Swedish chess legend Ulf Andersson celebrates his 70th birthday

by André Schulz
6/28/2021 – Ulf Andersson is the best Swedish chess player of all time and at his peak he was the world's number four. Andersson is also a correspondence chess grandmaster and one of the best correspondence chess players in the world. Yesterday, 27 June, he celebrated his 70th birthday. | Photo: Bert Verhoeff / Anefo / CCO

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If you are old enough to have worked with the Chess Informant you might remember: In the 1970s and 1980s there were two players who always took up a lot of space in the individual issues of the Informant: Dr. Robert Hübner, because he liked to analyse in depth, and Ulf Andersson, because he liked to play long games. Like the following:


Andersson enjoyed the reputation of being particularly fond of endgames, especially rook endgames, and he often played for a win in endgames others would have drawn much earlier. However, Andersson also drew a lot of his games because he was a very solid, positional player who didn't like to take too many risks.

Andersson was born in Västerås on 27 June 1951 and learned chess from his father. At the age of 13 he joined the local chess club to which he was faithful until he decided to turn professional in 1970.

In 1970 Andersson became an International Master, the grandmaster title followed only two years later, in 1972.

In 1969 Andersson won the Swedish National Championship for the first time, and in the further course of his "over-the-board" career he was first or shared first in a number of prestigious tournaments, e.g. Gothenburg 1971, Dortmund 1973, Camagüez 1974, Cienfuegos 1975, Belgrade 1977, Buenos Aires 1978, Hastings 1978-79, Phillips & Drew 1980, Johannesburg 1981, Phillips & Drew 1982, Turin 1982, Wijk aan Zee 1983, Reggio Emilia 1985, Rome 1985 and Rome 1986 to name just a few.

In 1983 Andersson had a rating of 2630 and was the world's number four behind Karpov, Kasparov and Ljubojevic. In 1997 Andersson surpassed his own peak rating and reached a rating of 2656. In 1984 he played on first board in the match USSR versus the rest of world where he faced Anatoly Karpov who won this mini-match with three draws and one win 2½:1½. On another occasion, however, Karpov suffered a defeat at the hands of the Swede.

Andersson vs Karpov, 1983 | Photo: Rob Bogaerts / Anefo


Between 1970 and 2004 Andersson played in 16 Chess Olympiads for Sweden, and apart from his very last Olympiad, he always played on board one. At the Olympiad 1978 in Buenos Aires Andersson won the bronze medal for the third best individual result on board one. Gold went to Viktor Kortschnoi, silver was won by Orestes Rodríguez Vargas.

In 1995 Andersson took part in the jubilee anniversary tournament of the Norwegian Correspondence Chess Federation. It was his first correspondence chess tournament and he won with 11½/14, ahead of a number of more experienced correspondence chess specialists. The International Correspondence Chess Federation then awarded Andersson the Correspondence Chess Grandmaster title.

After a few more correspondence tournaments in the 1990s, Andersson led the correspondence chess world rankings with a record rating of 2821, but then retired from correspondence chess because "you can't earn money there as a professional". With a rating of 2737 Andersson is still the number one on the world ranking list of correspondence chess today but is listed as inactive.

Andersson does not regard tournament chess as a sport, even though he acknowledges that it is useful to have a good constitution. Andersson also does not see chess as a spectator sport. He himself prefers to watch football matches, he once admitted in an interview.

In 2019 his chess biography "Schackets mästare - I huvudet på Ulf Andersson" (The Chess Master - In the Mind of Ulf Andersson) was published in Swedish.

Andersson lives in Arborga and is one of the Swedish artists who have been given a guaranteed income by the Swedish Arts Council.

Interview at the Tata Steel Turnier 2013


Simon Says: Ulf Andersson with the black Pieces

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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