Mark Izrailovich Dvoretsky was born in Moscow in 1947 and
graduated in Mathematics from Moscow State University. He became a chess
professional and rose to prominence in the early 1970s, winning the 1973 Moscow
Championship, finishing in a tie for 5th place in the formidable 1974 USSR
Championship and making a name for himself internationally when he won the 1975
Wijk aan Zee B tournament by a full 1.5 points. In the same year he received
the International Master title and, according
to Chessmetrics, was the world’s 20th best player. The grandmaster title
(much harder to obtain back then) was surely just around the corner, but then
Mark took the decision to turn his back on playing and become a coach.
His subsequent career was glittering, as his many students – Artur Yusupov, Sergey Dolmatov, Aleksey Dreev, Nana Alexandria, Viorel Bologan, Ernesto Inarkiev, Alexander Motylev, to name but a few – rose to the heights of world chess. Together with Artur Yusupov he held a chess school that attracted the likes of a young Peter Svidler and he went on to author two dozen books, including the seminal Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.
In an interview for the Russian Chess Federation earlier this year, he hinted at health issues that had curtailed his career as an individual coach – while also explaining how he’d managed to play a key role in the lives of so many players:
Do you now regularly work with any promising chess players?
No. At some point I realised that one of the factors of success (my work was almost always successful, over the course of my whole life) was that I completely immersed myself in the job. I thought all the time about the problems of my students, paying attention to the smallest details. Purely based on erudition, on technique, you can demonstrate some interesting things, but you can only really be a good mentor when you fully throw yourself into the work.
With age I now have less energy, and when serious health problems arose I sensed that however well I got on with a student it was very hard to maintain his interests and problems at the centre of attention – my own business distracted me. Therefore I no longer have students who I guide on a constant basis.
He was far from ready to retire, though, and threw himself into coaching sessions and his writing career. He was also eager to try out new formats, and proved a natural when it came to video, here filming a 1 hour 15 minute Question and Answer session with Jan Gustafsson:
The passing of Mark Dvoretsky will have touched countless chess players, from pure amateurs to the very top professionals, and we can expect glowing tributes from the Tal Memorial players and others in the coming days. There's no mistaking the impact he had on the chess world:
We’d like to express our deepest condolences to Mark’s family and all who knew him. May he rest in peace.