Person of day   -  24 MAY 2022



Danish grandmaster Peter Heine Nielsen taught himself as he grew up- who could have told him about the game in a Scandinavian country devoid of chess tradition? Even the great Bent Larsen never showed any inclination to train others, even though he wrote multiple columns in newspapers and journals. 

When he was 17, Peter’s rating was below 2300 and nothing seemed to foretell a grandmaster’s career. However, at the worldU19 championship in 1990, Nielsen competed with Tiviakov and Kramnik. He won bronze, which, as he admitted, was the reason for his continued involvement in chess. Peter became a master and then sensationally won the Danish championship, overtaking and defeating Larsen in an individual encounter. 

In 1994, Peter was the sensation of the Olympiad in Moscow, where he scored 7 points out of 9 at the third board before completing all the norms for an international grandmaster. While fighting for the highest chess title, Nielsen played in more than 10 round-table tournaments with Russian grandmasters. European analysts later concluded that Peter’s encyclopaedic knowledge of chess theory was a product of the Soviet chess school. 

Nonetheless, Nielsen did not immediately become the leader of Danish chess, for he was rivalled by Curt, Lars Bo and Sune Berg Hansen. At the 1999 world championship, the Dane beat Benjamin, but lost to Judit Polgar. His surge came in 2001- Nielsen arrived at the 2600 mark and became one of Europe’s strongest players. A year later, Peter was knocked out of the FIDE world championship by Vishy Anand, for whom he would later become an irreplaceable second.   

In 2002, Nielsen and Anand’s fateful cooperation took off. Anand challenged for the Olympus while Nielsen’s rating neared 2700 after the Dane won several large tournaments. In 2005 at Agdestein’s request, Peter helped a young Magnus Carlsen at the World Cup; Carlsen went on to become the youngest candidate in chess history. In that same year, Nielsen was the best player at the first board of the European team championship.  

Nielsen stayed with Anand for his matches against Kramnik and Topalov, but he did not participate in the latest matches for the world crown after he wisely decided to maintain neutrality in the fight against his two associates, Vishy and Magnus. During the matches between Anand and Carlsen, Peter actively worked on shogi- the Japanese version of chess. He even became the silver medallist of a large tournament in Warsaw and played well at the European shogi championship. 

“Naturally, IwassurprisedbyVishy’sresultatthecandidates’ tournament. At the same time, I was very happy for him. For the last three years, Vishy has not shown any exceptional results, but we have forgotten that he remained an outstanding chess player. But now we can say that he has returned, which surprised many, including Vishy Anand himself. I myself am very happy that Anand is once again in the game!” (P. Nielsen before the second match Carlsen and Anand.)

He is married to Viktorija Cmilyte, a Lithuanian chess player.