One of the most colourful characters in chess, the Yugoslav (later Serbian) GM Svetozar Gligoric (1923-2012) died recently in Belgrade. “Gliga” came to international chess late. A committed follower of Marshal Tito, he spent WWII playing a deadly game of catch-as-catch-can with the Wehrmacht.
He won his first national title in 1947 and was a regular at the Candidates as well as winning innumerable major tournaments and being a fixture on top board at the Olympiads. Gligoric beat world champions Max Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, Mikhail Tal and Bobby Fischer in individual encounters. His contributions earned him special mention in Gary Kasparov’s My Great Predecessors.
Gligoric was also a magnificent commentator as well as an affable, gracious man. He wrote a definitive history of the world championships and a great book on the 1972 Fischer-Spassky match. In his 80s, he released a music CD of his own jazz compositions. His auto-biography I play with the Pieces is riveting.
The immensely strong Russian national championships and the marginally weaker Ukrainian championships concluded, as did the World Juniors. Dmitry Andrekin won the Russian, clinching a rapid tie-breaker after tying with Karjakin, Svidler, Jakovenko, Potkin and Alekseev. Anton Korobov won the Ukrainian ahead of Areshcenko and Volotkitin with Ponomariov, Efimenko, Eljanov, Moiseenko, etc., trailing.
The World Juniors (Under 20) at Athens attracted 130 players in the open section and 66 in the girl’s section. Alexander Ipatov, an Ukrainian GM who plays for Turkey won with 10 points from 13, ahead of Richard Rapport of Hungary (also 10/13) on tiebreak. India’s best performers were IMs Sahaj Grover, Nikhil Shyam and Shyam Sundar ( all 8). WGM Qi Guo (PRC) won the girl’s with 9.5 on a better tiebreak from Nastassia Ziazhulkina (Bulgaria), Anastasia Bondarnuk (Rus) and Warda Medina (Indonesia) who all scored 9.5. Bhakti Kulkarni (8) was the best Indian.
The diagram, BLACK TO PLAY, (Petrosian,Tigran V Vs Gligoric, Rovinc-Zagreb 1970) is an example of Gligoric’s creative courage. Over the board, he found 14...Nd4!? 15.gxf4 Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 g4 17.Qh1? The former world champion made a rare defensive error - 17. Qd3 leaves white on top.
Play continued 17...exf4 18.Bb2 Bf5 19.Rfe1 f3 20.Nde4 Qh4 21.h3 Be5. By now black’s winning 22.Re3 gxh3 23.Qxf3 Bg4 24.Qh1 h2+ 25.Kg2 Qh5 26.Nd2 Bd4 27.Qe1. Or 27.Rae1 Bh3+ 28.Rxh3 Rxf2+ 29.Kg3 Qg5#
Play concluded 27...Rae8 28.Nce4 Or 28.Nd1 Rxe3 29.fxe3 Bxb2 30.Nxb2 Bh3+ 31.Kxh2 Bf1+ 32.Kg1 Qg4+ It’s simple after 28...Bxb2 29.Rg3 Be5 30.Raa3 Kh8 31.Kh1 Rg8 32.Qf1 Bxg3 33.Rxg3 Rxe4 (0-1). In 1975, Kavalek found 14.-- Nh3+ 15 Kg2 Qd7 was better. But Gligoric's try stunned one of the greats and he didn't have five years to research.
Devangshu Datta is an internationally rated chess and correspondence chess player