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Monday, October 26, 2015

An Nice Purdy Win and a Tribute to Ortvin Sarapu

Sarapu and Purdy
     Every player knows Cecil Purdy won the first world correspondence championship in 1950-53, and everyone knows he was an excellent writer on the game.  Few realize that he was also a decent OTB player. In gaining his world championship title he scored +9 -1 =3 to finish ahead of such correspondence stalwarts as Harald Malmgren, Mario Napolitano, Olaf Barda, Gabriel Wood, Theo van Scheltinga and Janos Balogh. The lone American representative, John W. Collins, finished 11-12th with +3 -7 =3. 
     Chessmetrics lists Purdy's OTB high rating at 2346 on the June 1980 rating list, but because he never played in any European tournaments, that rating is, no doubt, not totally accurate. However, in 1946 he held Tartakower to a draw in a radio match and in 1947 he drew with Harry Golombek, also in a radio match. 
    His opponent in this game, Ortvin Sarapu (22 January 1924 in Narva, Estonia – 13 April 1999 in Auckland, New Zealand), sometimes known as "Mr Chess", was a New Zealand IM who won or shared the New Zealand Chess Championship 20 (!) times from 1952 to 1990. 
     In 1945, just after World War II ended, Sarapu was invited to stay with a family friend in Denmark and in1946, he won the Copenhagen championship and the Copenhagen five-minute championship. One of his opponents at the 1949 Oldenburg tournament was former New Zealander Robert Wade and in a conversation after their game, Wade suggested that New Zealand would be a good place for someone like Sarapu, who wanted to escape war-ravaged Europe. Sarapu met his wife after the Oldenburg tournament and they married in 1950. Immediately thereafter they emigrated to New Zealand, arriving in Wellington in October 1950. 
     When he arrived in New Zealand here was a huge gap in strength between him and the rest. For example, in 1952 when he won his first championship he scored 10.5 out of 11. FIDE awarded Sarapu the IM title in 1966 after he won the Asian Zonal, making him the second New Zealand player to gain the IM title, the first being Robert G Wade. 
     In addition to Tartakower and Golombek, Sarapu played Bogoljubow, World Champions Bobby Fischer (a loss at the Sousse 1967 Interzonal), Garry Kasparov (a loss at the Lucerne 1982 Olympiad), and Boris Spassky (a draw at Wellington 1988).  He also drew with Viktor Korchnoi (at the Sousse Interzonal).
     In 1952 he played Purdy, then champion of Australia, for the championship of Australasia. The match, played at Auckland, was drawn, the players becoming joint champions for 1952.  Sarapu took first place at the Melbourne International Tournament in 1955. Oddly, his first and last international tournament in Europe was at Oldenburg 1949.  It was there he defeated former world  championship candidate Efim Bogoljubow with a sharp turnaround from a bad position. He finished in fifth place with 11-6, a point behind tournament winners Bogolyubow and Elmārs Zemgalis, and a half-point behind Nicolas Rossolimo and Herbert Heinicke. Chessmetrics lists his highest rating as 2436 in 1949. There is a nice tribute, including a radio interview, to Sarapu HERE.
    In the following game Sarapu makes a natural move, castling Q-side, and walked right into a stunning piece sacrifice by Purdy, who then followed it up perfectly. The position is a good one to remember in case it presents itself in a similar setting. 

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