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Leonids Dreibergs

CCLA Chess Master

Leonids Dreibergs, American-Latvian chess master

Leonīds Dreibergs (27 October 1908, Riga, Latvia – 6 April 1969, Saginaw, Michigan USA) was a Latvian–American chess master in both over-the-board and correspondence chess.

He achieved sixth place at Riga, 1930, ninth at Ķemeri 1939 and fifth at Riga 1941. After WWII, living as a "displaced person" in West Germany, he tied for 12-13th at Augsburg 1946 and shared first place with Elmars Zemgalis at Esslingen, 1949.

Leonids Dreibergs emigrated to the United States in 1950. He joined CCLA in November, 1951 and by November, 1956 dominated CCLA's Top Ten Rating List, winning or drawing almost every game in the old CCLA Special, North American Class Championship and Grand National tournaments. His rating of 2329 (today's scale) was one of the highest ever held in CCLA. He tied with Raymond Baxter for 2nd place in the 1951 (19th) Grand National. He and Irving Kandel tied for 1st place in the 1961 (29th) Grand National. Leonids also played correspondence chess in CCCA (Canadian league) and ICCF. Also a USCF otb Master, he won back-to-back Michigan State Championships in 1954 (Ferndale, MI) and 1955 (Kalamazoo, MI.)

His name is closely associated with the Latvian Gambit and he produced many exciting games playing the black side of this opening.

Additional biography by CC Editor Dick Rees, from the October 1957 Chess Correspondent magazine:

"Leonids Dreibergs of Saginaw, Mich., came within a single victory of winning the 1951 U.S. Correspondence Chess Championship, achieving a 5.5-1.5 final-round score (loss to Nick Freo, draw with Earle Hummel) and thus tieing for second with R. E. Baxter at the top of one of the strongest tournaments in CCLA history.

Leonids was born in Riga, Latvia, in 1908, attended grade- and high-school there, and graduated from the University of Riga as "Magister Chemie" (there being no B.S. or M.S. degrees in his homeland). Subsequently he worked as a chemist in the "Latvijas Berzs Co." in Riga, later spending five years teaching chemistry, algebra, trigonometry, differential and integral calculus in a Latvian "gymnasium" (NOT an atheletic building, but a very advanced high-school) in Munich, Germany. After World War II, his native land having been absorbed by Russia, Leonids immigrated to the U.S., arriving in New York City on Dec. 13, 1950, and going directly to Saginaw. where he went to work as a foundryman for the Saginaw Bearing co., for whom he still works.

Leonids learned to play chess in school at the age of 12. Later he joined the Riga Chess Club, where he had access to an excellent chess library. He won the Championship of Riga in 1939, and has twice-1954 and 1955- won the Championship of Michigan. He has a Master rating of 2242 in the USCF National Chess Ratings. Being single, he lives with his mother, two sisters, niece and nephew, all of whom play chess. Alexander Alekhin is his chess hero, and Gutmayer and Nimzovich his favorite chess writers. He confesses he likes "to put new moves in old openings, as (Carl) Behtings did," though actually "liking the middle- and end-game much more." His mastery of the intricacies of the Greco Counter Gambit (also known as the Latvian Gambit) is well illustrated by the following games."

PGN Viewer courtesy of ChessTempo.


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