It is with great sadness that I learned from Neil Sullivan of the death of International Master Michael Schleifer. According to a Canadian chess board, “Chess Talk“, someone placed a call into the Montreal City morgue to verify the story. Morgue officials stated that he had died on November 21, 2009. Schleifer grew up in the Ontario province, the city of Toronto.
According to Daniel Rousseau, “After being held at the morgue for some time, he was transferred to a funeral home in Longueuil (south shore) where he was eventually claimed by his mother. The funeral home would not tell me if he was still held there or had been transferred to Toronto.” While an autopsy has been performed, resulting are pending. Reports have cited his cause of death as either “unknown causes” or a “brain aneurysm”.
Canada has lost a strong player and citizen. Those in the U.S. may not have seen Schleifer much, but he participated in the historic Wilbert Paige Memorial tournament in Harlem, New York held in 2001. This tournament featured 10 of the strongest players of African ancestry. It was there that Schleifer gained the respect of many who had not encountered him previously. A quiet, unpretentious and unassuming person, he played an interesting brand of chess. He played in a number of Canadian Championships and earned the IM title ten years ago. I once asked him about his chess beginnings. This is what he sent.
I started chess at about 9 yrs. After an approximate 3yr lapse I started to play again. Then at about 13 my brother brought me to a tournament and from there I was hooked. At 16 I became a master. Thus, in the early to mid 80’s I was one of my countries top junior players. For me the struggle is the most important aspect of Chess.
Brad Thomson of Canada posted on the Chess Talk board that Schleifer liked the following song and would request it. It is called, “Melissa” by the Allman Brothers. This post is a tribute to Michael Schleifer. May he rest in peace!
IM Michael Schleifer (1967-2009)