chess24 author Peter Svidler was once described by Mark Glukhovsky, editor of Russia’s top chess magazine, as an exception who could “get by on genius alone” in a world of ultra-competitive and hard-working grandmasters.
He won the last ever USSR Junior Championship back in 1991 and the U18 World Championship in 1994, but he really made a name for himself by winning the adult Russian Championship as an 18-year-old in the same year. Since then he’s claimed that title another seven times, in 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2013 and 2017, a record that no-one else is likely to match anytime soon.
In 2011 he went on to achieve perhaps the greatest success of his career by winning the World Cup in Khanty-Mansiysk. Four years later, in 2015, he was a few moves away from repeating that achievement, though he ultimately lost the Baku World Cup final to Sergey Karjakin.
Svidler has shown an ability to focus at crucial moments and finished in joint second place with Viswanathan Anand behind Veselin Topalov at the 2005 World Championship tournament in Argentina. He again impressed in the 2013 London Candidates, where a fine victory against Magnus Carlsen in the last round saw him take third place.
A year later in Khanty-Mansiysk, Peter was even more fired up to stake a claim for a match against now World Champion Carlsen, but perhaps that worked against him. A good start was spoiled by “unforced errors” that saw the Russian Champion finish in 6th place, with three wins and four losses.
His chess CV includes winning the Chess960 World Championship three years in a row (2003-2005) and winning gold with the Russian team in five Olympiads, two World Team Championships and three European Team Championships, with more medals picked up for club teams.
At the chessboard Svidler is a superb tactician and an acknowledged expert on the Grünfeld Defence, perhaps Black’s sharpest response to 1.d4. Off the board he stands out for his self-deprecating humour, billiard skills, extraordinarily good English, Anglophilia and an incorrigible love of cricket.