Elmārs Zemgalis

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Elmārs Zemgalis (9 September 1923 – 8 December 2014), was a Latvian-American chess master and mathematics professor. He was awarded an Honorary Grandmaster title in 2003.[1]

Biography[edit]

After the Soviet Union invaded his native Latvia for the second time, Zemgalis fled to Germany. As a D.P. (Displaced Person) after World War II, he played in twelve international tournaments. In 1946, he took second place, behind Wolfgang Unzicker, in Augsburg, with 13/16. In 1946, he took second place, behind Fedor Bohatirchuk, in Regensburg (Klaus Junge Memorial), with 6.5/9.[2] In 1947, he took second place, behind Lūcijs Endzelīns in Hanau (Hermanis Matisons Memorial). In 1948, he won in Esslingen (Württemberg-ch), with 7/9.[3] In 1949, he won in Rujtā (Württemberg-ch). In 1949, he tied for first place with Efim Bogoljubow in Oldenburg.[4] In 1949, he tied for first place with Leonids Dreibergs in Esslingen.

In 1951, he emigrated to the United States, where he became a mathematics professor. By 1952, Zemgalis had settled in Seattle. He was arguably the top player in the Pacific Northwest for the next fifteen years.[5] In 1952, he won (3:1) a match against Olaf Ulvestad in Seattle. In 1953 and 1959, he won the Washington State championships. His 9–0 win in the 1953 Championship and his 6-0 win in the 1959 Championship are the only perfect score in the history of the tournament. In 1962, he won (4.5: 3.5) a match against Viktors Pupols.

William John Donaldson wrote a book on his chess career: Elmars Zemgalis: Grandmaster without the title (2001). Zemgalis was awarded the Honorary Grandmaster title by FIDE in 2003.

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