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22-year-old Lithuanian Grand Master wins Paul Keres memorial chess tournament

Paulius Pultinevicius.
Paulius Pultinevicius. Source: ERR

Sunday marked the 108th anniversary of the birth of Estonian chess Grand Master Paul Keres, who, in 2000, was also named Estonia's greatest sports person of the 20th century. The anniversary was celebrated in Tallinn with the now annual high-speed chess tournament "Remembering Paul Keres."

Last weekend, 118 chess players from ten countries took part in the 33rd Paul Keres Memorial Tournament at Tallinn's Viru Hotel Conference Center. The winner of the rapid chess competition was 22-year-old Lithuanian Grandmaster Paulius Pultinevicius, who scored 9.5 points in 11 rounds.

Pultinevicius defeated Indian Grandmaster Abhimanyu Puranik, who won the tournament's lightning or "blitz" competition on Friday evening. Puranik finished the rapid tournament half a point behind the Lithuanian. Georg Aleksander Pedoson was the best-placed Estonian, ending the competition in tenth.

Ten-time Estonian national champion Kaido Külaots came home to compete direct from Stockholm, where he had just finished tenth in the ten-day classical chess tournament. While last year Külaots finish third in the Keres Memorial Tournament, this year he had to settle for 13th place.

"For those who are into numerology, maybe it's a lucky number in some way," Külaots told ERR.

"I'll try to take it like that. But clearly, when I started this tournament my thoughts were about slightly lower numbers in terms of finishing places."

Külaots said that in chess, everyone has a chance, something illustrated by the fact that the youngest player in the tournament was just six years old and some of the competitors were over 80. "What is clear, of course, is that there is definite group who are playing for those top spots, the very top spots," said the Estonian Grand Master.

"For the majority of players, it's more about gaining experience, if you want to use that kind of buzzword. But then it's also about gaining experience among the top players. I think for some, even for the six-year-old, a tournament like this could provide a big boost for their chess career."

The 33rd Paul Keres Memorial Tournament was organized by the Estonian Sports Association Kalev, whom Keres represented when competing. In 1964, he was awarded honorary membership of the association.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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