Vilner won the Odessa chess championships four times (1918, 1923, 1925, and 1928). He won the Ukrainian championships three times; at Kiev 1924 (ahead of Fedor Bohatirchuk), at Kharkov 1925 (ahead of Nikolai Sorokin), and at Odessa 1928 (with Vladimir Kirillov). He also won at Odessa 1926 (ahead of Russo), and at Kiev 1929 (with Bohatirchuk).
He played in several Soviet chess championships. In July 1923, he tied for 11-13th in Petrograd (2nd URS-ch; Peter Romanovsky won). In September 1924, he tied for 6-8th in Moscow (3rd URS-ch; Efim Bogoljubow won). In 1925, he tied for 11-13th in Leningrad (4th URS-ch; Bogoljubow won). In October 1927, he tied for 15-17th in Moscow (5th URS-ch; Bohatirchuk and Romanovsky won). In September 1929, he tied for 8-9th in Odessa (6th URS-ch qual.; Boris Verlinsky won).
Notable chess games
- Efim Bogoljubow vs Yakov Vilner, Leningrad 1925, 4th URS-ch, Semi-Slav Defense, Meran Variation, D49, 0-1
- Yakov Vilner vs Mikhail Botvinnik, Moscow 1927, 5th URS-ch, Amazon Attack, Siberian Attack, A45, 1-0
- Nikolai Sorokin vs Yakov Vilner, Odessa 1929, 6th URS-ch, Slav Defense, Schallopp Variation, D12, 0-1
Other notable events
In June 1919, Alexander Alekhine was arrested by the Cheka and imprisoned in Odessa. He was charged with anti-Soviet activity and passing on secret information. He was ordered shot, but saved by Yakov Vilner, who sent a telegram to the chairman of the Ukrainian Council of People's Commissars. The chairman knew of Alekhine and ordered him freed.[unreliable source?]
- http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/al2055km/ch_repub.html&date=2009-10-25+02:11:35 RUSBASE, part V
- http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/al2055km/ch_urs.html&date=2009-10-25+02:11:41 RUSBASE, part V
- http://web.archive.org/web/20091028082847/http://www.geocities.com/SiliconValley/Lab/7378/russia.htm Russian Chess History by Bill Wall