Alexander Borisovich Roshal dies at 71

by ChessBase
5/22/2007 – 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.

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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.

Alexander Roshal at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, 2005

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".

Alexander Roshal during a postmortem between Kramnik and Kasparov in Linares 2003 (
Kramnik's seconds GMs Malakhov and Illescas stand behind their man, Kasparov's second Dokhoian is on the far right)

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.

With Igor Botvinnik, nephew of the world champion, in 2006

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."

Handing over the Chess Oscar to Veselin Topalov in 2006

Alexander Borisovich died on May 21 2007 after a long struggle with pancreatic cancer, which he called the disease of chess players.

Congratulating Kirsan Ilyumzhinov on his re-election in Turin, 2006

Lunch with Alexander Roshal and his wife Irina in Linares, 2003

Alexander Roshal with Alexander Bakh (left) and ex world champion Vassily Smyslov
during the Aeroflot Chess Festival in 2004

Staging a press conference in Moscow before the start of the 2004 Super Final

Press conference participant Kasparov and Karpov, organisers Roshal and Bach

Chatting with GM Artur Jussupow during the match Kramnik vs Deep Fritz in Bonn last December, where he explained to us how the world champion could have overlooked a mate in one.

Message from the FIDE president


Alexander Roshal passed away.
FIDE President expresses his sincere condolences

Alexander Borisovich Roshal – 1936 - 2007

On behalf of the International Chess Federation, FIDE Presidential Board and myself, I wish to express my most sincere condolences to the family, the Russian Chess Federation, editorial house of "64 – Chess Review" magazine and numerous fans of the magazine on the unfortunate passing away of a guru of chess journalism, Honoured Trainer and Honoured Public Figure of Russian Federation’s Culture Alexander Borisovich Roshal.

He was known to the entire chess world as Alik, but for me, he has always been Alexander Borisovich – a personification and symbol of superior style, wisdom, enormous talent, brilliant professionalism and deep integrity. He maintained a level-headed attitude and always made faultless moves.

For me, all my activities in the chess world have been inseparably connected with Alexander Borisovich, starting from our first trip together to Singapore to the Presidential Board in December 1995 and until our last meeting this February at the Congress of the Russian Chess Federation.

For me, Alexander Borisovich, you will always remain my closest elder friend and teacher. During difficult years you succeeded in safeguarding your child – “64 – Chess Review” magazine.Thanks to limitless energy and the organising talent of Alexander Borisovich, the magazine managed to sail over invisible reefs of economic reform and remain the pride and face of modern Russian chess journalism. I am confident that the Russian Chess Federation will do its utmost to continue this noble initiative of Alexander Borisovich.

I join his family, his wife Irina and children in mourning.

You will be much missed but will always remain in my heart.

Kirsan Ilyumzhinov
President of FIDE
Head of the Republic of Kalmykia

All FIDE family unites in expressing its condolences to Mr. Roshal's family. Here you can read Condolences from the FIDE Presidential Board and Secretariat.

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