Today marks the first anniversary of Aleksander Wojtkiewicz’s death, at the age or 43. The Polish-American grandmaster lived in Baltimore and won his last five chess tournaments, including the prestigious World Open, played just a few days before he died of complications of alcoholism. He was one of the most active and vibrant participants in the weekend tournament circuit in the United States.
I have blogged here before about some of the funny stories that have been told about him. When I interviewed him for King’s Gambit: A Son, a Father, and the World’s Most Dangerous Game, I appreciated his honesty on the subject of cheating in chess and on other topics that weren’t always flattering to himself or other professional players. “The longer you play chess, the more self-centered you become,” he told me. “It’s necessary in chess to put yourself first. It’s easy to forget that anyone else exists. That attitude doesn’t work in the rest of life. That’s why few of us chess players can hold marriages.”