Leonid Shamkovich


U.S. Chess

Hall of Fame

Inducted 2004







Born in southern Russia, Leonid Shamkovich dropped out of Leningrad State University one semester short of graduation to become a full-time chess player. He won the Russian Chess Championship twice, in 1954 and 1956, and placed fifth at the 1964-65 Soviet Championship. After becoming a grandmaster in 1975, he won several tournaments, the most impressive of these being at Sochi 1967. During the early 1970s, he immigrated briefly to Israel and then to Canada before finally settling in the United States in 1973, where he quickly became a powerful force on the American chess scene. In 1976 he was winner of both the World Open and the U.S. Open, sharing the latter title with Lein and in 1977 tied again for the U.S. Open.

In addition to his achievements as a player, Shamkovich is one of the most respected authorities on chess sacrifices and tactics. He is the author of more than a dozen books, including The Modern Chess Sacrifice. He also has been a major influence through his work as teacher and trainer of some of the world’s best players, including Mikhail Tal and Garry Kasparov. Nicknamed “Prince” for his regal bearing and speech, Shamkovich continued to play into the 1990s. In 2005, he passed away from complications related to cancer and Parkinson’s disease at his home in Brooklyn.

Notable Games

Fedor Khropatin
Leonid Shamkovich in 2005
Courtesy of US Chess