Vladimir Zak

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Vladimir Grigoryevich Zak
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BornFebruary 11, 1913
Berdichev, Ukraine, Russian Empire
DiedNovember 25, 1994
Pavlovsk, Russia
  • Chess Player
  • Writer
  • Trainer

Vladimir Grigoryevich Zak (February 11, 1913 - November 25, 1994)[1] was a Soviet chess player, writer and, most eminently, trainer, for many years leading the chess section of the Pioneers Palace in Leningrad. His students included former world champion Boris Spassky and two-time world championship challenger Viktor Korchnoi. A strict but highly charismatic person who demanded much of himself and his pupils, he formed strong bonds with his students and imbued them with a life-long love of chess.[2] [3](articles in Russian) In the early years, Zak worked as an optician and electrical engineer. He fought in World War II, defending the USSR from the Nazi attack, for which he was decorated with medals[1]. He did not like to talk about his years of service. Starting soon after the war and for the next forty years, he taught chess at the Leningrad Pioneer Palace. In his home, he not only taught, but also provided food for 9-year-old Spassky and 14-year-old Korchnoi in the hungry post-war period.[3] With time, Zak became a renowned chess analyst, publishing a book about former world champion Emanuel Lasker, a manual on the King's Gambit, as well as guides on how to teach and train. Some of his works have been translated to English and published in the West. Over his career, Vladimir Zak guided the development of several generations of chess players, including world championship candidate Gata Kamsky and grandmasters Gennadi Sosonko, Alex Yermolinsky, Mark Tseitlin, and Alexander Fishbein, among others.[3]


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