Person of day - 29 JANUARY 2021
Maxim Dlugy was born on 29th January 1966 in Moscow. The young boy was taught to play chess by his grandfather, who enrolled him in a chess session at the Pioneers’ Palace. Maxim’s parents, Alexander and Nina, were well-known Soviet dissidents who emigrated to the US in 1977. In this way, Dlugy came to New York.
Maxim demonstrated that he was the best among American juniors with ease and became an international master at 15. His first attempt at the U20s world championship in 1983 was unsuccessful- Dlugy lost to Valery Salov in the last round and returned without any medals. However, 1984 was a truly stellar year for Maxim: he won the bronze medal at the adult American championship, defeated grandmaster Fedorovich in a match and his rating neared the 2500 mark. And at the juniors’ world championship in UAE, the finest young American chess player gave his competitors no chances, leaving behind Ivanchuk, Anand, Kozhul, Horvat, Grivas and Blatni!
At his first inter-zonal tournament in 1985, Maxim Dlugy was recognised as a true revelation by the press- the juniors’ world champion split 5th place, losing a mere half-point to Alexander Chernin, who battled through to the candidates with Artur Yusupov, Alexander Belyavsky and Lajos Portisch. At the juniors’ team world champion, the Dlugy-led American team came second after the Soviet dream team.
In 1986, Dlugy fulfilled all the norms of a grandmaster and made his sole appearance for the American team at the Olympiad- his 5,5 out of 7 points helped the Americans win bronze. Maxim came third in the struggle between reserve competitors. He participated in the 1988 blitz world championship, losing to Garry Kasparov 2,5:3,5 in a bitter contest in the 1/8 finals. In 1990, Maxim was elected president of the American Chess Federation and soon left professional chess.
“There were several reasons. Firstly, I had a wide and two children, and my wife was jealous towards chess. When I would be leaving home for three weeks, she wouldn’t understand how this was possible and thought that something was wrong. But I was actually playing chess. Furthermore, I had a personal commitment to play chess for about six years, when I would try to become one of the top five-ten players in the world. Then, if I was not successful, I would try something else. That is exactly what happened- six years after leaving school, when I was 24, I left chess.
I was also greatly influenced by the painful match against Nunn in the penultimate round in Wijk aan Zee. I was in the lead on my own with two rounds to go when I declined his offer of a draw while playing with blacks and developed a winning position- a rook against a bishop in an endgame - and I lost this position with my decisive move. I was very disappointed and I dropped from first place to fourth. And I understood that chess took away too many nerves.” (M. Dlugy)
In the 1990s, Maxim Dlugy was already a large businessman and he returned to work in Russia. Soon, he became one of the managing directors of the Russia Growth Fund (RGF), which was created to invest in Russian companies by Garry Kasparov and several American chess players who worked in business. In 2003, the Fund bought a controlling stake in the Solikamsk Magnesium Factory and Dlugy was appointed deputy director for sales and marketing; later, he became chairman of the board of directors.
“It was all a little chaotic. I first worked as a currency trader in a large American bank and then moved to a company that was connected to Russia. Eventually, I began to understand the Russian market and it became obvious that there were multiple opportunities to earn big money quickly, without the effort that would be required in America. When I began to work in Russia, it was like the 1849 Gold Rush, which was impossible to resist. People went to look for gold in a similar way. Then, after several gold miners were shot, the others started to think that life was better in Boston or New York after all. When I first arrived in 1995, I simply did not understand how there could be a 30% price difference and you just bought and re-sold. If you do that on a regular basis, you become rich quickly. When the market stabilised and the gold rush ended, I already had a good number of contacts and operations and I had an opportunity to do something else.” (M.Dlugy)
Alas, the grandmaster did not realise that he would soon be involved in a corporate conflict for the factory- his competitors decided to jail him and initiated a prosecution for laundering.
In the spring of 2005, Maxim was arrested and transported to Solikamsk, where he was put on trial. The accusation eventually fell apart due to a lack of evidence: expertise showed that the signatures on the documents were not Dlugy’s. “You need to choose partners very carefully here, but I intend to carry on working in the country. Now, I am not scared of anything!” the chess-player commented.
In 2010, he was part of Anatoly Karpov’s and Garry Kasparov’s team for the FIDE Presidential elections. He is known for his hobby: Maxim Dlugy is a wonderful artist and some of his works were shown at the Anand-Gelfand match in Moscow. Recently, the grandmaster has been playing blitz and rapid chess, usually successfully. Together with his wife Nina, he runs the “Chess Max Academy” in New York.