He has beaten Lasker, Capablanca, Alekhine as well as old age!
By Slobodan Adzic
Can you imagine someone saying to you: “I have beaten Lasker, Capablanca
and Alekhine”. Actually saying it, in the fifth year of the 21st century?
It is hard to believe, but Grandmaster Andor Lilienthal, who on May 5th celebrated
his 94 birthday, actually beat the second, third and fourth world champions.
He has also beaten numbers six and seven, Botvinnik and Smyslov, as well as
players like Tartakower, Najdorf, Bronstein and Taimanov.
Andor Lilienthal with wife Olga at the birthday lunch
I was invited by “Andor Bachy” (Hungarian for “Uncle Andor”)
to the family celebration in Buda, the right side of Danube in Budapest. It
was his 94th birthday, and on that day he received more than 300 phone calls.
Taking a call from Moscow
Most of them were from Moscow and the Crim, but there were also calls from
the Netherlands, Germany, USA, St. Petersburg too. Lilienthal has an apartment
in Crim, and every year he spends the summer months near the Black Sea, returning
at the end of September.
A call from Pal Benkö, who will come visiting in two days
The legendary grandmaster was especially pleased to hear that Bobby Fischer
had recently got the Icelandic citizenship. They are close friends, although
sometimes it was not easy at all, he says. Their friendship began in 1992 in
Sveti Stefan. Lilienthal and his wife Olga was there for the rematch Fischer
vs Spassky. In 1993 Fischer lived in Budapest for over a year. One month was
spent in Andor Lilienthal’s apartment. “He was always talking about
his invention of random chess, but I told him that it was meaningless, and
compared to classical chess it seems to be quite boring. Bobby didn’t
like what I said and tried to convince me that the future of chess lies in
change.” Lilienthal believes that Fischer is absolutely the best chess
player of all times. He says that the proof for this is that the lone autodidact
Fischer overcame the entire Russian chess imperium.
Andor and I perusing the latest edition of Sakkfutar
Signing a copy of his book for me
The dedication which I shall always treasure
I am a FIDE master and the editor of “Sakkfutar” (which in Hungarian
means “Chess courier”), a chess magazine which in this year is
celebrating its fifth anniversary. Right from the beginning Andor Lilienthal
sent to me commented games, analysis, stories from tournaments in which he
had played sixty or seventy years ago. I have collected more than 150 pages
of handwritten material. I could say that this man is one of our most active
Andor's desk where his chess work is done
Andor Lilienthal, who was born in Moscow on May 5th, 1911, and in 1940 he
won (together with Boleslavski) the USSR championship, earning the title of
GM in the process. He often said: “You can become a strong chess player
only if your life is dedicated to chess!” From 1951 until 1960 he was
the trainer of world champion Tigran Petrosian. Michael Botwinik called Lilienthal
a “master of tactics”. Andor was Smyslov’s second during
his matches for world championship. Their friendship dates back to 1938.
The luncheon, with me on the right
Lilienthal’s birthday lunch was arranged in the restaurant “Trofey”
in Budapest. I arrived in the morning at his home and brought him a present:
the official shirt from match Kramnik-Leko and Kasparov’s book “My
great predecessors I “ (in Russian), because I knew that he was missing
this volume. I showed him his win against Capablanca in the book, which will
be published in Hungarian in a few weeks. My company “Chess Press”
from Szeged is publishing it.
Receiving the official shirt from the Kramnik-Leko match
Going through the calendar of world champions
Andor also looked at a calendar illustrated with 25 photos of male and female
world champions. Lilienthal counted carefully and discovered that he had played
with a total of ten world champions!
This is how the 94-year-old gets around Budapest
Andor in his Toyota Yaris
In front of his house in Budapest
With Linda and Kasparov's "Great Predecessors"
After lunch we went back to his home. Usually Andor drives his Toyota Yaris
in Budapest. Wife Olga (Andor call her “Olechka” and she normally
calls him “Papa”) had to pick up the family dog Linda. Until late
in the evening the 94-year-old chess legend found enough energy to entertain
us and serve Russian cognac from Crim.
His favourite Crimean cognac
A nice cigarette after meals
Olga and Andor plan to celebrate his 95th birthday with 200 guests from all
over the world. Lilienthal would like to invite all his chess friends to Budapest.