Yesterday Michael Aigner, Bay area chess coach extraordinaire, was featured in the chess column of the New York Times! The column focuses, of course, on his success as a chess coach, launching the careers of Steven Zierk and Daniel Naroditsky (recent winners of the world under-18 and under-12 championships, respectively).
The article also mentions his disability. I’ve never talked with Michael about it, but it’s interesting to see what he says; when he plays chess he feels as if he isn’t disabled, or at least “less disabled.” The New York Times compares him with John Collins, who also was wheelchair-bound and coached a world champion: Bobby Fischer! That’s putting Michael in some pretty elite company, but I think he deserves it.
Alas, the article does not mention that Michael tied for second in the U.S. Open a few years ago, but it does show his victory from 2006 over GM Alex Yermolinsky. It’s kind of a funny win. Michael just hangs around and hangs around, the game looks as if it is probably heading towards a draw, and then Yermo just makes a terrible blunder, allowing Michael a key check that turns out to be the beginning of a winning combination. But that kind of win counts, too!
Congratulations to Michael on his 15 minutes of fame … and hopefully, they aren’t over yet.
Also, Michael sent along a medical update. He is not recovering as fast as anticipated from his surgery, although he did finally come home from the hospital on December 31. He is still not sure when he will return to tournament action, but he says, “My longterm health is far more important.” Keep on fighting, fpawn!