Alexander Dronov, 1946-2023, three-times World Correspondence Chess Champion
Alexander Dronov. Photo: Chess Federation of Russia

Alexander Dronov, 1946-2023, three-times World Correspondence Chess Champion

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Alexander Surenovich Dronov passed away on December 7, 2023 in Moscow. This correspondence chess grandmaster had a unique achievement of winning three ICCF World Championship Finals: 22-nd, 27-th and 28-th. Only three persons hold two championship titles: Õim, Tõnu (9th and 14-th), Joop van Oosterom (18-th and 21-st) and Ron Langeveld (26-th and 31-st).

Dronov learned chess in his youth, achieving a CM title in over the board tournaments. He had a successful career in the construction industry.

In 1988, he started playing correspondence chess and won the Moscow championship in 1992 and the Russian Team Championship with a gold medal on board one in 1996. He became an IM in 2003 and a GM in 2005. 

His first, although historically 22-nd, ICCF World Championship lasted from 2005 to 2007. Dronov scored 11,5/16 and shared 1-st place with Jurgen Bucker, but won their head-to-head game, got a better coefficient and became the champion.

22nd World Chess Championship. Image:

Already at the time of his first title, Dronov was extremely reclusive. When the correspondence chess enthusiasts tried to interview him, they had to learn that he lived out  in the country did not not use any modern communication means (although eagerly played at the ICCF server). Finally, the president of the Moscow branch of the Russian Correspondence Chess Association phoned him, which resulted in a strange text, where Dronov answered long elaborate questions in one or two words.   

Alexander Dronov. Photo: Vladimir Perevertkin, Wikimedia.

22-nd ICCF World Championship was among those last before the new generation of engines made the correspondence game drawish and sterile. In his next, 27-th ICCF World Championship, which lasted from 2011 to 2014, Dronov scored two points less, 9,5/16 (+3=13), enough to take the clean 1st place. His game vs a Brazilian GM was a miniature.  

27th World Chess Championship. Image:

29-th ICCF World Championship, his third successful and record-setting attempt to win the title lasted from 2015 to 2018. It was another clean first place with 9,5/16 (+3=13).

Why were the wins so few? To win a contemporary correspondence chess game, you have to do the impossible: prove that the 3600 Elo engine is wrong. This is akin to squeezing water from stones, but Dronov was one of the few people who managed to do this.  

27th World Chess Championship. Image:

ICCF site indicates that Dronov currently participates at the 33-rd World Championship Final, where he has already drawn 6 games out of 16. Unfortunately, it seems that all remaining games will be forfeited (or possibly adjudicated).