Aloyzas Kveinys, 1962-2018
Alyozas Kveinys in Mielno in 2007. | Photo: Waldemar Rydzewski/Wikimedia Commons.

Aloyzas Kveinys, 1962-2018

| 41 | Chess Event Coverage

Aloyzas KveinysLithuania's highest-rated grandmaster, a five-time Lithuanian champion, a former member of the national team and chess trainer, died on Thursday at the age of 56. His death, caused by a heart attack, was confirmed by the Lithuanian Chess Federation.

Aloyzas Kveinys was born July 9, 1962. Awarded the Soviet Master of Sport title for chess in 1981, he was one of many promising Soviet masters who started to travel all around Europe after the collapse of the Iron Curtain.

Playing in tournaments such as Groningen, Katowice, Bratislava and Sankt Ingbert, he earned the IM title in 1990. By that time, he had already won the national championship twice, in 1983 (shared with Eduardas Rozentalis) and 1986. He would later add three more national titles: 2001 (shared with Sarunas Sulskis), 2008 and 2012.

He secured the GM title in 1992, the year he turned 30. That was also the year when he made his debut for the Lithuanian Olympic team, in Manila—the same Olympiad where Vladimir Kramnik made his famous, spectacular debut in the Russian team.

Kveinys would play in eight Olympiads in total (1992, 1994, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008) and scored 51.5/97. He has also represented Lithuania in five European Team Chess Championships, scoring +11, -10, =21.

There's a variation in the Sicilian named after Kveinys: 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Qb6. The main idea is to chase the knight away from d4 and prevent Bc1-e3 for the moment.

Kveinys played this line between 1986 and 2002 and had a decent score with it: 16 wins, 14 draws and 7 losses against an average rating of 2425. (It must be noted that the last three games were friendly draws with the move repetition 5.Nc3 Bc5 6.Na4 Qa5+ 7.Nc3, whereas 7.c3 would be a more fighting choice there.)

In his career, he beat strong players such as Gata Kamsky, Alexei Shirov, Emil Sutovsky and Loek van Wely. The win over Shirov was a blitz game, played earlier this year, in Riga. It was still a Sicilian, but the Kan variation, which he preferred later in his career.

In the same opening, Kveinys also defeated Emil Sutovsky, in 2006 in Reykjavik. Sutovsky is another player who doesn't shy away from sharp complications, and he was definitely winning at some point:

Kveinys split the point with quite a few very strong grandmasters, including Peter Svidler, Boris Gelfand, David Navara, Vallejo Pons, Etienne Bacrot, Alexei Shirov and Nigel Short. His draw with Gelfand from the 2008 Olympiad was very interesting:

Kveinys was a very active player. Only this year he played the Seville Open, the 2nd Vergani Cup, the President Blitz Cup in Riga, the Aarhus Chess House round robin, the Kragero Resort open in Norway, the Reykjavik Open, the Fagernes IM tournament, the Metz Open, the ad Gredine Open, the Panevezys Open the Icelandic, French and Latvian Team Championships and the Baltic zonal tournament in Liepaja.

In that last tournament, he played his last official game: a win, this time an endgame grind in a Caro-Kann.

Kveinys with trophies

Kveinys cheering behind trophies after winning the Icelandic Team Championship with his team Viking Club (and scoring 8/9 himself!) | Photo: Icelandic Chess Federation.

Kveinys was generally appreciated as a very social grandmaster, who loved to analyze afterward and share a beer or two (or three) with the opponent. It's not a secret that his appearance was as impressive as his love of alcoholic beverages.

Eduardas Rozentalis, Lithuania’s second grandmaster, commented to

“It was really shocking news. Growing side by side as chess players, almost 50 (!) years of playing together and against each other, and just a few months after the Fagernes tournament, when we were flying back home and talking about future plans...

It's a huge loss, not only for Lithuanian chess. He was highly valued as a strong player, as a highly skilled coach and as a very friendly and nice person in so many countries! Stay in rest, Aliukas.

My deepest condolences to his wife Vineta and whole family."

Viktorija Cmilyte, Lithuania’s number one player but inactive now, as member of parliament, wrote:

"It is terrible news. He was an indispensable figure in Lithuanian chess, very talented, had a great sense of humor. Generations of us, younger players, looked up to him, studied his original opening ideas, admired his endgame skills. I think we're all in shock now."

Victor Bologan, a Moldovian grandmaster of the same generation, wrote:

"Very, very sad news. I have very positive memories about Aloyzas. Kind, smiling, pleasant guy. Every time we met he was bringing a good mood into the company. RIP Our good friend Aloyzas..."

Igor Glek, a Russian grandmaster of the same generation, wrote:

"RIP... Really, so many games we played (surely more than 10), so much beer we drunk together... Firstly in the 1980s as Moscow students in the "Burevestnik" tournaments (he was a student of the Russian Sport University), later in Europe—GM round-robins in Bonn, Bad Godesberg in the 1990s (where some players were his closest friends, such as Edvins Kengis, Yury Dokhoian, Eduardas Rosentalis), numerous opens, teams competitions in Germany/Belgium..."

Gunnar Bjornsson, President of the Icelandic Chess Federation and organiser of the Reykjavik Open and other Icelandic events:

“Aloyzas was of good friend of many Icelandic players. He was a regular guest here. His last visit was in March where he played in the GAMMA Reykjavik Open and the Icelandic Team Championship where he became champion with his team Viking Club scoring 8 points out of 9 games.

I remember him as a good friend. He was usually in a good mood and always smiling. It was nice sitting down with after his games and drink with him one or two beers. 🙂I will miss his laughter in Batumi."

Elshan Moradiabadi, American grandmaster formerly of Iran, who knew him for about 10 years:

"Aloyzas was a very amicable and considerate person, he genuinely shared his knowledge with me, a quality you rarely see among GM coaches. He had a great sense of humor and his stories would never end. Once after a severe financial loss (team was on the verge of winning medal but ended up fourth and it could easily be a fortune for each player back at the time) at an international event (I do not share details for the sake of other Iranians) he kindly shared his bottle of Johnny Walker. I was young and I could have with me and told me stories the entire time just to make me feel better. Later that year he got me a sweet invitation to Keres Memorial rapid and blitz, only I could not go due to some people at the federation. He always had a smile and loved life!"

Kveinys's popularity becomes clear from the sheer amount of reactions on social media to his passing. Below is a selection.

Estonian grandmaster Kaido Kulaots wrote on Facebook (full post here):

"(...) If I was a tournament organizer, I would have been enthusiastic to have Aloyzas participating at my tournaments. Indeed, he could have been seen playing in a number of opens in different countries, invariably adding a lot of colour, but at the same time also fighting spirit to each of them. So no wonder he was being warmly welcome back.
As a chessplayer I was really fortunate to have a colleague like Aloyzas. It was both for great company and things I learnt from him. I was a teenager when I first met him over the chessboard. I was impressed by the ease and also the strength of his decisions. I was swept away in Sicilian by the mix of his tactical and positional weaponry. (...)"

Polish grandmaster Michal Krasenkow wrote on Facebook (full post here):

"Another terrible news: GM Aloyzas Kveinys has died. A great man whom I know since childhood and against whom I played the biggest number of tournament games among all chess players: in junior and students' tournaments, in Polish team championships and other events, from 1979 to 2016. (...) He was an excellent positional and endgame player. And, of course, a nice person. Rest in peace, Aloyzas..."

Latvian-born American grandmaster Alexander Shabalov wrote on Facebook (full post here):

"(...) Apart from winning the [Greensboro 2015] tournament he was the superstar of hospitality suite: consuming beverages, cracking jokes and showing the endless puzzles that he was able to pull out from his head just like the illusionist who takes the bigger and bigger rabbit from his hat until everyone would give up. Those who knew Aloyzas before just smiled, but the American audience was completely swept away by the "Kveinys show" (...) There are people you know and there are people you know for 40+ years out of your 50. Losing them hurts."

Peter Doggers

Peter Doggers joined a chess club a month before turning 15 and still plays for it. He used to be an active tournament player and holds two IM norms.

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