28 Sep

Death of the Coach

There was a somber start to the 10th Tal Memorial in Moscow with the sad news of the unexpected death of Russian international master Mark Dvoretsky coming on the morning of the opening round, and the players observed a moment of silence in honour of arguably the game’s most influential trainers.

Dvoretsky, who was 68, had been known to be in ill-health for some time, but his death came as a shock as he was expected to be a guest at the tournament.  

After 20.Bf1!

Dvoretsky was by general acclaim the world’s leading chess coaches and profound thinkers in the game. The Muscovite had assisted many of the leading Soviet juniors, advancing their level through to the higher plain of grandmaster. While four of his students went on to win the World Junior Championship, at one time or another he was involved in coaching elite players such as Kasparov, Anand, Topalov, Bareev, Dreev, Dolmatov, Yusupov, Bologan, Lautier, and Van Wely.

In the 70s he was rated the strongest IM in the world, winning the Moscow championship title, Wijk aan Zee Masters, and finishing as high as fifth place in the very strong Soviet Championship. However, for personal reasons he gradually withdrew from top-level play, never achieving the highest accolade of becoming a grandmaster, instead preferring to devote more and more time training others to the title through his own brand of chess training - a unique training system which he had honed whilst a student at Moscow University.

From the outset and with remarkable foresight he made the conscious habit of writing down all his own analysis - in the days before the advent of computers - of ‘test positions’ as well as the findings of his students - so this material could be used for the benefit of others. But it was not until 1989, through the encouragement of friends, that he was persuaded to publish some of the thousands(!) of examples he had amassed over the years.

The result was a series of instant classic instructors, and through them, he made a name for himself in the chess world not with his play but by publishing books written for players of a very high level; designed specifically for those willing to put in the real effort for significant improvement. It was said that Dvoretsky could transform a serious minded and hard-working 2200-player into a grandmaster.

Honouring Dvoretsky - © Tal Memorial

Normally chess authors are trying to reach as large a market as possible, and thus target the masses; not so Dvoretsky, as those aspiring to be titled players were the ones gleaning crucial insight through his advance writings. Serious student all reached a higher level by devouring Dvoretsky classics, such as Secrets of Chess Training, Secrets of Chess Tactics, Training for the Tournament Player, Attack and Defence, Analytical Manual, and especially his acclaimed opus, Dvoretsky’s Endgame Manual.

GM Ian Nepomniachtchi - GM Evgeny Tomashevsky
10th Tal Memorial, (1)
Scotch Opening
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 The famous 1824-28 correspondence match between Edinburgh and London chess clubs gave birth to the Scotch Opening/Gambit - but after being in the wilderness for almost a century at top level, it was very dramatically rehabilitated by World Champion Garry Kasparov, who used it as a stunning secret weapon against Anatoly Karpov during their 1990 title match, scoring 1.5/2 with it, as he went on to retain his title. 3...exd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nxc6 bxc6 6.e5 Qe7 7.Qe2 Nd5 8.c4 Ba6 For many years in the Scotch, this handy pin has almost exclusively been played, however lately the less provocative 8...Nb6 has been gaining respect and growing in popularity. 9.b3 g6 10.f4 Bg7?! This move has a bad reputation, with White having a huge plus score against it. The more standard continuations here are 10...f6 and 10...g5, both reliable alternatives that give Black equal play. But after 10...Bg7?!, Tomashevsky is doomed. 11.Qf2 Nf6?! With two dubious moves in-a-row and the game just 11 moves in, it's almost as if one player is playing the Scotch while the other has been drinking the scotch! The only move Black had here is 11...Nb6. 12.Ba3 The most obvious move as it hits the queen with tempo - but alternatively, 12.Be2 is very annoying as now there's no pin on the e-file and Black has to find a safe haven somewhere for his hapless knight on f6. 12...d6?! A third successive dubious move seals Black's fate to being on the receiving end of a miniature. The best option in this extremely difficult situation is probably 12...Ng4!, as in Shabalov-Granda Zuniga 2005. 13.Nc3 The pressure on d6 is soon going to mount, with White threatening simply to castle queenside now. 13...0-0 14.0-0-0 Ne8 A humiliating retreat, but the only option now faced with the prospects of 14...Ng4 15.Qf3! hitting the knight on g4, hitting c6 and defending the knight on c3, and Black's position set for total collapse. 15.g3! White completes his development by putting his white-squared bishop on another menacing diagonal - and quickly to be followed by developing his remaining rook with Rhe1 for a totally dominating position. I've never seen a grandmaster in an elite tournament being reduced to such a humiliation position as Tomashevsky here, and all self-inflicted with his series of dubious moves starting with 10...Nf6. 15...Bb7 16.Bg2 f6 17.exd6 Nxd6 Now Black's pawn structure is in such a mess that you could take all the pieces off the board now and the king and pawn ending would even be an easy win for White. But any thoughts of reaching an endgame doesn't even come into it here, as White's dominant forces now sweep Black away. 18.c5 Nf5 19.Rhe1 Qf7 20.Bf1! (See Diagram) It doesn't take Dvoretsky to tell you that one of the most difficult winning moves to spot in chess is a backward move - but here, with the one and only backward move from White, and the game is effectively over. Black has no way to avoid the heavy loss of material with the queen short for squares. The end just can't come quickly enough now for Black. 20...Rfd8 21.Rxd8+ Rxd8 22.Bc4 Rd5 23.Qe2! 1-0 The exchange isn't going to be going anywhere with the pin on rook, queen, and king. But now, with the added threat of exchanging queens for an embarrassingly easy endgame win, Tomashevsky resigns to end his misery.

1 Comments September 28, 2016

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  • […] as the tributes continue to appear following the death of the legendary chess coach and author, Mark Dvoretsky. The Muscovite’s sudden death at 68 seemed to overshadow the opening round of the 10th Tal […]