11 Estonia Best Chess Players in History

Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez

Estonia is a small country that is a part of the European Union, but it is a powerhouse in the world of chess. The country has produced some of the best chess players in the world, and the list of top Estonian chess players is a long one.

From grandmasters to international masters, Estonia has some of the best chess players in the world. Many of these players have won titles in international tournaments and have been recognized for their achievements by the chess elite.

This article will take a look at some of the most notable Estonian chess players and their accomplishments.

1. Kaido Külaots


Kaido Külaots is an accomplished Estonian chess player. He was awarded the title of Grandmaster by FIDE (the World Chess Federation) in 2001, which is a prestigious recognition only achieved by the world’s best players.

As a testament to his skill, he has won the Estonian Chess Championship a total of ten times: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2014, 2020, and 2023. Mr. Külaots has also represented Estonia in the Chess Olympiad and the European Team Chess Championship.

His success in such prestigious events demonstrates his strength as a chess player. He has mastered many different strategies and styles of play, making him one of the most successful players of his native country.

2. Paul Keres


Paul Keres was an Estonian chess grandmaster and chess writer whose influence on the game was immense. He was one of the top players in the world from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s, regularly competing in tournaments and matches with the best players of the time.

He was a consistent performer and came close to winning the World Chess Championship on five separate occasions, but was ultimately denied the chance to compete for the title.

Keres’s style of play was characterized by deep strategic thinking, a brilliant tactical eye, and a willingness to take risks. He was an innovator, introducing several new ideas into the game that are still used today.

He was also a prolific writer, producing a number of books on chess that have become classic texts of the game. Keres was a chess legend, and his influence on the game can still be felt today.

3. Mikhail Rychagov

Mihhail Rõtšagov is a renowned Estonian chess player. He has achieved the title of Grandmaster, which is the highest title a chess player can receive.

This title is only awarded to chess players who have achieved a certain rating level, as well as showing a mastery of the game. Mihhail Rõtšagov is a highly respected chess player in the Estonian chess community.

He is a consistent presence at tournaments and is often seen participating in various national and international chess events. He has won numerous tournaments and awards, demonstrating his skill and talent. Mihhail Rõtšagov has also contributed to the chess world in other ways.

He has published several books about the game of chess and has even been involved in the production of a chess video game.

This is a testament to his commitment to the game, and his dedication to spreading the knowledge of chess to others. Mihhail Rõtšagov is an esteemed figure in the chess world, and he continues to be an inspiration for aspiring chess players.

He is a great example of what can be achieved through dedication and hard work. His success in the game of chess is an inspiration to all who are interested in the game.

4. Vladas Mikėnas


Vladas Mikėnas was a highly dedicated and influential figure in the world of chess. He had a long and successful career as both a chess player and journalist. As a chess player, he was particularly renowned for his skill and expertise.

He was awarded the titles of International Master and Honorary Grandmaster by the World Chess Federation (FIDE) in recognition of his outstanding achievements. Mikėnas was a Lithuanian native, born in 1921.

He began playing chess while still a young boy, and soon enough began to make a name for himself on the international stage. He was a two-time Lithuanian Chess Champion (1944 and 1948), as well as the winner of several international tournaments.

He also represented Lithuania in the Chess Olympiad in 1952. In addition to his success as a chess player, Mikėnas also worked as a journalist.

He wrote for the Lithuanian newspaper, ‘Lietuvos Rytas’, and was the editor of the Lithuanian Chess Federation magazine, ‘Šachmatų Žinios’ from 1956 to 1975.

He also wrote several books on chess and was a respected figure in the world of chess journalism. Vladas Mikėnas’ immense contribution to the game of chess was recognized by FIDE, who awarded him the titles of International Master and Honorary Grandmaster in 1978.

He was the first Lithuanian player to receive the title of Grandmaster and was also the first person in Lithuania to be awarded the title of Honorary Grandmaster. Mikėnas’ legacy is still felt today.

He was a highly respected figure in the chess world and his influence on the game is undeniable. His dedication and achievements are an inspiration to many aspiring chess players.

5. Anastassia Sinitsina

Anastassia Sinitsina is an accomplished Estonian chess player who has earned the prestigious title of Woman FIDE Master.

She has achieved great success in her career, and she has demonstrated her considerable skills by winning the Estonian Women Chess Championship in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

This is an impressive feat, as it shows her dedication to improving her game and her ability to stay at the top of her class. Sinitsina’s success has been recognized by the International Chess Federation, as she is one of the few women to hold the title of Woman FIDE Master.

Her accomplishments demonstrate her commitment to the game and her drive to be the best. She is an inspiration to aspiring chess players, showing what can be achieved through hard work and dedication.

6. Iivo Nei

Iivo Nei is an Estonian chess master and is one of the best players from the country. He has been a master of chess for more than 40 years and is highly respected by the international chess community.

Nei is well-known for his strategic and creative play, as well as his ability to think outside the box.

He has won numerous tournaments throughout the years, including the Estonian Championship in 1978, the Stockholm International Chess Tournament in 1981, and the World Open in 1985.

His greatest achievement was winning the World Chess Championship in 1989, where he beat the reigning champion Anatoly Karpov in the final round.

Nei’s influence on the game of chess is still felt today, as many of the strategies he used during his career have been adopted by younger players. He is also a highly sought-after chess coach, having mentored some of the best Estonian players in recent years.

Nei is a true chess master, and his legacy will be remembered for years to come.

7. Gunnar Friedemann

Gunnar Friedemann was a renowned Estonian chess master who had a long and distinguished career in the sport. He was born in 1910 in Tallinn, Estonia and spent most of his life there.

Friedemann began playing chess when he was just a child and competed in various tournaments throughout the country. He was considered one of the top Estonian chess players of his time and went on to win numerous championships.

Friedemann won the Estonian Chess Championship in 1936, 1939, and 1948 and finished second in 1950.

He also competed in a number of international tournaments, including the prestigious Amsterdam International Chess tournament in 1947. Aside from his competitive career, Friedemann also wrote several books on the game of chess.

His books included the classic, “Chess Endings: Their Theory and Practice” and “Chess Strategy: The Art of Chess Thinking.” He also wrote several articles on the game, which were published in various magazines.

Friedemann was an important figure in the world of chess and was inducted into the Estonian Chess Hall of Fame in 2013. He passed away in 2014 at the age of 104, leaving behind a legacy as one of the most distinguished chess masters of his time.

8. Mark Lapidus

Mark Lapidus is a professional chess player from Estonia. He is known for winning the Estonian Chess Championship in 2012. Lapidus has also achieved success in other tournaments, including the European Chess Championship, where he placed in the top ten in 2014.

He has also had success in the FIDE World Cup, where he placed fourth in 2010. Lapidus is a respected player among his peers and is known for his deep understanding of the game. He is especially skilled at playing endgame strategies.

He has been described as a calculating player who is able to make strategic decisions quickly and effectively. His success in the Estonian Chess Championship was a tremendous accomplishment. It was the first time a player from Estonia had won the tournament in more than 20 years.

The victory proved to be a significant milestone for Lapidus, and he has since gone on to become one of the most successful chess players in the country. Lapidus’ success in chess has extended beyond the Estonian Chess Championship.

He has placed in the top three in several international tournaments, including the European Chess Championship and the FIDE World Cup.

He has also represented Estonia in the Chess Olympiad, the World Team Championship, and the World Rapid and Blitz Chess Championships. Mark Lapidus’ success in chess has been remarkable, and he continues to be a formidable opponent on the international chess scene.

His victory in the Estonian Chess Championship in 2012 was a testament to his skill and dedication to the game, and he continues to be a respected player among his peers.

9. Bernhard Gregory

Bernhard Gregory was a highly talented chess master from the Baltic region. He was born in Estonia in the late 19th century and was recognized early on as a masterful chess player. He was known for playing in numerous international tournaments, and for his skill in the game.

He won many international tournaments and was frequently invited to chess clubs all over Europe. He was also a chess teacher and author, writing several books on the game. He was highly respected within the chess community, and his legacy lives on today.

His contributions to the game of chess have been invaluable, and continue to be celebrated throughout the chess world.

10. Vidrik Rootare

Vidrik “Frits” Rootare was a highly esteemed Estonian chess player. He was well-known for his expertise and skill in the game, and he was respected and admired by his peers. His wife, Salme Rootare, was an equally talented chess player.

She was the 15-time Estonian Champion as well as a Women’s International Master, making her an extraordinary player in her own right. Together, the Rootares made an impressive team that was well-known and respected in the world of chess.

They both had a deep and abiding passion for the game, and their skill and dedication made them a formidable force. The Rootares were a strong example of not only a loving couple but also two dedicated and talented chess players.

11. Friedrich Amelung

Friedrich Ludwig Balthasar Amelung was a Baltic German cultural historian, businessman, and chess endgame composer. He was born in the Governorate of Livonia in the Russian Empire in 1855.

Amelung was a man of varied interests and talents, and he took advantage of his opportunities to pursue multiple disciplines. He studied philosophy and chemistry at the University of Dorpat from 1862 to 1864.

There, he gained a deeper understanding of the fields of chemistry and philosophy. He was also able to engage in research and writing and develop his skills as a chess endgame composer. Amelung was a highly respected cultural historian in his time.

He wrote several books about Baltic German culture and was a well-respected scholar in the field.

He was also a successful businessman, and his business endeavors helped him to become financially successful. In addition to his studies at the University of Dorpat, Amelung also pursued chess endgame composition.

He was highly skilled in the art, and his compositions were highly regarded and admired. He was considered to be one of the best chess endgame composers of his time. Amelung was a remarkable man with many talents and interests.

He was able to pursue and excel in multiple disciplines, and his contributions to Baltic German culture and chess endgame composition are still remembered today.


Estonia has produced some of the best Chess players in the world, including Grandmasters Paul Keres, Jaan Ehlvest, and Alexander Shabalov.

These players have achieved international success and respect, making Estonia a powerful force in the international Chess community.

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Alejandro Ramirez Alvarez

I am a professional chess player for over 10 years, one of the youngest Grandmasters in the world and amongst the top ranked in the western hemisphere. I have been playing chess since I was a child, and it is something that I have always been passionate about. My passion has taken me to numerous tournaments around the world where I have competed against some of the best players in the world. Through hard work and dedication, I have achieved great success at these tournaments and have become one of the youngest Grandmasters in history. My goal is to continue to improve my game and reach new heights within this sport. LinkedIn