GM Miron Sher (1952-2020)

US Chess has learned of the passing of GM Miron Sher. A very strong player in his own right, Sher is best known for his coaching, having worked with dozens of America's top players, including GMs Fabiano Caruana and Robert Hess.

Hess took to Twitter and Facebook to eulogize his teacher and coach.

Tweet URL

Here is the text of Hess' memorial post:

It pains me beyond imagination to write these words. Rest In Peace, Miron.

My one and only chess coach, Grandmaster Miron Sher, has passed away. People joke that you can’t spell chess without Hess. The truth is you can’t spell Robert Hess without Miron Sher.

Miron taught me so much more than how to become a strong chess player. Throughout our journeys - from Argentina, to Greece, to France and to wherever else we traveled - he helped me become a much better person. He stressed the value of being well-rounded, as a chess player and more importantly as a person. He encouraged and challenged me to step outside my comfort zones, whether it was with a new opening, a new food, or a new outlook. Our bond, since my childhood and until forever, is indestructible.

I reflect upon our times together with nothing but love. Because that’s what it was. A shared love of chess that brought us both immense joy. Shared laughs and deep reflections during our many walks down many city streets, as he helped navigate me through not just the winding variations the world of chess has to offer but the countless lessons life has to as well.

I have never and will never mention my chess successes without acknowledging Miron’s name and presence in my life. But his impact is not confined to a board with 64 squares. He was an incredibly kind man. He knew what to say, and how to say it. He was unbelievably patient. He knew when to be firm, but also let me take my own path to understanding. He was a world-class educator, as many of his students and colleagues can attest to. He knew how to influence and inspire with an approach that allowed your strengths to shine while he worked tirelessly on improving the areas you struggled with. And he was so, so, so humble and selfless. He was immeasurably proud of all of his students’ accomplishments.

My condolences to his beloved wife Alla and son Mikhail. He treasured his family.

Miron, I love you, I miss you, and I’m so grateful that 7-year-old me told my parents that I wanted you to be my coach. You’ve made the world a significantly better place.

IM Keaton Kiewra was among those who studied with Sher. We reached out to Keaton for his thoughts on the passing of his former coach, and here's what he wrote:

It was a shock to learn of the passing of my long time chess coach Grandmaster Miron Sher.

I began taking lessons with Miron in middle school when I was rated around 1700. I had recently met Miron at a camp and he seemed like the ideal coach to help me improve and realize my goals in chess. He was a gentle and kindhearted man, full of wisdom and passion for chess and for life. There was just one problem: I lived in Nebraska and Miron lived in New York, so our lessons took place over the phone. That's right, the phone! No Zoom, Skype, or even ICC, as this was the late 1990s.

I would connect with Miron on a long distance phone call. We each had our own physical chess board set up, and we would go to work. Miron had just moved to New York from Russia, and had a very strong accent. Chess, however, was a language we both spoke fluently, so we had no problems in our communication.

I continued to work with Miron every week and improved more and more, and as we got to know each other, our bond grew. After my freshman year of high school Miron came to Nebraska to teach a small private camp for me and some of my colleagues, including my close friend and future college roommate John Bartholmew. For many summers thereafter Miron came back to visit and teach at a camp my dad organized alongside David MacEnulty, Alexey Root, and other outstanding instructors.

Those weeks were amazing. Having Miron stay in my home, getting to share meals and stories, and to learn from his infinite wisdom about chess and life… it was incredibly valuable to me. I continued to work closely with Miron until I began college. In those years he helped me to raise my level from 1700 to about 2300.

I am deeply indebted to Miron for the dedication he showed in helping me to become a better chess player and a better person. That same dedication was always present in everything that I ever saw him do. Miron was a dedicated family man, a steadfast husband and a loving father. He was also the most dedicated chess coach I have ever known. Miron worked tirelessly, teaching chess in the schools all day in New York. Then he would come home and work with one private student after another late into the night. Miron was always present at major tournaments, coaching private students and scholastic teams.

Through his wisdom, grace, and always positive energy, Miron Sher improved the lives of so many people. I consider myself truly blessed to be one of them.

US Chess offers its condolences to Sher's friends and family. We will continue to update this as more tributes come in.