Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Ortvin Sarapu
O Sarapu 
Number of games in database: 583
Years covered: 1940 to 1999

Overall record: +330 -96 =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 (75) 
    B20 B32 B90 B40 B22
 Ruy Lopez (55) 
    C77 C78 C84 C71 C75
 French Defense (18) 
    C05 C09 C15 C04 C07
 Queen's Pawn Game (14) 
    A46 D02 D01 A45 A40
 Pirc (12) 
    B07 B09 B08
 King's Indian Attack (12) 
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (48) 
    B32 B21 B56 B45 B57
 Ruy Lopez (46) 
    C84 C99 C69 C78 C92
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (29) 
    C84 C99 C89 C92 C91
 Nimzo Indian (19) 
    E59 E21 E46 E48 E49
 King's Indian (14) 
    E60 E66 E72 E62 E99
 Modern Benoni (13) 
    A57 A56 A71 A74 A76
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   O Sarapu vs Z Frankel, 1962 1-0
   O Sarapu vs Z Frankel, 1952 1-0
   O Sarapu vs A L Wilkinson, 1967 1-0
   L Vizantiadis vs O Sarapu, 1972 0-1
   O Sarapu vs K W Lynn, 1982 1-0
   O Sarapu vs B Marsick, 1960 1-0
   Bogoljubov vs O Sarapu, 1949 0-1
   O Sarapu vs V Secula, 1949 1-0
   O Sarapu vs H Matthai, 1948 1-0
   O Sarapu vs I Ilic, 1990 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

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Ortvin Sarapu
Search Google for Ortvin Sarapu

(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 583  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 H Matthai 1-0201948HanoverB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
4. A Selezniev vs O Sarapu  0-1571948OldenburgA92 Dutch
5. O Sarapu vs A Rankis  1-0651948OldenburgC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
6. Laudowicz vs O Sarapu  1-0341948OldenburgC86 Ruy Lopez, Worrall Attack
7. Doggett vs O Sarapu  0-1381948OldenburgE37 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
8. O Sarapu vs W Kuppe  1-0521948OldenburgB80 Sicilian, Scheveningen
9. O Sarapu vs C Toerber  0-1521948OldenburgC78 Ruy Lopez
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  1-0431949OldenburgC78 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. O Sarapu vs Saemisch  1-0771949OldenburgC75 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
21. Bogoljubov vs O Sarapu 0-1391949OldenburgE11 Bogo-Indian Defense
22. E Zemgalis vs O Sarapu  ½-½461949OldenburgA15 English
23. O Sarapu vs Unzicker  ½-½521949OldenburgC78 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 583  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Sarapu wins | Sarapu loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Premium Chessgames Member
  Chessical: Sarapu was the post-war dynamo of New Zealand chess, winning the national title on numerous occassions, and having ten Olympiad appearances.
Feb-08-05  WMD: Not sure why, but I've always thought Sarapu was a Maori.
Jul-24-05  sneaky pete: Before he settled in New Zealand his name was written as Sarapuu.
Aug-10-05  refutor: has a nice write up on the history of the new zealand championship. is there a "New Zealand Base" floating out somewhere on the web? i'd be interested in checking that out, for historical games. they have a really great history of chess. said that sarapu took place in 31 New Zealand Championships and won (or shared) 20 of them!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: <refutor> Try the NZ Chess website at
Oct-04-05  WTHarvey: Here is a little collection of puzzles from Sarapu's games:
Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: Peter Stuart of NZ has a data base of thousands of NZ games but I dont know if he would ever put it on the net --he is a great historian of NZ Chess and also knows a lot about International chess also.

Ther have been many good if not great players but not enough got to play internaionally -and most had to take up some other activity (to earn a living) - we have only one GM from here-Murrray Chandler - Sarapu could well have become a GM if he had stayed in Europe. Ewen Green had/has immense talent but used to analyse obsessively and get into time trouble - he didnt take his IM title years ago for some finacial reason or some principal or something (we have about 5 IMs I think)...but like Sarapu he could play many blindfold games. Roger Court (to take some random examples) was also a NZ champion and very deep and ineresting player but died sadly of the effects of asthma -I think he was 28 or so ( I met him not long before he died -nice man -he gave myself and my friend a cup of tea etc) -others took professions etc -but maybe we just dont have the numbers -I think there are more people in Melbourne Australia than the whole of NZ or at least Sydney and Melbourne easily covers it. But that (conversely) is one of the good things about NZ -it's small size -but as you say NZ Chess (and NZ itself has a fascinating history) actually goes back to at least 1879 when the first NZ Champs was held. Interesting that the inventor of (some say the first powered/controlled filght (2 months) before the Wright Brothers he flew -Richard Pearse - was also a keen chess player)

Premium Chessgames Member
  Richard Taylor: <WTHarvey> Thanks. As a Kiwi I appreciate that. Nicely done diagrams - you have 4000 puzzles! Great!
Jan-22-06  BIDMONFA: Ortvin Sarapu

SARAPU, Ortvin

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: The Giant Silver Rook behind Ortvin's right shoulder in his picture is the New Zealand Championship Trophy. Ortvin's name has appeared on it twenty times.

New Zealand has the second oldest Championship in the World.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Sarapu's performances in the ten Olympiads he participated in can be found in the following :

Jun-05-06  Maatalkko: This guy has the same winning percentage as Fischer!

I know this is meaningless, but he obviously was quite dominant over a long period of time in N.Z.

Feb-20-07  AlanWilkinson: Nice to see old Ortvin getting the recognition he deserves. As a student I played him several times but always lost. My good student buddy at the Canterbury Chess Club, Bruce Anderson, also played him and at least took some draws from him.

My favourite memory was after Ortvin celebrated another NZ Championship win a little too well in Christchurch he made an embarrassing speech to the Government Minister presenting the prizes about how Ortvin always voted for the opposition political party.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Jonathan Sarfati: Sarapu was deservedly awarded the OBE for his services to chess in NZ. He was almost 66 when he won his 20th NZ title.
Premium Chessgames Member
  mckmac: I remember Ortvin Sarapu as an almost mythical figure at The Auckland Chess Centre in the early 1970's.Friday night was kid's night and for a short time I used to go along with my sister.There were many photos of Ortvin on the walls.Most showed him paired with the famous silver rook,the trophy awarded to The Chess Champion of New Zealand.

Mr Sarapu occasionally called in on a Friday,to see Mr Mitchell,or to pick up a book,and the effect he would have on us was dramatic.It's Mr O Sarapu,we would whisper,Mr O Sarapu,The International Master.The older ones knew that he had beaten a player who had played for the World Title; all of us knew he had played Bobby Fischer.As if by magic,the games of suicide,swap,and progressive, would come to a quiet but speedy conclusion.Some of us then even tried to look thoughtful(..ahem),suddenly three moves deep in a rapidly constructed Four Knights or something similar.Simply a question of respect really.

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.


search thread:   
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 1 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
NOTE: You need to pick a username and password to post a reply. Getting your account takes less than a minute, is totally anonymous, and 100% free—plus, it entitles you to features otherwise unavailable. Pick your username now and join the chessgames community!
If you already have an account, you should login now.
Please observe our posting guidelines:
  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, profane, raunchy, or disgusting language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate or nonsense posts.
  3. No malicious personal attacks, including cyber stalking, systematic antagonism, or gratuitous name-calling of any member Iincludinfgall Admin and Owners or any of their family, friends, associates, or business interests. If you think someone is an idiot, then provide evidence that their reasoning is invalid and/or idiotic, instead of just calling them an idiot. It's a subtle but important distinction, even in political discussions.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No malicious posting of or linking to personal, private, and/or negative information (aka "doxing" or "doxxing") about any member, (including all Admin and Owners) or any of their family, friends, associates, or business interests. This includes all media: text, images, video, audio, or otherwise. Such actions will result in severe sanctions for any violators.
  6. NO TROLLING. Admin and Owners know it when they see it, and sanctions for any trolls will be significant.
  7. Any off-topic posts which distract from the primary topic of discussion are subject to removal.
  8. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by Moderators is expressly prohibited.
  9. The use of "sock puppet" accounts in an attempt to undermine any side of a debate—or to create a false impression of consensus or support—is prohibited.
  10. All decisions with respect to deleting posts, and any subsequent discipline, are final, and occur at the sole discretion of the Moderators, Admin, and Owners.
  11. Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.
Blow the Whistle See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a Moderator.

NOTE: Keep all discussion on the topic of this page. This forum is for this specific player and nothing else. If you want to discuss chess in general, or this site, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors. All Moderator actions taken are at the sole discretion of the Admin and Owners—who will strive to act fairly and consistently at all times.
Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

home | about | login | logout | F.A.Q. | your profile | preferences | Premium Membership | Kibitzer's Café | Biographer's Bistro | new kibitzing | chessforums | Tournament Index | Player Directory | Notable Games | World Chess Championships | Opening Explorer | Guess the Move | Game Collections | ChessBookie Game | Chessgames Challenge | Store | privacy notice | contact us

Copyright 2001-2019, Chessgames Services LLC