Opening Encyclopaedia 2016

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Books, boards, sets: Chess Niggemann

Svetozar Gligoric 1923-2012

8/15/2012 – He was one of the great players of the 20th century, record national champion of Yugoslavia, friend of Bobby Fischer, theoretician, musician, author and gentleman. He was also a close personal friend, and we will provide more material on his career in the coming weeks and months. Svetozar Gligorić died in Belgrade on August 14 at the age of 89. The chess world will miss this great human being.
Opening Encyclopedia 2016

Opening Encyclopedia 2016

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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 (Novom Groblju).

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 80.

At the First Piatigorsky Cup in Los Angeles, 1965: Benko, Gligorić, Olafsson,
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 him."

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 well-meaning person."

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 Chess Notes.

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