Congratulations! Vlastimil Hort celebrates his 77th birthday!

by Vlastimil Hort
1/12/2021 – Today, January 12, Vlastimil Hort celebrates his 77th birthday. Congratulations! To mark the anniversary, the former World Championship candidate and great chess connoisseur gives the chess community another - albeit somewhat macabre - story.

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Corona also affects Vlastimil Hort. The German grandmaster with Czech roots loves chess, and he loves to visit tournaments or to show his skills at simultaneous performances. He also  regularly met with old friends to play blitz. He even played team matches. But corona brought all that to a halt.

Before the Corona crisis hit Europe and the world and paralysed it, Vlastimil Hort was still regularly invited to various tournaments, recently even more than usual – a reaction to the publication of his book "My Chess Stories".

Vlastimil Hort als also a regular guest in the ChessBase studio in Hamburg to record DVDs. But this, too, has been put on hold.

"I now follow tournaments on the internet but I do not play online. It is just not the same." 

Vlastimil Hort and his wife Brigitte live near Bonn, in Germany. Normally, he can travel well from here, preferably by train. Actually, Hort wanted to visit the tournament in Wijk aan Zee, where he has often been a guest. But the rising infection rates urge caution and he now prefers to stay at home.

"Sh... Corona. But this gives me time to work on a second volume of my chess stories. "

Today Vlastimil Hort celebrates his 77th birthday. The jubilarian is giving his fans a small birthday present with another story from his large treasure trove of anecdotes.

A corpse on the road

Chess Olympiad 1964 in Tel Aviv. I shared a room in the Hilton Hotel with Ludek Pachmann. In the afternoon before the day off, I had lain down to take a nap. But suddenly, there was a disturbance from above, from the ceiling. It was dripping! I was immediately wide awake and took a look at the damage. The water stain on the ceiling was getting bigger and bigger. Obviously, something was wrong in the room above. I ran up the stairs. The door to the room was half open and I entered quickly.

I saw Gideon Ståhlberg lying on the bed. "Hello, Mister Ståhlberg!" No answer. An empty whisky bottle lay next to him. Water all around him. Obviously totally drunk, he was calmly trying to take off his socks. The water was coming from the bathroom. I hurriedly stomped through the masses of water and turned off the running tap of the bathtub.

One year later, in Marienbad 1965, I played my first game against him.

Gideon Ståhlberg


Stahlberg was born in Sweden in 1908, but after the Chess Olympiad 1939 in Buenos Aires he stayed in Argentina. In chess, he was a damned good tactician and for a long time his heavy drinking did not affect his playing strength.

In Leningrad (today and again St. Petersburg) 1967 I was to play another tournament with him. The venue of the tournament was a theatre. The drawing of lots attracted a large audience and all seats were occupied. All players were introduced personally and the first round was scheduled for the next day.

But shortly before the first round, sad news reached us. Ståhlberg had died the night before. The official cause of death was a heart attack. Two empty vodka bottles in the room.

But chess goddess Caissa allowed him to play on.

Zarupin, a Soviet official, was supposed to accompany the coffin with the body on the train to Moscow. Perhaps Zarupin loved alcohol as much as Gideon. The fact is, when Zarupin arrived in Moscow, the coffin with the corpse had disappeared. The KGB was alerted, a search was launched. Finally, after two days, the coffin was found and Gideon was flown to his old home in Sweden.

Because of Stahlberg's unintentional early exit from the tournament, I got Black three times in a row. That had never happened to me in my entire career.

My Chess Stories

Vlastimil Hort
My Chess Stories
176 pages, hardback with jacket, Nava, 1st edition 2020,ca. €24.00.

My Chess Stories at Schachversand Niggemann...

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

Vlastimil Hort was born January 12, 1944, in Kladno, Czechoslovakia. In the 1970s he was one of the world's best players and a World Championship candidate. In 1979 he moved to West Germany where he still lives. Hort is an excellent blindfold player, a prolific author and a popular chess commentator.


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