|Posted: 10/2/2016 | Updated: 10/18/2016|
(December 9, 1947-September 26, 2016)
We were saddened to learn of the passing of our friend, and mentor and the earliest of the ICA’s international coach contingent, IM Mark Dvoretsky.
Mark was an accomplished chess player who relatively early in his career turned his attention to coaching. Soon players who reached the plateau of 2200 (or comparable Master strength) realized that with hard work and his mentorship reaching the level of Grandmaster was almost systematically attainable. Unquestionably, Mark’s greatest success was his mentorship and collaboration with another ICA coach in GM Artur Yusupov, whom he helped to reach the semi-final of the candidate’s tournament on three separate occasions. Though GM Yusupov admitted he was ultimately not as strong as the legends Karpov, and Kasparov who bested him throughout that period, his natural ability and the coaching of Mark, helped him be at least competitive with them and outplay them in individual games on quite a few occasions. Mark’s coaching and Artur’s ability also helped GM Yusupov attain wins against other world champions including Anand, Kramnik, and even current champ Magnus Carlsen.
When Mark flew here to work with some of the ICA’s rising stars he was already accomplished in the chess community. Yet despite his stature and prestige, one of the most memorable moments for our school came when he went with our students to the annual Amateur team East tournament, and participated on the squad playing two games right alongside his pupils. He was thrilled with his victory over the cult personality player in Arthur Feuerstein.
Eventually Mark stopped flying here from Moscow because of his health. However, when his most recent book (“A book for colleagues and friends”) came out he made sure to mention the International Chess Academy and the immense “energy and fun of the atmosphere.”
Rest in Peace Mark.
I wish I remembered Mark better than I do. My memory tends to the abstract, and the episodic bits are due to grandma telling me some story a zillion too many times. What I do remember are snippets and flashes, the mischievous look on his face when we struggled over a puzzle he loved, the goofy through-the-nose laugh, the impossible height (I think his head might have been taller than me at some point). He was a real-life Big Friendly Giant. Disclaimer: I'm probably making half of this up. Our brains are incapable of remembering something without altering the memory in the process. Maybe I remembered Mark too many times, until I rubbed the image blurry.
Ok, news from my brain, I just remembered a joke Mark once told. Correction, the arc of the joke has been completely lost, but in the punchline a bemused drill sargeant, whose water isn't boiling though he's raised it to the requisite 90 degrees, is suddenly struck with a glorious epiphany: 90 degrees isn't the boiling point of water! It's a right angle! ...It wasn't the funniest joke in the world. Probably the most hilarious thing about the joke is how funny we found it when Mark told it. Which reminds me, Mark's recommendations in science fiction were definitely hit or miss...
Since I clearly fail to remember the man correctly, all I can say for sure is that I remember him fondly. I don't remember ever feeling chess was boring or tedious as he taught it. Freaking hard, but never boring. I always looked forward to lessons with him, and I think his love for chess cast a quiet spell on everyone he taught. I'm sure I understood none of this at the time.
It has been many years since I last saw Mark. He's dead now and my memories are lacking in definition, but they are unequivocally positive. I'll leave it to his closer friends to remember him well, and settle for remembering him warmly. Have a great journey Mark!
I have such fond memories of Mark, he was one of those rare people you meet and are instantly enchanted with. It's been many years since I last saw him, but I can still remember him vividly, the way he spoke with patience and kindness, and how he took an interest in all of his students, though we were only kids at the time.
One story which makes me laugh: I remember he once said to me, about a particular chess book that I asked him about, "That's one of those books you should take into the bathroom and never take out." :-) He always had a sharp and witty way of getting straight to the heart of the matter.
One lesson with Mark Dvoretsky
Already more than 20 years ago, in 1996 when the Teaneck Chess Academy just started I was privileged to have a one-on-one lesson with Mark Dvoretsky. I was the highest rated chess player of the Academy then and Diana kindly asked Mark to devote one hour of his time to me. He agreed and I was honored and delighted to analyze with him the games from the Kasparov-Anand match. It was indeed a phenomenal lesson! Mark had many positions committed to his memory and was able to discuss them not only as a chess trainer, but also as a psychologist. His astute comments revealed to me at the same time what happened on the board and unfolded the psychological drama of the game. Mark’s love for chess, his ability to discern the slightest nuances of the positions we discussed, his genuine interest in my rather immature comments left a great impression on me. I think I can call his approach to chess “emotional” for his lesson aroused in me wonder, admiration, and most of all affection for the game. For the next couple of days I studied on my own unable to distance myself from chess board. And if according to Gennady Sosonko the great teacher is the one who inspires his students – Mark Dvoretsky was precisely that.
Thank you, Mark, I will remember you.