"My opponent left a glass of whisky 'en prise' and I took it 'en passant". - Henry Blackburne | SINCE 2007

Friday, May 25, 2007

Obituary: Alexander Borisovich Roshal dies at 71

He was a renowned chess trainer and one of the most famous and influential chess journalists of the Soviet Union. After its collapse he took over his magazine, "64 – Chess Review", and after a brief crisis, returned it to its old glory. Alik Roshal was a welcome visitor at chess events all over the world, entertaining us with his wisdom and humour. He will be sadly missed.

Alexander Roshal, 1936 – 2007

Alexander Borisovich Roshal was born on August 26, 1936. He was a merited chess trainer of the Soviet Union when in 1968 he switched to journalism and, together with world champion Tigran Petroian he founded a chess magazine called "64 – Chess Review". It became the biggest and most influential chess magazine in the Soviet Union. In 1992 the publication was stopped due to financial difficulties, but then privatised and resurrected by Alexander Roshal, who ran it as Editor in Chief until his death.
Alik (as his Russian friends called him) has limited contact to his parents. His father was arrested when he was one year old, charged with writing the first constitution for the state of Israel. Soon after that he was shot. Alik's mother spent 18 years in a prison camp and exile. He got to know her when he was nine, and lived with her in Kazakhstan until he was 16. He was proud of his heritage and always said: "I am a Russian Jew".
Roshal arranged himself with the Soviet government and, under Brezhnev, was allowed to travel all over the world. In 1986 his magazine published excerpts from Nabokov's autobiography Other Shores, and he was severely punished for this. But as always he bounced back to gain his previous respect and prestige as the foremost chess journalist in Russia.
In "Monologues of a Chess Guru" Vera Tsvetkova wrote: "For many, Roshal embodies chess journalism, acting as the public voice of chess for the greater masses. This energetic and sociable person completely belies his age – he is active, sharp-witted, and talkative – one could listen to him for hours, like a nightingale. It doesn’t matter what the conversation is about – journalism, chess, or his adored watchdog breed, Cane Corso. He represents the generation born in the Thirties – yes, that’s how they are."
Alexander Borisovich deid on May 21 2007 after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer, which he called the disease of chess players.

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