Yuri Averbach, the first century master of chess, died at the age of 100.

Yuri Averbach, the first century master of chess, died at the age of 100.

“The issue of my return to work at the institute has died,” he wrote in his memoirs.

In 1955, Mikhail Botvinnik, then a world champion, hired Mr. Auerbach to train with him. Over the next two years, both played 25 games against each other – about the same length as the World Cup match – Mr Botvinik won just one or two games more than Mr Auerbach, Mr Auerbach said.

Their working relationship ended after Mr Averbach agreed to hold training games with Mikhail Tal ahead of the 1959 Candidates Tournament in Yugoslavia. Mr. Botvinik considered this decision a betrayal, writes Mr. Averbach. Mr. Tal won the Candidates Tournament and defeated Mr. Botvinick the following year.

In late 1982, Mr Smislov, then 61, qualified for the Candidates’ Tournament and asked Mr Averbach, whom he had known since childhood, to be his coach. Mr Averbach agreed and Mr Smislov won his quarter-final and semi-final matches before losing in the final to Gary Kasparov, the next world champion.

When his playing career disappeared in the early 1960s, Mr. Averbach took part behind the scenes in the Soviet chess establishment. It was a difficult task, every appointment and bureaucratic decision is often subject to political intrigue and second guessing. Yet even though he claimed to be naive in politics, he managed to thrive for many years in his second career.

In 1962 he became the editor of two of the most prestigious Soviet chess magazines, the Shakhmatny Bulletin and the Shakhmaty v SSSR. He edited them for 37 years, which was a record for a lifetime.

Mr. Averbach was appointed President of the Soviet Chess Federation in 1972, a privileged position in Soviet society. Because success in chess was crucial to the legitimacy of communism, chess players were considered elite athletes and even trained with Olympic national teams. Mr. Averbach described the scene in 1963 at the Central Komsomol School in Weshniako:

“It was an unforgettable sight. Pencil-thin basketball players, archers, boxers with huge hands like gorillas and cauliflower ears and a crooked nose. Of course, there were exceptions, but generally the impression was that “They have been able to achieve better results in big sports and compared to normal people.”

He is survived by a daughter (sources differ in identifying him as Jane or Eugenia). Information about other survivors was not available.

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