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Olaf Ulvestad
O Ulvestad 
Number of games in database: 215
Years covered: 1939 to 1971
Highest rating achieved in database: 2253
Overall record: +78 -80 =57 (49.5%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games.

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C41 Philidor Defense (7 games)
E11 Bogo-Indian Defense (6 games)
D02 Queen's Pawn Game (6 games)
A04 Reti Opening (5 games)
C02 French, Advance (5 games)
B00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening (4 games)
A56 Benoni Defense (4 games)
A28 English (4 games)
D37 Queen's Gambit Declined (4 games)
A46 Queen's Pawn Game (4 games)

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(born Oct-27-1912, died Aug-24-2000, 87 years old) United States of America

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Olaf Ulvestad was born in Tacoma, Washington on October 27, 1912. He won the Washington State Championship in 1934, 1952 and 1956.

Ulvestad played 10th (last) board for the United States in its 1946 match in Moscow against the Soviet Union, scoring a win and a loss in his two games against David Bronstein. Chessmetrics ranks Ulvestad the No. 81 player in the world in July 1946.

In the 49th US Open (1948), Ulvestad tied for 2nd-4th with Isaac Kashdan and George Kramer, half a point behind the winner, Weaver Adams. The following month, he tied for 3rd-4th in the United States Championship (1948) with Kramer, behind Herman Steiner and Kashdan. Ulvestad gave frequent exhibition tours around the country, combining lectures with simultaneous exhibitions and blindfold play, playing up to ten blindfold games simultaneously.

Ulvestad won West Orange 1954 (All Eastern States Open). He won the Washington Open in 1955 (tied with two others), 1958 (tied with Viktors Pupols), and 1959. He won the Seattle Open in 1955 and 1959 (tied with Pupols). He won the 1958 Heart of America Open in Kansas City.

In the 1960s Ulvestad moved to Italy, where he performed as an opera singer. He later moved to Spain, and played first board for Andorra at the 1970 Siegen Chess Olympiad. He died on August 24, 2000 at the Washington Old Soldiers Home in Retsil, Washington.

The Ulvestad Variation of the Two Knights Defense (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 b5) is named for him.

Last updated: 2022-11-11 06:43:23

 page 1 of 9; games 1-25 of 215  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. O Ulvestad vs Santasiere 1-0721939Ventnor CityA07 King's Indian Attack
2. J J Leary vs O Ulvestad  0-1651939Ventnor CityB23 Sicilian, Closed
3. O Ulvestad vs H Burdge  1-0241939Ventnor CityD45 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
4. H R Morris vs O Ulvestad  1-0321939Ventnor CityD96 Grunfeld, Russian Variation
5. O Ulvestad vs M L Hanauer 0-1371939Ventnor CityA80 Dutch
6. E McCormick vs O Ulvestad  1-0331939Ventnor CityB13 Caro-Kann, Exchange
7. J W Collins vs O Ulvestad  1-0411939Ventnor CityA83 Dutch, Staunton Gambit
8. O Ulvestad vs J Levin  1-0551939Ventnor CityA03 Bird's Opening
9. T Knorr vs O Ulvestad  ½-½691939Ventnor CityC28 Vienna Game
10. O Ulvestad vs F Reinfeld ½-½461939Ventnor CityA13 English
11. M Bain vs O Ulvestad ½-½281939Ventnor CityB02 Alekhine's Defense
12. O Ulvestad vs Reshevsky  0-1311939ACF-ch prelA09 Reti Opening
13. W Adams vs O Ulvestad  0-1231939ACF CongressB29 Sicilian, Nimzovich-Rubinstein
14. B Blumin vs O Ulvestad  1-019193940th ACF Congress. ChampionshipA52 Budapest Gambit
15. Fine vs O Ulvestad  1-0421939ACF CongressD11 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
16. O Ulvestad vs A Pinkus  0-138193940th ACF Congress-FinalD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. O Ulvestad vs Reshevsky 0-1401939New York ch-ACFA49 King's Indian, Fianchetto without c4
18. O Ulvestad vs Santasiere  0-1551939New York ch-ACFE90 King's Indian
19. O Ulvestad vs W Adams  1-0621940Ventnor CityD02 Queen's Pawn Game
20. O Ulvestad vs S Bernstein  ½-½641940Ventnor CityA46 Queen's Pawn Game
21. Santasiere vs O Ulvestad  0-1521940Ventnor CityA04 Reti Opening
22. H Burdge vs O Ulvestad  ½-½531940Ventnor CityC62 Ruy Lopez, Old Steinitz Defense
23. M L Hanauer vs O Ulvestad 1-0201940Ventnor CityA10 English
24. O Ulvestad vs H R Morris  ½-½421940Ventnor CityA47 Queen's Indian
25. O Ulvestad vs E McCormick  ½-½461940Ventnor CityB15 Caro-Kann
 page 1 of 9; games 1-25 of 215  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Ulvestad wins | Ulvestad loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-01-07  sneaky pete: Olaf Ivan Ulvestad, born October 27, 1912, in Tacoma, Washington, died August 24, 2000, in the Washington Old Soldiers home in Retsil, Washington. Washington State champion 1934, 1952 and 1956. Scored +1 -1 in Moscow, 1946, against Bronstein in the USSR vs USA team match. The only man who could outtalk Viktors Pupols. Originator of the earthshaking novelty 5... b5!! in the Two Knights Defence (after 4.Ng5? d5 5.exd5 ..).
Aug-01-07  Rolfo: Off topic, his name indicates Scandinavian heritage..
Aug-02-07  sneaky pete: Son of Norwegian immigrants Martin Johan and Hannah Oss Ulvestad. Olaf's father was a publisher by trade and the author of books on Norwegian immigration to the United States. His work <Nordmaendene i Amerika>, published in 1907, and based on 450,000 questionnaires sent out to Norwegians in America, continues to be an important record of Norwegian settlement in the New World. King Haakon of Norway knighted Martin in 1923 in recognition of his accomplishments.

From John Donaldson: <Olaf Ulvestad, An American Original>, Thinker's Press, 2002.

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Here is an interesting article about Ulvestad from the Long Beach, CA "Independent":

Dec-30-10  wordfunph: 1970 Siegen Chess Olympiad: According to George Koltanowski, Olaf Ulvestad of Seattle, a well-known theorist in the Two Knights Defense played 1st board for Andorra. Ulvestad told Koltanowski that he expects to play for Singapore next year (1971).
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: <wordfunph>1970 Siegen Chess Olympiad: According to George Koltanowski, Olaf Ulvestad of Seattle, a well-known theorist in the Two Knights Defense played 1st board for Andorra.

Ulvestad was involved in an interesting game against Jonathan Penrose:


Dec-08-14  zanzibar: Ulvestad vs Bronstein, from 1946 USSR-USA match:

(From page 32 of the November 1946 Chess Review by way of Winter's CN 4759)

Dec-08-14  zanzibar: For example:

Are we sure he died in the US?

And isn't a variation in the two-knights named after this player?

Dec-08-14  zanzibar: Ah, I see, the image I liked was actually from the 1934 Washington State Chess Championship pamplet:

And here is the best source for his full name being <Olaf Ivan Ulvestad>

(But note: the 1934 tournament booklet has his first name as <Olav>!)

Dec-08-14  zanzibar: The bio here is really quite lean, especially given that there are several dedicated chess pages devoted to profiling him.

He resettled in Andorra, Spain sometime ~1960's.

Here's a nice little artistic portrait of him:

From 1940-09-15 Brooklyn Daily Eagle:

<Olaf I. Ulvestad of Manhattan, formerly of Seattle, Wash.>

And, according to Tartajubow:

<Ulvestad was champion of the State of Washington in 1934, 1952 and 1956. In the sixties, he went to live in Andorra (a small country between Spain and France), and played first board in the 1970 chess Olympiad in Siegen. He is also famous for the Ulvestad variation of the Two knights defense: 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. Ng5 d5 5. exd5 b5. John Donaldson has published a small (36 page) booklet on Ulvestad, An American Original. >

And for the record, Andorra, nestled between Spain and France in the Pyrenees, is actually an independent country.

Apr-07-15  Boomie: The highest rating given here is a bit deceiving since it comes from when he was well past his prime. Chessmetrics calculates his highest rating at over 2500 (, making him grandmaster strength. He had some impressive scalps hanging from his belt including:

Bronstein vs O Ulvestad, 1946

Portisch vs O Ulvestad, 1964

May-24-15  TheFocus: <A master sweats and squirms to find the right square for a piece. A grandmaster tosses a piece in the air and it lands on the right square!> - Olaf Ulvestad.
Dec-18-15  Howard: He played in the 1948 U.S. championship only because Reshevsky demanded a special appearance fee, or he wouldn't play. The tournament organizers said "nyet" to his request, so Ulvestad got his place....and he ended up doing pretty well.
Oct-27-16  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Olaf Ulvestad.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: We have no bio at all of Ulvestad? What the hell?
Premium Chessgames Member
  OhioChessFan: I have it on my todo list <FSR> and yes, it's a shame.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: <OCF> I wrote a little something.
Premium Chessgames Member
  FSR: I e-mailed John Donaldson. Not surprisingly, he doesn't have any spare copies of his book on Ulvestad. But I bought a CD from him, <Two Masters from Washington>, that he says has a lot of biographical information on Ulvestad.

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