EGEG, a new title (Sep 2016) by John Roycroft (b.1929)
Yuri Bazlov is a renowned Russian composer of scintillating but never obscure
prize-winning studies published over a long period. Being selective both as to style
and where he sends them it has taken a while for him to amass the FIDE Album points
needed to qualify for the title of Composition Grandmaster, awarded in 2016.
So what is Bazlov’s secret? In short it is to stick to the ideals of the
classical composers such as Troitzky, the Platov brothers and Zakhodyakin. The fact
that he eschews late 20th and early 21st century trends does not mean that he does not
hold opinions about them, but rather that he has withheld expressing them in public.
This changed early in 2015 when an article, embellished with 25 examples, appeared
under his name on the Russian language website run by the Volgograd chess activist Oleg
article’s title translates as Trends are all very well, but ... The burden of
Bazlov’s thesis is that modern tendencies in study composition are in many cases
to be deplored – and should not be encouraged by study tourney judges.
Bazlov’s polemical article – it is not designed to make him popular with
the movers and shakers – impressed me in a number of ways: its measured tone;
its choice of many examples relevant to every point he wishes to make; its level-headed
and reasoned argument; its detailed analysis of content and criticism of defenders of
said content; its not infrequent invocation of humour; its frankness; its overall
It soon became clear to me that a translation into English was of importance to the
study world as a whole. So I set about it. It was far from straightforward: in just a
few places the intended meaning remains in doubt, and that is where I have included the
Russian original. But it is now done and can be read in its entirety in EGEG, a
self-publication. If you, my respected enthusiast for studies, are yourself unhappy
with any of the following (to be found in proliferation in tourney awards), my
recommendation is that Bazlov’s article is for you, because it will bring clarity
of thought in its train.
And here are ‘the following’: deep reciprocal zugzwangs, never explained;
numerical records; ‘monstrous’ positions; the ‘foresight’
effect; unnecessary force; multiple early exchanges in the solution’s main line;
‘EGTB’ justification without explanation; levels of nested parenthetical
variations. A few of Bazlov’s examples demonstrate that contemporary composers
can match, and outperform, the undisputedly brilliant modern school (or schools). But
there is no doubt about whom Bazlov is targeting: tourney judges. For myself I would
put it like this: publish what you like where you like, but tourney judging is a
different matter altogether.
As well as Bazlov’s thesis there is a great deal more to browse for in EGEG.
John Beasley expounds the contribution made by Marc Bourzhutsky. David Blundell
deconstructs some of his own work. Steffen Nielsen chooses three studies (none of them
his own) that he admires. And at my request Russian specialist Sarah Hurst has
translated, for the first time, or so I believe, into any language, a
‘dramaturgical’ dialogue between ‘Black’ and
‘White’ from the pen of the mercurial Sigizmund Khrzhizhznovsky, who was
not treated as a dissident in the Soviet era, but who nevertheless met obstacle after
obstacle in his path to publish – in his lifetime.
Three tourney awards that I had the honour and pleasure to judge are included, two of
them unabridged. They are BCPS 2012 ‘G’; Hero-Towns VII; Phénix 2006-2011 (when no one
else wanted the job!). Makeweights are AJR-relevant snatches of autobiography, photos,
compositions and otb games. Not everything is explicit – the reader may have to
work here and there. The volume has 398 pages and comes in two editions differing only
in that one has pages in colour and the other does not. The binding is similar to that
of Stinking Bishops, namely ‘coil’, to facilitate opening flat.
If you are interested in purchasing, please e-mail me:
and for the curious there is more about me elsewhere on the BCPS site and on
John Roycroft (‘AJR’)
London, September 2016