Saturday, June 14, 2014

Uri Avner, 1941-2014

Uri Avner. Credit: wfcc.

We are sad to report that the Israeli player and composer, Uri Avner, had passed away this Thursday. A brief biography of his problemistic achievements is found here. The same site also has a notice of his passing.

He was a strong OTB player (e.g., IDF champion 1961, member of the Israeli Students' Olympiad team a few times, etc.), with a FIDE rating of about 2250. But he was best known for his problemistic achievements, having left competitive chess for problem composing ca. 1970.

There, he made Israel a powerhouse in the field (organizing three PCCC congresses in Israel for example), and reached the very top of the organization -- the head of the FIDE Permanent Commission for Chess Compositions. He was also a GM for chess composition.

There is a lengthy, and very good, obituary in Hebrew here  by Ram Soffer, from which the above summary is taken. It is at the Israeli Chess Federation's web site. 

There is also one of his last -- and very entertaining -- lectures online, at this link, and one can see a few of his games here.

On a personal note, Avner, a psychologist by training, had a very acid and funny sense of humor. Three examples from my personal experience:

(After he got off the phone with a certain chess organizer who was, and still is, very good as an organizer, but only a mediocre player): "Ever since he broke 1750 in the rating list, he demands the honor such an achievement entails."

(Discussing with me whom to invite to an ICF meeting): "The only two people I know who would draw a crowd are myself and Adrian Schwartz ... [a chess playing serial rapist who just got paroled - A. P.]"

(About his composing style): "I compose anti-Merediths. That's the number of pieces left off the board when I'm done."

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