing career was frequently interrupted by other events in his life. Decorated and wounded in military conflicts, he first served as a volunteer in the Russo-Japanese battles of 1904 and 1905 and was again called into service during the Great War. Following evacuation, he was taken by a British ship to Constantinople and from there, proceeded to Paris, which remained his home from 1920 onwards.

As a player, Znosko-Borovsky fell short of the very highest accolades. He did however have some notable results in international competition, including Paris 1930, where he finished first without loss, ahead of Savielly Tartakower, Andor Lilienthal and Jacques Mieses. Success often came in individual encounters with his more distinguished peers; he also won impressive games against José Raúl Capablanca, Akiba Rubinstein, Max Euwe and Efim Bogoljubov as well as a short match with Edgard Colle in 1922. He was also skilled at simultaneous exhibition play.

In conversation and as a lecturer, teacher or writer of chess, his abilities were widely acknowledged, particularly in Russia and France where he also contributed regular articles and columns to magazines and newspapers. Indeed, it was in the field of writing that he excelled, penning many popular books including The Evolution of Chess (1910), Capablanca and The Muzio Gambit (both 1911). Capablanca and Alekhine followed World War I and most of his later offerings were translated into English, principally The Middle Game in Chess, How not to play Chess, How to play Chess Openings and The Art of Chess Combination.

Znosko-Borovsky also achieved distinction as a literature and drama critic and was regarded by some as an expert on Russian Theatre. He died on 31 December 1954.