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Vladimir Petrov
Vladimir Petrov 
Number of games in database: 177
Years covered: 1928 to 1942

Overall record: +72 -48 =57 (56.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database.

With the White pieces:
 Queen's Pawn Game (13) 
    D04 D02 D05 A45 E00
 Catalan (9) 
    E02 E01 E06
 Slav (8) 
    D15 D17 D12 D11
 Sicilian (7) 
    B23 B40 B62 B29 B80
 Nimzo Indian (6) 
    E46 E49 E44 E47 E33
 King's Indian (5) 
    E60 E67
With the Black pieces:
 French Defense (16) 
    C10 C01 C18 C11 C05
 Sicilian (14) 
    B74 B84 B58 B80 B56
 Queen's Pawn Game (12) 
    D02 D04 A40 A45 E00
 French (8) 
    C10 C11 C00 C13
 Slav (7) 
    D19 D16 D15 D10 D13
 Nimzo Indian (7) 
    E34 E37 E22
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Vladimir Petrov vs R Grau, 1939 1-0
   Rellstab vs Vladimir Petrov, 1937 0-1
   G Page vs Vladimir Petrov, 1933 0-1
   Vladimir Petrov vs V Mikenas, 1939 1-0
   K Treybal vs Vladimir Petrov, 1933 0-1
   Vladimir Petrov vs Alekhine, 1938 1-0
   K Richter vs Vladimir Petrov, 1936 1/2-1/2
   Stahlberg vs Vladimir Petrov, 1938 0-1
   Vladimir Petrov vs Alekhine, 1939 1/2-1/2
   Vladimir Petrov vs Fine, 1937 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Rosario (1939)
   Kemeri (1937)
   Margate (1938)
   Semmering/Baden (1937)
   Podebrady (1936)
   USSR Championship (1940)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Vladimir Petrov Chess Biography by jessicafischerqueen
   Lodz 1938 (Petrov's games) by jessicafischerqueen
   Buenos Aires Olympiad 1939 (Petrov's games) by jessicafischerqueen
   Margate 1938 by sneaky pete
   Munich Unofficial Olympiad 1936 (Petrovs' games) by jessicafischerqueen
   Prague Olympiad 1931 (Petrov's games) by jessicafischerqueen
   Rosario 1939 by Tabanus
   Kemeri 1939 (Petrov's games) by jessicafischerqueen
   Stockholm Olympiad 1937 (Petrov's games) by jessicafischerqueen
   Folkstone Olympiad 1933 (Petrov's games) by jessicafischerqueen

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Vladimir Petrov
Search Google for Vladimir Petrov

(born Sep-27-1907, died Aug-26-1943, 35 years old) Latvia

[what is this?]

Vladimir Petrov (Latvian spelling- Vladimirs Petrovs) was born in Riga, Latvia, on 27th September 1907. Although he joined the ranks of the world chess elite in 1937, he is perhaps less well known than he should be, due to his being arrested by the NKVD in 1942 and imprisoned for the rest of his life.(1) He was subsequently expunged from Soviet chess history. Most of his colleagues in the Soviet bloc, with the notable exceptions of Alexander Koblents and Paul Keres, avoided publishing his games, or even mentioning his name in public.(2) Consequently, little was heard about Petrov in the west until long after his career and life had ended. The political turmoil of the USSR kept him from being as well known as he deserved. He notched a lifetime 50% score against both Alexander Alekhine and Jose Raul Capablanca, and defeated an impressive list of top grandmasters including Alekhine, Keres, Samuel Reshevsky, Reuben Fine, Rudolf Spielmann, Isaac Boleslavsky, Gideon Stahlberg, Savielly Tartakower, Grigory Levenfish, Erich Eliskases, and Alexander Kotov.

Genesis of a Master

Petrov's father ran a modest cobbler's shop in Riga, while his mother worked as a housekeeper. In 1919 Petrov was accepted at the prestigious Lomontov High School, where he received a first rate liberal arts education. In that same year the streets of Riga were barricaded as nationalists fought Bolshevik and German armies to retain Latvian independence, which had been declared in 1918. Such concerns seemed far from Petrov's mind, however, as he enjoyed a vibrant school life centered largely around music, soccer, and gambling at cards with his friends. He and his friends grew bored with cards, and were introduced to chess by Viktors Rosenbergs, who offered to help hone their skills. Petrov soon challenged him to a 100 game chess match, which he ultimately won. In 1923 he won the school championship and joined the Riga-2 chess club, earning the 1st category rating, and a year later went on to win the reserves section of the first Latvian Championship. His optimism and spark in almost everything he tried earned him the nickname "Successful like Petka," and he was indeed successful in gaining admission to the Riga School of Jurisprudence in 1925, although he wouldn't graduate for another 16 years. In 1926 he won the strong Riga City Championship, which prompted him to devote almost all of his time to a quest to become a chess master.

Chess Olympian

Setting law books aside, Petrov instead immersed himself in the games of Latvia's strongest players, Hermanis Karlovich Mattison and Fricis Apsenieks. In his own games he favored Mattison's positional style, and soon became an expert at knowing exactly when to trade down to a winning endgame, a characteristic he would retain throughout his career. His star rose quickly as he finished shared 2nd in the 1926 Latvian Championship, earning the Master title. Two years later he joined the Latvian team on 3rd board at the inaugural FIDE Chess Olympiad at The Hague, and he would go on to play for Latvia in all the Chess Olympiads up to 1939, garnering a gold medal on 3rd board at Prague 1931 and a bronze medal on 1st board at Buenos Aires 1939. He won his first Latvian Championship in 1930, and tied Apsenieks in the 1934 edition. Petrov had his heart set on playing 1st board for the Olympic team, so instead of a playoff match to decide the Latvian championship, Petrov struck a deal with Apsenieks: he would concede the title in exchange for 1st board in all subsequent Chess Olympiads.

Joining the Elite

Petrov won another Latvian championship in 1935, and gave a creditable performance on 1st board at the Warsaw 1935 Olympiad, scoring 55% and defeating both the Lithuanian and Argentine champions, Vladas Mikenas and Roberto Grau. On the strength of these results Petrov was invited to his first major international tournament, the Czech Championship in Podebrady (1936). Despite a disappointing 10th place finish, Petrov was included in another top event, this time on his home turf in Riga. At Kemeri (1937) he stunned the chess world by finishing shared 1st with Reshevsky and Salomon Flohr, ahead of both Alekhine and Keres. Reshevsky and Flohr decided that it was most fitting that Petrov should accept the tournament prize from Latvian president Karlis Ulmanis. In addition, he was also awarded a silver cup donated by the Aron Nimzowitsch family, honoring the "best result by a Latvian against a foreign master" for this brilliancy with the black pieces- Rellstab vs Vladimir Petrov, 1937. Petrov also earned the title of Grandmaster, due to a widely recognized convention in European chess at this time that if a home town player won a tournament in which at least six foreign Grandmasters participated, then that player would also be recognized as a Grandmaster. Petrov's surprise victory at Kemeri created a stir among European chess journals, which now began referring to him as a "Latvian Grandmaster."(3) He also received laudatory notices from prominent peers such as Max Euwe, Emanuel Lasker and Alexander Alekhine.

More invitations to premier events were forthcoming, but Petrov lacked consistency at the top level and he logged uneven international results from 1937-1939. He finished dead last at Semmering/Baden (1937) against a very tough field, featuring Capablanca, Keres, Fine, Reshevsky and Flohr. Petrov fared much better at Talinn 1938 in the Latvia-Estonia team match, leading his side to victory by defeating Keres 1.5-.5 on first board. He then finished a respectable third at Margate (1938), surprising Alekhine by almost checkmating him in the middle of the board- Vladimir Petrov vs Alekhine, 1938. After disappointing his Latvian fans with a dismal eighth place at Kemeri 1939, Petrov rebounded yet again with a bronze medal performance on 1st board at the Buenos Aires 1939 Olympiad. He scored 71% without losing a game, prompting Harry Golombek to remark "Petrov played the best chess at Buenos Aires."

Life as a Soviet Master

Shortly after a harrowing return journey from Buenos Aires through mine-filled seas, the Olympic bronze medalist was faced with a new challenge. Not only was Europe at war, but in 1940 the Soviet Union invaded Latvia and established a puppet communist government. No more would Latvia field Olympic teams, and Petrov was no longer allowed to participate as an organizer of Latvian chess events. At first, however, Petrov was guardedly optimistic about this upheaval. Although he had always been dubious and wary about the Bolshevik life in Russia, he and his wife Galina had long been members of what might be termed Latvia's Russian cultural intelligentsia. Though both considered themselves Latvian, they were steeped in Russian music, literature, theatre, and dance, and frequently attended such cultural events in Riga. Perhaps of most interest to Petrov, however, was that he now found himself an official Soviet chess player. He was awarded the title of Soviet Master and became eligible for some very strong events, notably the 12th USSR Championship (1940). Petrov did well to finish in the middle of the field, behind future world champions Mikhail Botvinnik and Vasily Smyslov, but ahead of Grigory Levenfish, who had won the 1937 USSR Championship, and Alexander Kotov, who had finished 2nd in the 1939 Championship. In addition, he defeated both Levenfish and Kotov in their individual games. Petrov also drew both of the event's co-winners, Andre Lilienthal and Igor Bondarevsky.

On his return to Riga to rejoin his family and play in the Ninth Latvian Championship, Petrov found his wife worrying about the current Bolshevik regime. She reported that availability of food and other materials in Riga was already scarce, and even worse, local government purges and general deportations were well underway. Petrov, now employed by the Soviet TASS news agency, had experienced no particular trouble during his trip to Russia, and he tried to assuage her fears. Nonetheless, as he left again for the USSR Championship Semi-finals in Rostov-on-Don, she pressed a photo of herself and their child into his palm for "good luck." He never saw either of them again. After six rounds of the Semi-finals had been completed, in Petrov's section only Alexander Kazimirovich Tolush had a better score, and it seemed that he was destined to qualify for his second USSR Championship.(4) However, the Semi-final was abandoned on 23 June 1941 when news reached the tournament that the Germans had invaded the Soviet Union. There was a mad rush as the players attempted to reach home. Petrov, accompanied by Latvian chess colleagues Alexander Koblents and Janis Fride, was halted at the Abrene customs station and informed that he could travel no further, as the Germans had already overrun Latvia. Petrov was forced to return to Moscow, but soon left for Gorky to volunteer in the Russian-Latvian Rifle Division. He was summoned back to Moscow in the winter of 1941, where he finished second to Isaak Mazel, ahead of Vasily Panov and Vladimir Alatortsev in the Moscow City Championship. Petrov then took a position as Assistant Commandant in the Moscow council "Dynamo," devoted to organizing logistics and defense in a city many feared would soon be under siege. Despite the German advance into the heart of Russia, however, the Soviet Chess Section still managed to keep organizing tournaments. At the Moscow national tournament in 1942 Petrov finished 2nd behind Bondarevsky, ahead of Alatortsev, Mikenas, and Panov. Evacuated to Sverdlosk in 1942, Petrov competed in another national tournament, finishing second to Viacheslav Ragozin, ahead of Alexey Sokolsky, Boleslavsky, and Georgy Ilivitsky.


Characteristically, Petrov had a habit of speaking frankly to friends and colleagues about his impressions of life in Soviet Latvia and Russia, some of which were critical of the Bolshevik regime. According to both Galina Petrova and Russian historian Sergey Voronkov, three fellow chess masters denounced Petrov to the authorities.(5) After Sverdlovsk, Vladas Mikenas recalls that he expected to see Petrov participate at the next major tournament in Kuibishev, but he never showed up. On August 31, 1942, Petrov was arrested and questioned for two weeks in Moscow at Lubyanka prison for violating "Article 58," a catch-all law that forbade any kind of anti-Soviet statements or activities. He was subsequently transferred to Moscow's notorious Butyrka jail for a further five months of detention and interrogation. On February 3, 1943 Petrov was sentenced to ten years in Vorkuta Gulag for criticizing decreased living standards in Latvia after the Soviet annexation of 1940. According to a death certificate released by the KGB in 1989, Petrov died of pneumonia in, or en route to, the gulag on August 26, 1943.(5)


Galina Petrova lost contact with her husband in 1942, and spent the rest of her life trying to find out what happened to him. Galina was given conflicting reports of his arrest and detention, so she moved to Siberia in an attempt to find any record he had been at a gulag. After Stalin's death in 1954, Nikita Khrushchev rehabilitated the names of thousands who had died during "The Terror," but the conviction against Petrov was upheld. It would not be until the era of Glasnost that Mikhail Gorbachev finally rehabilitated Vladimir Petrovs' name with an official pardon in March 1989.


(1) The NKVD (Peoples Commissariat for Internal Affairs) was a predecessor of the KGB.

(2) Galina Petrova-Matisa <Star Extinguished Before its Time> Riga, 2008

(3) Galina Petrova-Matisa <Star Extinguished Before its Time> Riga, 2008

(4) At Rostov-on-Don 1941, the USSR Championship semifinal was organized into four separate sections. When the tournament abruptly ended, Petrov sat second in his section, a half point behind Tolush.

(5) Alexei Shirov, with Sergey Voronkov and Vladimir Dedkov <"Restoring the Annals of Latvian Chess History"> (ru)


Andris Fride <Vladimirs Petrovs: A Chessplayer's Story - From Greatness to the Gulags>, Caissa Editions, 2004.

Galina Petrova-Matisa <Star Extinguished Before its Time> Riga, 2008

Sergey Grodzensky <The Lubyanka Gambit>, Olympia Press, Moscow 2004

Alexei Shirov, with Sergey Voronkov and Vladimir Dedkov <"Restoring the Annals of Latvian Chess History"> (ru)

Biographical Game Collections

1.Game Collection: Vladimir Petrov Tournament List

2.Game Collection: Vladimir Petrov Chess Biography

Last updated: 2018-03-22 02:03:00

 page 1 of 8; games 1-25 of 177  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Vladimir Petrov vs K Makarczyk 1-0481928OlympiadD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
2. Vladimir Petrov vs W A T Schelfhout  ½-½261928OlympiadD92 Grunfeld, 5.Bf4
3. Tartakower vs Vladimir Petrov 0-1321930Hamburg ol (Men)A45 Queen's Pawn Game
4. Marshall vs Vladimir Petrov 1-0161930Hamburg ol (Men)E11 Bogo-Indian Defense
5. Vladimir Petrov vs S Landau  1-0511930Hamburg ol (Men)E60 King's Indian Defense
6. Vladimir Petrov vs A Pokorny  1-0391930Hamburg ol (Men)E11 Bogo-Indian Defense
7. L Hanssen vs Vladimir Petrov  0-1431931Prague ol (Men)B74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
8. G A Thomas vs Vladimir Petrov  1-0381931Prague ol (Men)B74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
9. W Rivier vs Vladimir Petrov  0-1641931Prague ol (Men)B56 Sicilian
10. Vladimir Petrov vs A Cruusberg  1-0531931Prague ol (Men)C11 French
11. Vladimir Petrov vs A Vajda  1-0351931Prague ol (Men)B13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
12. J Rejfir vs Vladimir Petrov 1-0521931Prague ol (Men)D51 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. A Gromer vs Vladimir Petrov  0-1541931Prague ol (Men)B74 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
14. Vladimir Petrov vs K Kullberg  1-0271931Prague ol (Men)B40 Sicilian
15. K Treybal vs Vladimir Petrov 0-1431933OlympiadB58 Sicilian
16. Vladimir Petrov vs E Gilfer  1-0321933OlympiadA22 English
17. G Page vs Vladimir Petrov 0-1231933OlympiadD02 Queen's Pawn Game
18. E Eliskases vs Vladimir Petrov  1-0601933OlympiadA04 Reti Opening
19. Vladimir Petrov vs P Vaitonis 0-1261933OlympiadD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
20. Vladimir Petrov vs J Rejfir  0-1631933Moravska OstravaA36 English
21. Vladimir Petrov vs Pirc  ½-½801933Moravska OstravaB83 Sicilian
22. E Canal vs Vladimir Petrov  ½-½331933Moravska OstravaB40 Sicilian
23. Gilg vs Vladimir Petrov 1-0351933Moravska OstravaC13 French
24. Foltys vs Vladimir Petrov  ½-½551933Moravska OstravaB58 Sicilian
25. Vladimir Petrov vs Gruenfeld  ½-½901933Moravska OstravaC88 Ruy Lopez
 page 1 of 8; games 1-25 of 177  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Vladimir Petrov wins | Vladimir Petrov loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Also, the photograph is uncredited.

What's the source?

The Latvian wiki page on the player doesn't even have a photo as good.

A google image search yields this:

I found an uncropped version of the photo here:

with Alekhine!

(I thought <CG> didn't like to crop photographs - btw)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: A direct link to the photo:

Premium Chessgames Member

Thanks <z>!

<Ohio Chess Fan> and I worked on the construction of the Petrovs biography for several months. Thanks also for your suggestions for improvement.


<If so, I would prefer the ref not come in the middle (2nd sentence), but either in the section heading, or at the very end. A note in the reference stating it was the source of all the information in the section would be helpful.>

I moved it where you said, brah.


<Ref 5 is in Russian, and even if clear from the link, I'd like to see a tag indicating a non-English source ... like

<link> (ru)>

I did it, Eseh.


<Shirov's interview refers to his wife as Galina Petrova-Mattis, at least in my google translate.

I would recommend <CG> does likewise.>

But the <Switching Owls for Thugs> translator assured me that <Petrova-Matisa> is actually the correct form for this Latvian name. Like you, I love the GARBLED TRANSLATOR and it gets better by the month eh? But in this case, I doubt it trumps the redoubtable Balt <Owls>. I'm going to stick with him on this one, Heffe.


<A direct link to the photo:>

Under the supasicrit sock <USSR Championships>, I had already posted this on page 2, but it can't hurt to have it back on the "front page" of the kibbutzing section.

I have no idea where <Daniel> got the photo from on the bio. Do you think we should ask him Holmes, amirite.


<z> Any truth to the rumor I'm currently spreading over on REDDIT that this is rare home movie footage of you and your family, out for a Sunday drive?

Very nice to be working with you again, home slice.

Premium Chessgames Member

<roberts partner>

Thanks for the correction! I had been under the impression you were a cyborg scientist. I don't know your connection to Bobby Fischer? I'm assuming you are not Robert's girlfriend on the show <Everybody Loves Raymond>, but stranger things have happened at

Thanks for your analysis on this- I suspect you are correct:

<The critical phrase is in the interview with Shirov where he quotes Ilivitsky's memoirs:

In the summer of 1942, he participated in the strong tournament in Sverdlovsk - where Ragozin won. Petrov again took second place, but was ahead Sokolsky, Boleslavsky, Ilivitsky, Mikenas - that is, there was a strong line-up. And on the way back - in my opinion, according to the memoirs Ilivitsky - Petrov had to go to the tournament in Kazan from Sverdlovsk. And, apparently, he did not get to this tournament and 31 August 1942, the year he was arrested.

On the way back implies that Ilivitsky believed that Petrov's incriminating remarks were made on the way back from Sverdlovsk to Moscow. But I now think on looking at it again that there are problems with this interpretation. First, only Ragozin of the Sverdlovsk players fully fits Voronkov's reference to Muscovite several times USSR championship competitor and second, Sverdlovsk ended on 11 April but the next tournament in Kuibyshev did not begin until 21 July, so that the statement above that 'Petrov had to go to the tournament in Kazan from Kuibyshev' is misleading. So I accept that it is still unclear who were the three informers.>

Premium Chessgames Member

<roberts partner>

Oh! Are you Bobby's enigmatic old girlfriend who helped convince him to come back in the rematch against <Boris Spassky>?

If so, thank you sir.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <JFQ> Nice to be back in the saddle, even if it's the side-line saddle for me.

I too wonder a little about the moniker <roberts partner>, though I believe a hint as to the identity might be found in the thread starting here:

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #15668)

Or maybe here:

Biographer Bistro (kibitz #15676)

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: <JFQ> I see I was following your lead on the photo then.

Here's another one which might (or might not) have already been mentioned:

It's him playing Keres in a 1938 Latvia--Estonia friendly.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Direct link:
Premium Chessgames Member

<z> Those photos are gold man, I can put them in the documentary film I'm making on Petrovs. Thanks!

I'm guessing then that *was* indeed a home movie? Arriba!

Premium Chessgames Member

Well what's not in doubt is the value of <roberts partner's> contribution to chess history research at this website. We are quite lucky to have such an addition amirite.

Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: I m adamant u r amerite !


Premium Chessgames Member
  zanzibar: Or should that be ἀδάμαντος?
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <jessicafischerqueen:

<FSR> <Not a single Petrov's Defense, with either color, by Vladimir Petrov.>

Isn't Petrov's Defence named after the "other" Petroff? The old Russian guy Alexander Petroff.>

Of course. But I guarantee you that if there were a reasonable opening that bore my name I'd try it at least once. I add the "reasonable" caveat because I don't play 1.f3 and 2.Kf2 despite that being known as "The Fred."

Premium Chessgames Member

<FSR> Didn't we have a member here called <I play the Fred>?

Do you think that may have been the *original* Fred?

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <jess: <FSR> Didn't we have a member here called <I play the Fred>?>

Sure did; good guy, too.

Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: But <I play the Fred> admitted that he actually <did not> play the Fred.
Premium Chessgames Member
  moronovich: Najdorf also stopped playing the Najdorf.
Mar-21-18  mifralu: <VLADIMIR PETROV
(born Sep-27-1908, died Aug-26-1943, 34 years old) Latvia>

V. Petrov was born a year earlier, on 27 September 1907

Premium Chessgames Member
  MissScarlett: That concurs with Gaige, so the change has been effected, pursuant to your wishes.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: The 27 September 1908 is given in Andris Fride's book "Vladimirs Petrovs - A Chessplayer's Story from Greatness to the Gulags", Yorklyn 2004. The discrepancy seems to be known: at least has both years.
Mar-21-18  Stonehenge: <(born Sep-27-1908

was born in Riga, Latvia, on 27th September 1907.>

Really great, you idiots.

Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: <Stonehenge: <(born Sep-27-1908 was born in Riga, Latvia, on 27th September 1907.>

<Really great, you idiots.>


And, other than that, this is a nice bio. I have not read the bio by Fride.

Premium Chessgames Member
  ChessHigherCat: <On February 3, 1943 Petrov was sentenced to ten years in Vorkuta Gulag for criticizing decreased living standards in Latvia after the Soviet annexation of 1940. According to a death certificate released by the KGB in 1989, Petrov died of pneumonia in, or en route to, the gulag on August 26, 1943.>

Now that's what you call adding insult to injury. First the Soviets bleed the Latvians dry then they send them to the Gulag (if they don't die of "pneumonia" on the way) for having the audacity to complain.

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <FSR: But <I play the Fred> admitted that he actually <did not> play the Fred.>

Dang it, is there no end to infamy?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Telemus: If 1907 was chosen as the year of his birth based on any source, then I would like to know it.
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