Not an Ordinary Grandmaster
Aivars Gipslis is not a well known name among chess fans around the world, but was a remarkable person dedicated to our beautiful game. Born on February 8, 1937 in Latvia, he started playing chess at the age of twelve, which was normal by that time, although nowadays we have already seen some young lions achieving the GM title at that age. He was from the same generation of Mikhail Tal, and they often competed in the Latvian championship during Tal’s young years. After winning his second USSR title the Magician from Riga returned home for his next trophy, but managed to finish only third. “I scored 16.5/19, my highest score ever, but two more players made 17.” The championship decided a curious case, in which Tal took a hot bath while reading the fresh chess bulletin and preparing against Gipslis. Aivars read a page further:
Altogether Aivars Gipslis won 8 Latvian championships, one bronze medal from the strong USSR championship, and took part at the Interzonal in Sousse 1967. However, his major success was the tie for 2nd-5th places at the super strong Alekhine Memorial in Moscow 1967 ahead of Boris Spassky and Tigran Petrosian and together with Mikhail Tal, Vasily Smyslov and Milko Bobotsov .
In 1972 he won the best game prize of the Chess Informant for this wild, although not entirely correct, game:
Since 1966 he started helping Nona Gaprindashvili in her defense of the women's world crown. Their productive cooperation lasted till 1979, after which Gipslis was many time USSR women's team trainer, and helped the ladies win several gold medals at the Olympics.
Apart from being a GM over the board, he was also an ICCF GM, respected chess writer, and editor of the famous Latvian magazine “Chess” from 1963 on. His contribution to chess was less flashy compared to many other players, but significant.
Aivars Gipslis passed away on 13 April 2000, after having created many interesting games: