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Janis Klovans (1935-2010)

Janis Klovans dies at the age of 75

Janis Klovans (April 9, 1935 - October 5, 2010). Latvian Grandmaster Janis Klovans has died at the age of 75. Klovans was in the generation of Soviet players which had incredible strength in depth. Older than his contemporary Mikhail Tal by a year and a half he was probably best known with the knowledge of the strong Latvian chess scene through him. In a very long career he defeated Mikhail Tal, Anatoly Karpov, David Bronstein, Vassily Ivanchuk and Alexei Shirov. He was active in teaching the game and was influential on Shirov.

Klovans took the Latvian title nine times (1954, 1962, 1967, 1968, 1970, 1971, 1975, 1979, and 1986) and of course also played the Soviet Championships (36th 1968 6th= from 20 with 10.5/19 level with Tal and he defeated him in their individual game)

URS-ch36 Alma-Ata 1968(9)

White: Klovans, Janis

Black: Tal, Mihail 1-0

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 a6 6. Be2 Nbd7 7. f4 g6 8. g4 Nc5 9. Nb3 Nxb3 10. axb3 Bg7 11. Be3 O-O 12. O-O b6 13. Bf3 Rb8 14. Qe2 b5 15. Rad1 Nd7 16. Rd2 b4 17. Na4 Qa5 18. Rfd1 Qb5 19. Qg2 Bb7 20. e5 Rfe8 21. Bf2 Nf8 22. Bxb7 Rxb7 23. exd6 exd6 24. Rd5 Qe2 25. Rxd6 Rbe7 26. R6d2 Qb5 27. Nb6 Re2 28. Qf3 Rxd2 29. Rxd2 Bxb2 30. Nc4 Bc3 31. Nd6 Qd7 32. Rd3 Re6 33. Ne4 Qe8 34. Nxc3 bxc3 35. Rxc3 Nd7 36. Re3 Nf6 37. Rxe6 Qxe6 38. f5 Qe5 39. Qa8+ Kg7 40. g5 Ne8 41. Qd8 Kg8 42. fxg6 hxg6 43. Kf1 Qe4 44. h4 Kh7 45. Qd3 Qg4 46. Ke1 Nc7 47. Kd2 Qb4+ 48. Qc3 Qf4+ 49. Qe3 Qf5 50. Kc1 a5 51. Kb2 Nd5 52. Qc5 Qe4 53. Qd4 Qe6 54. Qc4 Qe5+ 55. Bd4 Qe4 56. Qc5 a4 57. bxa4 Nc7 58. Qe5 1-0

He had limited opportunities outside the Soviet Union but there were incredibly strong local tournaments for instance he played the very strong Riga 1959 chess tournament (for which I have a very nice daily bulletin, unfortunately it is so brown the photos won't scan) finishing with 5/13 behind Spassky, Mikenas, Tolush, Tal Sliwa, Gipslis, Teschner, Nei etc.

According to ChessMetrics he was 40th best player in the world in December 1962 and his peak rating was in 1975 and he became an IM in 1976. He was a very regular player in the World Senior Championships and almost always finished highly. He won in 1997, 1999 and 2001 earning the GM title for this first win. In old money he was a very good International Master, with the devaluation of the title of good Grandmaster strength. He was a very active player, since TWIC started he had over 500 published games.

Once Latvia gained its freedom from the Soviet Union following the fall of the Berlin Wall he played a small number of games in their team in the Olympiad of 1992 in Manila. He got a better chance in 2000 when he scored +5 -4 = 4 in Istanbul.

ChessVibes has a nice tribute to Janis Kovans

His wife Astra Klovane was 6 time Latvian ladies Champion and they had two daughters. He was influential in Latvian Chess, Shirov is quoted as saying "In chess he taught me above all objectivity and the means of seeking the truth." Apparently his nickname was "Iron John" in Lavtian chess circles. and was in the Soviet army wearing a uniform to many events.

This has been a year of sadness in chess with the loss of a number of legendary players.

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