I learned to play chess at the age of 7 years.
When I was 14, in 1966, I played my first chess tournament, the Finnish Junior Championship. I lost all my 7 games (in one game I was near to draw). When the Finnish Chess Magazine "Suomen Shakki" published the crosstable of the tounament in its number 1/1966 my placement was 9th, though there were only 8 competitors in the tournament. What a start for my chess career!
But I was a young man of talent, because in 1967 Junior Finnish Chess Championship I was not any more the last one. I was last but one!
After the Finnish Junior Championship in 1967 I started more effective to train. Third time I played in Finnish Junior Championship in 1969 and I tied the first place with Thomas Ristoja. So we had to play off a tie of 4 games as a result 2-2. And a second tie of 2 games. But again 1-1. Then we played games with "sudden death" and I lost the first game and so I was not the Finnish Junior Champion.
But in 1970 I was the Finnish Junior Champion. Later in the same year I was 15th-17th (28 competitors) in European Junior Championship in Groningen (Holland). In 1970 I had also some good results in Finnish tournaments. Maybe my best achievement was my tied win in Unto Laakso's 60 years Celebration Tournament with Ilkka Sarén, who was the Finnish Champion one year later.
After the year 1970 I have played less in over-the-board tournaments. During last 25 years I have played OTB chess only when I have have a pause in my correspondence chess tournaments. My best achievements during this period are:
- 2nd in the Championship of Helsinki in 1980
- 8th in the Finnish Open in Turku 1984
- 6th in the Finnish Open in Espoo 1985 (only ½ points after the top four)
- 13th in the Nordic Championship (Open tournament) in Espoo 1989
- 7th in the Finnish Open in Espoo 1990
- 6th in the International Tournament in Tampere 1995 (only ½ points after the top four)
- 13th in the Nordic Grand Prix Tournament in Gausdal (Norway) 1998
- 6th in the II Chess Circuit Tournament in Helsinki 2002
My ELO-rating at this moment 2217
My Finnish rating (SELO) 2199
My all time best ELO 2262 (2002)
My all time best SELO 2256 (1980)
My best placement in Finnish rating 15th in 1973 and 1980.
I must thank only one man, Reino Kotka for my starting to play Correspondence Chess. Reino Kotka played in the same club with me and I have known him very well
already since 1966. Because of his helthy problems, he had to finish his OTB chess career and he started to play correspondence chess. But he was not only
a correspondence chess player, he was also very important organizer in our Correspondence Chess Federation during the period of gigantic increase. In very few
years (1971-1974) the amount of members in the Finnish Correspondence Chess Federation increased from below 200 to more than 1100.
Reino Kotka had allured me to play correpondence chess almost two years before he was successful in spring 1971. And then I said to him that over-the-board chess
remains my main kind of chess. But it happened otherwise! Very seldom during my life I have been so wrong. Very soon the correspondence chess (the Marathon of
chess ) became my main kind of chess and so it has remained already more than 25 years.
During the years 1971-1975 I played many correspondence chess tournaments with good success enough to open me the possibility to play in the Finnish Correspondence Chess Championship in 1976. I was a little bit lucky, when I was accepted to this tournament, because they took 15 players with best merits and I was 15th and last accepted player. On the starting date (25.9.1975) of that tournament, I made my decision to become some day a World Correspondence Chess Champion, and I also decided to work in a way, what it demands! So I was the Finnish Correspondence Chess Champion in 1976 with 1½ points victory margin over the runner-up. I have never later played in Finnish Championship, because I aimed at the international top level, not Finnish.
The Finnish Correspondece Chess Championship in 1976 was also a qualification tournament for the I Eino Heilimo Memorial Tournament, the first grandmaster tournament ever organized by Finnish Correspondence Chess Federation. In this tournament my result 7/14 was exactly same as the IM-title. I was awarded the IM-title at ICCF-congress in Linz (Austria) in 1980.
Thanks to my IM-title, I had a possibility to take part in the YUGOSLAV-50 tournament, which was a grandmaster tournament and it was arranged because the Yugoslavian Chess Federation celebrated its 50 years existence. The tournament started in 1981 and finished in 1985. I played a fantastic tournament and I was fifth. Much more important for me was my result 8½/13, exactly same as GM-result. By the way in this tornament I won over Fritz Baumbach (DDR), who was the World Correspondence Chess Champion in the late eighties. I was awarded the GM-title at ICCF-congress in Peebles (Scotland) in 1985. At that time I was the second youngest Grand Master among those 90 GMs in the world.
My first tournament as a GM was a Polish Jozef Bannet Memorial Tournament 1986-1990. That tournament was not succesful for me. Maybe I forgot the old rule: "Its is not enough that you are a grandmaster, you must play like a grandmaster". My result was only 50 %, so 6/12. This tournament is still my only correspondence chess tournament where I have lowered my rating. However my catastrophe was not bad, because the fall of my rating was only 5 points.
In 1991 I simultaneously started two tornaments. In the CCCA-70 ( Canadian Correspondence Chess Federation 70 years) Tournament I played well and my result was 8½/14. I was 1½ points behind the top three.
But in Aljehin Memorial Tournament my result was splendid. The tournament was organized by Russian Correspondence Chess Federation. It was the second strongest ever played correspondence chess tournament by then and all the competitors were grandmasters. I was 5th only 1 point behind the winner, Latvian GM Aivars Gipslis and only ½ points behind the runner-up, the World Correspondece Chess Champion Grigori Sanakojev. Unfortunately my result was ½ points below the GM-title (2 GM results is needed for the place in the 3/4-final of world championship). But very good consolation for me was my win over the World Champion Sanakojev and my draw vs Vladimir Zagorovsky who was a World Champion in 1960's. So my statistics on World Correspondence Chess Champions is 2½-½ for me!!
In 1995 I started the 6th and surely my last correspondence chess GM-tournament, II Dr. Milan Vidmar Memorial Tournament . This Slovenian Tournament was a total triumphal march for me. I won this tournament with the result 11½/14 and 2½ points more than GM-result! The runner-up, ½ points behind me, was Harald Tarnowiecki (Austria), the number seven of World's Correspondence Chess Rating List.
In 1999 I started to play in the 19th World Champion Candidates' Tournament. On 23.4.2003 I finished my last game in that tournament and at the same time I also succeeded in qualifying for the 19th World Correspodence Chess Championship.
On 25.10.2004 I started playing in the 20th World Correspondence Chess Championship. I finished my last game on 30.5.2008 and took the lead in the tournament when only one game is left. The outcome of the game between Stefan Winge (Sweden) and Guillermo Toro Solis de Ovando (Chile) will determine the next World Champion. If Winge wins, he will be the next World Champion otherwise I'll take the title. The decisive game is displayed with a 5 move delay here.
My FELO-rating 2601 (72th on the world rating list).
My KELO-rating 2615 (1st on the Finnish rating list).