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Jaan Ehlvest

Full name Jaan Ehlvest
Country Estonia
Soviet Union
United States
Born October 14, 1962
Tallinn, Estonia
Title Grandmaster
Peak rating 2660 (January 1996)

Jaan Ehlvest (born 14 October 1962) is a chess player, who was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE in 1987 and was named Estonian sportsman of the year in 1987 and 1989. Since 2006, he has represented the United States.

He was briefly a world top 10 player when, in 1991, he ascended to the number 5 slot on FIDE's official list with an Elo rating of 2650.

Jaan Ehlvest's brother, Jüri Ehlvest, was a well-known writer in Estonia.


Ehlvest's tournament victories include the 1980 USSR Junior Chess Championship, the 1983 European Junior Championship, the 1986 Estonian Championship, the 1994 New York Open, and the 2003 World Open in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When SK Rockaden won the 2001 Swedish championship they fielded Ehlvest.

Ehlvest studied psychology at Tartu State University. In 2004, Ehlvest published his autobiography, The Story of a Chess Player. In 2006, unsatisfied with the lack of support from the Estonian Chess Federation, Ehlvest decided to move to the United States; since then, he has been a member of the USCF and competed internationally for the USA.

In March 2007, Ehlvest accepted an invitation to play an unusual eight-game match against the chess program Rybka, one of the strongest chess programs in existence. He was playing Black in all games, but was given pawn odds (Rybka was playing each game a pawn down; different white pawn was removed in each game). He lost the match by 2½:5½ (+1−4=3). In a following rematch, the pawn odds were removed, Ehlvest was given White in every game, twice the time on the clock, and significant computational handicaps were placed on the machine. Ehlvest lost decisively, 1½:4½.

Olympiad career

He was a member of the gold-medal winning Soviet Union team at the 28th Chess Olympiad in Thessaloniki 1988 and played for Estonia in the Chess Olympiads of 1992-2004.