Known as one of the best coaches of our times, Mark Dvoretsky left us a valuable legacy to help chess players improve their training technique. It was a huge shock for the entire chess world when, on September 26th Mark Dvoretsky passed away at the age of 68 years. This review has been printed in the December issue of Chess Life. A penultimate (and unedited) version of the review is reproduced here.

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It is better to be first in the village, than second in Rome! With heavy breath and great excitement, she blurted, “He is here, he is here, come quick! I knew who had entered into the tournament venue. When I was around and unable to make tangible progress in chess, it dvorwtsky Dvoretsky’s books that came to my rescue.

He was alone in the spectator’s area, staring at the big screen projecting the games. I went up to him dvooretsky introduced myself in a way that many people must have done to him in the past: I immediately started to feel comfortable and we discussed the game between Karjakin and Anand that was going on.

He had looked at the position for only a few seconds, but he understood it quite well. That turned out to dvorets,y Anand’s first loss to Karjakin in any format. It was a dream come true for both me and Amruta ddvoretsky have a picture with Mark Dvoretsky. As I stood with Mark, a lot of people came and greeted him. Hence, I asked him whether he would be fine if we met at his apartment for an interview for the ChessBase newspage.

Mark greeted us warmly and took us to his study. Absolute quiet, well lit, the desk was littered with books and a computer, chess Dvoretsky had to reluctantly use.

I was in the room of one of the greatest chess trainers and authors of all time. I asked him the first question and he replied with energy and enthusiasm.

Seconds turned into minutes and minutes into hours as I spoke with Mark for nearly three hours. Amruta took pictures of his every emotion. One of the features of Mark’s interview was the ease with which he would answer the questions. Chess was second nature to him, and this was clear from his replies. Mark, everyone knows you as a great xvoretsky and an author.

How did you start playing chess? I learnt the rules of chess even before I became a school boy. I was around five or six years old. However, I started to study chess seriously and participate in tournaments only when I was in the fifth grade. Before that I had a different interest — mathematics.

One fine day our math teacher was changed and a very boring one was the replacement. I lost my interest in the subject and I moved towards chess. I was around years old when I enrolled myself in a chess club in Moscow.


Mark Dvoretsky | Chess Book Reviews

I succeeded in becoming a master by the end of my school. Once I made this switch cvoretsky results started to improve in chess. But it was enough. Two years later it was Yusupov and then Dolmatov. It was amazing because the Soviet Union started sending players to Junior Championships from s onwards.

And as a coach I prepared three more champions in four years! For many years I was the strongest master in the world according to rating. Unfortunately she never won the dvoretsy.

Soon these juniors grew up and I helped them in important matches, like the Candidates and other events. Dvoretsky looks on as his students Dolmatov and Yusupov analyze picture from Dvoretsky’s private collection.

How did you create such strong players? What were the secret ingredients? I understood right from the very beginning that some methods of training work are reasonable, rational and can bring success. Before starting to train I read a lot of chess books, mainly Russian. So, I had a good chess education. Second, I believe that a trainer can be successful if he really likes his work.

He wants not his own success, but the success of his students. It’s the natural stimuli for work. Not money, not anything else. And I always had it. I became very good friends with all my students and we have always remained that way. Thirdly, I think common sense is very important.

I had good general education from the University and before that I studied in the mathematical school. So, I could analyze well and feel what the most rational way was in a given situation. The simple logic which I used for chess worked well. I always wondered why this simple logical thinking is not so common! For example, a game of chess is a long battle. It makes sense to study the middlegame and endgame as well.

Mark Dvoretsky

I focused on all the phases of the game for my students and this led to a much more harmonious development. This is especially true for young players. When we deal with Kramnik or Carlsen, we can see that they are good in all other areas, so for them opening becomes extremely important. Even for them it vdoretsky not exactly true, but when you work with young players, who have chezs lot of weaknesses, there are much more promising areas of improvement, areas which bring more success.

But we mustn’t forget chess is also a sport and to be successful at a sport it is not enough to just have knowledge, you should have skills too. And for the development of skills you need to train. This is absolutely normal for any sport. It is also true for a subject like mathematics. You not only remember a lot of formulae and theorems, but you also solve a lot of problems.


Therefore, cheess was a permanent part of my work with the students. If I gave them some knowledge, we would simultaneously train to understand it much better. There are many skills in the game of chess, like combinational vision, attack, defence, etc.

It’s absolutely natural and common sense, not a deep discovery! What is natural for you is not so easy for many trainers because chexs training material is not so easy to create. It’s just a continuation of this logic.

5 Things We Should All Learn from Mark Dvoretsky

From the very beginning of my work I started collecting many training positions. I could open a book and demonstrate dvoretzky from that, but that could be done by anyone sitting at home. Mark shows me his collection of card index files. Essentially it’s like a post card with a position on it. Mark has hundreds of such cards arranged based on different themes. Yes, these are my card files.

I have them in computer format also. I have arranged them based on topics like manoeuvring, prophylaxis, exploiting an advantage, training of intuition, gaining counter chances, imagination, comparisons, etc. I write the initials of the players on each dvooretsky file to know who have solved them already. For example here you can M,I,Z. That’s Motylev, Inarkiev and Zviagintsev. This is only part of my collection.

All this has been preserved right from the time I first started training. If something is wrong I still dvoretsyk space for two more. In this way on every sheet of paper, I will always have ten positions related to a topic.

I just carry a couple of them with me and I can give a good lecture! But isn’t it possible to just print out from the computer? Yes, cbess possible, but I am not sure there is any way to get it in the format that I would like. I want four positions in a row and ten in one page. Hence, I continue doing it by hand. How do you start working with a student who comes to you? What is the initial step? Different approaches for different players. It is important to see what his strengths and weaknesses are, and what is it that we would like to work on.

A typical way to begin is with the dvoretsyk. Sometimes he sends me games beforehand, or sometimes we discuss his games, or we just analyze something. While doing this work I am trying to figure out his weaknesses and get to know things about his personality.