Portisch wins 'Portisch 75' rapid tournament

4/7/2012 – On April 4th the Hungarian chess legend Lajos Portisch turned 75. In his honour a tournament was staged, in the fabulour Hilton Budapest Hotel, with four veteran GMs, three of whom had at one time been Candidates for the World Championship. The fourth was a close friend of the septuagenarian – which made the event particularly difficult for him. We bring you a big celebratory report.

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Portisch 75 rapid tournament

The “Portisch 75” rapid tournament was organized by the Foundation for Hungarian Chess to celebrate the birthday of the famous Hungarian grandmaster. Lajos Portisch, who turned 75 on April 4th 2012. The venue of the event was the fabulous Hilton Budapest Hotel where the press conference and a gala reception were also held.


Spectacular: the Hilton Budapest, viewd from the Pest side of the city


The entrance to the finest hotel in Budapest

In addition to Portisch, the other participants of the tournament were Vlastimil Hort, Lubomir Ljubojevic and Istvan Csom.


Former World Championship Candidate Vlastimil Hort


Friend and colleague of Portisch: GM Istvan Csom


GM Ljubomir Ljubojević was once was ranked third in the world

During the press conference that introduced the Foundation and the tournament, Lajos Portisch mentioned that at some time in the late seventies the whole Hungarian team went through a psychological examination. For him, the result of the examination was a bit of a shock. It clearly stated that Portisch had no logic abilities but had very good reflexes. Ever since that time, he feels a certain commitment to show in the games that he is not lacking that logic. In his first game with Ljubojevic, he had a chance to show it and above all to cold-bloodedly resist Ljubo’s aggressive attack.

[Event "Portisch 75"] [Site "Budapest"] [Date "2012.04.03"] [Round "1.1"] [White "Ljubojevic, Ljubomir"] [Black "Portisch, Lajos"] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E07"] [WhiteElo "2571"] [BlackElo "2523"] [PlyCount "82"] [EventDate "2012.04.03"] 1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 Be7 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. g3 dxc4 6. Bg2 O-O 7. O-O Nbd7 8. e4 c6 9. a4 a5 10. Qe2 b6 11. Rd1 Bb4 12. Bg5 h6 13. Bxf6 Qxf6 14. Qxc4 Bb7 15. e5 Qd8 16. Rac1 Rc8 17. Nd2 Nb8 18. Qb3 Ba6 19. Nc4 Bxc4 20. Qxc4 Qd7 21. Qb3 Qa7 22. Ne4 Be7 23. h4 Rfd8 24. Qe3 Na6 25. g4 c5 {Ljubojevic, true to his reputation, goes into full attack mode.} 26. g5 cxd4 27. Rxc8 $2 {Interesting but unsound.} dxe3 28. Rdxd8+ Bxd8 29. Rxd8+ Kh7 30. fxe3 Qc7 31. Rd6 Qc1+ 32. Kh2 Qxe3 33. gxh6 Qf4+ 34. Kh3 Qe3+ 35. Kg4 Nc5 36. Ng5+ Kxh6 37. Rd8 f5+ 38. exf6 gxf6 39. Nf3 f5+ 40. Kh3 Ne4 41. Rg8 Kh7 0-1

After the game, Lajos went through a brief analysis of the game with GM Ferenc Berkes, who was commenting the games for the audience. They had rather different opinions of the key position, but did not go into the details. Thus, the game is up for analysis by the hundreds of spectators and kibitzes. Hort and Csom played a rather balanced game in which Hort gradually overcame Csom’s defence and won the game.

In the second round, the two close Hungarian friends competed with each other. It is well known – and not denied by Portisch himself – that he could always play better against those whom he liked, but had certain problems against players who were unfriendly to him. Once, Csom said that sometimes he would have preferred to have less friendly relations with Portisch, so that his results against him could be positive. In this tournament their game ended in a draw.

In the last round of the day, the two leaders of first day, Portisch and Hort, met and their game ended in draw after move 41. Ljubojevic and Csom followed the same pattern.

Second day

After the first day, when the players changed colours, Lajos Portisch was in the lead by half a point, ahead of Hort and Ljubojevic. Round four immediately brought an intense game between Portisch and Ljubojevic just as in the first round. Csom just could not come to terms with himself. After a balanced opening position, he gradually lost the initiative and went through a difficult phase in the game. He was unable to recover and lost.


The audience – in the front row in the brown blazer is Pal Benkö


In the commentary cabin IM Ferenc Portisch, Lajos' younger brother, and GM Ferenc Berkes

In round five Portisch played safe against Hort, and they agreed on a draw. Thus, the outcome was left to the last games between Portisch-Csom and Ljubojevic-Hort. While the later resulted in an equal position, in the game between the two Hungarian the “Portisch affection” syndrome gained power and Portisch won against his best friend.

Final results of the tournament:

At the closing ceremony, Portisch recalled the 1987 Portisch-Nunn world championship candidate match, which was held in the same Hilton Hotel Budapest under equally pleasant conditions. Now the situation was even more pleasant for Portisch, as he was greatly celebrated in an official gala dinner on the night after the tournament.


After the event: GMs Czom, Hort, Ljubojevic and Portisch, Arbiter WGM Zsuzsa Veröci

Lajos Portisch, a chess legend

Lajos Portisch, born on April 4th 1937 in Zalaegerszeg (Hungary), was one of the strongest non-Soviet players from the early 1960s into the late 1980s – in fact at the time he was nicknamed the "Hungarian Botvinnik". Portisch participated in twelve consecutive Interzonals from 1962 through 1993, qualifying for the World Chess Championship Candidates' cycle a total of eight times (1965, 1968, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1988).

Portisch set several all-time records in Chess Olympiads. In Hungarian Chess Championships, he either shared the title or won it outright a total of eight times, and was awarded the "Nemzet Sportoloja", Hungary's highest national sports achievement award. His main hobby is singing operatic arias, having a fine baritone voice, a quality shared by Vasily Smyslov. [Source: Wikipedia]

Previous reports

A talk with legendary Lajos Portisch – Part II
02.02.2012 – In this second part of a fascinating talk with Lajos Portisch, one of the dominating players in the sixties, seventies, and eighties, you will read about his impressions of Bobby Fischer, the study preferences of Petrosian, and his overall disdain for using chess engines. Unhappy with the focus on openings, he also proposes a greater focus on endgames. Food for thought.
A talk with legendary Lajos Portisch – Part I
01.02.2012 – Lajos Portisch is one of the greatest Hungarian players of all time, and was third in the world at his height. He recently agreed to speak with Albert Silver and gave his first serious interview in English in over 20 years. In it he regaled us with stories ranging from his start in chess ate age twelve, to meetings with the great players, and even his many secret meetings with Bobby Fischer!
Kavalek in Huffington: Long Live the Chess King
28.07.2011 – Chess sometimes becomes a beautiful game even in the eyes of those who don't play it. Find a charming town, bring back its glorious past, turn people into chess pieces, invite kids and a jester and you can evoke magical moments. GM Lubomir Kavalek tells us about "living chess" in medieval costumes, and a blindfold game between him and Hungarian GM Lajos Portisch. Big pictorial column.

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