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Ortvin Sarapu
O Sarapu 
Number of games in database: 579
Years covered: 1940 to 1999

Overall record: +327 -95 =153 (70.2%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 4 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (76) 
    B20 B22 B40 B90 B25
 Ruy Lopez (55) 
    C77 C84 C78 C73 C63
 French Defense (17) 
    C05 C09 C04 C11 C00
 Queen's Pawn Game (14) 
    A46 A40 D02 A45 D01
 Pirc (12) 
    B09 B07 B08
 Petrov (12) 
    C42 C43
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (49) 
    B21 B32 B56 B45 B92
 Ruy Lopez (46) 
    C99 C69 C84 C78 C89
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (29) 
    C99 C84 C89 C88 C92
 Nimzo Indian (19) 
    E59 E21 E48 E46 E20
 King's Indian (13) 
    E60 E62 E98 E77 E69
 Queen's Pawn Game (12) 
    A46 D02 A45 D00 E00
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   O Sarapu vs Z Frankel, 1962 1-0
   O Sarapu vs Z Frankel, 1952 1-0
   L Vizantiadis vs O Sarapu, 1972 0-1
   O Sarapu vs H Matthai, 1948 1-0
   O Sarapu vs A Day, 1970 1-0
   Rodolfo Cardoso vs O Sarapu, 1978 0-1
   Bogoljubov vs O Sarapu, 1949 0-1
   O Sarapu vs V Secula, 1949 1-0
   A Matanovic vs O Sarapu, 1967 1/2-1/2
   O Sarapu vs Purdy, 1952 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Sarapu - Purdy Australasian Championship (1952)
   New Zealand Championship (1977)
   1st Burroughs Computers Grandmaster (1978)
   Oldenburg (1949)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   1st Burroughs Computers Grandmasters Tt by Benzol
   85th New Zealand Ch by Benzol
   Sarapu - Purdy Match, Australasian Championship by Chessical

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(born Jan-22-1924, died Apr-13-1999, 75 years old) Estonia (federation/nationality New Zealand)

[what is this?]
Ortvin Sarapu was born in Narva, Estonia. He learnt to play chess aged eight but took up the game seriously a few years later in the wake of the successes of Paul Keres. By the age of eleven he was able to play four games of simultaneous blindfold chess. Later in his career he played many ten to twelve board displays of this type. In 1940 he won the Estonian Junior Championship, but his chess development was interrupted by the Second World War. In 1943 he made his way via Finland to Sweden where he was interned for the rest of the war.

During an international tournament in Oldenburg, West Germany in 1949 he met New Zealander Robert Wade, which led to his emigration to New Zealand in 1950. In 1952 he drew a 10 game match with Cecil John Seddon Purdy (+4, =2, -4), and in 1966 he won the Zone 10 Zonal tournament in Auckland, New Zealand. As a result he was awarded the IM title and a qualification spot in the Interzonal tournament at Sousse, Tunisia in 1967. For his services to chess he was awarded an MBE in 1980.

Sarapu won or co-won the New Zealand Championship 20 times, at the time the world record for any national chess championship. He also won the Australian title in the late 1950's, and tied the match for Sarapu - Purdy Match, Australasian Championship (1952). He played in the Olympiads 10 times. Sarapu retired from international play at the beginning of 1998. His contribution to New Zealand chess and chessplayers cannot be overestimated.

Wikipedia article: Ortvin Sarapu

 page 1 of 24; games 1-25 of 579  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. J Rebane vs O Sarapu 1-091940Estonian Junior ChA22 English
2. J Tornerup vs O Sarapu  0-1331947Esbjerg, DenmarkE34 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Noa Variation
3. O Sarapu vs A Rankis  1-0651948Oldenburg, GermanyC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
4. Laudowicz vs O Sarapu  1-0341948Oldenburg, GermanyC86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
5. Doggett vs O Sarapu  0-1381948Oldenburg, GermanyE37 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
6. O Sarapu vs W Kuppe  1-0521948Oldenburg, GermanyB80 Sicilian, Scheveningen
7. O Sarapu vs C Toerber  0-1521948Oldenburg, GermanyC78 Ruy Lopez
8. O Sarapu vs H Matthai 1-0201948HanoverB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
9. A Selezniev vs O Sarapu  0-1571948Oldenburg, GermanyA92 Dutch
10. O Sarapu vs V Secula  1-0251949Hanover, GermanyC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
11. O Sarapu vs Rellstab  ½-½261949OldenburgC77 Ruy Lopez
12. P Tautvaisas vs O Sarapu 1-0641949OldenburgC48 Four Knights
13. Rossolimo vs O Sarapu  ½-½311949OldenburgC56 Two Knights
14. O Sarapu vs O'Kelly  1-0431949OldenburgC77 Ruy Lopez
15. H Heemsoth vs O Sarapu  ½-½521949OldenburgA14 English
16. O Sarapu vs J Enevoldsen 1-0181949OldenburgC77 Ruy Lopez
17. H Heinicke vs O Sarapu  1-0561949OldenburgE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
18. O Sarapu vs B H Wood  1-0441949OldenburgB20 Sicilian
19. E Walther vs O Sarapu  0-1601949OldenburgC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
20. Bogoljubov vs O Sarapu 0-1391949OldenburgE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
21. O Sarapu vs Saemisch  1-0771949OldenburgC76 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, Fianchetto Variation
22. E Zemgalis vs O Sarapu  ½-½461949OldenburgA15 English
23. O Sarapu vs Unzicker  ½-½521949OldenburgC77 Ruy Lopez
24. Wade vs O Sarapu 1-0251949OldenburgC48 Four Knights
25. O Sarapu vs W Kuppe 1-0221949OldenburgE15 Queen's Indian
 page 1 of 24; games 1-25 of 579  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Sarapu wins | Sarapu loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <mckmac> I knew Sarapu quite well - not closely. I first played him in 1964. I was 16. He won. He won one other game and then I got draw against him - in a game where we both had 60 minutes - now actually he was losing, but he pressured me to write down my moves (it wasn't clear in thsoe days if that was obligatory for a 60/60) ...I also drew in two others - they were simuls he played.

I was at the NZ Congress at Upper Hutt in 1978/79 and he, I, Wayne Power and E Green were staying at the CIT - Ortvin's room was next to mine - he was an interesting man - he told me an anecdote about Sibelius - it went more or less that when Sibelius got visitors he would ask them, as they were about to go, if they had noticed a particularly beautiful plant, many hadn't: noticing, observation, alertness, and awareness of beauty.

Sarapu told me he had a photographic memory - I knew that as I had seen him play blindfold chess but he also said his memory of music was not good and he thus got onto Sibelius...signifcant as Finland is close in language, proximity etc to Estonia I suppose. BTW he worked as labourer at a factory in Auckland - and was always out ot win every tournament he could as much for the money as anything. And Ian Mitchell was a Communist (originally from Scotland) - now Mitchell and Sarapu would have had very opposite views (at some times I also argued politics with him -he was ok about disagreeing) - he wasn't happy with Russians (I mean the Russian Govt/military etc) or Germans (again I don't mean individuals - he had German friends and could speak German/Russain and Estonian at least ...)His mother wanted to go back to Estonia but he felt (he told me) that as his home had been destroyed by the Russain and German military there was no future there.

When he was young he was also a talented athlete. When I knew him he was always very interesting and he also had great sense of humour - he would also talk about chess and other subjects a lot - not just to strong chess players...anyone. He had very expressive face and manner. He smoked for years - at the board he concentrated ferociously - cigarette in mouth.

Once he played Kasparov and lost - it was not so easy for Kasprov but maybe not too hard I suppose - but Kasparov - he told me - was pacing back and forth behind the board like a (melo)dramatic tiger working out several variations about 15 or more moves deep "Into the end game, for practice" he told Sarapu after the game! (Probably just to show off.) But I recall Ortvin showing variations he had calculated very deeply in about 1963 or so.

A very intertesting man - a great man in his own way.

Mar-21-07  Mac3: If readers are looking for an autobiography of NZ's greatest chess player it can be obtained at the following link.

"Special moments recaptured in this book include games with Fischer, Spassky, Kasparov and Korchnoi."

While Sarapu is no longer with us his legend lives on through the pages of this book.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: This is great, honouring Sarapu as player of the day. I knew him from when I was just a kid of about 11. He was a good guy, would talk to any chessplayer and had a good sense of humour. I don't know if his wife Barbara is still alive; she was very nice too, and I think a German.

We were good friends, but <Richard> has provided information I wasn't aware of. Sarapu and I had a little ongoing dispute about smoking, but he eventually gave that up and was glad he did.

A lot of our games were short draws, with only three decisive games. It was a privilege to have scored +2-1, but he was in his late 50s when I first played in the NZ champs. He won his last NZ champs in a very strong field when he was a few days short of his 66th birthday.

He must have been a powerhouse when he was in his prime, as shown by some notable scalps. Coming to NZ markedly strengthened chess in that country, but probably weakened his own game.

He and I also became allies when both of us were excluded from the 1990 Olympiad team for chess-political reasons, although he had just co-won his 20th title, and I was undefeated to finish 5th, while people who finished far behind us were selected.

<WMD> It was a source of great amusement for Ort after he won the Australian Champs that the Aussie papers talked about the Maori, Sarapu LOL.

Mar-21-07  Mac3: Jonathan Sarfati: Sarapu and I had a little ongoing dispute about smoking, but he eventually gave that up and was glad he did.

Wasn't it you who sprayed some perfume at Ortvin when he lit up a smoke at the board?

My recollection was that he was a little put out although perhaps my memory is a little "hazy" and I am thinking of the cigarette!?

Did your "Brut"ish tactics "incence" him? I suspect that the game "fizzled" into a draw, and no real "sparks" flew between you.

Perhaps you should upload the game and Chessgames could feature it as game of the day? "Fire at the board" could be an apt title ;-)

Best Regards, Andrew

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Weren't Ortvin and Lev Aptekar trying to set up a chess school at some stage during the 1970's? As I understand it Aptekar was a top coach in the Soviet Union but it's typical of the NZ education authorities that they didn't know what they had on their hands. Aptekar eventually got tired of knocking his head against a wall of apathy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Mac3>, that seems right, and Ort hopped away very quickly. The game might have been the 1985-6 champs in Christchurch, and I dunno why this isn't here already.

BTW, do I know you, Andrew?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <Benzol><Jonathan> <Les autres> That could be true - re Aptekar I saw him a few times - he wrote the excellent book "Wisdom in Chess" " which even now I use sometimes as a pre tournament device to loosen up or sharpen my tactics etc.

I cant remember openings very well so I concentrate on a few good opening ideas or systems ideas and tactics!

I remember the long controversey about smoking at Chess events - I have never smoked - and it didn't worry me as both my parents smoked quite heavily - I suppose I would be concerned nowadays as my father L S Taylor died of lung cancer (BTW he had quite a lot to do with organising Junior Chess (about 1964 or so) and setting up ACC (about 1967) or so). My mother also smoked and she eventually died of a stroke - both conditions are not helped by smoking.

Two other players who were very strong - apart from Jonathan! (although he is still with us!) - were Rodney Phillips and Roger Court - but there werer others -maybe no one as consistently strong though - it is poss. Sarapu might have become a GM had he stayed in Europe. But he preferred the climate here. Political and other - we also had great social security system intoduced by Savage etc.

Mar-23-07  Mac3: Hi Jonathan,

The answer to your question is yes, I should have added in my surname McIntosh.

It's good to touch base with you again after a number of years.

Kind Regards, Andrew

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Hey cool, Andy, now I know; nice to hear from you again.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Jonathan> <Mac3> Can either of you tell me where the 1985 South Island Championship was played? I believe you played (each other) in that event.

Thanks in advance.


Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: My sister married a McIntosh and there was a McIntosh who was the Auckland Champion a long time ago That was Ian - my sister's husband's uncle! Ian played at Howick-Pak when I was there in the 70s to the late 80s and I had some tough games with him even though he was quite old then. He also donated the chess tables/baords that are still at ACC - he ran a laminated timber beam making company. <Benzol>s father (Engineer) will know all about them - they are very strong.

But all this probably has nothing to do with <Mac3> lol

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Benzol>, I think we had a draw in R1 in that SI, which was in NZ. I managed to win that one, with some fair wins over T van Dijk in an endgame and Denis Boyce in the middlegame, but some nasty moments against Anthony J Love and Robert Wansink (scored 1.5 from two probably lost games). Earlier that year I won the NI, which was much more convincing, e.g. O Sarapu vs J Sarfati, 1985
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Jonathan> Where in the South Island was the event held. I have some of the games from an old NZ Chess Magazine from 1985 but it doesn't say where the event was played. You won the event and of your games there are the gamescores against the following : Andrew McIntosh, Tom van Dijk, Benjamin Martin, Anthony Love and Robert Wansink.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: <Benzol>, I am pretty sure that it was in Dunedin. I don't think I have that issue of the mag. Would you please send those games since I lost a lot of records when I moved to Australia. I recall that my win against Denis Boyce was published in the Evening Post chess column.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <Jonathan> Thanks. I'll upload the games as soon as I can.
Premium Chessgames Member
  OneArmedScissor: The Biography needs a revision. It's got some pretty obvious grammatical errors in it.
Aug-20-08  wolfmaster: Handsome devil, isn't he?


Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <wolfmaster: Handsome devil, isn't he?


He was quite old then. Look at yourself in the mirror when your his age...

Mar-21-10  Mac3: Great to see "Mr Chess" otherwise known as Ought-to-win Sarapu honoured here today.
Aug-12-13  jerseybob: Didn't Sarapu beat Walter Browne - by tiebreak - in a short playoff match for an Interzonal spot?
Nov-11-14  ljfyffe: Sarapu won the New Zealand correspondence
chess championship in 1968, and again in 1969,
the dates signifying when the tournaments started.
Nov-11-14  ljfyffe: Also, in 1965.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Ortvin Sarapu.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Ortvin was quite proud of this game H Rossetto vs O Sarapu, 1972 and featured it in his regular chess column in the Auckland Star newspaper in 1972.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Sarapu's birthday the other day! Well he is no longer with us as they say. Old Ort. He was a prodigy but his chess was interrupted by WWII. He knew Keres of course. He played some great games, and was a likable man.
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