In memory of Mark Dvoretsky, Legendary Chess Trainer (1947-2016)

By Davide Nastasio

At the moment, I am writing about a funny occurrence regarding this tragic circumstance. Today is September 26th , 9:00 am, and I received the terrible news of Dvoretsky’s death through a message by GM Shankland which was sent via FB.   To avoid being the victim of a misunderstanding, I always check my sources, especially before publishing something of this level. Now, we all take Wikipedia as our reliable encyclopedic source, but strangely in the earlier posting Dvoretsky’s death is dated for tomorrow–September 27th!

I went to check the original source, and I guess the Wikipedia editors are even more rusty than me in Russian, since it is clearly written September 26th!




There is, however, another reason we do know Dvoretsky died on September 26th, because his death was commemorated with one minute of silence at the beginning of the Tal’s memorial, an amazing tournament which remembers one of the best chess players of all time.

This legendary trainer, the one we should all learn from with his wonderful books, is dead at a relatively young age, since for a man in Western civilization, 68 years old is a kind of premature death.  The average should be at least around 79.

I feel saddened, because about 15 days ago I began to see a video series on the endgames made by Dvoretsky in collaboration with GM Gustafsson.  I was quite pleased to see him in a video, and inside I thought, “I wish he will make many more videos, since I really like his personality, and the stories he tells….” Unfortunately, we never know when Death will take us.



Gustafsson and Dvoretsky


But who was Dvoretsky? We are lucky, because after writing a dozen books on how to train and improve our chess, he also wrote two books which can be considered an autobiography! They are a great memoir that every chess player should read!




But let’s begin by presenting a class player and trainer that was known worldwide. Dvoretsky was born in Moscow in 1947.  He became Moscow champion in 1973, and in 1975 he was awarded the IM title.  One of his greatest performances was the 1974 USSR championship, in that time likely the strongest tournament in the world, where he achieved fifth place.

Here is an example of his play in that year, where with Black he wins easily against one of the best players in the world:




Clearly that year was his maximum splendor.  The following game is nearly a miniature victory against a former world champion!




At a certain point, near the GM title (in that time quite more difficult to obtain than nowadays) he decided to become a chess trainer, and some of his most famous students are names known to everybody: Artur Yusupov (with whom he also wrote books), Alexey Dreev, Sergey Dolmatov, Nana Alexandria, just to mention a few!

Dvoretsky’s most famous book is the Endgame Manual, which has reached already the fourth edition, and which is a MUST read for every serious player.




It is said that Kasparov, when he received this book, read it all, and surely he knows his endgames.  One of the composers I love most, Grigoriev, was also the source of exercises in the Endgame manual, like the following where White has to move, and win!




Dvoretsky is sadly missed, and many top chess players have already expressed their grief and sadness through social media.




Rest in peace dear Mark.  We will all keep you in our prayers, and thoughts!


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