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Philly Chess Legend, Boris Baczynskyj Dies Print E-mail
By Jennifer Shahade   
January 24, 2008
closlideflowers.jpgLast week, the Philadelphia chess legend FM Boris Bacynzskyj (1945-2008) passed away. Boris was a popular coach, and a member of the U.S. Chess League team, the Philadelphia Inventors. Boris died just before Bobby Fischer, which may have saved Boris some sadness, as Bobby was a great chess influence for Boris. Boris told his friend and sparring partner FM Mike Shahade that if he was stuck on a desert island, he would bring his favorite book of all time,  My 60 Memorable Games.  Boris was known as a very aggressive player who loved chess deeply. "What I remember most about playing with him," said Philadelphia Inventors team-mate IM Rick Costigan, "was that instead of just blitz matches, we would play ten board simuls against each other."

 Boris was Ukrainian by nationality, born in Vienna in 1945 and raised in Philadelphia. He attended St. Joseph's Prep High School and Yale University. Before he became a full time chess coach, he worked as a stringer for Associated Press in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime. He also had a two-month stint as the editor of Chess Life Magazine. The President of Chess Journalists of America, Jerry Hanken said: "Boris B. was my friend for 35 years. I loved this man. He was smart, funny, very loyal, ,and a fine writer. Boris was the most honest and true to his ideas and ideals as any person I have ever known. His middle name could have been "integrity" The tears are still flowing as I write this."

 Among Boris's students was Philadelphia 76ers owner Pat Croce. Boris was always open to new students. The Philadelphia Inventors were celebrating their suscessful 2006 season at the elegant Italian restaurant Porcini. Boris befriended the owner of the restaurant, and began to give lessons to him soon after.

Mike Shahade said, "He was a very sharp player, not afraid to go for the attack." The following excerpt and games spanning three decades of Boris' chess career should prove Mike's point:

Position after 32. Rb2, Black to Move
 Weinberger-Baczynskyj , Lone Pine, 1976

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The funeral arrangements are as follows:

Saturday, January 26

St. Michael the Archangel Ukr. Catholic Church
1013 Fox Chase Rd.
Jenkintown PA 19046

1pm: Visitation - Family greets Friends in Church
2pm: Church Funeral Service
2:30pm Burial at St. Mary's Cemetary
(Fox Chase Rd. and Cedar Rd.), Elkins Park,PA

In lieu of flowers, family requests donations be made
USCAK-Chess Program
c/o Nasevich Funeral Home
9529 Bustleton Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19115