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|GM Jaan Ehlvest|
Estonian-born GM Jaan Ehlvest decided to become a professional chessplayer on his first trip outside the Soviet Union for the 1979 World Cadet Championship in France. In his fascinating book, The Story of a Chess Player , Ehlvest writes: " The Parisian streets made a strong impression...Seeing this kind of world gave me more stimulus to improve, to fight for the freedom to play chess where I wanted and experience the joys of the Western lifestyle."
After his resolution, Ehlvest quickly became a star- he came in second in the 1981 World Junior Championship and first in the 1983 European Junior Championship. In 1987, he tied for second in the Zagreb Interzonal and became a Grandmaster. He proved that he could hold his own against the world elite. In the 1989 Reggio Emilia round robin he finished clear first, ahead of Anatoly Karpov and Vassily Ivanchuk. In the 2000 World Championship in New Delhi, India Jaan made it to the sweet sixteen,scoring match wins against Ivanchuk and Sergei Movsesian.
Ehlvest's rich career as a world class European GM makes him one of the most dangerous players in America and a serious contender to join the U.S. Olympic team. Jaan's move to America was gradual; First he came for the major tournaments like the 1994 New York Open, which he won. In the late nineties, he began to visit more frequently. He and his childhood friend and roommate Aleksander Wojtkiewicz completely dominated the American Open scene, taking turns winning the chesscafe.com Grand Prix titles. (Opens award Grand Prix points based on the projected prize fund; they are tabulated at the end of the year, and the winner receives a cash prize, this year $4,000.) In the heat of the 2006 summer, Jaan and Aleks were once again neck and neck for the Grand Prix title. In a bitter twist, Aleks Wojtkiewicz died on July 14, 2006 allowing Jaan to win the year's Grand Prix easily. In 2006, Jaan officially switched federations from Estonia to America making him eligible for the first time for the U.S. Championship and the U.S. Olympic team.
Jaan's style is hard to define. He is equal opportunity when it comes to choosing between brutal frontal attacks and slow positional grinds. With the white pieces Jaan is particularly scary, as he can play anything, from Main Line Sicilians to the English.