Yuri Averbakh, the world’s oldest grandmaster, died today, May 7th, just three months after turning 100. Let’s see how did Antón Arieta die.
Who was Yuri Averbakh?
GM Yuri Averbakh is the world’s oldest grandmaster, a trainer, international arbiter, chess composer, endgame theorist, writer, historian, FIDE honorary member, and the last living participant in the famous Zurich Candidates Tournament in 1953.
Averbakh was one of the few strong players who rose to prominence in chess theory, literature, journalism, history, and chess politics all at the same time.
Only the most prestigious title Averbakh held is missing: world champion of chess. “I don’t have a champion,” he admitted. “Behind the chessboard, I’m a researcher, not a fighter or ‘killer.’ I enjoy analyzing things.”
On February 8, 1922, Emanuel Lasker, the second World Chess Champion, played as a child in Yuri, Russia. Yuri won the formidable USSR Championship in 1954, and he also tied for the first two years later.
Yuri Averbakh’s cause of death
Yuri Averbakh recovered from a COVID scare in 2021 to celebrate his 100th birthday on February 8th this year, with his extraordinary life receiving the widespread recognition it deserved. The circumstances surrounding his death are unknown.
The early life of Yuri Averbakh?
Yuri Lvovich Averbakh was born in Kaluga, a city 180 kilometers southwest of Moscow, on February 8, 1922. His father, a German Jew named Auerbach, worked as a forester in the Kaluga forests, where he chose which trees to cut down. His mother was a typist and a Russian language and literature teacher.
In 1925, the family relocated to Afanasyevsky Lane in Moscow, near Arbat Square. Averbakh was fascinated by chess since the age of three and began playing when he was seven. His mother sent him to school that year.
This was a year earlier than most boys, who began school at the age of eight. Averbakh was always convinced that this had influenced his entire subsequent fate. The reason for this was that when the war began and mobilization was announced in 1939, all young men his age who had just finished high school were sent to the army. Averbakh was already enrolled at the Bauman Institute, which allowed him to avoid mobilization.
“I was part of a tragic generation,” Averbakh said of his generation. “Many of my friends died in the war, but I was fortunate. Such a fate, I had done nothing to deserve it—such was life.” According to statistics, 93 percent of Russian males born in 1922 died at the front.
During his school years, Averbakh enjoyed skiing, hockey, volleyball, and, most notably, boxing. However, chess eventually took over as his primary interest.
People react to Yuri Averbakh’s death
Yosha Iglesias tweeted,
My last tweet was about Yuri Averbakh. He just passed away. I haven’t been moved so much by the death of an old celebrity since Leonard Cohen’s. Literally crying.
Nick K tweeted,
A man who lived through every great chess moment of the past century, forever immortalized through his contributions to chess theory. Rest in power Yuri Averbakh.
Jonathan Levitt tweeted,
Sadly, the world’s oldest living grandmaster, Yuri Averbakh, has passed away aged 100. He was justifiably well known for his endgame expertise.
Ozgur Akman tweeted,
Yuri Averbakh died at the age of 100. Another witness of the golden age of chess has passed away.
Yuri Averbakh, who had turned 100 in February, has passed away. We have excellent games and books of him.
I hope we’ve resolved all the doubts about how did Antón Arieta die!
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