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  1. #1
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Sarapu: Jono (and others) please tell us about him!

    Jono,I was just wondering if you were able to tell us a few words about (sorry I do not know his first name) Sarapu!
    Did you ever have the chance to meet him? play against him? what was he like as a parson? I believe, your response could provide some additional colour paralel to the already popular Queenstown thread and attract other players, New Zealanders as well as Australians to add their own experiences of the great man.
    Cheers
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  2. #2
    CC Grandmaster Adamski's Avatar
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    Ortvin in brief

    Quote Originally Posted by justaknight
    Jono,I was just wondering if you were able to tell us a few words about (sorry I do not know his first name) Sarapu!
    Did you ever have the chance to meet him? play against him? what was he like as a parson? I believe, your response could provide some additional colour paralel to the already popular Queenstown thread and attract other players, New Zealanders as well as Australians to add their own experiences of the great man.
    Cheers
    Jono played IM Ortvin Sarapu MBE (RIP) many times in various NZ tournaments including NZ championships. He can no doubt give you details. I met Sarapu many times at NZ chess tournaments. A great man of NZ Chess, he won the NZ champs 20 times and holds the record for number of such wins by a long way. He also wrote a very good autobiographical book, which I have at home. That is "Mr Chess: the Ortvin Sarapu Story". His other chess book that I don't own was "25 Years in the New Zealand Chess Championship (1952-1977)".
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  3. #3
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    JaK, I was a friend of Sarapu's right from when I was a kid, up to his death (he lived 1924–1999). He wasn't much of a parson though, because he was an atheist or agnostic I had a narrow plus score of 2–1 with many draws, but he was over 50 when I first met him as a kid, way past his peak. Yet he won his 20th NZ championship just before he turned 66, so he was a very powerful veteran. I learned much from him, and NZ chess in general received a huge boost from his influence.

    He wrote 25 Years in the New Zealand Chess Championship (1952–1977), 1978; and "Mr. Chess". The Ortvin Sarapu Story, 1993, and I have autographed copies of both. Both were very good, but didn't have enough diagrams; it's a shame that the latter didn't take advantage of the new computer graphics readily available even back then to make diagrams easily (I had used the available programs to write articles for New Zealand Chess at the time).

    His wife Barbara was very nice too.

    Here are some comments on him just after Ortvin died, showing the high esteem in which he was held by many.

    From Dr David L, Wellington:

    He was a very kind and pleasant man. Some years ago I found myself talking to an elderly man at a chess party or gathering somewhere (I think it was a lead-up to the PLAZA tourney [1988]). He was interested in who I was and introduced me to several well-known players who were close by (I did not yet know who he was and he certainly didn’t know me from Adam). Yet, he treated me as an equal (though hardly on the chessboard!) and I was immediately drawn to him as a person. Later, I discovered it was Ortvin Sarapu. In fact, only last weekend I looked through his book at the Wellington library and scanned his games against Bobby Fischer and Gary Kasparov. He gave each of them a run for their money!

    Ortvin will be sadly missed, and not only by New Zealand’s best chessplayers.

    From Todd S., Wellington:

    That is terrible news indeed.

    I only met him a couple of times and he was always friendly towards me, with a smile on his face. Very nice chap. I also remember him talking to me when you were playing Ian Rogers [actually Gufeld, 1986 — they both stayed with my family —JS], I think in the BNZ underground in Wellington. I believe you played a Marshall because Ortwin seemed very happy to be watching the game. It was obvious he loved the game of chess.

    From my mother, since my parents also liked him:

    I didn’t read about Sarapu in last night’s paper, but there is a large photo and article in tonight’s paper which I will cut out and send to you. … He will be missed won’t he … quite a guy! I imagine you will be feeling upset. … His wife looked very nice too, very attractive.
    Last edited by Capablanca-Fan; 20-01-2009 at 06:06 PM.
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

  4. #4
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    That's a great report Jono and thanks! I was expecting something of this depth from you. That is, by no means, to undervalue Jonathan's and other chatters' eagerness in willing to share their experiences about the man and his contribution to Chess with their postings in this thread.
    Admitting my ignorance, I have to confess that I knew nothing about Sarapu, before the late Peter Daly whom I first met in Sydney in the early '80s and later in Melbourne, told me stories about him and the times they met eachother in OTB chess back in New Zealand.
    Thanks again!
    Last edited by ER; 20-01-2009 at 04:03 PM.
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  5. #5
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    Irtvin Sarapu

    Quote Originally Posted by justaknight
    who is The Garbage? By the way David, did you ever have the chance to play Sarapu?
    I don't think so. I lost to lots of good kiwis but never got the chance to play Sarapu.

    In the days I was playing the kiwi championship was a round robin and I was nowhere near strong enough to qualify. Sapapu lived in Auckland which was a long way away from Wellington.

  6. #6
    CC Grandmaster Tony Dowden's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidflude
    I don't think so. I lost to lots of good kiwis but never got the chance to play Sarapu.

    In the days I was playing the kiwi championship was a round robin and I was nowhere near strong enough to qualify. Sapapu lived in Auckland which was a long way away from Wellington.
    I played IM Ortvin 'The Great Ort' Sarapu a few times - maybe three? I remember gaining two (short) draws in (round-robin) NZ Championships but also getting competely outplayed in a rapid (30/30) tournament. This taught me not to provoke him - and is the only loss I can recall (I 'forget' losses easily so there may be more!)

    Jono must have played him several times though.

    Ortvin played in the 1966 Sousse Interzonal - drawing with Korchnoi and, perhaps most notably, only narrowly losing to Fischer. And in Rd 1 of the 1982 Olympiad in Lucerne he also played gamely against Kasparov (then aged 18 or 19) only finally resigning during the adjournment break. The rest of the Kiwi team got pounded into the dust

  7. #7
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Please relocate to SARAPU thread!

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyD
    ... I played IM Ortvin 'The Great Ort' Sarapu a few times - maybe three? ...
    I would like to ask the Mods, with Tony's permission of course, to transfer this and other related postings to the SARAPU thread pls
    Thanks
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  8. #8
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davidflude
    I don't think so. I lost to lots of good kiwis but never got the chance to play Sarapu.

    In the days I was playing the kiwi championship was a round robin
    They should never have abandoned this format

    Quote Originally Posted by Davidflude
    Sapapu lived in Auckland which was a long way away from Wellington.
    Did you play Feneridis or Frankel much?
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

  9. #9
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonyD
    I played IM Ortvin 'The Great Ort' Sarapu a few times — maybe three? I remember gaining two (short) draws in (round-robin) NZ Championships but also getting competely outplayed in a rapid (30/30) tournament. This taught me not to provoke him — and is the only loss I can recall (I 'forget' losses easily so there may be more!)
    Indeed, in his 20th NZ Championship win in 1989/90, just before he turned 66, he won a couple of games against youngish players who declined his draw offer.

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyD
    Jono must have played him several times though.
    Heaps, as per the Sarapu thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyD
    Ortvin played in the 1966 Sousse Interzonal - drawing with Korchnoi and, perhaps most notably, only narrowly losing to Fischer.
    He drew with Spassky as black in the Plaza International, 1988, as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by TonyD
    And in Rd 1 of the 1982 Olympiad in Lucerne he also played gamely against Kasparov (then aged 18 or 19) only finally resigning during the adjournment break. The rest of the Kiwi team got pounded into the dust
    I thought that Small held off Karpov's squeeze for a long time, and could easily have adjourned as well.
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

  10. #10
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    ty

    thanks Mods for the transfer
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  11. #11
    CC Grandmaster Denis_Jessop's Avatar
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    I did not know Sarapu but knew a lot of him via Cecil Purdy's "Chess World". It contains quite a bit of information about him as well as an account of the one and only (as far as I know) match for the Championship of Australasia - a 10-game match between Purdy and Sarapu played in Auckland in 1952. It was tied 5 - 5 with only 2 draws and many of the games are in CW, annotated by Purdy.

    I also had some theoretical articles written by Sarapu for "The New Zealand Chessplayer" about then but I'm not sure if I still have them.

    Apparently, Sarapu became a professional chess player in Denmark when only about 20 and played a 20-player simultaneous blindfold exhibition (score: 15,3,2) aged 21. He migrated to NZ in 1951.

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  12. #12
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    another chapter

    Thanks for the information Denis.
    With this report you have introduced another chapter in my general interest for chess personalities and events of the past.
    That is your reference to the Championship of Australasia, which I presume took place for a number of years.
    I wonder if the traditional rivalry that exists between Australia and New Zealand in various sporting events, has its parallels in Chess competitions.
    I believe that this topic is not unrelated to the thread's heading so please if you (and other chatters) have any information / memories / records of

    statistics
    results
    funny incidents and stories
    characters


    connected to the history of the Aussie vs Kiwi OTB or CC, are more than welcome to share it with the rest of us!
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  13. #13
    CC Grandmaster Capablanca-Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Denis_Jessop
    I did not know Sarapu but knew a lot of him via Cecil Purdy's "Chess World". It contains quite a bit of information about him as well as an account of the one and only (as far as I know) match for the Championship of Australasia - a 10-game match between Purdy and Sarapu played in Auckland in 1952. It was tied 5 - 5 with only 2 draws and many of the games are in CW, annotated by Purdy.
    That was a great match. Sarapu talks about it in his book. They had great respect for each other, and Sarapu talks about the wise advice Purdy gave him (Purdy was about 17 years older). According to Sarapu, he was better at tactics, while Purdy was better at strategy. From looking at the games, that seems like an oversimplification, and reminds me of a similar claim by Yermolinsky on Botvinnik v Tal, that they just bashed each other by whatever means were available. Sarapu said his best game was the first, and Purdy's best was the last, and I agree.

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis_Jessop
    Apparently, Sarapu became a professional chess player in Denmark when only about 20 and played a 20-player simultaneous blindfold exhibition (score: 15,3,2) aged 21. He migrated to NZ in 1951.
    Yes, he would probably have reached GM strength if he had stayed, given that Chessmetrics puts him in the world's top 60 at the time.
    Last edited by Capablanca-Fan; 21-01-2009 at 07:44 PM.
    “The destructive capacity of the individual, however vicious, is small; of the state, however well-intentioned, almost limitless. Expand the state and that destructive capacity necessarily expands, too, pari passu.”—Paul Johnson, Modern Times, 1983.

  14. #14
    CC Grandmaster Denis_Jessop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by justaknight
    Thanks for the information Denis.
    With this report you have introduced another chapter in my general interest for chess personalities and events of the past.
    That is your reference to the Championship of Australasia, which I presume took place for a number of years.
    I wonder if the traditional rivalry that exists between Australia and New Zealand in various sporting events, has its parallels in Chess competitions.
    I believe that this topic is not unrelated to the thread's heading so please if you (and other chatters) have any information / memories / records of

    statistics
    results
    funny incidents and stories
    characters


    connected to the history of the Aussie vs Kiwi OTB or CC, are more than welcome to share it with the rest of us!
    As far as I kow, the Championship of Australasia only ever occurred once and that was no doubt because Sarapu was recognised as a very strong player. The Purdy - Sarapu match was described as the Inaugural match for the Championship (conducted by the Auckland Chess League for the NZCA and the ACF) and I don't recall ever having heard of another. Perhaps that's something that could be revived. As was common in those days, the ACF ran an appeal for funds to pay for Purdy's fare to NZ. It was oversuscbribed but I'm not sure what the final figure was. The last published figure I've found was 62 pounds 6 shillings, Australian, but the final figure was higher. Admission of 2 shillings (sterling) was charged and Purdy estimated that about 100 pounds stg was raised which went towards the prize money and rent. I see on further delving into CW that Purdy annotated all 10 games of the match. Some of them were reprinted in "CJS Purdy - His Life, His games and His Writings" by Hammond and Jamieson (1982) and may also have been reprinted in the more recent Purdy series published by Thinkers Press but I don't know for sure.

    There has been very little liaison between Australian and NZ chess administrators over recent years though I got a motion though the ACF National Conference a year or two ago encouraging greater consultation and our current President has spoken to Paul Spiller and others a few times. Clearly there is scope for coordination of events and for players of both countries to play in each others tournaments - it already happens in big events like Queenstown but fewer NZers seem to come here. Hilton Bennett is an obvious exception as he usually plays in the Aus Open and some other events I think.

    DJ
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  15. #15
    CC Grandmaster ER's Avatar
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    Smile Australia vs New Zealand 5 vs 5! Result?

    Quote Originally Posted by Denis_Jessop
    ... the Championship of Australasia ... ... Perhaps that's something that could be revived.../]

    What a great idea!


    [... reprinted in "CJS Purdy - His Life, His games and His Writings" by Hammond and Jamieson (1982)... DJ
    I have a copy, an aesthetically pleasing white cover with the great man's picture up front!
    I presume (and silly me I had never paid attention to it - thanks Denis for enlightening me) co - author Jemieson is our very own IM Robert Jamieson undoubtly one of the greatest players this country has ever produced!
    By the way, doing some research about Mr Jamieson after your information I found that he is involved with chess activities again ...
    Since his involvement is published in his own personal blog on a commercial website, I refrain from using the link here unless I have the admins permission.
    However, all I can say is that the Box Hill Chess Club and Canterbury Juniors Chess Club kids who had the chance to meet Mr Jamieson at a recent coaching project are enthusiastic about him - his personality, humour and productive approach!
    Accidentally, in one of his articles in the above mentioned blog Mr Jamieson is referring to Purdy with invaluable advice for young chess players.
    Now back to our theme!
    What would be the result in an imaginary Chess Match of the Five best ever Australian Chess Players vs their New Zealander counter parts?
    Last edited by ER; 22-01-2009 at 09:13 AM.
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