contributed by Giuseppe Gabelli

• Mikhail Tal was not yet an International Master when he won the 24th USSR championship at Moscow 1957. FIDE made an exception to regulations and awarded him directly the Grand Master title (to counter-balance this, they similarly awarded the GM title to US Champion Arthur Bisguier). Next year Taimanov declared that if Tal, with his daring style, should win the title a second time, he would give up playing chess. Tal won again, but luckily for the chess world Taimanov kept playing. He later declared that Tal was one of his favourite players.

• Vladimir Savon was not yet an IM when he began the 39th USSR Championship: he won the tournament 1½ points ahead of Smyslov and Tal.

• Botvinnik did not play the 15th championship in 1947 in protest over the cancellation of the world championship (it was played the following year and he became the sixth world champion).

• The largest margin of victory was Botvinnik's 3 point victory in the 14th Championship. Bogolubov won the 3rd Championship by 2½, Korchnoi won the 32nd by 2 points, and Tal won the 40th by 2. Botvinnik also won the 7th and 13th championships by 2 points.

• Petrosian was unbeaten in six Soviet Championships (21st, 22nd, 25th, 26th, 37th, 41st). His nickname “The Rock” seems well deserved, considering that he also lost only one game out of 129 in the Olympiads! Other players who went through the tournament unbeaten more than once were Tal (35th, 40th, 46th), Botvinnik (11th, 14th), Korchnoi (32nd, 34th), and Geller (45th, 47th). The Players who went undefeated one time were Alekhine, Averbakh, Bogolubov, Boleslavsky, Dorfman, Epishin, Georgadze, Gulko, Karpov, Kasparov, Lilienthal, Magerramov, Novikov, Savon, Smyslov, Sokolov, Spassky, Taimanov, Yudasin, and Alexander Zaitsev.

• Mark Taimanov played more games than any other in the Soviet championships: 436 games from 1948 to 1976 (including play-off games). Following are Geller with 423 games, Bronstein with 375, Polugaevsky - 367, Tal - 358, Smyslov - 356, Kholmov - 310, Korchnoi 304, Petrosian - 293, and Averbach - 283.

• Mikhail Tal was the youngest winner of a Soviet title: he was 20 years and two months old when he won the 24th USSR championship at Moscow 1957 (he won it again the next year). Efim Geller was the oldest: he was 54 when he won the 47th championship in 1979.

• Garry Kasparov was the youngest participant in a Soviet championship: he was 15 years and 8 months old when he played in the 46th URS-ch, Tbilisi 1978 (he didn’t yet have a FIDE rating, and finished 9th out of 18). Vassily Smyslov was the oldest: he was 67 when he played in the 55th URS-ch, Moscow 1988.

• The two most peaceful performances in the Soviet Championship were that of Geller in the 45th Championship (+1-0=14), and Novikov in the 58th (+1-0=10).

• There were two Soviet Championships in 1961, the 28th in January and February, and the 29th in November and December. This is the only time that this happened, though there were 4 other occasions, when a tournament begun in December carried over into January, making parts of two tournaments in the same year.

• The smallest Soviet Championship was the 6th, consisting of 12 players, separated into 2 divisions. The smallest round robin tournament was the 2nd, consisting of 13 players. The largest was the 35th, a 126-man Swiss.

• The record for consecutive championship appearances is 13, held by Mark Taimanov, who appeared in every championship from the 19th through the 31st. Boris Spassky, who played in only 11 championships, nevertheless managed to play in 10 in a row (the 22nd through the 31st)

• The most number of championship appearances without a victory is held by Yuri Balashov, who played in 16 tournaments without managing a First Place finish.

• Lev Polugavesky played in 20 Soviet Championships, and finished with a winning score in each one.

• STUCK IN A RUT: In three consecutive championships, (the 26th, 27th, and 28th), David Bronstein finished in a tie for 12th place, with a score of 9 points out of 19.

• EARLY SUCCESS: Andrei Sokolov won the championship on his first attempt, and then never did so again. Lev Psakhis won the championship on his first two attempts, and never did it again.

• The smallest winning score ever to win a Soviet Championship is the +3 score that was good enough to win the 52nd Championship. The highest was Bogolubov's +13 score in the 3rd Championship.

• WORST TO FIRST: Alexander Belyavsky finished dead last in the 41st Championship in 1973, then finished tied for First in the 42nd Championship, a year later.

• FIRST TO WORST: Vitaly Tseshovsky finished tied for first in the 46th Championship. In the 47th Championship, he finished tied for last. In the 53rd championship, he finished clear first. In the 54th, he finished tied for last.

• THE CELLAR: The record for most last place finishes is jointly held by Bukhuti Gurgenidze and Viktor Kupreichik, each of which finished in or tied for Last Place on four separate occasions.
         Eight other players finished last more than one time (twice each). These include Lev Alburt, Grigory Goldberg, Andrei Kharitonov, Victor Lyublinsky, Vladimir Malaniuk, Aleksander Nikitin, Ilia Smirin and Vitaly Tseshkovsky.
         The 54th championship was unique, in featuring not one, but TWO former Champions, Gurevich and Tseshovsky, in last place.
         Two future US Champions finished in last place in a Soviet Championship: Lev Alburt (twice), and Roman Dzindzichashvili.
         WORST TO FIRST: People who have both won the Soviet Championship AND finished in last place in it include Mikhail Gurevich, Vitaly Tseshkovsky (who finished last twice), Vladimir Savon, Mark Taimanov, and Peter Romanovsky (who was once last by a point and a half, but who might have avoided it if he had not fallen ill and forfeited his last 3 games).
         The worst ever performance, both in terms of overall percentage, and in terms of lowest finish, was the 1½-11½ score of Varzhapetian in the 35th championship, for an 11.5% scoring percentage, and a clear 126th place finish.
         Finally, as an answer to those who think that the key to chessic excellence is to have a last name beginning with K, there have been 10 different "K's" to have finished last in a Soviet Championship:  Kasparian, Kharitonov (twice), Khasin, Kholodkevich, Kirillov, Klaman, Klovans, Kutuzov, Kupreichik (four times), and Kuzmin.

• BOTVINNIK'S BETE NOIRE: Botvinnik's most troublesome opponent was Fedor Bohatirchuk, who beat him in the in the 5th and 8th championships, and drew with him in the 7th, for a championship record of +2-0=1 against him. After a 3rd victory over Botvinnik in 1935, that cost him first place in the Moscow International, Bohatirchuk was promised by Justice Minister Krylenko that "You will never beat Botvinnik again", and indeed he was never again allowed near him. During World War II, Bohatirchuk joined an Anti-Stalinist organization, and eventually escaped to Canada, where he was the most significant un-person of Soviet Chess until Korchnoi relieved him of the role in 1976. Bohatirchuk remained in Canada until his death in 1984, at the age of 92.