Person of day - 8 JULY 2023
Vitaly Sevastyanov was a truly legendary figure. He was a Soviet cosmonaut and a two-time hero of the Soviet Union, celebrated for his flights on Soyuz-9, Soyuz-18 and the orbital station called Soyuz-4. He also played in the first chess match between Space and Earth in 1970…
He had a particular affinity for chess and he became a notable figure in the chess world. In 1977, he was elected Chairman of the Soviet Chess Federation. He remained in this position until 1986, and then again in 1988-1989.
Sevastyanov promoted chess with his status and personality, since cosmonauts were revered. Vitaly played a large part in the match between Karpov and Korchnoi in Baggio in 1978. When Karpov lost threegames out of four towards the end and his advantage evaporated, the atmosphere among the Soviet delegates was alarmed. The recently-arrived Sevastyanov managed to lighten the atmosphere; a man whose profession is based on extraordinary situations did that with consummate efficiency. To help Karpov overcome his fears, Sevastyanov persuaded to take a drive to Manila, to watch the final of the basketball world championship between USSR and Yugoslavia. The Soviet team may have lost, but the trip was nonetheless justified: Karpov won the final, decisive game.
He had enormous respect in the chess world- he was a member of FIDE’s Central Committee, an honorary member of FIDE and an international arbiter. Space exploration and chess were fundamental parts of Soviet culture and they intertwined in Vitaly Sevastyanov’s life, making him the object of adoration for millions of people.
Vitaly Sevastyanov died in Moscow in April 2010.