The Story of Triinu Mikiver

I was talking to Grandmaster Jaan Ehlvest at the World Chess Olympiad in Istanbul the other day and Ehlvest, who is from Estonia, said: "Estonian girls are very beautiful: Tall, with long blond hair and blue eyes, but don't ever marry one, because they are very tough."

"Oh yes", I replied, "we know about Estonian girls, because we have one in the chess community in New York."

Ehlvest was very interested to hear this and inquired as to her name. I told him that her name is Triinu Mikiver. He said that that is a famous name in Estonia. Some movie actor or other famous personality has the Mikiver name. This launched me into the Story of Triinu Mikiver.

The Story of Triinu Mikiver

Triinu Mikiver was beautiful: Tall, with long blond hair and blue eyes. She had come to America as a refugee from Estonia. However, she was too young to have been born in Estonia. Thousands of Refugees fled the Baltic countries in 1944 when the Nazis fell and the Russians moved in. My own subsequent wife, Anda, was like this. She was born in 1944 in Riga, Latvia and her parents fled with her as a baby in arms the same year.

Almost all refugees from the Baltic countries had the same life story. They lived in Displaced Persons camps in Europe until about 1951 and then they were allowed to immigrate to America. My other Latvian friend, Mara Suviks, fell into this category.

But Triinu was born in 1950, so she was too young to have been born in Estonia. If you asked her where she was born, she would reply "I am Estonian". I finally dragged it out of her and got her to admit that she was born in Sweden, but she was a proud Estonian Nationalist.

In 1971, Triinu Mikiver was playing in the Marshall Chess Club Championship. At that time, the Marshall Chess Club Championship was a long event that lasted months and was played at the rate of one game per week. Triinu was paired against Larry D. Evans, a 2350 player who later became an international master (not to be confused with Grandmaster Larry Evans).

The problem was that Triinu was a 1500 player. Thus, she did not have much chance against against a 2350 player like Larry D. Evans.

However, Triinu had lots of boyfriends who were chess masters. Therefore, an all-master team was assembled to prepare her for the big game against Larry D. Evans.

I do not remember exactly who was on the team, but some of the team members were Frank Thornally, George Kane and Ron Snyder, all strong players.

Larry D. Evans was a strong player too, but he had one weakness. He was "a booked-up fish" as they say. He had memorized and prepared certain opening lines, and he always played the same lines. Most chess players will play differently against a grandmaster as opposed to a 1500 player, but Larry D. Evans always played exactly the same way, no matter who his opponent was.

It was also known exactly what opening Larry D. Evans would play. He would play the Pelican Defense. That went: 1 e4 c5 2 Nf3 Nc6 3 d4 cxd4 4 Nxd4 Nf6 5 Nc3 e5 6 Ndb5 d6 7 Bg5 a6 8 Na3 b5 9 Bxf6 gxf6 10 Nd5 f5 11 Bd3

The all-master team knew not only the opening but the exact variation that Larry D. Evans would play. Therefore, they figured out a good line to play against this and analyzed it thoroughly, right down to the endgame.

They had to prepare Triinu Mikiver to play this. With great effort, they got her to memorize the exact moves they had prepared for her to play against Larry D. Evans.

Triinu learned her lessons well. When the day for the big game came, her memory did not fail. She played exactly the same moves she had been taught to play.

However, the problem was that the line she had been taught to play ended at move 30. Adjournment time did not come until move 40. Therefore, Triinu had to play ten moves completely on her own. She had reached a favorable endgame position, but now she had to play her own moves.

Fortunately, Triinu managed to get through the next ten moves. She did not play the best moves, but the moves she played were not completely bad. When play reached move 40, she no longer had an advantage, but she had a position which was headed for a draw.

The game was adjourned at move 40 for one week. The analysis team went back to work. They analyzed all possible variations of that endgame right down until the end.

Again, the problem was to teach Triinu how to do this. They had one week to get her to memorize all the moves.

When the day for the game came, Larry D. Evans did not play the best moves, so they got off onto a side variation that Triinu had not learned very well. Fortunately, the position was similar to another position Triinu had learned and she was able to trade off all the pieces and trade down into a draw.

Years later, I ran into Larry D. Evans and asked him about this. He told me he had no idea that an all-master team had been assembled to prepare for a game against him, but he did distinctly recall that he had once drawn a game against a 1500 rated girl.

And that is the Story of Triinu Mikiver.

Sam Sloan

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