Clash of Generations: Portisch-Rapport

by Diana Mihajlova
5/10/2014 – The concept of a clash of generations is one that has gained traction all over the world. These matches are less about winning or losing than promoting talents on the rise and paying homage to a former great player who himself once defended the colors of his nation. Recently Hungary held such a match between young Rapport and veteran Portisch. Report by Diana Mihajlova with GM analysis.

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It was only a question of time. To the delight of his many supporters and fans, Richard Rapport, the Hungarian prodigy, made it to the 2700 realm of the super GMs. 2701 might look a ‘modest’ number but it is opening the gate to the echelons of the world chess elite. The 2.5/3 earned at the April leg of the Bundesliga, including a draw against Aronian (2812), was enough to cross the 2700 barrier. Richie is now the top U-18 player and among the 50 best players in the world (43rd). According to the April ratings, he has eclipsed most of the Hungarian leading players and is ranked second, only behind Leko. At the Tromso 2014 Chess Olympiad, for the first time he will be a member of the Hungarian National Team. Coupled with his youth, charisma and great popularity, Richard is taking over the promotion of chess in Hungary. 

The youngest Hungarian GM was challenged to a match against the oldest active Hungarian grandmaster, Lajos Portisch, holder of the title ‘National Sportsman’, the highest award for outstanding achievement in the sports. Eight times world title candidate and as many times Hungarian Champion, in his heyday in the 1970s, Portisch was third in the world.

The promotional poster of the event

Organised by the Hungarian Foundation for Chess, the match entitled ‘A Clash of Generations’, took place over the last weekend, 2nd -3rd May. Four rapid games were played of 25 min plus 10 seconds per move thinking time for each player. The 59 years of age difference was in favour of the younger player who won the match 3.5-0.5.  

GM Lajos Portisch

GM Richard Rapport (photo: Nikolett Penzias)

It was the first MVM Chess Cup in an anticipated series of high class chess events planned to follow in the near future as a result of a cooperation between the Hungarian Foundation for Chess and the main sponsor MVM Group, the largest Hungarian power company responsible for production and distribution of electricity.   

Mr Istvan Torocskei, the chairman of the Hungarian Foundation
for Chess, is one of the richest Hungarians, owner of the
Szechenyi Bank and various other business enterprises. He
opened the match by performing the first move.

The match is underway (photo: Nikolett Penzias)

In the first three games the younger player clinched victory.

Rapport lived up to his favoritism (photo: Nikolett Penzias)

It was great to see the legendary Portisch in action (photo: Nikolett Penzias)

The fourth game is started. 1.b3 does not look strange for Rapport (photo: Nikolett Penzias)

In the fourth rapid match, the players proceeded with the opening move 1. b3, performed by Mr Kristof Nemeth, director of the Jatekszin Theater. The game resulted in a draw.

The Jatekszin Theater provided excellent premises as a venue for the match

With 100 years of theatre productions, it is the oldest in Budapest. Its director, Mr Kristof Nemeth, expressed his happiness that the century old playhouse could be a host to both theatre and chess legends.

Kristof Nemeth, the owner and director of Jatekszin Theater
is also an actor currently playing in the adaptation of the
mystery novel by Agatha Christie, ‘And Then There Were None’

Dr Andras Flumbort, a GM, a lawyer, secretary of the Hungarian
Foundation for Chess and a professional manager of Richard
Rapport, addressed the audience at the closing of the match. 
Rapport and Portisch share a friendly handshake after the clash.

Lajos Portisch, known for his classical music background, gave for the delighted
guests a concert of operas and Hungarian operettas. Seated behind is the arbiter,
IA Zsuzsa Veroci, off-duty.

Richard Rapport also gave a simultaneous exhibition, for which all 35 available places were booked a long time ago.

The simultaneous exhibition was held at the Theatre’s  Club & Bistro

As the Club could not accommodate all players eager to take part in the simul,
the resourceful theatre staff came up with a genuine idea: the theatre’s cloak
area was quickly adapted to serve as a chess-playing podium, with Richard
flying the distance between the two venues

Among the participants in the simultaneous exhibition were Mr Tamas Nadasi,
CEO of the Aquaprofit, a sponsor of chess players, events and the winning team
in the National League, and Mr Gerguely Boganyi, one of the best Hungarian pianists

The Rapports: parents, siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts, the girlfriend…
all came to support their famous family member

An additional member of the family is WGM Jovana Vojinovic (SRB, 2307) with whom Richard has set up home in her native Belgrade. A psychology student, Jovana is also the reigning Serbian woman chess champion and will be representing her country’s women team at the forthcoming Chess Olympiad. I learn that when Richard has to prepare for important matches, he returns to Sé, his village in Hungary, where he feels at his best for concentration and study. Otherwise, they live now in Belgrade and travel to tournaments together whenever possible. Jovana says: ‘We play many blitz games together, with one minute for him and five minutes for me. Very rarely I win, but even when I do I think he has given me the game just to make me happy.’

Sweethearts: Jovana and Richie

The commentators of the match: GM Laszlo Gonda (on the left) and GM Imre Hera.
Imre has kindly provided us with the games, which he has reconstructed by memory.

Photos by Diana Mihajlova and Nikolett Penzias

Games of the match with game four commented by GM Hera Imre


[Event "Clash of Generations"] [Site "Budapest, Hungary"] [Date "2014.05.02"] [Round "1"] [White "Portisch, L."] [Black "Rapport, R."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "E18"] [PlyCount "62"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. d4 b6 2. c4 Bb7 3. Nc3 e6 4. a3 f5 5. Nf3 Nf6 6. g3 Be7 7. Bg2 Ne4 8. Bd2 O-O 9. O-O Bf6 10. Rc1 Nc6 11. Be1 Ne7 12. Nxe4 fxe4 13. Ne5 Nf5 14. e3 c5 15. Bc3 cxd4 16. exd4 Rc8 17. Qe2 d5 18. cxd5 exd5 19. Rfd1 g6 20. Rc2 Qe8 21. Ng4 Bg7 22. Ne3 Qa4 23. Rcd2 Bh6 24. Bh3 Ba6 25. Qg4 Nxe3 26. Qe6+ Rf7 27. fxe3 Bxe3+ 28. Kh1 Bxd2 29. Rxd2 Re8 30. Qxd5 e3 31. Rg2 Bb7 0-1 [Event "Clash of Generations"] [Site "Budapest, Hungary"] [Date "2014.05.02"] [Round "2"] [White "Rapport, R."] [Black "Portisch, L."] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "A01"] [PlyCount "105"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. b3 d5 2. Bb2 Bg4 3. f3 Bf5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Ne2 Nbd7 6. g4 Bg6 7. h4 h6 8. Nf4 e5 9. Nxg6 fxg6 10. Qe2 Bd6 11. Nc3 c6 12. Bh3 g5 13. hxg5 hxg5 14. O-O-O Qe7 15. Bg2 O-O-O 16. Kb1 Ba3 17. Ba1 Nb6 18. Qd3 Nfd7 19. Rh5 Rxh5 20. gxh5 Rh8 21. Bh3 Rxh5 22. Qf1 Kb8 23. Qg2 g6 24. Rg1 Nf6 25. Ne2 Nc4 26. Bc3 Nd6 27. Ng3 Rh4 28. Nh1 Nf7 29. Nf2 Bb4 30. Bxb4 Qxb4 31. Be6 Rh7 32. Nd3 Qe7 33. Bxf7 Rxf7 34. Qxg5 e4 35. Ne5 Rg7 36. f4 Ng8 37. f5 Qxg5 38. Rxg5 Kc7 39. d4 exd3 40. cxd3 Kd6 41. d4 Ke7 42. fxg6 Kf6 43. Rg3 Ke6 44. Kc2 Nf6 45. Kd3 Nd7 46. Nxd7 Kxd7 47. e4 dxe4+ 48. Kxe4 Ke6 49. b4 a6 50. a4 Kf6 51. Kf4 Rg8 52. g7 Kf7 53. Kf5 1-0 [Event "Clash of Generations"] [Site "Budapest, Hungary"] [Date "2014.05.03"] [Round "3"] [White "Portisch, L."] [Black "Rapport, R."] [Result "0-1"] [ECO "B00"] [PlyCount "64"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. d4 b6 2. e4 Bb7 3. f3 g6 4. c4 Bg7 5. Nc3 d6 6. Be3 c5 7. d5 Nf6 8. Nh3 O-O 9. Be2 Re8 10. Qd2 a6 11. a4 Nbd7 12. O-O Qc7 13. Nf2 Rad8 14. Rad1 e6 15. dxe6 Rxe6 16. Nd3 Ne5 17. Nxe5 Rxe5 18. Bf4 Re6 19. Bg5 Rde8 20. Rfe1 Qc6 21. b3 Qc8 22. Bf1 Nh5 23. Kh1 Bc6 24. Bd3 Qb7 25. Nd5 Bd4 26. g4 Nf6 27. Nf4 R6e7 28. Bc2 b5 29. axb5 axb5 30. Qc1 Nxe4 31. fxe4 Rxe4 32. Rxe4 Rxe4 0-1 [Event "?"] [Site "?"] [Date "2014.05.03"] [Round "?"] [White "Rapport, R."] [Black "Portisch, L."] [Result "1/2-1/2"] [ECO "A01"] [Annotator "Imre,Hera"] [PlyCount "41"] [EventDate "2014.??.??"] 1. b3 {The Nimzovich-Larsen Attack has become Richie's pet line recently. It was the key opening in his last year's great success, when he won the European Rapid Championship.} d5 2. Bb2 Bg4 3. f3 {An original reaction, that shows well how flexible is White's kingside.} Bf5 4. e3 Nf6 5. Ne2 {This is a brand new idea, that Richie also tried in his first white game of the match.} ({The surprising} 5. g4 {is more agressive and popular. It is worth to study the games of Jobava.}) 5... h6 {A useful prophylaxis. Compare this to their previous opening battle, where the Hungarian chess legend continued with 6... Nbd7.} 6. Nbc3 c6 7. d4 (7. e4 $5 dxe4 8. Ng3 {would be an exciting option too, which was suggested by commentator partner, last year's Hungarian Open Champion, GM Laszlo Gonda.}) 7... e6 8. Qd2 {The concept is getting clear: both sides are trying to build up a strong centre, then White will continue his pawn advance on the kingside, while Black could start a counter on the queenside.} Nbd7 9. g4 Bh7 10. h4 Nb6 {Another cautious move leaving place for the second knight on d7 after g4-g5.} 11. g5 Nfd7 12. Nf4 Bd6 13. g6 $5 {A typical reaction by the young grandmaster. It disrupts Black's kingdom and closes his light-squared bishop. However, it is a big question, whether it really worths a pawn.} ({On the calmer} 13. O-O-O Qe7 {Black would simply continue the development.}) 13... fxg6 (13... Bxg6 14. Nxg6 fxg6 (14... Bg3+ $2 15. Kd1 fxg6 16. Qg2) 15. O-O-O Qf6 16. f4 O-O-O {seemed to be a reliable alternative too.}) 14. O-O-O Qf6 ({We could also expect the following natural line:} 14... Bxf4 15. exf4 O-O 16. Bh3 Qf6 {and now White has to play very precise.}) 15. Bh3 O-O-O $5 ({The clear} 15... Bxf4 16. exf4 O-O-O {suits better to the style of GM Portisch.}) 16. Nxe6 Rde8 17. Nc5 {Diagram [#] Suddenly the position looks critical for Black, but he still has a trick, which he had surely seen earlier.} Rxe3 $1 18. N3a4 {Played instantly. Richie complicates the game very well.} Re7 $5 (18... Rd8 {Bringing the last inactive piece into action was more secure. Each encounter ensure good compensation.} 19. Kb1 Rxf3 20. Nxb6+ (20. Nxd7 Nxd7 21. Nc5 Rf2) 20... axb6 21. Nxd7 Rxd7 22. Bxd7+ Kxd7 $44) 19. Qb4 {The white pieces are closing on the black king like a big cloud. It is very difficult to react appropiately in such a sharp position, especially with little time on the clock.} Kc7 $2 {A human reaction based on the calculation, that White will grab the material.} ({The cold-blooded} 19... Qxf3 $1 {would have been necessary, but of course such moves can be found mostly only by computers during an intense game.} 20. Rdf1 Qe3+ 21. Kb1 g5 $1 { This is the key point of the defence. Finally the passive h7-bishop is alive just in time!} 22. Re1 Qf3 {It is really difficult to believe, but it seems that White does not have any effective continuations here.} 23. Bxd7+ Rxd7 24. Nxb6+ axb6 25. Qxb6 Bxc5 26. dxc5 d4 $132) 20. Bxd7 Rxd7 21. Nxb6 $2 {A bit greedy. It was a great pleasure to see these great players popularizing chess in Hungary! We look forward to more such super events!} (21. Nxb6 Qf4+ $1 {An important intermediate move, otherwise White would win the exchange nicely.} ( 21... axb6 $2 22. Qxb6+ $1) 22. Qd2 Qxd2+ 23. Kxd2 axb6 24. Nxd7 Kxd7 $44) (21. Qa5 $1 Re7 22. Qxa7 {would have been really promising.}) 1/2-1/2



A former university lecturer in Romance philology, she is currently a painter as well as a chess journalist, and reports regularly from the international tournament scene.
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