Istvan Csom (2 June 1940 - 28 July 2021)

by André Schulz
8/5/2021 – Last week, on 28 July 2021, the Hungarian Grandmaster Istvan Csom died at the age of 81. In the 1970s he was one of Hungary's best players and he was part of the Hungarian team that sensationally won gold ahead of the heavily favoured Soviet team at the Chess Olympiad 1978 in Buenos Aires. | Photo: Obuda Media

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Istvan Csom was born on 2 June 1940 in Satoraljaujhely but in 1949 his family moved to Budapest. Csom learned chess from his father at pre-school age, but initially did little with it. As a teenager he preferred to play football and later basketball. During his studies, however, he began to study chess more intensively and made rapid progress. In 1957 he helped his team to win the Hungarian Student Team Championship, and one year later, in 1958, he also won the individual Hungarian Student Championship. In 1972 and 1973 (shared first place) Csom won the Hungarian National Championships.

1967 Csom became an International Master, in 1973 he got the Grandmaster title.


Between 1968 and 1988 Istvan Csom played in nine Chess Olympiads for Hungary, sensationally winning gold with the team in 1978 – the first and only time from 1952 to 1990 the Soviet team failed to win gold when playing in the Olympiad – and winning silver in three other Olympiads. In 1980 Csom also won the gold medal for the best individual result at board four. All in all, Csom played 191 games for Hungary in the Chess Olympiads.

On 4 December 1978, Janos Kadar, the General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers' Party, received the national chess team of Hungary, which had won gold at the Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires 1978. From left to right: Istvan Csom, Gyula Sax, Lajos Portisch, Janos Kadar, Zoltan Ribli, Andras Adorjan, Laszlo Vadasz. Photo: Ferenc Vigovszki/ MTI

Csom also played many times for Hungary at World Team Championships and European Team Championships, and won several team medals at these competitions.

Csom's successes in individual tournaments include victories in Amsterdam 1969, Olot 1973, Cleveland 1975 and Pula 1975 (which was a zonal tournament), Hanover 1976, Berlin 1979, Copenhagen 1983, Järvenpää 1985 and Delhi 1987. In 2001 he was runner-up in the senior world championships.


Csom played in team competitions in Hungary (e.g. for Spartacus Budapest), Austria and Germany.


Since 1991 Csom has been active as an International Arbiter. He also worked as a coach, among others for GM Ferenc Berkes. For many years Csom also supported Lajos Portisch as a second.

In 2005 the Hungarian Chess Federation awarded Csom the Maroczy Prize for his lifetime achievements. In the same year he also received the Order of Merit of the Hungarian State. But Istvan Csom also received many other awards and his native town of Satoraljaujhely declared him an honorary citizen.

Istvan Csom died 28 July 2021. He was 81 years old.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

A short portrait (in Hungarian) 

André Schulz started working for ChessBase in 1991 and is an editor of ChessBase News.


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