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Lev Alburt – The Refugee Grandmaster
 
Lev Osipovich Alburt was born in Odessa, where he lived until 1979. He studied at the school of physics of the Odessa university, and later spent two years doing his postgraduate work there, but his life's interest always remained with the chess.
 
He won the Ukrainian Chess Championship three times in a row, from 1972 to 1974. He earned the International Master title in 1976, and became a Grandmaster the following year, achieving a status that allowed him to make frequent trips abroad, including to Capitalist countries, closed for normal Soviet citizens.
 
Alburt defected to the United States in 1979: while on a chess tour in West Germany, he escaped the attention of his KGB "curator", drove to a local police station and declared he wanted to seek asylumn in America. 
 
Later he said he could defect two years before that, but had decided against it - to wait and see if the Soviet regime would collapse or reform and become more humane. Neither had happened, so Alburt decided it was time to go....
 
For  several months he had to stay with his former coach, fellow Ukrainian chess player and chess journalist Michael Faynberg. The situation did not last long: soon he received widespread recognition, and in 1980, Alburt headed the U.S. Chess Olympic team in Malta. Later, in 1985–88, Alburt would serve on the Board of Directors of the United States Chess Federation.
 
Alburt won the U.S. Chess Championship in 1984, 1985, and 1990, and the U.S. Open Chess Championships in 1987 and 1989. In 1986 he drew an eight-game match with British Chess Champion Jonathan Speelman.
 
Alburt is a prolific author of chess guides and bestseller books and a renown chess trainer. In 2004, he was awarded the title of FIDE Senior Trainer. A variation of Alekhine's Defence is named after him: the Alburt Variation.
 
Sources:
White King and Red Queen: How the Cold War was Fought on the Chessboard
Lev Alburt player profile and games at Chessgames.com

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