85 years young in 2022
A true Chess Ambassador!
Lajos Portisch celebrates his 85th birthday in spring this year. Congratulations! Happiness, Health, and many more years for the Hungarian legend.
85 years young in 2022
Happy 85th birthday to Boris Spassky, the 10th World Chess Champion, holding the crown from 1969 to 1972. Spassky won also the World Junior Chess Championship in 1955 in Antwerp.
Appropriately our hero’s surname in reality (Spassky) has 007 letters. His first name (Boris) is an anagram of "orbis", Latin for "globe", and indeed he was going on to be the World Chess Champion.
Happy 70th birthday to Oleg Romanishin, still active in Open Chess Festivals!
85 years young in 2020
Fridrik Olafsson (Iceland), and Oscar Panno (Argentina) are turning eighty years young in Spring, January to March 2020.
🙂 Congratulations and Laudatio for the Legends!
Online chess lessons with Grandmaster Oscar Panno
Follow the Maestro on his Youtube channel!
Youtube channel with lectures, launched by Oscar Panno in 2020 at age of 85:
Happy birthday to Friðrik Ólafsson
Born 26 January 1935, GM since 1958, Friðrik Ólafsson was the strongest player in Iceland for many decades. He is a lawyer by profession, worked as an attorney, and was president of FIDE from 1978 to 1982. Fridrik Olafsson is certainly one of the strongest amateur players in modern era. In life outside of law and chess, he is married and has two adult daughters.
Fridrik Olafsson beat in classical games amongst others Tartakower (!), Eliskases, Najdorf, Reshevsky, Taimanov, Keres, Geller, Gligoric, Ivkov, Szabo, Portisch, Hort, Uhlmann, Unzicker, Panno, O'Kelly, Donner, Timman, Miles, Speelman, R. Byrne, Benko, Browne, Seirawan, Hübner, Larsen (the www.chessgames.com database has 39 games, clssical and non-classical, between the years 1953 and 2003, with 15 wins for F. Olafsson, 14 wins for Larsen, and 10 draws; both players born in 1935, Fridrik Olafsson was the great adversary of that other Viking Bent Larsen: In their first 25 games, only three were drawn), Andersson (with an even head-to-head, tied at +2-2=9), as well as Fischer (twice), Petrosian (twice), Tal (twice), Karpov (Buenos Aires, Clarin) 1980 when Karpov was reigning world champion, and Korchnoi (Amsterdam, IBM) 1976.
Aged seventeen years, he won his first Icelandic Championship (in total, Olafsson is a six times national champion, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1961, 1962, and 1969). He is also a multiple Scandinavian champion.
In 1953, Fridrik Olafsson took =3rd in the World Junior Championship (Oscar Panno won the title).
Shortly after this, he completed his studies in Law, he took a post in the Icelandic Ministry of Justice. He continued to be a part-time chess player during the next twenty years, but did not always enjoy the type of success that he might have attained had he been able to devote all of his energies to his studies of the game of chess prior to 1976 when he gave up his government post in order to become a full-time chess player for a brief period until he became president of FIDE in 1978.
By 1956, he was an International Master, and became the first Icelandic Grandmaster: Olafsson was awarded the GM title automatically - together with Fischer - after they qualified in the Interzonal Portoroz 1958 for the Candidates 1959 in Bled / Zagreb / Belgrade (Tal winning, challenging Botvinnik successfully in 1960).
Fridrik Olafsson’s finest results of international note are his win at Hastings Congress 1955–56 (together with Viktor Korchnoi) and his two triumphs of the traditional Hoogovens tournament (today TATA Steel) at Beverwijk in 1959 (clear first ahead of Erich Eliskases), and at Wijk aan Zee in 1976 (together with Ljubomir Ljubojević, ahead of Mikhail Tal as shared third).
Notable results include a third place together with Najdorf ahead of Reshevsky, Gligorić, Benko, and Panno in the strong Piatigorsky Cup, Los Angeles 1963 (Petrosian and Keres won), Olafsson was clear second in Lugano International Invitation Tournament 1970 (Larsen won), runner-up with Gligorić, Petrosian and Ivkov, ahead of equal Mecking, Andersson, Hort and Hübner in Wijk aan Zee in 1971 (Korchnoi won), joint second at Las Palmas in 1974 (Ljubojević won), and runner-up with Spassky, ahead of Bronstein and Hort at Tallinn in 1975 (Keres won).
Olafsson won several strong international invitation events at Reykjavik, in 1957 outright (ahead of Benko, Ståhlberg, and Pilnik) plus three times the today well known Reykjavik Open, then played as an Invitational tournament round robin, in 1966 (II. tournament outright), in 1972 (V. tournament joint with Vlastimil Hort and Florin Gheorghiu, ahead of 4./5. Stein und Andersson, 6. Tukmakov, 7. Timman, 8. Keene, 16 players), and in 1976 (VII. tournament joint with Jan Timman). After a substantial number of years as one of the top non-Soviet players, Olafsson was nominated also as first reserve in the USSR vs. Rest of the World match in 1970 where he played a sole game, losing it to Smyslov.
He played eight Chess Olympiads between 1952 and 1980. His best score was at Varna in 1962 (+10, = 8), winning the individual Gold medal on board one. In 1955 and 1957, Olafsson played twice a match with Herman Pilnik, winning both.
Fridrik Olafsson‘s best result in World Chess Championship competition was in the 1958 Interzonal tournament at Portorož, where he finished equal 5th–6th, as said, automatically earning the grandmaster title and qualifying for the 1959 Candidates Tournament (the last stage to determine the challenger to the World Chess Champion). In that quadruple event of eight Candiates, held at Bled, Zagreb and Belgrade, he scored wins against Fischer, Petrosian (beating him in their individual mini-match twice (!!) with one draw and one loss), Keres, Gligorić, and Benko - but however, he finished finally seventh, suffering with his lively style too many losses (three out of four against Tal, winner with meteoric rise in uncompromising vigor, and against Keres, once more arriving on second place).
Olafsson was Petrosian's nemesis. Petrosian who came in third behind Tal and Keres, ahead of Smyslov and Fischer, drew all his four games against Tal and scored one win with three draws against Keres, but was forced to reckon his chances of success as compromised. Petrosian's round 15 game can't have helped his spirits, though it became a highlight for Fridrik Olafsson: Petrosian vs F Olafsson, 1959. Their adjourned game was finished on a balcony overlooking Zagreb's Republic Square, where a giant demonstration board had been erected: "A crowd of... 5,000 assembled to watch. Olafsson won to... great acclamations... When he tried to go back to the hotel... the crowd insisted on carrying him on their shoulders." (Harry Golombek, 4th Candidates' Tournament, 1959- Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade- September 7th - October 29th" Hardinge Simpole, 2009 (First published as BCM Quarterly No.3, 1960))
Olafsson won the Zonal at Berg en Dal (1960a), above amongst others Bent Larsen. He also won the Special Zonal at Mariánské Lázně (1961) which incorporated also players who could not compete at Berg en Dal, among them strong Eastern players as Filip, Uhlmann, and Szabó, all former or future Candidates. In the Interzonal at Stockholm in 1962, Fridrik Olafsson finished moderate on position eleven / twelve out of 23 players. He receded from World Chess Championship contests to devote himself to his profession.
He worked as a lawyer at the Icelandic Ministry of Justice and at the Icelandic Parliament.
In 1978, Friðrik Ólafsson won the election against Svetozar Gligorić and succeeded Max Euwe as President of the international chess governing body FIDE and served for four years in this capacity.
During the tenure he presided over the 1981 Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship match. Since Viktor Korchnoi emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976, the Soviets were holding Korchnoi's son, Igor and his wife Bella.
Olafsson delayed the planned September 19 start date of the match 1981 in a bid to get the Soviets to release Victor's son and wife. For this attempt, Olafsson drew the wrath of the Soviets, who then backed the FIDE Vice President, Florencio Campomanes for Presidency of FIDE. After losing the election in 1982 at Lucerne in the second ballot with 65:43 against the latter, Olafsson was appointed General Secretary to the Icelandic Parliament Althing.
Fridrik Olafsson continued to play occasionally into the 21st century, winning a rapid match against fellow veteran Bent Larsen in 2003 by a score of 5–3.
Today, he has retired from practicing law and lives in his native country of Iceland which in 1972, hosted the most famous chess match ever held, the World Chess Championship between Boris Spassky and Robert James “Bobby” Fischer. Fridrik Olafsson contributed much to the organiszation of this legendary event. He is awarded honorary citizenship of the City of Reykjavik, an honour bestowed only five times before.
The respected statistician Jeff Sonas (www.chessmetrics.com) ranks Olafsson as the # 13 player of the world in 1958. His best ranking in the FIDE ELO list was the # 14= player in the world in 1969 (unofficial list based on results of the period between January 1966 and Spring 1969), Fridrik Olafsson remained a top fifty player (today regarded as Super Grandmasters) from the mid fifties until the early eighties. His highest ELO rating was 2600 (FIDE), his highest historical ELO 2692 (SONAS).
Olafsson usually played the Sicilian Defence against 1.e4 and the King's Indian Defence and Nimzo-Indian Defence against 1.d4. With White, he usually played the English Opening, but he also played 1.d4, 1.e4 and 1.Nf3 many times.
Happy birthday, good health, many more inspirational games and best wishes for Friðrik Ólafsson!
2015 REYKJAVIK OPEN - Fridrik Olafsson's 80th birthday honorary tournament:
20+ Selected Games of Olafsson:
Bodvarsson vs. Olafsson 0-1, Iceland 1947
Olafsson vs. Tartakower 1-0, Hastings 1953/54
Olafsson vs. Pilnik 1-0, Reykjavik 1957
Larsen vs. Olafsson 0-1, Beverwijk Hoogovens 1959
Bent Larsen (*1935, died 2009) vs. Fridrik Olafsson (*1935) lifetime record 15:15, 10 draws
Olafsson vs. Fischer 1-0, Portoroz IZT 1958
Petrosian vs. Olafsson 0-1, Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates 1959
Eliskases vs. Olafsson 0-1, Mar del Plata 1960
Olafsson vs. Stein 1-0, Stockholm IZT 1962
Olafsson vs. Reshevsky 1-0, Los Angeles, First Piatigorsky Cup 1963
Najdorf vs. Olafsson 0-1, Los Angeles, First Piatigorsky Cup 1963
Olafsson vs. Unzicker 1-0, Lugano 1970
Tal vs. Olafsson 0-1, Las Palmas 1975
Olafsson vs. Browne 1-0, Wijk aan Zee Hoogovens 1976
Olafsson vs. Korchnoi 1-0, Amsterdam IBM 1976
Orestes Rodriguez vs. Olafsson 0-1, Las Palmas 1978
Olafsson vs Karpov 1-0, Buenos Aires Clarin 1980
Gligoric vs. Olafsson 0-1, Reykjavik 1995
Rothius vs Olafsson 0-1, Arnhem Euwe Stimulans 2007
Olafsson vs. Valentina Gunina 1-0, Snowdrops vs. Oldhands 2012
Olafsson vs. Navara ½-½, Reykjavik Open 2013
Navara escaped luckily in a draw against his much lower rated / older opponent
75 years young in 2019
Vlastimil Hort (Czechoslovakia / Germany), is celebrating his 75th birthday.
From all 24 players (including the substitutes) of the legendary USSR vs. Rest of the World match, played at Belgrade in 1970, Vlastimil Hort is the youngest one! Hort played on board four, and won his individual match.
Hans Ree (The Netherlands), is celebrating his 75th birthday, too.
The Dutch chess grandmaster is a renowned chess columnist and writer. Having previously shared the title of European Junior Champion in 1964/65 and 1965/66. Together with then reigning World Champion Boris Spassky, he was winner of the Canadian Open Chess Championship in 1971, played in Vancouver.
🙂 Congratulation and Laudatio for the Legends!
Happy birthday to Vlastimil Hort
Vlastimil Hort, born 12 January 1944 in Kladno (the city is part of the Prague metropolitan area), is a Czech-born German Chess Grandmaster still active. IM 1962. GM 1965.
Hort was a top-ten player in the mid-1970s, and a regular top twenty-player from mid-60s to mid-80s. Vlastimil Hort was also a Candidate, 1977 in the quarter-final against Boris Spassky, a match lost after extra-time in extremis. On the Wikipedia site there are some interesting background details. He is characterized as a truly fair sportsman: Hort
During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, Hort was one of the world's strongest and busiest players.
"Vlasti" won near all recurring individual Chess Classics in the sixties, seventies and eighties:
Hort won three times at Hastings (1967/68 1.-4. with Stein, Suetin and Gheorghiu; 1974/75 1. as sole first; 1975/76 1.-3. together with Bronstein and Uhlmann, ahead of Korchnoi, followed by Taimanov, Sigurjonsson, Sosonko, under the players as well Bisguier and a bunch of young brits, chasing for a (next) gm norm including Miles, Stean, Keene, Nunn, Hartston and Bellin), twice at Biel (1981 with Lobron as winner on tie-break; and 1984 declared ex-aequo winner with Hübner), twice at Dortmund (1982 clear first, and 1985 1.-3. with Razuvaev, winner on tie-break, and Kindermann), winning outright Venice 1969, Sombor (Parcetic Memorial) 1970, Gloggnitz (Schlechter Memorial) 1971, Havana (Capablanca Memorial) 1971 as first on tie-break, alongside with Geller, Banja Luka 1976, London (Lord John Cup, an international invitation round robin) 1977, Stip 1977, Polanica-Zdrój (Rubinstein Memorial) 1977, and Sarajevo (Bosna) 1980.
Hort was 1./2. equal with Keres, ahead of Shamkovich, Uhlmann, Pachman, Stahlberg, Filip, Fuchs, and among others Kavalek, Jansa, Robatsch, Pomar Salamanca and Pirc at Marianske Lazne 1965 (his first big international cap), 1./2. with Portisch at Kecskemet (Toth Memorial) 1966, 1./2. with Matulovic at Skopje (Turnir solidarnosti) 1969, 1./2. with Andersson, ahead of reigning World Champion Spassky, who finished sole third, Szabo, Romanishin, Pomar, etc. at Gothenburg 1971, 1.-3. with Gheorghiu and Fridrik Olafsson at Reykjavik (5th) 1972 (then a biannual closed invitation tournament, today played as a highly reputated annual Open), 1./2. with Lutikov at Leipzig (DSV) 1973, 1./2. with Sax at Vinkovci 1976, and 1./2. finishing undefeated with +5 as first on tie-break scoring, tied with Sax again at the distinguished and strong IBM-Amsterdam in 1979, one of his finest tournament victories.
At Wijk aan Zee, Vlastimil Hort is four times runner-up!, twice as clear second, twice as shared second; making it six podium finishes out of ten entries at Wijk aan Zee (Hoogovens) between 1968 and 1986. In 1975, Vlastimil Hort surpassed the two soviet players Geller and Furman as well as Timman, Hübner, Gligoric, Browne, and the rest of the field, only half a point missing to clinch winner Portisch who drew his last game against dutch player Kick Langeweg after eight moves meanwhile Hort's game versus Kavalek also ended up in a draw.
Vlastimil Hort won also some of the most prestigious Open at his time, as one of very few Non-US player the U.S. Open Chess Championship in 1974 together with Benko, Lone Pine in 1979 alongside with Gheorghiu, Liberzon, and Gligoric, the inaugural OHRA Invitational Open at Amsterdam in 1982 with Short, and outright in 1987 (that OHRA Invitational Open is indicated as B-group, cause contrary to the year 1982, there was a six-headed round robin section, too), or the inaugural edition of the American Summer at Berline (Open, later labelled Berliner Summer) 1983, beating (ex-)compatriot Ludek Pachman in the last round and achieving 8.5/9 points as clear first of 270 participants! He is also a record five-time (sole or shared) winner of the Brocco-Open in San Bernardino.
Hort was a six times champion of Czechoslovakia between 1969 and 1977, after switching to the german federation during the mid-eighties, twice champion of FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) in the late 1980s and he won the first championship of the reunified Germany in 1991. Hort was Czechoslovak Junior Champion in 1960 and 1962.
In April 1977, Hort put on one of the most amazing exhibitions of simultaneous chess ever performed. He played 550 opponents -- 201 simultaneously -- and lost only 10 games, after thirty hours of play in Iceland. In 1984, he played 663 games in a simultaneous exhibition in thirty-two and a half hours at Porz, West Germany.
At the Chess Olympiad, Hort made 14 appearances between 1960 and 1992 (including three editions for Germany), mostly playing on board one and winning the team silver medal with Czechoslovakia in 1982 at Lucerne.
Vlastimil Hort beat individually his highly reputated opponent Lev Polugaevsky with 2.5 to 1.5 on board four at the USSR vs. Rest of the World match in Belgrade 1970. Hort (born in 1944) was then the youngest starter of all the 24 nominated players.
Hort is still occassionally active, his latest tournament was at the Basel Schachfestival 2019 (he is a regular participant in this New Year - Open series): http://www.schachfestivalbasel.com/2/upload/baz_0501_033.pdf (Basler Zeitung, swiss daily newspaper, with a picture of Hort during the tournament)
Best Elo rating: 2620 in 1977 (FIDE), 2725 in 1977 (SONAS chessmetrics)
Best Elo ranking: =6th in January 1977 (FIDE yearly list), 7th in July 1977 (SONAS monthly list)
Wijk aan Zee in the wild seventies: Vlastimil's brilliant win in 1975 against Walter Browne:
Browne vs Hort, 1975 (from www.chessgames.com)
(Sources: Wikipedia, ChessBase, Chessgames, Chesspedia, and DIE SCHACHWOCHE)
70 years young in 2018
Happy birthday to Robert Hübner, grandmaster, chess writer, and papyrologist. He was one of the world's leading players in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, a four-times Candidate between 1971 and 1991, and clear number three ranked of the world behind only Karpov and Korchnoi.
Robert Hübner was born in Cologne in 1948. IM 1969. Grandmaster 1970 (automatically). PhD who is a professional papyrologist (one who studies papyrus manuscripts) and a genuine intellectual. Hübner is the greatest German player since the days of
Lasker and Tarrasch.
Hübner has never been a full-time chess professional due to his academic career, hence he only occasionally competed in the national championship which he won twice: Champion od West Germany in 1967 (joint with Hans Besser after a play-off match ended with four drawn games) and Champion of the united Germany in 1999.
At age sixteen, Robert Hübner won the European Junior Championship 1964 together with Hans Ree in Groningen. As a young IM, Hübner have been equal 2nd with Efim Geller and Bent Larsen, behind Bobby Fischer, at the Interzonal at Palma de Mallorca 1970, thus Hübner earned the International Grandmaster title by qualifying into the World Championship Candidates in 1971.
Hübner won first prizes at Büsum (Adolf Anderssen Memorial) 1968 (ahead of Tringov, followed by joint 3rd-7th Parma, Pomar, O’Kelly de Galway, Kolarov, and Hecht, 16 players, german veteran Friedrich Sämisch last at 1.5 points), Castlebar Open 1969, Sombor (4th Parcetic Memorial) 1970, Houston 1974 (ahead of Matanovic, Mednis, Jansa, Grefe, etc.), Oslo 1974, Munich 1979 (FRG international championship, 1.-4. shared with Ulf Andersson Yuri Balashov, and Boris Spassky who claimed the title due to tie-break scoring), Chicago 1982 (stunning 2.5 points ahead of Browne and 3 points ahead of Korchnoi), Biel 1984 (ex-aequo with Vlastimil Hort), Linares 1985 (shared with Ljubomir Ljubojevic, the latter first on tie-break), Tilburg 1985 (shared with Viktor Korchnoi and Anthony Miles, who then suffered from notorious back pain), Solingen 1986, Havana (Capablanca Memorial) 1998 (shared with Ivan Morovic Fernandez and Yaacov Zilberman). Between 1971 and 1996, Hübner played nine times at Wijk aan Zee, with a shared third as best place.
Hübner was co-winner at the Rio de Janeiro Interzonal 1979, joint with Portisch and Petrosian.
Hübner won the gold medal on first board of the Skopje Olympiad 1972, where he inflicted the first and only (!) defeat on Tigran Petrosian in ten Olympiads.
In 1990 at Novi Sad, Robert Hübner won another individual gold medal: he made the highest ELO rating performance of all players and was also member of the national team who won silver in Istanbul Olympiad in 2000.
In total, Hübner played eleven times at the Olympiad for (West) Germany. Hübner
participated in the match USSR vs. Rest of the World in 1984 at London, drawing his board (=4) against Yuri Razuvaev.
Hübner was a Candidate 4-times (1971, 1980, 1983, 1991). In 1971 he faced Tigran Petrosian. After six draws and then a loss, Hübner resigned the match due to the noisy playing conditions and stress. In 1980 he beat Andreas Adorjan +2=7-1, and then Lajos Portisch +2=9-0, and faced Viktor Korchnoi in the final. When his score stood +2=3-3 with two adjourned games he again resigned the match due to stress. Even with the loss he was marked as the third-ranked player in the world.
Victim of the Roulette
In 1983 against Vasily Smyslov, with the score +1=12-1, Hübner lost his quarterfinal match to on the spin of a roulette wheel which was finally used to break the tie! In 1990, he was fifth at the Interzonal, Manila (now played in swiss system), and became Candidate for the fourth time. In the Candidates match at Sarajevo 1991 he was defeated by Jan Timman.
Over the chessboard, Hübner's technique has been described as efficient and ruthless. According to Bill Hartston — "His perfectionist and rather pessimistic approach, however, prevented him from reaching the very top."
His progress was hampered by disputes and withdrawals at inopportune moments; he withdrew from his 1971 Candidates Match against Tigran Petrosian over a dispute about intolerable conditions, and surrendered the 1980-1 Candidates Final against Viktor Korchnoi.
His fortune was dealt a particularly cruel blow at his 1983 Candidates Quarter Final match against Vasily Smyslov, when Smyslov refused to play tie-break rapid games (these were optional at the time and a noted strength of Hübner). The match was then awarded to Smyslov on the mentioned spin of a roulette wheel! Bad luck indeed for Hübner.
He served as a second to Nigel Short in his efforts to win the World Chess Championship match against Garry Kasparov in 1993.
Hübner is an unusually conscientious player whose tournament career is entirely free of surprise defeats by tail-enders. Additionally, Hübner is known as one of the world's best xiangqi players not from China and was a participant at the 1993 World Championship at Beijing. He remained active on the international circuit into the 2000s.
Robert Hübner is author of two electronic monographies on Alexander Alekhine and Bobby Fischer (2003) and ie. Fünfundfünzig feiste Fehler (1990), Twenty-five annotated games (1996), Materialien zu Fischers Partien (2004)
R.I.P. Wolfgang Unzicker
R.I.P. Wolfgang Uhlmann
Wolfgang Uhlmann, born 29 March 1935 in Dresden, died 24 August 2020 in Dresden, GM since 1959, is undoubtedly the most successful player of East Germany ever, expert on the French Defense, former Candidate, 1971 quarter-final against Larsen, chosen as member of the "Rest of the World" team in the match vs. the USSR in 1970, leading player for decades of East Germany, eleven times winner of the national championship of the (then) GDR.
Uhlmann's father taught him the game at the age of eleven at their home in Dresden and he progressed to the title of German Youth Champion in 1951. By 1956 he was an International Master and by 1959, Wolfgang Uhlmann became the first Grandmaster of East Germany.
Wolfgang Uhlmann participated eleven times (again this number) at the Olympiads between 1956 Moscow and 1990 Novi Sad.
At the 1964 chess Olympiad in Tel Aviv, Uhlmann scored 83.3 percent, earning the individual board one gold medal (note: at that time, there was a preliminary at the Olympiads and then final groups based on the previous team results, no swiss system).
Brilliant tournament wins in the 1960s and 1970s: GM Wolfgang Uhlmann is a rare triple (sole or shared) winner at Hastings, in these days always a strong event: Uhlmann won in 1958/59 outright (ahead of Portisch), in 1965/66 (shared with Spassky), and tied for first again (with Bronstein and Hort) at Hastings Chess Congress 1975/76, one point ahead of Korchnoi. In addition, Uhlmann was runner-up at Hastings on four occasions: in 1959/60 (shared with Averbakh, behind winner Gligoric), in 1966/67 (behind winner Botvinnik), in 1970/71 (shared second, behind winner Portisch), 1972/73 (behind winner Larsen). Hastings really was his chocolate tournament!
Wolfgang Uhlmann remembers Hastings and the unique distinction of the International
Grandmaster title in chess:
"Plötzlich Grossmeister!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAGltPu2OdI (1.06 min.)
Wolfgang Uhlmann also shared victory (with Polugaevsky) at Sarajevo 1964, tied for first (with Smyslov) at Havana (Capablanca Memorial) 1964, tied for first (with Ivkov, and ahead of World Champion Petrosian - and among others Portisch, Parma, Bronstein, Larsen, Matanovic, Filip, Gligoric, Bisguier) at Zagreb 'Tournament of Peace' 1965, tied for first (with Bronstein) at Szombathely 'Asztalos Memorial' 1966, and tied for first (with Bronstein) at the East Berlin 'Lasker Memorial' 1968. At Raach 1969, a Zonal tournament, he finished two points clear of the field (which included Lajos Portisch), placed second behind reigning World Champion Karpov at Skopje 1976, finished first at Vrbas 1977, to name the maybe most notable ones.
In 1970, Wolfgang Uhlmann played at Belgrade on board seven for the “Rest of the World” against the USSR, losing his individual mini-match to Mark Taimanov 1.5:2.5.
At the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal of 1970, Wolfgang Uhlmann tied for fifth and sixth place and reached the Candidates Matches held the following year. But his quarter-final match with Bent Larsen in Las Palmas ended in a 5.5:3.5 victory for Larsen, and Uhlmann was not able to come so close again.
Uhlmann is acknowledged as one of the world's leading experts on the French Defence, having refined and improved many of its variations and authored books on the opening to have deployed the French almost exclusively in reply to 1.e4. Wolfgang Uhlmann plus Lev Psakhis (also as author and especially as trainer) are maybe the best French Defense theorists the game has known in the line Botvinnik – Korchnoi – Morozevich.
Despite being a dedicated professional chess player, and undoubtedly the GDR's most successful ever, he has also had a career in accountancy.
The respected statistician Jeff Sonas (www.chessmetrics.com) ranks Uhlmann as the # 17 player of the world in 1971. His best ranking in the FIDE ELO list was the # 15= player in the world in 1967 (unofficial list), Wolfgang Uhlmann remained a top fifty player (today regarded as Super Grandmasters) from the mid / late fifties until the end of the seventies. His highest ELO rating was 2590 (FIDE), his highest historical ELO 2696 (SONAS).
Uhlmann beat four undisputed World Champions, from Fischer in 1960, Botvinnik in 1962, Smyslov in 1973 to Anand in 1990 (plus Khalifman in 1993).
Beating Bobby. That's an exclusive club (Fischer vs. Uhlmann 0-1, Buenos Aires 1960):
Reigning World Champion Botvinnik beaten by Uhlmann at the Olympiad in Varna, Bulgaria in 1962:
The 9th and final Chess Festival by the OHRA in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, was held from July to August in 1990. The following game, played in the B-group, shows how Uhlmann outmanoeuvred his much younger and higher rated opponent Anand, then already ranked as no. 19= of the world and qualifying himself that year for the Candidates: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1018120
Maybe Wolfgang Uhlmann's best game ever against Larsen at Hastings 72/73, rd. 5, December 1972: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1144389
Uhlmann video-annotated this brilliancy:
(Larsen won the tournament at Hastings half a point ahead of Uhlmann, two and more points back Hartston, Hort, Tukmakov, Browne, Radulov, Westerinen, Smyslov, Barcza, Andersson, Stean, Wade and others).
In recent years, Wolfgang Uhlmann was quite a regular member of the Veterans / Old Hands ad-hoc formation in matches versus a Ladies / Snowdrops team. Especially the game Kashlinskaya-Uhlmann 0-1 was considered the most beautiful of the event in 2012: http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1703360
In the 1. Bundesliga (German Team Championship) 2014/15, after more than six hours of play and struggle (65... Bxe5??), Wolfgang Uhlmann (*1935), playing for Dresden beats Dennes Abel (*1989), playing for Berlin (the match ended 4-4): http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1780039
Wolfgang Uhlmann is by far the oldest player ever to win a game in the Bundesliga. Hats off!
Happy birthday, good health, many more inspirational games and best wishes for Wolfgang Uhlmann!
R.I.P. Borislav Ivkov
R.I.P. Mark Taimanov, R.I.P. Yuri Averbakh
Panorama of Player Profiles
A wrap-up of selected portraits of a few further chess giants from the 20th century, especially long-time successful tournament players not to become World Chess Champion.
The following portraits you can also find as side stories in the different tournament chronicles. These chess career masterpieces are put together here as an estimation in a charming chess collection for readers who are looking primarily for player biographies, they are laid out in a modern human centered design.
Featuring uncrowned chess giants, but with impressive long-time tournament records (or in the case of Akiba Rubinstein an exceptional annus mirabilis), in the rush of daily liverating hysteria and youth mania sometimes in danger of being overlooked by the chess community; consequently, World Champions are absent here.
Featuring players who achieved a special cult character, who have become national heroes and / or worked with Viktor Korchnoi as a second (assistant). Sometimes a strong current or come-back player is portrayed, too. The site is being casually worked on and up-dated with more biographical information on further monumental players (no particular order).
Note: if a pdf will be updated, then it changes its URL, that's why the player profiles, biographies, should be better linked under the general address: Congratulations - www.chessdiagonals.ch
Akiba Rubinstein, Poland, and his annus mirabilis in 1912
In chess history there are only a few individuals that stand out really among the rest, Akiba Rubinstein, is one of these player.
In 1912, Rubinstein won five chess tournaments in a row in the same year: San Sebastián (ahead of joint Nimzowitsch and Spielmann in a very strong field), Bad Pistyan (Piešťany), Breslau (DSB Congress) shared with Oldřich Duras, Vilnius (All-Russian Masters), and Warsaw (City Championship 1911/12) at the beginning of this incredible consecutive string! A growing demand for there to be a match between Rubinstein and Lasker emerged.
He was scheduled to play a match with Emanuel Lasker for the World Chess Championship in 1914, but it was cancelled because of the lack of fundraising success and the outbreak of World War I.
Akiba Kiwelowicz Rubinstein (born 1880 – died March 1961) was a Polish chess Grandmaster at the beginning of the 20th century. Rubinstein was Jewish and his family planned for him to become a rabbi. However, in 1903, after finishing fifth in a tournament in Kiev, Rubinstein decided to abandon his rabbinical studies and devote himself entirely to chess. Between 1907 and 1914, Rubinstein established himself as one of the top leading players in the world.
But at St. Petersburg 1914, Rubinstein faced a poor result. The top five played a final and are reported to be given virtually the title of “Grandmaster” (not to mix with the FIDE titles). Rubinstein surprisingly did not qualify for that final (with Lasker, Capablanaca, Alekhine, Marshall and Tarrasch).
At the time when it was common for the reigning world champion to handpick his challengers, Rubinstein was never given a chance to play Lasker for the world chess championship because he was unable to raise enough money to meet Lasker's financial demands. Unfortunately due that bad result at St. Petersburg, the beginning of Rubinstein’s deep psychological problems and the rise of the Cuban chess star Capablanca combined with the break out of World War I was the beginning of the end for Rubinstein title aspirations.
After 1932, Rubinstein who was awarded the official grandmaster title at its inauguration in 1950, never competed in chess tournaments again, all though he was invited to do so. Shortly after his retirement from chess, Akiba checked into a psychiatric clinic. The final years of his life he spent in Belgium with his family until his death in 1961.
Historical Ratings from Chessmetrics are placing Rubinstein between mid-1912 and mid-1914 as world number one.
Julio Bolbochán, Argentina, later living in Venezuela
Esteban Canal, Peruvian player domiciled in Italy
Eugenio Torre, The Republic of the Philippines
Luděk Pachman, Czechoslovakia, (West) Germany
László Szabó, Hungary
László Szabó (1917 - 1998), born in Budapest, he was tutored by Géza Maróczy, both becoming international grandmaster of chess in 1950, at its title inauguration by FIDE, as first hungarian chess players ever.
Szabó learned to play the game at the age of six, at age of 14 he began to take part in chess tournaments, at 17 he became a National Master and he became at 18 Champion of Hungary. Szabó was nine times national Hungarian Champion between 1935 and 1967/68.
Szabó was a three times consecutive Candidate during the 1950s, at Budapest in 1950, at Zürich / Neuhausen in 1953 and equal third at Amsterdam in 1956 (with the four soviet players Spassky, Petrosian, Bronstein, Geller; behind runner-up Keres and winner Smyslov).
Szabó represented Hungary at 11 Chess Olympiads, playing first board on five occasions and delivering many medal-winning performances, plus the unofficial Chess Olympiad at Munich in 1936, winning Gold both for Hungary as team and individual board prize. He also participated seven times in the European Team Championships.
He won top-class tournaments from the mid-1930s into the mid-1970s, a stretch of 40 years, winning Hastings four times and maintaining the longest winning span at Hastings, incredible thirty-five years (!) from 1938/39 to 1973/74.
László Szabó burst onto the international chess scene in 1935, at the age of 18, winning his first Hungarian Championships, an international tournament in Tatatóváros 1935, and subsequently was selected to represent his country at the 1935 Warsaw Olympiad.
His finest results are the mentioned four Hastings Congresses 1938/39, 1947/48, 1949/50 (all three outright), 1973/74 (shared, best on tie-break), and amongst others Vienna (Schlechter Memorial) 1947 outright, Budapest 1948 (clear first with 1.5 points ahead of Gligoric), Venice 1949 (clear first ahead of the european elite players Rossolimo, Prins, Gligoric, Golombek, Barcza, Foltys, Paoli, Kottnauer, Tartakower, etc.), Santa Fé 1960 (best on tie-break, joint with Taimanov, ahead of Gligoric, Korchnoi, 8 players), Zagreb 1964 outright, (again) in Budapest 1965 (with Taimanov and Polugaevsky). More was to come:
Szabo also won in the mid-1970s days at Sarajevo, Bosna in 1972 (clear first ahead of Tigran Petrosian!, followed by Paul Keres, Vlastimil Hort, and Vlastimil Jansa as joint third), a prominent win at age of 55, at Hilversum, 2nd AVRO in 1973 (shared with Efim Geller, ahead of Ljubojevic, Andersson, Sax, Ivkov, Polugaevsky, and Timman, eight players in a double round robin), another big win,
then as already listed, László Szabó's fourth and last Hastings tournament victory in 1973/74 (shared, as best on tie-break), remember, his first Hastings triumph happened in 1938/39,
at Dortmund in 1974 (joint with Ciocâltea in a less strong field with several minor players), at Helsinki in 1975 (joint winner with Hort and Westerinen), at Costa Brava in Sant Feliu de Guixols in 1975 (shared, as best on tie-break), at Kapfenberg in 1976 (ahead of Stean).
He won the strong Wageningen Zonal 1957 unbeaten (ahead of 2. F. Olafsson, 3./4. Larsen, Donner, 5. Uhlmann, 6./7. Trifunovic, Stahlberg, 8. Teschner, 9. Ivkov, etc., 18 players).
Szabó was sole second at Beverwijk (Hoogovens) in 1966, half a point behind Polugaevksy.
He was also clear second in the Interzonal at Saltsjöbaden (Stockholm, Sweden) in 1948 with 20 participants, László Szabó held the lead during rounds 7-17, and co-leading after the penultimate round, but in the last round he unexpectedly lost to Erik Lundin who nevertheless placed clear last of the Interzonal, whereas eventual winner David Bronstein defeated Savielly Tartakower, thus Bronstein won the tournament, unbeaten one point ahead of Szabó. The only game Erik Lundin (IM 1950 and Honorary GM 1983) won at all in Saltsjöbaden's Interzonal in 1948, stopped Szabó from co-winning with Bronstein. Of course both players advanced to the following Candidate’s tournament at Budapest in 1950, finally decided in a play-off match between Boleslavsky and Bronstein, the latter winning again and becoming Challenger of Champion Mikhail Botvinnik in 1951, this World Chess Championship was tied 12:12, the reigning king retaining the title (no play-off).
Szabó was already active at highest level before WW II, his first win at Hastings in 1938/39 was ahead of Max Euwe, Salo Landau and Vasja Pirc, his fourth win at Hastings in 1973/74, as shared first with the best tie-break score (co-winners were Mikhail Tal, Jan Timman and Gennadi Kuzmin; this guy was reigning runner-up at the super strong USSR Championship in 1973, together with – alphabetically – Karpov, Korchnoi, Petrosian, and Polugaevsky).
Szabó was the leading player in Hungary for a quarter of a century (eventually being succeeded by Lajos Portisch in the early to mid 1960s), always a lively player at chess events, his style full of underappreciated brilliance though his performance sometimes erratic, Szabó was a longtime player in the range of the top twenty to top ten in the world, and at the peak of his powers best-ranked by chessmetrics (historical ELO) on position 6 in the 1940s.
His family donated Szabó's entire chess library and his papers to the Cleveland Public Library John G. White Chess and Checkers Collection. The John G. White Collection of Chess and Checkers is the largest chess library in the world.
I watched Szabó at the international Max Blau Memorial at Bern in 1987 (Campora and Geller won, ahead of swiss student Giancarlo Franzoni, making his final IM norm, followed by Cebalo, Unzicker, young IM Danny King, today esteemed presenter, and septuagenarian Szabó on seventh place, twelve players in a cozy little generation mix).
Picture of László Szabó: http://www.chessdiagonals.ch/402840520 (with identical text).
Vadim Milov, Switzerland (Israel, Russia, USSR)
Paul Keres, Estonia (USSR)
Paul Keres is arguably the strongest chess player to never get to a match for the World Champion.
Keres missed a chance at a world chess championship match on multiple occasions narrowly, and has a most impressive tournament record lasting over four decades on international top-level between 1936 and his death in 1975.
He won the 1938 AVRO tournament (on tie-break over Reuben Fine, ahead of Botvinnik, Euwe, Reshevsky, Alekhine, Capablanca, and Flohr, the eight best players then) which led to negotiations for a title match against champion Alexander Alekhine, but the match never took place due to World War II.
At the first world elite tournament after World War II, organised in Groningen in 1946, he was not allowed to play by the Soviet authorities.
In 1948, Keres participated in the World Championship tournament to determine a successor to Alexander Alekhine, finishing joint third. This would turn out to be the only opportunity Keres would ever have to play directly for the world title.
Keres finished runner-up outright or ex aequo four times in the four consecutive Candidates' tournaments, from 1953 (Smyslov won), 1956 (Smyslov won again), 1959 (Tal won) to 1962 (Petrosian won at 18 points, Geller and Keres at 17.5 points, followed by Fischer and Korchnoi).
Btw.: Keres won the "2nd place Candidates' play-off" against Geller 4.5-3.5; World Champion Botvinnik then had not not yet formally decided if he would defend his title in 1963, but finally he did play - and lost to Petrosian.
Missing the Champion Challenger four times in a row as the Candidate runner-up, that's why Keres was sometimes nicknamed "Paul the Second", "Eternal Second" or "The Crown Prince of Chess".
Paul Keres, along with Viktor Korchnoi and Alexander Beliavsky, defeated nine undisputed world chess champions in classical chess — more than anyone else in history.
Keres was thrice Soviet Champion, in 1947 [rusbase-1], 1950 [rusbase-2], and 1951 [rusbase-3], and won the Baltic Chess Championship, mostly held in Pärnu (Estonia), Riga (Latvia), or, rarely, in Vilnius (Lithuania), multiple times.
Beginning with the Pärnu training tournament 1947, Keres made some significant contributions as a chess organizer in Estonia, later also organising the strong Tallinn international invitation series; this is an often overlooked aspect of his career.
(Pärnu 1947 was a strong pure national training round robin tournament, all 14 players were from the USSR. Paul Keres won ahead of 2./3. Kotov, Lilienthal, 4.-6. Bronstein, Boleslavsky, Smyslov, 7. Kasparian, 8. Flohr, etc.: http://al20102007.narod.ru/nat_tour/1947/parnu47.html).
During his chess career, Paul Keres again and again achieved formidable tournament triumphs:
Bad Nauheim 1936 (alongside Alekhine, above Bogljubov, Stahlberg, Vidmar), Margate 1937 (with Fine, best tie-break, ahead of Alekhine), Ostende 1937 (with Fine and surprising Swiss Henry Grob who had the best tie-break), Semmering / Baden bei Wien 1937 (ahead of Fine, Capablanca, Reshevsky, Flohr, Eliskases), Vienna Quadrangular theme tournament 1937 (Keres surpassing three Austrian players), AVRO 1938 (on tie-break over Reuben Fine, ahead of Botvinnik, Euwe, Reshevsky, Alekhine, Capablanca, and Flohr – considered the eight best players at that time), Buenos Aires 1939 (shared with Najdorf, ahead of Stahlberg, Czerniak), Salzburg 1943 (alongside World Champion Alekhine), Przepiorka Memorial in Szczawno-Zdrój 1950 (ahead of Szabo, Barcza, Taimanov, Bondarevsky, Foltys, Geller, Averbakh), the great Maroczy Memorial in Budapest 1952 (as clear first ahead of Geller, World Champion Botvinnik, Smyslov, Stahlberg, Szabo, Petrosian), Hastings 1954-55 (with Smyslov, ahead of Pachman, Szabo, Unzicker, Alexander, Donner), Mar del Plata 1957 (ahead of Najdorf), Santiago de Chile 1957 (ahead of Kotov), Hastings 1957-58, Zürich 1961 (ahead of Petrosian, Gligoric), the first Piatigorsky Cup, at Los Angeles 1963 (shared with World Champion Petrosian), Beverwijk Hoogovens 1964 (with Nei, ahead of Portisch, Ivkov, Larsen), Buenos Aires 1964 (shared again with World Champion Petrosian, ahead of R. Byrne, Najdorf), Hastings 1964-65, Mariánské Lázně 1965 (joint with Hort), Stockholm (100 years Jubilee Swedish Chess Federation) 1966-7 (including Larsen), Bamberg (100 years Jubilee SC Bamberg) 1968 (two full points ahead of reigning World Champion Petrosian and Lothar Schmid), Budapest 1970 (ahead of Szabo, Ivkov, Suetin, Portisch), Tallinn 1971 (together with Tal, ahead of Bronstein and Stein), Tallinn 1975 (ahead of joint Spassky and F. Olafsson, Hort, Bronstein)
Margate 1937 was the first of three world class tournaments within two years in which Keres and Fine shared first place, followed by Ostende 1937 (together with Swiss Henry Grob who beat both Fine and Keres), and the legendary AVRO tournament 1938 (Keres first on tie-break, again with Fine, in a field including four former, present or future World Chess Champions, in chronological order: Capablanca, Alekhine, Euwe, and Botvinnik; plus Reshevsky and Flohr).
He won top-class chess tournaments from the mid-1930s to the mid-1970s, a span of 40 years, in conreto, GM Paul Keres has an International Elite Tournament win span from 1936 to 1975:
Bad Nauheim, 1936, is notable for young Keres' first international tournament win as he tied for first with Alekhine (both unbeaten, Alekhine had the better tie-break, ten players including previous winner Bogoljubov, Stahlberg, and Vidmar sr.). It signalled the arrival of Paul Keres (born in 1916) on the international chess scene, upon which he would be one of the world's best players for almost forty years.
Tallinn, 1975, is notable for his last international invitation tournament win, Paul Keres triumphed unbeaten as clear first (ahead of 2./3. Spassky, F. Olafsson, 4./5. Hort, Bronstein, 6./7. Taimanov, Gipslis, 16 players), a few months before his death the same year.
This last major tournament win in Tallinn 1975 was just a few months before he died of a heart attack in Helsinki, Finland, at the age of 59. His death occurred while returning to his native Estonia from an Open Festival (incl. Browne, J. Watson, Pupols, Forintos, Bilek, or Suttles) in Vancouver, Canada, which Keres had won outright, as well as his last game in round ten against Walter Browne.
Final standings, Vancouver Open 1975:
Photo from the game Browne vs. Keres, Vancouver Open 1975:
Browne vs. Keres, Vancouver Open 1975, round 10, to replay:
The Paul Keres Memorial Tournaments have been held annually mainly in Vancouver and Tallinn ever since.
Over 100,000 people were in attendance at his state funeral in Tallinn, Estonia, where the leaders of Estonia were on guard of honour, and FIDE President Max Euwe, his old friend and rival, was also present.
Keres is the first person best known for playing chess and whose portrait ever is on a banknote. The five kroons (5 krooni) Estonian banknote bore his portrait (kroons are replaced by the euro since 2011).
A statue honouring him can be found on Tõnismägi in Tallinn, and a number of chess clubs and festivals are named after him.
In the year 2000, Keres was elected the Estonian Sportsman of the Century.
Paul Keres is often underestimated, but his results from 1935 to 1975 are worth a long and close look, and Anand once ranked him as one of the ten greatest chess players ever.