27.01.2006  is the 62nd anniversary of siege of Leningrad raising day.

War year’s events are described in detail in the book “Chronicles of chess St. Petersburg”. However, no original documents due to which they became known, had been published. Besides, documents and letters which are of direct relevance to those distant days that have been unknown or have never been published were preserved in A. Model archives. You will find some of these really unique materials in this publication, I will just supply them with brief comments.  

Abram Model (1895-1976) organized chess life in the city during the war: he fulfilled the duties of the chess club director, he was the city sports committee chess inspector. It was he who founded chess section in the Pioneers Palace in the end of 1943 and gave lessons there. He classified tournaments in the military units and gave simuls there and in hospitals. This wonderful man was the director of one of the schools and the head of special trains which evacuated children from besieged city along the Road of Life.  

A.Model evacuated from besieged city almost 15000 of Leningrad children! Documents (travel order cards he was given for evacuation of children and transportation of food packages for the evacuated) you can see below were signed by P.Popkov (1903-1950), the head of Leningrad executive committee during the war, who shouldered all the decisions concerning rescue of the city. Petr Sergeevich became the First secretary of Leningrad regional and city committee of the C.P.S.U. after the war (in 1946-49) and later he was executed by shooting by the so called “Case of doctors” (1949-1952), which was one of the last outrages of the Stalin regime. There are notes of passing through border commands and sanitation-and-epidemiological posts overleaf.   

Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies

Executive committee

№095 June 25 1943

Travel Order Card

Given to Model Abram Yakovlevich, commander of the special train sent to Gorkovskaya oblast, by the Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies.

Mission period is 20 days.

Till August 15, 1942

Basis: order of the Leningrad city department of education of July 24, 1943 №176

Valid for passport №

The head of Executive committee of Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies /Popkov/

Secretary of Executive committee of Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies /Ponomairov/



Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies

Executive committee

№095 August 23, 1942

Travel Order Card

Given to A. Y. Model, director of school № 57 for adults of Smolnensky district, who is sent to Chelyabinsk region as an assistant to the special train commander and responsible officer for sending packages for children, evacuated from Leningrad in Chelyabinsk district.

Mission period 45/fourty five/ days, till October 8, 1942. On the expiry of the mission period A. Y. Model must arrive to the primary work location in Leningrad.

Basis: resolution of the executive committee of Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies 73-54 of 23/7/42

Valid for passport №

The head of Executive committee of Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies /Popkov/

Secretary of Executive committee of Leningrad city council of working people’s deputies /Ponomairov/

A copy of the document which practically saved his life was preserved in Model’s archives. Here comes its full text:


City department of accounting and distribution of food and manufactured cards attached to Leningrad city committee, Roshal embankment,8 tel 177-63, 158-31

№ 1401                       23/Х11 1941.

To chess master candidate, A. Y. Model

Copy for the chief of Kuibyshevsky district office.

City department of accounting and distribution of food and manufactured cards informs that you are allowed to get first category cards.

Deputy chief of city department (signature) (Trifonov)

True copy; June 1, 1942 (signature)

Master Lisitsin (1909-1972) informed more dead than alive Model about this very document in January 1942. Having received this document, Abram Yakovlevich sleighed with his daughter to Yeliseevsky store, where they had been given two-kilogram rations, which brought them to life.

In the book there was published a table of 1942 championship, the winner of which became a first-category chessplayer A.V.Perelygin  (1910-1981) and other prize-winners were pre-war masters. Nothing has been known about this tournament for 60 years but a publication in a magazine “Science and Life” memoirs of academician A.A.Makarov. He told about visiting this tournament, which had been carried out in November-December in the House of the Officers. This is original table of the tournament.   


An article had been published in a magazine “Chess in the USSR” №4 of 1985, which informed that in January 1943 at the direction of the city headquarters competitions of eight teams, which consisted of eight players each, were carried out according to the KO system, and the team of Kuibyshevsky district was the winner. I do not know whether match protocols that I have found in the Model’s archives relate to this competition (as you can see there were ten chessplayers in each team, and they played for military units instead of districts), but there is no doubt that they took place on January 3rd-4th 1943 in besieged Leningrad, and Perelygin headed one of the teams.

Protocol №4

Of teams chess match of 3/1 1948 results

Colonel Prokhorov’s military unit                                Colonel Petrov’s military unit

1. Glinternik -1/2                                                      1. Chernosvitov – 1/2
2. Leizerzon – 0                                                        2. Gurvich – 1
3. Atabayev – 0                                                       3. Sergeev - 1
4. Pavlov – 0                                                           4. Razumovsky -1
5. Trunkin – 1                                                          5. Ganshin - 0
6. Donasevich -1                                                      6. Semichev - 0
7. Kuzmin – ½                                                         7. Sorokin – 1/2
8. Lebedev – 1                                                         8. Bazarov - 0
9. Domansky -1                                                        9. Bazarov - 0
10. Sudakov - +                                                       10. /absent/ -

Match result: Colonel Prokhorov’s military unit team won with the score 6-4

There is another table filled in by A.Model, a table of Leningrad championship of 1944, in which he took the first place. At home I have original table which had been drawn up in the drawing of lots order, it was filled in daily, and judging by the size it hung on the wall of the chess club which was opened again in January. It’s certainly fair that among the prize-winners there was a city champion of 1943 F. Sklyarov (1910-1972) and unofficial city champion of 1942 Pereylgin. And things that had been done during the war for the city by its champion of 1944 A.Model can’t be called otherwise, but a deed.


The war was drawing to a close, many Leningrad chessplayers found themselves far away from their native city. Some were dreaming to get back to chess, others’ aim was to get back to native city, which had also been fraught with a lot of problems… Here are letters sent to Model by grandmaster (all the titles had been given to all of them after the war), Russian Soviet Republic and Leningrad champion A.Tolush (1910-1969)  from Vilnius, by an outstanding chess composer, grandmaster V.Korolkov (1907-1987) from Sverdlovsk and by a wonderful teacher, merited trainer of the USSR V. Zak (1913-1994) from Germany.


Letter from A.Tolush

Vilnius, November 9, 1944.

Dear Abram Yakovlevich!

I greet you from the new places where I’m going to take up chess affairs. Iaskforyouassistanceinonetinycase. A.Y.! let me know whether it’s possible to buy in Leningrad for cash about ten pairs of chess clocks and two-three tens of good chess sets. If it’s possible, please inform how many and how much it will cost – in this case I could manage to come to Petersburg.

Life is still dull here: there is no light, water and heating, in private stores it’s possible to get everything, but much more expensive than in Russia. I live like a knacker there is nowhere to sleep and even to wash myself. As soon as I organize my life here, I will write mode details about local affairs.

A.Y.! if it won’t trouble you very much, please be so kind as to inform me about the chess news from time to time, as the local seems to need them. Otherwise, there is no material for work. Howispoker? Icompletelyforgotthisaspect. Well, good bye; send my regards to your wife and daughter. Looking forward to hearing from you soon. Shaking your hand, yours Tolush.    

Letter from V.Korolkov

Dear comrade Model!

I thank you kindly for your favour. A postcard I received from you ineffably pleased me – it gave birth to a hope for leaving a foreign land and returning to the Motherland. I decided to avail myself your offer and I’m sending you an application – I think that it will cause greater effect with your resolutions. Following your advice I’ve written a very detailed application, in which I tell in details about my wife and myself (V Korolkov’s wife was O. Semenova-Tyan-Shanskaya (1911-1970), two-time chess champion of the USSR, a grand daughter of the famous scientist - А.К.). As a consequence of all mentioned above, I have another favor to ask of you – please send my application to the Committee with your (I hope positive) resolution.

I’ve got a letter from master A.Gerbstman (A.Gerbstman (1900-1982) – international master in composition, Ph.D. in philology, Professor - А.К.) -  he returns to Leningrad with the Academy of Arts.

I thank you in advance for all support. I’m sending you a postcard with my address just in case. Yours respectfully, V. Korolkov

July 23, 1944

Letter from V.Zak

Germany, 23.05.45

Dear Abram Yakovlevich!

Excuse me for writing you a business letter, but it’s in a human nature to bother even relatively little known people if you need something.

It’s not too difficult to guess that I want to ask you, as a chief of Leningrad chessplayers, not to forget about me, even in case of insignificant event.  

I also ask you to let me know the chess section address of the A.C. (All-Union Committee А.К.) in case any candidate master tournament is organized.

My general is a chessplayer himself, for this reason he will let me go at first request, and this, alas, is the only possibility (strange though it may seem) to come to the Motherland in the near future.

Send my regards to the friends.

Yours respectfully, V.Zak



In autumn ex-serviceman V.Zak could play in the Leningrad championship of 1945, and a year later ex-serviceman A.Tolush became the champion of native city (for the second time). Korolkovs returned to their house, decorated with P.Semenov-Tyan-Shansky memorial tablet on the Basil’s island

Chess in the city on the Neva river started its usual life.

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