He became a master at the age of 17, and in 1973 and 1976 he won the USSR Championship of Young Masters. His victories qualified him for the Soviet Championship, which was then considered the toughest tournament in the world. Although he never won it, he would participate in the tournament several times.
He played abroad, winning or finishing first in tournaments in Czechoslovakia in 1974, Italy and France in 1977, Cuba in 1979 and England in 1984-1985.
In 1977 he was awarded the title of Grandmaster of the International Chess Federation, the governing body of the game. At the time, he was among the top 25 players in the world.
In later years he lived in Riga, the capital of Latvia, where his second wife comes from. He won the Latvian Championship three times, in 2003, 2008 and 2010, and in 2017 he won the World Championship for players over 65 at a tournament in Italy.
Mr. Sveshnikov was also a trainer and on several occasions worked with Anatoly Karpov, the former world champion, and Alexandra Kosteniuk, a former women’s world champion.
The first marriage of Mr. Sveshnikov ended in divorce. Besides his second wife and their son Vladimir, he leaves another son from his second marriage, Alexandr Sveshnikov; two daughters from his first marriage, Larisa and Tatyana Sveshnikova; and his sister, Irina Sveshnikova.
Not necessarily wanting to play against anyone using his cap opening, or the ideas he had developed for it, Mr. Sveshnikov started playing the Alapin opening when he had white, a series of moves that allowed him to reverse the Sveshnikov variation. to confront. Mr. Sveshnikov became an expert in the Alapin, developed new ideas and wrote a book about it. He also wrote a respected treatise on the French Defense.
Although Mr. Sveshnikov was proud of the work he had done on the opening that bore his name, in his later years he mostly stopped working because he felt most of the ideas had already been discovered. Instead, he started playing a slightly different system that was sometimes called the Neo-Sveshnikov, but more often goes by the name Kalashnikov, as in the name of the rifle named after a former Russian general.