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Mikhail Tal memorial

Mikhail Tal memorial


The tournament was held on the first weekend of March in Jurmala Latvia. On Friday there was a blitz tournament followed with the rapid on next two days. The blitz tournament ended with a surprising victory by the tournament organizer Alexey Shirov. The rapid was won by rating favorite Vladimir Onischuk from Ukraine.  There were a lot of interesting games in rapid. I started well winning against strong grandmasters Daniel Fridman and Loek Van Wely in the first day. In the second day I had winning advantage against Onischuk in round seven which was crucial for me. After that disappointment I could not win a single game and finished in tenth place.


Loek Van Wely outplayed Arturs Neiksans, but in time scramble lost control.

Igor Kovalenko one of the pretournament favorites was punished by veteran Evgeny Sveshnikov.

In rapid chess some very strange games may be found. Alexey Aleksandrov from Belorussia created very funny ending against Victor Laznicka.

My best game was against Daniel Fridman.

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Ivanchuk in action

Ivanchuk won the rapid World Championship in Doha at the end of last year.

I first played against Vassily in 1986. In 1988 he was already rated among the top ten in the World. He is still there today. At age of 47 he is still one of the most unpredicted player around, he can win as we saw in Doha, but he can lose as well. I was lucky to beat him in several occasions. Most notably in Delhi where the famous chair incident occured.

In Doha Ivanchuk controlled his nerves and adding extra credit to his title he won convincingly against Word number one Magnus Carlsen.  The game was so one sided, that if you do not know who were playing you might not to pay attention to the game at all. Just one professional running over not so strong player. This is it. It matters how you win or lose. Magnus definately got very uppset and later lost to Ivanchuk in blitz as well. You may follow the live game here.

The blitz game won by Ivanchuk was also very instructive.

Vassily Ivanchuk never became a World Champion and most likely he never does, but he still has his moments.

Jaan Ehlvest


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London Chess Festival 2016

The 8th festival in London took place in Olympia conference center in Kensington.

There were several events including the supertournament, FIDE Open and the Super Rapidplay.  Just before the event I had a training camp with my friend Alexander Shabalov in Estonia. The plan was to prepare for the outcoming US Championship. He also insisted to get some practise. The London festival looked like a good place to participate.

Shabalov is a really devoted chess player and also a coach. My best tournaments are definately over and I did not expect any suprises in London as well. The festival gathered a lot of various chess people and also many senior players took part. In Super Rapidplay next to me John Nunn was playing. We played in the first Word Cup tournament series together at the end of eighties last century.

The FIDE Open had over two hundred players.  I started well, winning my first three games. My best game was from round three, where I punished my opponent for too creative opening play.

Meanwhile Shabalov was doing fine as well. He won first four games and was a sole leader. The crucial encounter with the future winner took place in round five.

It was not only about overestimating his position, but the lack of sensing the danger of loosing. There is one player who has this feeling and his name is Vladimir Kramnik. This is not my discovery, but years ago my second Russian coach Vladimir Yurkov explained this to me. In the very next round Shabalov lost winning position to Smirin.

Shabalov has his bright moments as well, when in round four he beat an other ELO favorite.

I missed my chanses in rounds 6 to 8. First I had very good chances to win in round six and seven drawing both games and finally in round eight I lost very promising position.

The Open results here .

The Super Rapidplay was won by a women player. It is second big suprise in my knowledge when women player is winning a big Open tournament. Years ago the middle sister of Polgar’s Zsofia won in 1989 the Rome Open with 8,5 points out of 9.

Gunina had some luck, but it was obvious that her opponents were not feeling well playing against her.

Shabalov won first five games in the first day. In round five he had is revenge against Smirin. I started with 4,5 points drawning Bacrot in round five. Next day Shabalov lost again to Bacrot, but finally he finished with 8 points. I lost to Howell in very disapointing game in round eight. In the last round I needed to win to catch up with some prize winners, but was as black against super solid Erik Blomquist and finally I lost in drawish endgame. Still I was satisfied with my overall play. Everybody can win!


Jaan Ehlvest


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Pühajärve handicap tournament 2016

The winter is coming


In Pühajarve at the last weekend of November was held the strongest handicap tournament ever. It was 17th in a row thanks to the former Estonian PM Mr. Tiit Vahi. The venue was as usual the Pühajarve Spa.

This year 12 grandmasters were among participants. Previous winner Alexei Shirov was a clear favorite and he won again. The tournament schedule was 35 games in three days. On the second day there were in total 20 rounds. Shirov might consider himself as a veteran, but yours truly and other GM-s who may participate already in the official senior World championship were not up to the task.

Still all the players had their bright moments. The field was impressive not only because of the chess legends like Robert Hübner or Alexander Beljavsky with whom I already played nearly 30 years ago.  Young players like Swedesh champion Erik Blomquist and Estonian hope Ottomar Ladva were among favorites as well. The time control was 20 minutes which was devided among players relative to their group. Weakest players had 18 minutes againts grandmasters. There were no increment and in some games the two minutes left for the stronger player was not enough. The tournament spirit was friendly and nobody complained, so the arbiters had an easy job.

In the next game Shirov worked nicely with his queen and knight.

Because of the time control a lot of mistakes were made even by very strong players.

Kovalenko tried too hard against Shirov and lost in time in the winning position.

However Kovalenko was lucky in the next game.

My best game was probably next one.

Külaots showed good preparation in the following game.

Ottomar Ladva had a good training opportunity, however he was not satisfied with his result. Too many blunders in winning positions.

His best game was against Beljavsky.

The final results of the tournament are here.


Jaan Ehlvest




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Chigorin memorial 2016 second part

We always wonder why someone is successful in chess. The rating should say everything about the ranking before the tournament. However the Chigorin memorial was won second year straight by local player  Kirill Alekseenko ahead of 26 higher rated players. I studied his games and made some conclusions. First, he is very good in a small battle, meaning he can calculate very well the small tricky lines. He has his own opening repertoire. All together he is a very good practical player. I do not know only how fast he plays. His style is very similar to Wishy Anand. He is not very deep however. If he can find how to dig deeper into the game he might become next Nepo.

What about others. There are and always were a lot of young talents around. I do not think it makes any sense to praise them. First you need to become a man to see how much fight you really have. Chess is a sport and to foresee the future of today’s prodigies is not possible. The veteran players, only Kamsky perfomed well, in my opinion over his expected value. The playing conditions were difficult. The record number of players were all playing in one hall which definitely was too small. Anyway it was an Open tournament not a supertournament.

The final results.

The crucial games of Alekseenko.

In the last round he needed only a draw and his opponent was too stuborn to take a draw, but still very characteristic game to describe the winner.

Estonian Champion Ottomar Ladva had big hopes before the tournament, but blunder in round two took him aback.

At the end Ottomar finished with 6 points losing some rating points. In the following game he managed to win the game dispite falling into his opponent preparation.  Comments by Ottomar Ladva.

Finally I like to thank the organizers inviting me and Ottomar Ladva to take part of the chess festival.

Jaan Ehlvest


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Chigorin memorial in Saint Petersburg


           Chess is still very popular in Russia. The traditional festival in Saint Petersburg saw record number of chess players. The festival started with blitz tournament on Friday October 14th. Total 13 rounds of chess and nearly 300 players. The participants were around the Word. From Brazilia to China. Still not so many players from EU.

From Baltic states only myself and Ottomar Ladva. Nothing to do with politics. Just the tournaments in Russia are very strong and to count for prize money you need to play very well. Half professionals, the players who just enjoy chess still prefer to play in other tournaments. For chess holiday people are looking for open tournaments in Spain instead of Russia. Still if you are serious about chess you should go to Russia. I was just playing the blitz checking my current form.

The time control was the usual FIDE prefered three minutes plus two second increment.  My games went up and down which is fine with blitz. Still my old mistake, playing too quickly cost me few points. As a veteran player I was used to play blitz without increment and two seconds is enough to punish the mistakes on board. Typical game was against Sjugirov.

Crucial game for me was against ELO favorite Lu Shanglei. I was white and just blundered in a good position. Draw in the last round could not help to get higher then 19th place. Still consicering the tournament took place on my birthday I was happy with my overall result.

Missed opportunities.

The complete results here.

Jaan Ehlvest


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XXIII International Chess Festival ”Liepajas rokade-2016”

The traditional chess festival in Latvia took place in the first weekend of august this year in Liepaja . The Open, the blitz, the supertournament, the tennis tournament were all called out. Because of the weather conditions the tennis tournament was cancelled. Not like in Biel Chess Festival where it was also cancelled, but due to no interest. In Liepaja yours truly was really disappointed because recently I had some preparation especially for the tennis tournament.

The Open which was qualification to the super has impressive field. The reason was the RTU Open which started right after Liepaja. I just had participated few days back in Paikuse rapid tournament where I got 6,5 points out 8 finishing second after Neiksans and I had some hopes to qualify in Liepaja.

In the start the rating favorite FedoseevFedoseev on the run from Russia showed no mercy. After first day he had 5 points out five. I had four points. Next day we had whopping 8 games to play. The time control was 15 minutes plus 5 second increment and the rounds were scheduled one in every hour. This violates FIDE handbook rules where maximum hours allowed playing chess nonstop is if I am not mistaken seven hours. Endurance is a must to be successful in these competitions. Next day I started well and I had 6,5 points after 8 rounds, but then I met Fedoseev.

I did recover, but in the final rounds I first lost to Neiksans and then to Lintchevski. Against Neiksans my opening choise was not good and he played a good game. Against the future winner of the supertournament in the last round I missed a simple win and then went astray and lost in few moves.

The supertournament was too much for Fedoseev after his winning streak in the Open. Still some other players could manage the tiredness of the Open notably Linchevski and Neiksans who did not lose a single game.Neiksans Khalifman as usual did not lose also a single game, but he did not win one either.

Before the supertournament and the team competition there was a blitz tournament. Last round of the blitz tournamentI got somewhere little bit angry. How many winning games you can lose? Still I lost very promising position against Neiksans, yes again. Then I won all my final round games and won the tournament. I could not feel anything back then. winner of the blitzProbably I won too many blitz tournaments during my career, but it is nice to add this one. Liepaja Blitz tournament had a little bit different time control then usual, four minutes and two second increment instead of three minutes. I tried to play solid positional chess and this was part of my success. Typical game was against Meskovs.

The team competition was for real chess aficionados and who could not play the other tournaments in various reasons. In my team I had teammates among others European Chess Union president Zurab Azmaiparashvili and former Iceland number one Margeir Petursson not to mention Latvian finance minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola. Our team Baltika finished second in tiebreaks.

The festival was great accomplishment of the man behind it Aris Ozolins and we hope to see Liepaja again next year.


Jaan Ehlvest

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Iran’s first Stars Cup

Chess has a long history in Iran. Many believe that the game originated from here.  The Iranian chess federation was very busy this year organizing different tournaments . One of them was the prestigious FIDE Women Grand Prix tournament in Tehran. However the most interesting event took place in the Anzali Free Zone . The event took place from July 9-21 and  was opened by Kirsan Ilyumzhinov and former World Champion Anatoly Karpov. The idea was to make a first and not the last chess event as a training opportunity for their young and for the Iranian Olympic team.

The visiting stars were ten grandmasters from various age and from different countries. The Iranian team’s captain was experienced Ehsan Ghaemmaghami who at age of 33 was by far the oldest player in his team.  The competition was organized as 10-round Scheveningen match between two teams of 10 players each.

World Stars

Bd   Name Rtg FED
1 GM Sargissian Gabriel 2679 ARM
2 GM Dreev Aleksey 2664 RUS
3 GM Edouard Romain 2639 FRA
4 GM Short Nigel D 2652 ENG
5 GM Sokolov Ivan 2642 NED
6 GM Miroshnichenko Evgenij 2616 UKR
7 GM Lu Shanglei 2611 CHN
8 GM Mchedlishvili Mikheil 2604 GEO
9 GM Ehlvest Jaan 2524 USA
10 GM Vakhidov Jahongir 2586 UZB

Iran Stars

Bd   Name Rtg FED
1 GM Idani Pouya 2560 IRI
2 GM Ghaem Maghami Ehsan 2569 IRI
3 GM Darini Pouria 2524 IRI
4 Maghsoodloo Parham 2501 IRI
5 IM Pourramezanali Amirreza 2509 IRI
6 Firouzja Alireza 2481 IRI
7 IM Khademalsharieh Sarasadat 2445 IRI
8 IM Lorparizangeneh Shahin 2468 IRI
9 FM Gholami Aryan 2454 IRI
10 IM Mousavi Seyed Khalil 2432 IRI


It was very clear from the start which team is going to win. The overall margin should be bigger, but the visiting stars missed a lot of opportunities. Only happy visitor was Nigel Short who was very determined and finished with 8,5 points. He however was not the winner. 15-year-old Parham Mahhsoodloo rated before the event 2501 was Iran’s most successful player, finishing the event with 8.0/10 and an incredible performance of 2862. This earned him his third grandmaster norm and thus the title. The overall result was 64.5 -35.5 in favor of the World stars.

It was not my first experience to take part in such a event. In 1991 I was participant in the match between representatives of former Soviet Union and Spain. The match held in Logrono was a memorable one for me. I scored 10,5 out of 12 drawing last two games. Other experience I had was in Malaisa. The event took place in paradise island of Bali and I was the leader of the “Rest of the World” team. In both occasions in Spain and in Bali the organizers tried to entertain the visitors as much as possible.

This time in Iran I was the lowest rated player in our team and also the oldest. I was expecting the Bali like beach holiday. I was on the Caspian sea years ago in Baku and I was looking forward to enjoy it again. Our first accommodation was near the beach, but it appeared that the tournament venue was too far from our hotel. It took at least more than an hour by bus. This situation created our own Oliver Twist. He, Nigel Short, even did not care to ask the opinion of others, but demanded immediately other accommodation closer to the playing hall.

Unfortunately his request was granted next morning and we moved to the best hotel of city of Rasht. The playing venue was one of the Anzili free zone building complexes which was very fine, but it was still far from out hotel. Twice a day the bus trip was exhausting. Older players like yours truly missed a lot of winning positions at the end of the tournament.

In overall it seems to me that Iran has a lot of support for chess, sponsors etc. They can still improve the organization side of the chess life in general. Right now some of the players were little bit pessimistic to take another chess adventure to Iran in near future.

In my opinion if we consider the chess as hard work and if the players are well paid it is fine. Still usually the money in chess is so small and we are trying to mix it with holiday adventure or just fulfill our curiosity. Right now I had a lot of chess experience and I got very clear picture of Iranian players and I can predict their future. As a tourist I was on my own and because of the tight schedule, no free day, I am afraid I need one more visit to Iran. The organizers were sure that the second Star’s Cup takes place next year.

Welcome to Iran!

Jaan Ehlvest

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Ilmar Raud memorial tournament

Ilmar Raud Memorial tournament


The 50th chess festival in a small Estonian town Viljandi was dedicated to the memory of a local chess hero Ilmar Raud. He was one of the members of Estonian Olympic team in Buenos Aires 1939. The team headed by Paul Keres won bronze medal. However Ilmar Raud did not return to Estonia and died shortly afterwards at age of 28. The first memorial tournament was held on 1966 and only on 1985 somehow the festival did not take place.

Many famous players from the past were among winners of the tournament. World famous coach Mark Dvoretski in 1972,  now US grandmaster Dmitri Gurevits in 1977, Gata Kamsky in 1986 and late Lembit Oll in 1981. I managed to win the tournament twice in 1979 and in 2012. The full list of past winners you may find on

Despite relatively small prize fund this year there were nine grandmasters among participants. All of them were familiar faces in Viljandi. Once you pay a visit to this small picturesque town you a hooked. Chess players could have a sunbath on the Viljandi lake or play volleyball or tennis. The constant winner in tennis was the only sponsor of the event local businessman and chess player himself Toomas Valgmäe. Recently he won silver medal in the World Amatuer’s Championship, but did not play in Viljandi. According to him you can not combine the duties of the organizer and play chess at the same time. He was little bit pessimistic about the future of the festival. We still hope that the festival is going to take place next year as well.

The grandmasters took the first places with confidence. Ottomar Ladva the Estonian hope took too many risks against the Elo favorites Aleksandrov and Neiksans and lost both games. Neiksans could hope to repeat his last year’s success, but in the following game he missed a golden opportunity. He was complaining after the game that he probably never has a chance to execute such a beautiful combination again.

There were other nice combinations which were actually executed, in the following game Estonian experienced IM Olav Sepp found nice intermezzo.

I got a good start, but then slowed down and in penultimate round missed a win against Majorov. In next game however I managed to outplay Krupenski who winning in the last round against Kveinis achieved a IM norm.

The full list of results etc. may found here

Jaan Ehlvest

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Guillotine in Berlin part one

The World Championship in rapid and blitz took part in Berlin in Alt Moabit region. This was the location of one of the oldest prison in Germany which was built between 1842 and 1849 by order of King Frederick William IV of Prussia. Later in this very prison according to some historians the guillotine was used. The rapid and blitz is a format where the execution is fast like with the guillotine. The tournament took place in the beginning of October and the results are already published. Somehow nobody gave deeper look onto the games and into the process itself. Funny videos were circulating on internet showing undisputed World Champion’s frustration.

Continue reading Guillotine in Berlin part one