Victorija Cmilyte: Grandmaster and Politician

by André Schulz
3/1/2021 – Victorija Cmilyte is a top chess player and a successful politicain. She is a Grandmaster, Lithuania's number one women player and number seven on the World's Women Ranking List, and since 2015 she has been a Member of the Lithuanian Parliament. She was leader of the Opposition and in 2020 the elected Speaker of Parliament. Cmilyte is married to GM Peter Heine Nielsen and has four children. A portrait. | Photo: Clément Bucco-Lechat

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On the FIDE world's ranking list for women, which due to the Corona crisis has not changed much in recent months, Victorija Cmilyte is on place seven and has a rating of 2538. However, she has played very little in recent years, her last top tournaments were in 2014, when she took part in the Tradewise Open in Gibraltar. She scored 6½/10, as did Nigel Short and the then still very young Daniil Dubov.

After that Cmilyte, who is a Grandmaster (and not only a Women Grandmaster), only played league games, in Sweden, Russia or in the Bundesliga for Baden-Baden. She focused on other activities where she also made it to the top.

Cmilyte (born August 6, 1983) learned chess from her father, who also coached her in her youth. Her career as a tournament chess player began 1992, at the U10 Girls' World Championship in Duisburg. 31 players started, Cmilyte finished 17th.

The following year she won the EU U10w Championships. At the U12w World Championship in 1994, she came 13th, and at the 1994 European U12w Championships she won silver behind Ana Matnadze.

In 1995, the 12-year-old Victorija Cmilyte was already playing in the Lithuanian adult women's championships where she shared sixth place. She finished second in the 1995 U12w European Championships and then won the U12w World Championships the same year.

In 1996, at the age of 13, Cmilyte for the first time played in the Lithuanian women's team in the Chess Olympiad, on the reserve board – at that time the Women's Olympiads were still played on three boards. At the Chess Olympiad 1998, when she was 15, Cmilyte was already playing on first board. 2012 she played her (for now) last Chess Olympiad, and in 2010 she even played for the Lithuanian team in the open group of the Chess Olympiad.

The list of her successes is long: in 2000, as a sixteen-year-old, Victorija Cmilyte won both the Women's National Championship and the Open National Championship. In 2005, she won  the Open National Championship a second time, and at the European U20 Women's Championship she won silver medal behind Jovanka Houska.

At the European Women's Championships in 2003, 2008 and 2010 Cmylite won silver, and in 2011 she even won gold. In 2007, Cmilyte also became Women's European Rapid Chess Champion.

In 2015, Cmilyte was the number one women player in Lithuania, and the number three women player in the world.

In the Women's World Championships Cmilyte reached the third round when she first took part in 2000. In 2004 she was eliminated in the quarter-finals by former World Champion Maya Chiburdanidze. In 2006, Cmylite reached the semi-finals, but then lost to Alisa Galliamova. In 2008 and 2010 she was eliminated in the second round, in 2010 and 2015 in the third round.

In 1999 Cmilyte became a Women Grandmaster, in 2001 she became an International Master, and in 2010 she became a Grandmaster.


After graduating from the Didzdvario Gymnasium in Siauliai, in 2000, Cmilyte started to study English at the "Siaulių Universitetas", and from 2002 to 2007 she studied at the Faculty of Linguistics at the University of Riga (Latvia).

In 2015, Cmilyte began her political career in the conservative-liberal "Lietuvos Respublikos Liberalų sąjudis" (LRLS), the Liberal Movement of the Republic of Lithuania. The LRLS had been founded in 2006 as a split from the conservative-liberal "Liberalų ir centro sąjunga". When Remigijus Simasius gave up his seat in parliament to take office as mayor of Vilnius, Cmilyte took over his seat in the Seimas.

Re-elected in 2016, she now served on the European Affairs Committee and the Human Rights Committee and gained some recognition within her party. In 2017 she was elected Deputy Chairperson, and in 2018 Chairperson of her party. In 2019, Victorija Cmilyte was Leader of the Opposition in the Seimas.

Victorija Cmilyte

After the 2020 parliamentary elections, Cmilyte was elected Speaker of the Seimas.

Cmilyte speaks to remember the "Bloody Sunday of Vilnius" in January 1991 when 14 civilians were killed in Lithuania and 702 injured as a result of Soviet military action.

From 2001 to 2007 Cmilyte was married to Alexei Shirov, and since 2013 she has been married to the Danish Grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen, coach and second of Magnus Carlsen. Cmilyte's official name is now Victorija Cmilyte-Nielsen.

Video: Peter Heine Nielsen

She has four children: Dmitry (19), Alexander (17), Marius (6) Kristijonas (3). The two older sons are from her marriage to Alexei Shirov.

"I never dreamed of having a big family," Cmilyte admitted in a portrait of the Lithuanian portal Zmones. "Now I have four. I married young, I had my first child at 18, my second at 20. It was a big challenge to travel around the world and play chess tournaments with two small children."

Today, Cmilyte is first of all a politician. She spends the week in Vilnius doing political work, and at weekends she is at home with her family in Siauliai. During the week the children are looked after by Peter Heine Nielsen, who only plays rarely today, but mainly works as Magnus Carlsen's coach, which he can often do from a distance. However, during important tournaments or matches, Peter Heine Nielsen accompanies the World Champion.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer


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


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