Open scacchistico internazionale di Lugano, 1976 – 89

Lugano Open 1984: Indefatiguable Viktor Korchnoi (R.I.P.) analyzing with indomitable IM Jay Whitehead (R.I.P.) with his back to the camera. Look at the all-star kibitzers! Ex-World Champion Boris Spassky is seated next to Korchnoi. Next to Spassky is Florin Gheorghiu, behind Spassky and Korchnoi is Sergey Kudrin who got the gm title in 1984, he also reached his peak ranking as Elo no. 32= that year. (Photo: Catherine Jaeg, France)

Lugano Open, Switzerland
#  Sosonko  #  Seirawan #  Korchnoi  #
Albo d'Oro, the winners from Chess Festival Lugano:

  • 3 victories, record winner:
    GM Viktor Korchnoi (1982, 1986, 1989; 
    and 3rd (shared 1.-7.) in 1988, five entries)

  • 2 wins:
    GM Yasser Seirawan (1983, 1987; 
    and 5th in 1986, six entries)

    IM Béla Tóth (1977, 1980)

  • 1 win:
    GM Gennadi Sosonko (1976,
    the inaugural edition)
    IM Ralf Hess (1978 as amateur)
    GM Sergio Mariotti (1979)
    GM Bojan Kurajica (1981)
    GM Gyula Sax (1984)
    GM Wladimir Tukmakov (1985)
    GM Lubomír Ftáčnik (1988)

  • Note:
    Lothar Nikolaiczuk (1979 as amateur co-winner on 2nd place), other co-winners with lesser tie-break were Boško Abramović, Yehuda Grünfeld (1981), Lev Gutman, James Plaskett, Nigel Short (in 1986), Eugenio Torre, triple winner Viktor KorchnoiLev Psakhis, David Norwood, Kevin Spraggett, Klaus Bischoff (1988), and Margeir Petursson (1989).

  • Special side event in 1988: a closed Blitz chess tournament with guest star Anatoly Karpov. Final standings: 1. Anatoly Karpov, 2. Yasser Seirawan, 3. young Vishy Anand, then still the reigning World Junior Champion from 1987, he drew his game with Karpov (was this their very first otb meeting?). Other prominent players include Balashov, Psakhis, Gavrikov (all USSR), Hort, Torre, Gulko, Benjamin, veteran Reshevsky, Swiss Werner Hug and Beat Züger (16 players). In the regular Open, Karpov did not take part, he rarely played any Swiss system tournament in classical chess.

A legendary Open chess tournament
, and one of the strongest Open series ever held, sponsored by the Banca del Gottardo, from 1976 to 1989 annually played in March in the beautiful (Swiss-Italian Tyrolian) Prealps town of Lugano, Ticino. Lugano was really internationally mixed in gender and ages. Principal initiator and organiser was Alois Nagler from the SG Zürich.

Those were the days, Lone Pine, California in the '70ies (1971 until 1981), Lloyds Bank Masters Open in London (1977 - 1994), New York Open (1981 - 2000) and maybe foremost the Lugano Open Festival Series, especially in the '80ies, can be regarded as the prominent predecessors and role model of the Gibraltar Tradewise Masters Chess Congress, the relaunched Isle of Man Masters in Douglas, Aeroflot Open in Moscow, Dubai Open or Reykjavik Open today.

A summary of prominent players:

Open scacchistico internazionale di Lugano 1976 - 1989
(Palazzo dei Congressi di Lugano, Patrocinato dalla Banca del Gottardo)

  • Spassky, Korchnoi, Larsen, Hübner, Unzicker, Teschner, Timman, Sosonko, Piket, Miles, Short, Nunn, Hort, Pachman, Ftáčnik, Sax, Ribli, Adorjan, Szabo, Flesch, Gligoric, Ivkov, P. Nikolic, Kurajica, Georgiev, Gheorghiu, Soos, Balashov, Tukmakov, Psakhis, Gulko, Mednis, Reshevsky, Browne, Seirawan, De Firmian, Spraggett, Quinteros, Nogueiras, Chandler, Torre, Westerinen, Petursson, Dückstein, Tóth, Mariotti, Lautier, Anand as reigning Junior World Chess Champion,
    plus Karpov for a side blitz event in 1988, and
  • Dlugy, Kudrin, Alburt, Henley, Wilder, Benjamin, Mikhalchishin, Shamkovich, D. Gurevich, Ginsburg, Donaldson, Whitehead, Fedorowicz, Rogers, I. Ivanov, Dolmatov, Gawrikov, Chernin, Lerner, A. Sokolov, I. Sokolov, Lengyel, Farago, Simic, Sahovic, Osmanovic, Damljanovic, Abramović, Vukic, Stohl, Suba, Cvitan, N. Nikolic, St. Nikolic, Franco Ocampos, C. Cuartas, Morovic, A. Yap, Campora, Barbero, Bellon Lopez, Bouaziz, Godena, Tatai, Paoli, Zichichi, Renet, Apicella, Kouatly, Prié, Giffard, van der Wiel, van der Sterren, H. Böhm, Langeweg, Plaskett, Flear, Conquest, King, Pein, Hodgson, Hebden, Davies, Norwood, Levitt, W. Watson, Knaak, Bönsch, Lobron, L. Schmid, Treppner, Lau, Maus, Kindermann, Hickl, Klundt, Bischoff, Bartelborth, Lindörfer, V. Budde, Tröger, Zier, Nikolaiczuk, R. Hess, Danner, Wittmann, Klinger, Gutman, Grünfeld, Birnboim, Murey, U. Zak, L. Bo Hansen, C. Hansen, Høi, L. Karlsson, Hector, Hellers, Wedberg, Ekström, Nemet, Gereben, O. Marthaler, Preissmann, Schaufelberger, Wittwer, Wirthensohn, Franzoni, Züger, Huss, Trepp, Hammer, Ditzler, L. Brunner, M. Rüfenacht, R. Roth, Vucenovic, Karl, Boschetti, Costa, Gerber, Gobet, Glauser, Bhend, Lombard, W. Hug, M. Hug, Renato Frick, and
  • Maia Chiburdanidze, Tatjana Lematschko, Alisa Marić, Suzana Maksimovic, Julia Arias, Jana Miles, Pia & her older brother IM Dan Cramling (Swedish champion in 1981), …

Dr. Mark Ginsburg presents a personal chess history – “The Fabulous 80s: Lugano”

Post Scriptum:
Catherine Jaeg, renowned photographer on the international chess circuit (see the picture above and below), is today an artist and serves as President of the Salon Dessin et Peinture à l’eau, Paris. A biography in french language and sample of her work (nothing to do with chess) can be found on Exposition des oeuvres de Catherine JAEG (2007).

Source:, Mark Weeks.

Woman Grandmaster Tatjana Lematschko (1948 - 2020, born in the USSR, moving to Bulgaria for the period from 1974 to 1982, emigrating after the Chess Olympiad in Lucerne 1982, and since then living in and playing for Switzerland) versus GM Gyula Sax (1951 - 2014, Hungary), a future twice WC Candidate.

The picture is from the penultimate round 8 at the Lugano Open in 1984. Sax won that game, and eventually the Open as clear first. Lematschko finished shared sixth in a field including former World Champion Boris Spassky, then recent winner from Linares 1983 (no edition held in 1984), Viktor Korchnoi, who had just triumphed at Wijk aan Zee 1984, or Vlastimil Hort, who went on to win at Biel Invitation 1984 (all top ten, top twelve ranked in the Elo rating), plus Nunn from the Elo top twenty, beaten in style by Lematschko in round 7, Seirawan, Torre, and other Grandmasters or strong International Masters, including many Brits such as mentioned Nunn, and Glenn Flear, Daniel King, or Malcolm Pein. (Photo: Catherine Jaeg, France)

Some good games and famous upsets at Lugano Open series

Korchnoi vs. Spassky, their first game, more than four years after the Candidate's final in Belgrade 1977/8, at Lugano 1982:

Swiss amateur Hansruedi Glauser stays alert when top ten player Jan Timman is blundering, a game at Lugano 1983:

Tatjana Lematschko's immortal game, beating John Nunn in style at Lugano Open 1984:

A long double rook ending between Ivkov and Tukmakov, the winner at Lugano Open 1985:

Another long endgame: A fine win for Plaskett with black over Sax at Lugano Open 1986:

Clash of generations: Seirawan and Reshevsky were regular guests in Lugano, they meet each other at Lugano Open 1987:

Torre traps Balashov's queen at Lugano Open 1988:

A "peinful" defeat for then reigning World Junior Chess Champion Anand against IM Malcolm Pein at Lugano Open 1988:

Alisa Maric has good memories of this game against the then reigning World Junior Chess Champion at Lugano Open 1988:

Doc Hübner is beaten by compatriot IM (since 1988) Sönke Maus within less than 20 moves at Lugano Open 1989:

They faced each other many times between January & July 1976 and 1996: Miles and Korchnoi at Lugano Open 1989:

Balancing between optimism and realism, a strong game between de Firmian and Korchnoi at Lugano Open 1989:

All links features the corresponding game in Chessgames to replay and comment!

Yasser Seirawan, twice winner at the International Lugano Chess Open in 1983 and 1985 (picture from 1980, Wikipedia)

Gennadi "Genna" Sosonko, winner and clear first ahead of Heikki Westerinen at the inaugural Lugano Open in 1976 (picture from Tilburg 1978, Wikipedia)

Lugano Chess Olympiad 1968

Still the only Swiss stamp with a chess subject: Lugano Olympiad 1968

The city of Lugano had hosted already the Men Chess Olympiad in 1968:

Gold for USSR (with Petrosian, Spassky, Korchnoi, Geller, substitute boards: Polugaevsky, Smyslov; individual gold medals for Petrosian, Korchnoi and Smyslov). Runner-up was Yugoslavia (Gligoric, Ivkov, Matanovic, Matulovic, substitutes: Parma, Ciric). 

Switzerland played with IM Dr. Dieter Keller on board one, IM Kupper, IM Blau, IM Bhend, and as reserves: Walther, Glauser. (1968) (1968);art2055,1245148 (photo 1968) 

A picture from the Olympiad in Lugano 1968: Korchnoi and Spassky in play for the Gold medal winning USSR team. Photo: Keystone Photopress Archiv by Bote der Urschweiz, Schwyz

Lugano 1968, report by Olimpbase (and own additions):

A small country opened its gates to chessplayers from all quarters of the globe.

The advance entries indicated a further rise in the number of participants, and, though several countries eventually backed out, the total of 53 teams that took part did indeed constitute a new record for the series.

Some of these were newcomers, for Andorra, Costa Rica, Singapore and the Virgin Islands were making their first appearance in an Olympiad.

A new arrangement was also introduced, whereby teams that qualified for the same final section did not repeat the match they had played against each other in the preliminaries, i. e. the results of these matches were carried over to the Finals.

USSR had Geller and Smyslov instead of Tal and Stein, compared with 1966. For the first time we have seen both Fischer and Reshevsky announced in American team:

On request, FIDE imposed a regulation allowing both players to have a rest on Jewish Sabbath and no games were scheduled on Friday evening and Saturday morning. This was commonly criticized since it brought confusion into tournament procedure.

Unfortunately for the USA, Fischer withdrew from their team because he was not happy with the lighting in the tournament hall. Fischer wanted to play his games in a private room. The Olympiad organizers refused to meet this request. Fischer left Lugano.

Chief arbiter was Jaroslav Sajtar (CSR), he often acted as arbiter at the Olympiads, and other important official FIDE tournaments, for instance, Sajtar was also chief arbiter at the Interzonal in Sousse 1967, where Bobby Fischer withdrew during the tournament.

Czechoslovakia who were invaded in Autumn 1968 by the Soviets and the troops of the Warsaw Pact, were missing Pachman (this obviously had a political background).

The USSR and Yugoslavia were the only two teams to have had six Grandmasters in the squad, the USA and Hungary had 5 GMs out of six players. West Germany were back in the pool after Havana break from 1966.

Prominent players apart from the USSR and Yugoslavia were Larsen, Hort, Portisch, Szabo, Reshevsky, Evans, Benkö, R. Byrne, Najdorf, Panno, young Mecking, Unzicker, young Hübner, Uhlmann, Gheorghiu, O'Kelly, Donner, Penrose, Pomar, and Yanofsky.

Bulgaria who won rather surprinsingly the Bronze medal had a balanced trio on their top boards: Bobotsov, Tringov, Padevsky (three grandmasters). 

Lugano Invitational 1970

Bent Larsen, a hipster before his time. Possibly early 1960s. P. Poulsen via Douglas Griffin

An international GM Invitation Tournament, a double round robin, with eight of the world's top non-soviet chess players had been held in 1970.

Great Dane Bent Larsen won outright ahead of easy runner-up Fridrik Olafsson from Iceland, then as joint third / fourth Unzicker, West Germany and Gligoric, Yugoslavia, followed by fifth Robert Byrne, USA, sixth Szabo, Hungary, seventh Kavalek, CSR, and on eight and last place Dutchman Donner.

No player of the hosting nation from Switzerland to secure a GM-only field. (1970)

LUGANO Open year-by-year chronicle (in german language)

Albo d'Oro (2 MB pdf)

Lugano. Photo Wikipedia

Brocco Open, San Bernardino 1980 ‐ 1992 (13 editions)

Vlastimil Hort, pictured on 9 August 2012 in Geneva (in play in a legend team alongside with Korchnoi, Andersson, Ribli, and Spraggett). Photo: Frits Agterdenbos

Internationally mixed Open Chess Festival of San Bernardino at 1'608 metres (!) in the Swiss Alps, the number of players was restricted to secure comfortable conditions – and enough cheese :)))

First winner: IM Béla Tóth (1980). Last winner: Julian Hodgson (1992). Record winner: Vlastimil Hort (1981, 1982, 1984).

Highest win: Viktor Korchnoi at 8.5/9 points (1983, one entry).

Most surprising winner: Alexander Chudinovskikh in 1990, titleless in a 80-players field including 15 GMs, among others Gavrikov, Hort, Petursson, Hellers, Klinger, Nemet and Flear. 

Alexander Chudinovskikh (Elo 2315, he later got the IM title), living in Kirov, his journey by train and then by swiss postbus lasted six days (!), an electronic engineer by profession, was invited on behalf of Viktor Korchnoi. He had been a pupil of him between 1963 and 1965.

Further winners were Alexander Chernin, John Van der Wiel, Paul Van der Sterren, Mišo Cebalo, and Kiril Gerorgiev. Additional Brocco co-winners (with lesser tie-break) were Kevin Spraggett, Maxim Dlugy, Ivan Sokolov, Ognjen Cvitan, Margeir Petursson, and Swiss IM Heinz Wirthensohn.

Special event during the 10th Brocco edition in 1989: a closed Blitz chess tournament with Anatoly Karpov as guest star. Standings: 1. Kiril Georgiev, 2. Anatoly Karpov, 3. Ivan Sokolov (10 players). Karpov did not take part in the regular Open.

All three Polgar sisters played 1987 in the same (main and only) section at Brocco Open Festival in San Bernardino!!!

BROCCO Open, San Bernardino

Albo d'Oro

Chess Holidays today in the Swiss-Italian lake region and the Swiss Alps

Claudio Boschetti, player, practised organizer and arbiter of Open Festivals

The Swiss-Italian chess organizers are enamoured in chess and they are convinced, since the seventy’s when the important Lugano Open Festival took place, that chess players merit an appropriate location in a splendid scenery. 

You choose if you make Chess Holidays in the swiss-italian lake region (Lugano, Mendrisio, Locarno, Ascona), at Stein am Rhein, a historic town in the canton of Schaffhausen, or onto the Swiss alps (San Bernardino, Davos, Flims, Adelboden).

Swiss CHess Tour:,
organised by Claudio Boschetti