Svetozar Gligorić: 2 February 1923 – 14 August 2012
The legendary Serbian grandmaster Svetozar Gligorić died in Belgrade on
August 14 after suffering a stroke. He was 89 years old. Gligorić will
be buried on Friday at 13.30 in the Alley of the Greats at Belgrade's New Cemetery
Gligorić came from a poor family in Belgrade and starting playing at the
age of 11, when he was taught by a boarder living in the house. He made his
first chess set by carving the corks of wine bottles, and won his first tournament
in 1938, four years after he had learnt the game. He went on to become one of
the world's leading players, and was one of the world's top ten in the 1950s
and 60s. He won the Yugoslav Championship twelve time, between 1947 and 1971,
and represented his country with great success in fifteen Chess Olympiads, from
1950 to 1982, playing 223 games (+88 –26 =109). In the first post-war
Olympiad, on home soil at Dubrovnik 1950, Gligorić played on first board
and led Yugoslavia to a historic result, the team gold medal. The Yugoslav team
was usually second or third in the world during the 1950s.
Gligorić at the III° torneo internazionale di scacchi Venezia 1949
1953 Candidates’ tournament in Neuhausen and Zurich
In international tournaments he finished first in such events as Mar del Plata
1950, Stockholm 1954, Belgrade 1964, Manila 1968, Lone Pine 1972 and 1979, and
many others. He was a regular competitor at Hastings, winning or tying for first
in 1951–52, 1956–57, 1959–60, 1960–61 and 1962–63.
Gligorić was a regular competitor in Zonal and Interzonal competitions,
with results that qualified him for the final Candidates in 1952, 1958 and 1967.
There he was not particularly successful, with mediocre results in the 1953
and 1959 Candidates Tournaments and a match loss to Mikhail Tal in the 1968
Candidates match series. But he did win games against the world champions Max
Euwe, Mikhail Botvinnik, Vasily Smyslov, Tigran Petrosian, Mikhail Tal and Bobby
Fischer. He played his last tournament in the 2003 Rilton Cup at the age of
At the First Piatigorsky Cup in Los Angeles, 1965: Benko, Gligorić,
Najdorf, Petrosian, Reshevsky, Keres and Panno
Gligorić made significant contributions to the theory and practice of
the King’s Indian Defence and the Ruy Lopez. He was fluent in several
languages, and worked as a professional journalist and organiser of chess tournaments.
Besides chess his most enduring passions was music, and in 2011 he released
a CD featuring compositions that drew on jazz, ballads and rap.
The Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dačić sent a telegram of condolences
to the Serbian Chess Federation, saying that "Svetozar Gligorić was
a legend, his passing is a great loss for Serbia." The Minister of Youth
and Sports Alisa Marić sent condolences to the Serbian Chess Federation
with the words: "On behalf of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and on
my personal behalf, I extend my condolences and deep sorrow over the death of
the greatest Serbian chess player of all time, and above all precious and noble
man, Grandmaster Svetozar Gligorić. Our Gliga brought the world fame to
the Yugoslav and Serbian chess, and was a teacher and role model for the generations
of young chess players. It was an honor to know him for decades and learn from
Grandmaster Ljubomir Ljubojević, himself a chess legend, said: "The
death of our Gliga shook me deeply. Gliga was magnificent chess personality
and one of my role models. His sensibility for the art, culture and chess, along
with the results that he achieved, made our country a chess superpower throughout
the decades. Gligorić's immense love for the music is telling about the
broadness and richness of his character. I am really hoping and believe that
he embraced his final moments with that melody that he perfected with such passion.
With the departure of the 20th century giant the chess world remains dismal.
Eternel glory for our dear Gliga."
Finally, Boris Spassky sent us the following note: "I have just received
the sad news concerning Gliga's departure from this world. We have always been
good friends, for he was one of my mentors. We participated in many tournaments
together. I express my heartfelt sympathy for Gliga's disappearance, which for
me is a great and irreplaceable loss, for he was truly a well-intentioned and
All pictures in this eulogy have kindly been provided by Edward Winter,
who has set up
a special page devoted to Svetozar Gligorić on his chess history site