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Mark Bluvshtein

Mark Bluvshtein, Barcelona 2010
Full name Mark Bluvshtein
Country Canada
Born April 20, 1988
Yaroslavl, Soviet Union
Title Grandmaster

Mark Bluvshtein (born 20 April 1988 in Yaroslavl, Soviet Union) is a Soviet-born Canadian chess player, a Grandmaster, who resides in Canada. He became the youngest Canadian International Grandmaster (GM) ever in 2004, at the age of 16, having become an International Master (IM) at the age of 13. He took part in the Chess World Cup 2011, but was eliminated in the first round by Alexander Riazantsev. As of October 2011, he is no longer listed as an active FIDE player and has stated to be pursuing "other goals".

Bluvshtein graduated from York University in Toronto, majoring in Science and Technology Studies. He is currently taking a break from competitive chess.

Early life

Bluvshtein and his family moved from Russia to Israel when he was five years old. They moved again, to Toronto, Canada, six years later, where he attended Newtonbrook Secondary School. Mark graduated from Newtonbrook in 2006.

Mark's father Ilya Bluvshtein is a Candidate Master level player himself.

Bluvshtein was Israel Boys Under-10 Champion (1998), and Israel Boys Under-12 Champion (1999).

Canadian success and records

Upon arriving in Canada, Bluvshtein earned a National Master ranking within a few months at age 11, making him the youngest Canadian to achieve this level. He was training during this time with IM Yan Teplitsky, a Canadian Olympic team member who had studied in the famed Russian school run by Mark Dvoretsky before moving to Canada.

Bluvshtein's first major Canadian success came in 2000, when he tied for 2nd-3rd places in the Toronto Closed Championship, with 8/11, behind only FM Eduardo Teodoro IV. His first full International event in Canada was the Toronto Summer International Open 2000, where he made an even score with 4.5/9. He claimed clear first place in the Toronto Thanksgiving Open 2000 with 5/6, ahead of several strong Masters. In the Junior Canadian Chess Championship, Montreal 2001, he placed clear second with 7/9, behind winner Yaacov Vaingorten. He won the Canadian Grade 7 Championship in 2001, and in the Canadian Youth Championship 2001 (Boys' U14 Group), held at Sackville, New Brunswick, he took clear first with 6.5/7. Staying on for the Canadian Open Chess Championship, also at Sackville, his successful run continued with a superb tied 3rd-7th place, with 7.5/10, and only one loss, behind only winners Tony Miles (in his last tournament before his death a few weeks later) and Larry Christiansen.

Youngest Canadian IM

A few weeks later, Bluvshtein became the youngest International Master in Canadian history, at age 13, when he scored 6/9 at the Zonal Closed Canadian Chess Championship in Montreal. He tied for 3rd-4th places, behind only winners Kevin Spraggett and Alexandre LeSiege. He won the 2001 Toronto Christmas Open with 4.5/5.

In 2002, he won the Canadian Grade 8 Championship, and made a perfect score of 8/8 in the Canadian Youth Championship (Boys' U14 Group). Then, in the Canadian Open Chess Championship, Montreal 2002, he tied for 4th-10th places, with 7.5/10, behind only winners Jean-Marc Degraeve, Pascal Charbonneau, and Jean Hebert. Bluvshtein's first Grandmaster round-robin was the 2002 Montreal International, where he tied for 10th-11th places with a creditable 4/11; the winner was Degraeve. Just a couple of weeks later in the 2nd Chess'n Math Association Futurity in Toronto, he tied for 1st-4th places, with 6/9, along with Yuri Shulman, Walter Arencibia, and Dmitry Tyomkin, missing a GM norm by only half a point. In the Toronto Labour Day Open 2002, he tied for first at 5/6 with Goran Milicevic.

Youngest Canadian Grandmaster

In June 2003, Bluvshtein scored his first Grandmaster norm at a Grandmaster Round Robin tournament in Balatonlelle, Hungary, by winning his last three games and finishing with 6.5/9. Bluvshtein scored solidly at the 2003 Guelph International, with 5/9. But he had a rough tournament at the 2003 Montreal International, as he could only score 3.5/11 in a very powerful field which had nine GMs out of 12 competitors. However, he was gaining the necessary experience to earn the higher title.

Bluvshtein switched trainers, working with Grandmaster Dmitry Tyomkin for a time, with success. With funding assistance from generous chess patron and successful businessman Sid Belzberg, Bluvshtein was able to work with Israeli Grandmaster Alexander Huzman, and this provided the impetus for his next qualitative advance.

Bluvshtein made a very impressive Grandmaster norm at the 2004 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Kapuskasing, where he played eight Grandmasters in ten rounds, while scoring 6.5/10 to tie for 13th-26th places; he played by far the toughest schedule in the tournament, as he beat the highly experienced Vladimir Epishin and Arencibia, and lost only one game.

The next month, at the 2004 Montreal International, he made his third and final qualifying Grandmaster result with 6.5/11 to place fourth; the winner was Zahar Efimenko. Then he placed third, following a tie-break playoff, at the Zonal Canadian Chess Championship in Toronto, with 6.5/9, behind only co-winners Charbonneau and Eric Lawson. A couple of months later, Bluvshtein raised his International rating above 2500, completing the requirements for the GM title, and he received it at age 16 at the Calvià Olympiad, where he made a further Grandmaster norm, for good measure!

Bluvshtein won the Canadian Youth Championship (Under 18 Group) in 2005, and tied for first in a powerful field at the Canadian Open Chess Championship at Edmonton 2005, with 8/10. He defeated super-GM Alexei Shirov in a dazzling sacrificial game.

In 2006, Bluvshtein tied for 2nd-5th places at the Zonal Canadian Chess Championship in Toronto, with 6.5/9, behind only champion Igor Zugic. Bluvshtein shared the title at the Budapest First Saturday tournament in June 2007, with 8/11. He scored 7/10, unbeaten, in the 2007 Canadian Open Chess Championship in Ottawa. At Montreal 2007, he defeated former world finalist Nigel Short.

Youngest Canadian Olympian

Bluvshtein was first selected to play for the Canadian Olympiad team at age 14 in 2002; this tied the record for the youngest Canadian male chess Olympian, first set by Daniel Yanofsky in 1939. Bluvshtein was also selected in 2004 and 2006. He played excellently each time.

His totals so far for Canada in Olympiad play are: 34 games, +19 =10 -5, for 70.6 per cent.

Bluvshtein was selected as the Canadian Chess Player of the Year in 2004 and 2005.

Notable chess games