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Vladimirs Petrovs

Full name Vladimirs Petrovs
Country Latvia
Born 27 September 1907
Riga, Latvia

Vladimirs Petrovs or Vladimir Petrov (27 September 1907 - 26 August 1943) was a Latvian chess master.

He was born in Riga, Latvia. Though he learned the game of chess relatively late, at age thirteen, Petrovs made rapid progress. By 1926, at age 19, he won the Riga Championship and finished third in the national championship. He placed 2nd-5th, behind Isakas Vistaneckis, in the first Baltic Championship at Klaipėda in 1931. Petrovs won a match with Movsas Feigins (+4 -1 =3) in 1931, won a match against Vladas Mikėnas (+2 -0 =1) in 1932, and narrowly lost a match to Rudolf Spielmann (+1 -2 =5) in 1934.

Petrovs tied for first with Fricis Apšenieks in 1934, and won the Latvian Championship in 1935 and 1937. He won at Helsinki in 1936, and tied for first with Samuel Reshevsky and Salo Flohr at Kemeri in 1937, ahead of Alexander Alekhine, Paul Keres, Endre Steiner, Savielly Tartakower, Reuben Fine, Gideon Ståhlberg and others. This was Petrovs’ finest tournament achievement. Later the same year, he finished last at Semmering. Petrovs placed 3rd-5th at Łódź in 1938, behind Vasja Pirc and Tartakower, and third at Margate in 1938, behind Alekhine and Rudolf Spielmann, defeating Alekhine in their individual game. In 1939, Petrovs placed 8th of 16 at Kemeri-Riga, and won at Rosario, ahead of Erich Eliskases and Mikenas.

Petrovs played for Latvia in all seven official Chess Olympiads from 1928 to 1939. He also played at the unofficial Olympiad at Munich 1936.

He won two individual medals: gold in 1931 and bronze in 1939. He achieved a particularly brilliant result playing on top board at Buenos Aires: he was undefeated, drawing with world champion Alekhine, former world champion José Raúl Capablanca, and the young superstar Keres, and won against Vladas Mikėnas, Roberto Grau, Tartakower, and Moshe Czerniak.

In 1940 the Soviet Union annexed Latvia. Petrovs finished 10th of 20 in the 1940 USSR Championship, taking equal third at Riga in 1941, and second in several strong tournaments: Moscow in 1941, behind Isaak Mazel; Moscow in 1942, behind Igor Bondarevsky, and Sverdlovsk in 1942, behind Viacheslav Ragozin.

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941, Petrovs was unable to return to his wife and daughter at home in Latvia. He remained in Russia and was arrested on 31 August 1942 under Article 58 for criticising decreased living standards in Latvia after the Soviet annexation of 1940. Petrovs was sentenced to ten years in a corrective labor camp. In 1989 it became known that he had died at Kotlas in 1943 from pneumonia.

An annual rapid chess tournament (Vladimir Petrov Memorial) has been held in his memory in Jūrmala since 2012.