Person of day   -  27 AUGUST 2023



Elizbar Ubilava was born and raised in Tbilisi. In 1967, when he was 16, he sensationally qualified for the USSR championship, which was held according to the Swiss system, and where he distinguished himself with a victory against Igor Zaitsev. As a result, he became a master of sport of the USSR. 

In the 1970s, he was considered one of the strongest players in Georgia, which he represented at the Soviet Spartakiad. After a successful tournament in Tbilisi, he became an international master in 1978. In the 1980s, he decided to concentrate on his role of trainer, despite regular performances at the Premier League of the Soviet championship. As a coach, he helped Nana Ioseliani before her match for the world championship against Maia Chiburdanidze and he was one of Anatoly Karpov’s trainers in the fourth match against Garry Kasparov in Seville in 1987. 

In 1988, Ubilava won a grandmasters’ tournament in Romania and, following a similar success on home territory, he was awarded the title. In the early 1990s, after playing for Georgia at the 1992 Olympiad, Elizbar moved to Spain, where he came across an Indian genius- the future world champion Viswanathan Anand. The trainer and trainee worked together for 11 years (from 1994 to 2005) and passed through FIDE and PSA qualifiers, matches against Garry Kasparov and Anatoly Karpov, the first FIDE knockout world championship in Groningen in 1997 and won the 2001 FIDE knockout world championship. In 2004, Elizbar Ubilava became the FIDE Senior Trainer. 

Later on, Ubilava worked with Azerbaijani chess players Shakhriyar Mamedyarov and Vasif Durarbayli. 

“My training career has lasted for about 40 years. I began very young. I was asked to start when I was 24: there was a young girl- Nana Ioseliani- and someone asked me to work with her. You’re a decent guy, you’ll succeed and so on. And it was difficult for me to say no and reply that I wanted to play for myself. I played and I trained and all this came together piece by piece. 

I first derived real enjoyment when I began to work with Anatoly Karpov. His level of understanding, of talent and depth astounded me.

When I worked with Vishy Anand until 2005, he was a spectacular chess player. His understanding of chess was out of this world, he immediately analysed positions and his intuition was colossal. We constantly worked on chess and perfected his play. Then he became world champion and defended his title while defeating Vladimir Kramnik, Veselin Topalov and Boris Gelfand. But age took a toll on his game. He began to lock himself in, to avoid direct battles and difficult positions. Allthisunderminedhisclass.

In his first match against Carlsen, he tried to use technical positions and rook-based endgames. This was his mistake: he shouldn’t have devoted so much attention to technique and he should have played more difficult positions.” (Elizbar Ubilava)