THE FIRST FINNISH CHESS CHAMPION
The Finnish GM Eero Böök (1910–1990) was also a talented chess writer, who wrote several chess books. His book called Shakkipakinoita (Chess stories; published 1967) contains a chapter Ensimmäinen suomalainen shakkimestari (The first Finnish chess champion; Shakkipakinoita, p. 92–104. According to Böök the first Finnish chess champion is to be held Anatol Tschepurnoff (Chepurnov). The book involves also interesting analysis of some Tschepurnoff’s games.
Tschepurnoff was born in Loviisa, Finland 1871. In his youth he was a member in Helsinki chess club. He moved to Russia and 1908 he began to work on the railways in St. Petersburg. Thus he had a possibility to take part in the vivid chess life in that city about ten years. Böök remarks especially that during those years Tschepurnoff played many light games in the famous chess café Dominique.
After the Russian revolution Tschepurnoff moved back to Finland (our land became independent 1917). He lived in Viipuri, then Mikkeli and after that in Helsinki, where he was dead during the winter time 1942.
Anatol Tschepurnoff won the first Finnish chess championship in 1922. So he became the first chess champion in Finland. He won the championship also 1928 and became second 1931 and 1935. In 1924 there was the first chess olympiad (unofficial) in Paris. Böök decribes the Paris chess olympiad as some kind of world chess championship for amateurs. Tschepurnoff and Erik Malmberg represented Finland. His result was outstanding. He was fourth in the winning group together with young Max Euwe and the Hungarian Dr. A. Vajda. The first was H. Mattison, Riga, the second F. Apshenieks and the third the Belgian Edgar Colle, which all were famous international masters.
According to Böök Tschepurnoff didn´t pay much attention to the accepted opening variants. Thus the first question after his arrival from Paris was: ”How did you survive the modern opening theory?” Tschepurnoff replied: ”It was off course not difficult with the white pieces. When I played with the black pieces I replied always with c5.” Böök says that there was a big amazement because in those days the Sicilian defence and the Benoni defence were considered unreliable openings.
Eero Böök thinks that Tschepurnoff didn’t pay attention to the outlines by the famous Dr. Tarrasch. Instead he played according to the style of Mikhail Tschigorin. According to Böök this was the reason that he was in a sense very modern player.
There are 43 games by Anatol Tschepurnoff in chessgames.com. His name is translitterated there Chepurnov. The collection includes for example two games against Max Euwe and one game against Alekhine (1909).