Person of day   -  3 MAY 2024



Ivan Bukavshin grew up in Rostov-on-Don. During childhood, Ivan was trained by the celebrated couple Natalia and Alexander Petrushin before passing into the hands of international master Alexander Zakharov. Success came quickly for Bukashin; he split 1stplace at the world U10 championship, but came second due to the inferior tie-break. The boy was supported by the “New Commonwealth” alliance and the head of the chess section of Rostselmash.

In 2007, Bukavshin’s family moved to Tolyatti, where the young star was trained by Jakov Geller and Yuri Yakovich. Bukavshin rose steadily: in 2008, he won gold medals at the European and Russian junior championship and at the age of 16 he became a grandmaster. 

“It so happened that my training career began with Ivan. When I arrived, we just found each other. Chess was my life and profession and then a student like that came into my arms…we could train for days on end. I had no understanding of how to work with children, but I had a great desire to do something good for him…During our first tournament, Dmitry Froljanov joked that Ivan would become a grandmaster before me after meeting him. And so it happened. Four years later, at one of Moscow Open tournaments, he had to win 1,5 points in the last two rounds for a grandmaster’s score. As luck would have it, we were drawn against each other. We always struggled to play against each other, so our games usually ended as draws. But if we drew here, he would have to win as black against a strong grandmaster. It is hard to convey what a first grandmaster’s score means to a young man who lives by chess, but he approached me and said: “Jakov Vladimirovich, I do not want to play with you, there will be more scores!” But in those times, he would win 8 points out of 10 in blitz against me. Of course, I replied that he had a score to win and that we should play. At least he’ll know that he did everything he could. He won that game fair and square, despite all my attempts to fight back and he fulfilled the grandmaster’s score. Ivan won his second and third scores within a half-year- everything was decided in them with several round to go…” (J. Geller)  

In 2009, in the Turkish city of Akhisar, Ivan Bukavshin won the U16 Olympiad with the Russian team. After graduating from school, he enrolled in the law faculty of Ural’s State Mining University in Yekaterinburg. He won the Universiad with his college team and he was the champion of the Students’ Union at the students’ European championship. 

The last few years of his life were characterised by a rapid ascension: Ivan became the Russian U21 champion, split 1st-3rdplaces at the Higher League of the Russian Championship, qualified for the Russian Championship Superfinal, made his debut at the World Cup, won the Russian Cup, came 3rdat the Aeroflot Open and took his rating close to 2700 mark. 

“Ivan was the soul of any party. Though a grandmaster and a Russian Cup winner, he never declined a 10 year old’s request to play a few blitz matches against him. He also played football, table tennis and “mafia” with kids, not just chess. Children were attracted to him and he was interesting to adults…” (Y. Yakovich)

On 12thJanuary 2016, 20 year old Ivan Bukavshin was found dead a day after the end of a team training session in Tolyatti. The official version of his death was a stroke as a result of an undiagnosed aneurism of brain cells. But a later expertise revealed that Ivan’s organism contained a deadly dose of drotaverine. The final verdict on the conditions surrounding the grandmaster’s death has not been passed.

Ivan Bukavshin was buried in Banykinskoe Cemetery in Tolyatti.