Hungarian GM Gyula Sax dies at 62

2/1/2014 – He was a wonderfully brilliant tactical player, a member of the Hungarian team that in 1978, for the first time since the Second World War, broke the Soviet monopoly on the Gold medal at chess Olympiads. Gyula Sax represented his country at the games a total of ten times, and always performed above his rating. In the past decades he lived in quiet solitude and on January 25 died of a heart attack.

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Gyula Sax: June 18, 1951 – January 25, 2014

Gyula Sax was awarded the IM title in 1972 and the GM title in 1974. He was the Hungarian Chess Champion in 1976 and 1977 (jointly). In 1971-72, Sax was the European Junior Champion, and he placed first at Rovinj-Zagreb 1975, Vinkovci 1976, Las Palmas 1978 and Amsterdam 1979.

Gyula won the 1978 Canadian Open Chess Championship. Sax participated in the Candidates Tournament after qualifying at the Subotica Interzonal in 1987, but was eliminated by Nigel Short (+0 =3 –2). His highest Elo rating was 2610.

Gyula Sax was on the winning team at the Buenos Aires Olympiad in 1978. There the Hungarian "Golden Team" stopped the total dominance of the USSR at the Olympiads: the Soviet team won 18 Gold medals in the years 1952-1990, with a single break, when Hungary took it in 1978.

The team consisted of Lajos Portisch, Zoltan Ribli, Gyula Sax, Andras Adorjan, István Csom and László Vadász (from left to right in the picture above). Sax scored +5 =7 –0 and won individual bronze on board three. Sax represented Hungary at ten Olympiads. His team won Silver twice and in all but one Olympiad was amongst the top six. At the 1980 Malta Olympiad his team led from start to finish, and lost Gold only on tiebreak points to the Soviet Union.

On her Facebook page Judit Polgar writes:

Gyula Sax was one of the greatest chess players of Hungary. He was the first GM who treated me as a fellow chess player when I was only 9 years old. He was ready to analyze positions with me, and shared ideas and by doing so he gave me a lot of self-confidence. Later I met him in many different occasions, we played against each other, and played in the national team together. He was also an Olympic gold medalist and a fantastically energetic attacking player!

I would like to remember him with a typical tactical combination of his style which was always inspiring:

[Event "Reggio Emilia-A 8889 31st"] [Site "Reggio Emilia"] [Date "1988.??.??"] [Round "?"] [White "Sax, Gyula"] [Black "Ehlvest, Jaan"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "B81"] [WhiteElo "2600"] [BlackElo "2580"] [Annotator "Polgar,Judit"] [PlyCount "51"] [EventDate "1988.12.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "9"] [EventCountry "ITA"] [EventCategory "14"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "1989.08.01"] 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 e6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 d6 6. g4 Be7 7. g5 Nfd7 8. h4 Nc6 9. Be3 O-O 10. Qh5 d5 11. O-O-O dxe4 12. Nxe4 Qa5 13. Nxc6 bxc6 14. Bd4 e5 15. Bc3 Qxa2 {[#]} 16. Rxd7 $1 Bxd7 17. Nf6+ Bxf6 18. gxf6 Qa1+ 19. Kd2 Qa4 { The queen is looking for a saving move on the other side of the board on g4 but } 20. b4 $3 {cuts off the road for the queen.} Rfd8 21. Bd3 {Just in time.} gxf6 22. Ra1 {Important to play on the whole board.} Qb5 23. Qxh7+ Kf8 24. Qh6+ Ke7 {and now it is safe to take the queen:} 25. Bxb5 cxb5 26. Qe3 1-0

John Nunn, who played Sax on numerous occasions, ruefully remembers how he was punished for a careless pawn-grab by the Hungarian tactician back in 1985:

[Event "Brussels"] [Site "Brussels"] [Date "1985.??.??"] [Round "6"] [White "Sax, Gyula"] [Black "Nunn, John DM"] [Result "1-0"] [ECO "C43"] [WhiteElo "2535"] [BlackElo "2600"] [PlyCount "27"] [EventDate "1985.12.??"] [EventType "tourn"] [EventRounds "13"] [EventCountry "BEL"] [EventCategory "9"] [Source "ChessBase"] [SourceDate "2000.11.22"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. d4 Nxe4 4. Bd3 d5 5. Nxe5 Nd7 6. Nc3 Nxe5 7. dxe5 Bb4 8. O-O Nxc3 9. bxc3 Bxc3 10. Rb1 Qe7 11. Rb3 Bxe5 12. Re1 O-O (12... Kd8 13. Ba3 Qf6 14. Bc4 c6 15. Bxd5 $1 cxd5 (15... Kc7 16. Rbe3 {is also very bad}) 16. Qxd5+ Kc7 17. Rxe5 $18 {After} Bf5 {Black gets mated:} 18. Re7+ Qxe7 19. Rxb7+ Kc8 20. Bxe7 Rb8 21. Qc6#) 13. Qh5 f5 14. Bf4 1-0

On January 28 MNO Hungary reported that Gyula Sax had passed away. Over the last two decades the grandmaster had live in seclusion – in "quiet solitude" – sometimes playing in league matches, but no longer participating in world class events.

The magazine Femina reported on Gyula Sax death at 62 of a heart attack

Topics Gyula Sax
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schawo schawo 2/1/2014 09:43
RIP He was a great friend. We will all miss him.