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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lembit Oll

    Lembit Oll, an Estonian GM who was preparing to take part in a qualifying competition for the world championship match in Las Vegas, Nevada, tragically ended his life on Sunday, May 17, 1999, when he plunged from a window of apartment in Tallinn. Born on April 23, 1966, he was only 33. He was buried at Metsakalmistu cemetery in Tallinn, not too far away from the grave of Paul Keres.
     Oll was ranked number 42 in the world at the time. He was a world-class player, rated well above 2600, with a classical style but yet he seemed especially at home in extremely sharp opening variations.
     Oll had been a promising junior, becoming champion of Estonia in 1982 and junior champion of the Soviet Union in 1984. He also won multiple European and World junior championships. FIDE awarded him the IM title in 1983 and the GM title in 1990. He regularly played for Estonia in the chess olympics and European team championships. Early 1998 he reached his highest position on the FIDE ranking list: 2655. He played his last tournament in 1999 in Nova Gorica, sharing second place.
     At the time of his death the USCF, as far as I know, did not report anything about it. He just disappeared. It was only much later that details of his tragic death surfaced. Apparently his decision was ignited by possibly financial difficulties or more likely his recent divorce and separation from his two sons which caused him to fall into severe depression. His death was a loss to the chess world.
     The following game against Mikhail Ulibin was played in the 1989 USSR Championship. The opening was a sharp line of the Winawer French, going into a subvariation that had recently become popular at GM level. Thanks in part to a brilliant idea of Oll’s first demonstrated in this game, it didn't last long. Mikhail Ulibin is a Soviet GM and silver medalist in the World Junior Championship of 1991. He played in the Soviet Union Junior Chess Championships of 1984, 1985 (3rd place),1986,1987,and 1988 where he tied for first with Gata Kamsky.

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