Elmārs Zemgalis

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Elmārs Zemgalis
Country Latvia
 United States
Born(1923-09-09)September 9, 1923
Riga, Latvia
DiedDecember 8, 2014(2014-12-08) (aged 91)
United States

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]


Zemgalis started to play chess when he was eleven, eventually winning the championships of Riga and Jelgava.[2] After the Soviet Union invaded his native Latvia for the second time in 1944, 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.[3] In 1947, he took second place, behind Lūcijs Endzelīns in Hanau (Hermanis Matisons Memorial).[4] In 1948, he won in Esslingen (Württemberg-ch), with 7/9.[5] In 1949, he won in Rujtā (Württemberg-ch). In 1949, he tied for first place with Efim Bogoljubow in Oldenburg.[6] 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.[7] 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.


  1. ^ "Mechanics' Chess Club: Newsletter #165, 11/12/2003 (note #6 "Zemgalis receives FIDE Honorary Grandmaster title")". Chessclub.org. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  2. ^ "Latvijas pēdas pasaulē: Elmārs Zemgalis - Pasaules šaha organizācijas Goda Lielmeistars" (in Latvian). Retrieved 2018-08-21.
  3. ^ "Elmars Zemgalis's Obituary on The Seattle Times". The Seattle Times. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  4. ^ "War Crimes (article by Edward Winter)". www.chesshistory.com. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  5. ^ "Elmars Zemgalis 9.9.1923-8.12.2014". Schach Nachrichten (in German). 2014-12-11. Retrieved 2016-04-10.
  6. ^ "Welcome to the Chessmetrics site". Chessmetrics.com. 2005-03-26. Archived from the original on 2006-04-14. Retrieved 2015-04-09.
  7. ^ Elmars Zemgalis: Grandmaster without the title, by John Donaldson, 2001, ASIN: B0006RZ3N6

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