Athletes aren’t the only ones who benefit from having a coach. They are also carried by all of the world’s top chess players. Their expertise is frequently focused on specific aspects of the game, such as openings, that a player feels he or she needs to improve upon.
However, they are capable of performing a wide range of other tasks. They can serve as confidants, friends, sources of consolation, psychologists, and, on rare occasions, guardians if there is a physical altercation during or after a match. They can also serve as a source of information.
It is clear from the job description that not every chess player is suited to be a coach; a unique set of skills is required. Yury Dokhoian, a Russian grandmaster who died on July 1 in Moscow at the age of 56, was widely believed to have possessed the necessary tools.
For more than a decade, he coached Garry Kasparov, the long-time world champion, and went on to become one of the world’s most successful coaches in the world. Following Mr. Kasparov’s retirement from professional chess, Mr. Dokhoian went on to have a successful coaching career, working with other elite players as well as the Russian national team.
It was announced on Twitter that Mr. Dokhoian had passed away by the International Chess Federation, which oversees the game’s administration. His daughter, Anastasia Dokhoian, stated that Covid-19 was the cause of his death.
Mr. Kasparov, whose mother, Klara Kasparova, died of Covid-19 on Christmas Day, expressed his gratitude for Mr. Dokhoian on his website, explaining how important Mr. Dokhoian had become to him as a coach. The role of world champion was filled by Mr. Dokhoian in 1994, at the time Mr. Kasparov was the world champion.
“It was a genuine relationship that included working, walking, eating, and talking. Before I retired in 2005, I spent more time with him than I did with anyone else,” Mr. Kasparov wrote in his letter. I received more than just chess preparation from him. He also provided me with stability and confidence.
His parents, Rafael and Raya Dokhoian, were married on October 26, 1964, and he was born in a small village in Altai Krai, a southern region of Siberia, to Yury Rafaelovich Dokhoian. Yury learned to play chess from his father, and he quickly demonstrated such a natural talent for the game that his family relocated to the Moscow area so that Yury could attend one of the many chess schools available in the city.
The amicable Mr. Dokhoian has developed into a formidable competitor. A number of international tournaments he played in between 1986 and 1993 resulted in him winning or sharing first place; at one point, according to Chessmetrics (a widely followed ranking system), he was ranked among the world’s top 35 chess players. In 1988, the International Chess Federation conferred on him the title of grandmaster, which is the highest honour in the game.
When he began working with Mr. Kasparov, he decided to retire from professional tennis.
Following Mr. Kasparov’s retirement, Mr. Dokhoian began working with Nadezhda and Tatiana Kosintseva, two Russian sisters who rose through the ranks to become grandmasters under his guidance. The sisters are among only 38 female grandmasters worldwide, out of a total of more than 1,700 grandmasters in the world.
From 2006 to 2011, Mr. Dokhoian served as the head coach of the Russian national women’s soccer team. The Kosintseva sisters were the driving force behind the team’s gold medal performance at the 2010 Chess Olympiad in Sochi.
The following year, Mr. Dokhoian took over as head coach of the men’s team, which had struggled since winning the gold medal at the 2002 Olympic Games in Athens. In 2012, during his first Olympiad as the team’s coach, the men’s team finished tied for first with Armenia, narrowly missing out on a medal spot on tiebreakers to take silver.
Mr. Dokhoian began working with Sergey Karjakin in 2009, and the two have since become friends. He had become the youngest grandmaster in history seven years earlier when he was 12 years and seven months old, but he was struggling to live up to the high expectations that had been placed on him at such a young age. Mr. Karjakin progressed steadily through the ranks under the guidance of Mr. Dokhoian, eventually qualifying to compete for the world championship in 2016 against Magnus Carlsen of Norway, the current champion. Despite the fact that Mr. Karjakin ultimately lost, he was in command of the match for three-quarters of the time.
Mr. Dokhoian was described as “kind but demanding” by Mr. Karjakin in his own tribute to him. “If he believed in his protégé and saw a desire to improve,” he wrote, “he was prepared to work around the clock.”
Mr. Dokhoian is also survived by his wife, Elena, and his sister, Irina, in addition to his daughter, who has passed away.
He was most recently charged with Andrey Esipenko, a 19-year-old grandmaster who is currently ranked No. 27 in the world, according to Mr. Dokhoian. Mr. Esipenko made history earlier this year by becoming the youngest player to ever defeat Mr. Carlsen in a tournament game.