Remembering Borislav Ivkov (12 November 1933 – 14 February 2022)

by André Schulz
2/16/2022 – On 14 February the Yugoslav-Serbian grandmaster Borislav Ivkov died in Belgrade at the age of 88. In 1951 Ivkov was World Junior Champion and in the 1960s and 1970s he was one of the world's best players. He made it to the Candidates in 1965, and played in the Interzonal Tournaments in 1967, 1970, 1973, and 1979. | Photo: Durch National Archive

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Borislav Ivkov was born on 12 November 1933 in Belgrade, in what was then the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He became Belgrade Junior Champion at the age of 14, and in 1951 he won the World Junior Championship at the age of 18. In 1954 he became an International Master, and one year later, in 1955, he managed to become a Grandmaster. In the 1950s Ivkov was Yugoslavia's number two behind Svetozar Gligoric, and one of the top ten players in the world.

Between 1964 and 1979 he played in five Interzonal Tournaments and in 1964 he qualified for the Candidate Matches, where he lost against Bent Larsen in the quarter-finals.

Ivkov won the Yugoslav National Championship three times: in 1958 (together with Svetozar Gligoric), in 1963 (together with Mijo Udovcic) and in 1972.

From 1956 to 1980 Ivkov played for Yugoslavia in twelve Chess Olympiads. Six times he won silver with the team, four times bronze. In 1962 and 1964 Ivkov also won gold for the best individual result at his board.

Borislav Ivkov in Bewerwijk | Photo: Dutch National Archive

Ivkov also played in six European Team Championships for Yugoslavia. In the 1970 USSR vs. "Rest of the World" match, Ivkov was nominated to join the "Rest of the World" and played against Keres on board ten (1:3).

Ivkov successfully participated in numerous international tournaments and won, among others, in Mar del Plata 1955, Buenos Aires 1955, Santiago 1959, Beverwijk 1961, Zagreb 1965, Amsterdam-IBM 1974. In 2006 he became European Senior Champion.

Ivkov was also a prolific author and published a number of books, e.g. "My sixty-four years in chess", "Black on white", "Mesmerized by chess" and "Parallels 1 and 2".

Chess was Ivkov's profession, but not his only interest. He was also interested in sports, music and theatre. At a tournament in South America, he finished a game as quickly as possible, as he told Milan Dinic, in order to attend a boxing match and then an opera performance. On the return flight, he was delighted to discover the singer of the opera performance, Jadranka Jovanovic, on the plane! In an interview, Ivkov admitted to having had a weakness for women all his life.

Ivkov enjoyed the South American carnival | Photo: Archive Borislav Ivkov

"Chess was never very important to me. I made a living out of it, but I acted unprofessionally. There were much more important things ... First, I'm ashamed to admit it, women. If I were born again, I would reduce a third of the time I spent on them: so much is lost - a real nightmare! But besides women, I was also interested in other things: music, sport, theatre... "

(Borislav Ivkov)

Ivkov was married to Olga Maria Kesic, whom he had met at a tournament in Argentina. She was "Miss Mar del Plata 1954/55."

Ivkov is one of the few players who won a game against Bobby Fischer. In fact, he managed to win two.




Ivkov died on 14 February 2022 in Belgrade at the age of 88.


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


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