Home Page arrow Players & Ratings arrow Top Player Bios
GM Lev Alburt Print E-mail
ImageIn 1979, while playing at a club championship in West Germany, GM Lev Alburt drove to the police station. In fluent but accented German, he announced he wanted to defect to the United States. “I loved Russia, the people, my family… the life was very good for a chessplayer, but I hated the regime,” explains Lev, “I could have defected a few years before… I was holding out hope that the regime would improve or collapse.” Lev was 32 and couldn’t spend his life waiting. After weeks of tests and interviews at the American Embassy, he booked a plane to New York City, and has lived there ever since.

In America Lev played chess actively for a decade, winning three U.S. Championship titles. During this time an opportunity to embark upon a new long-term career in writing and publishing was presented to him. Fairfield Hoban, editor of Chess Life Magazine at the time, suggested that Lev write articles—in English. “I’m grateful that he convinced me that translating my bad English into good English was easier than translating great Russian into good English.”

Almost thirty years later Lev needs those English skills. He writes a popular monthly column for Chess Life, “Back to the Basics,” in which he comments on the thinking processes and games of American amateurs. He’s also a prolific chess publisher and co-author, with more than 20 books to his credit. He’s proud of two recent opening books, White Openings Explained and the Pirc Alert, as well as Endgames- Just the Facts!, which won the 2000 Chess Journalist of America Book of the Year award. See and index of all Alburt's book on USCF Sales.

 In November 2009, Lev was featured on the cover of Chess Life Magazine in a cover story by Al Lawrence, "From Russia With Lev."

Lev describes his style as slightly unorthodox, from his openings (Benko Gambit and Alekhine) to difficult decisions in the middlegame: “If there are two moves of seeming equal value, one of which is slightly crooked and the other which is straightforward,” Lev says, “I’ll pick the crooked one.”

GM Lev Alburt

Rating: 2636
Birthdate: 8-21-1945
Birthplace: Orenburg, Russia
Residence: New York, NY

Three-time Ukrainian champion (1972-74)
European Cup Champion (1976)
Three-time U.S Champion (1984, 1985 and 1990)