Tournament of Peace: Trouble with Fischer

by André Schulz
4/9/2020 – After 18 months in hiding Fischer is back and in the two events he has played since his return to the chess arena he has shown superb chess. But only in a four-game match and a blitz tournament. Now, at the Tournament of Peace in Rovinj/ Zagreb things get serious and Fischer has to show if he is indeed the best. However, the opening ceremony in Rovinj did not go smoothly. | Photo: turnir-mira

Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer Master Class Vol.1: Bobby Fischer

No other World Champion was more infamous both inside and outside the chess world than Bobby Fischer. On this DVD, a team of experts shows you the winning techniques and strategies employed by the 11th World Champion.

Grandmaster Dorian Rogozenco delves into Fischer’s openings, and retraces the development of his repertoire. What variations did Fischer play, and what sources did he use to arm himself against the best Soviet players? Mihail Marin explains Fischer’s particular style and his special strategic talent in annotated games against Spassky, Taimanov and other greats. Karsten Müller is not just a leading international endgame expert, but also a true Fischer connoisseur.

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Trouble with Fischer – again

For 18 months Bobby Fischer has been hiding from the chess scene but now he's back with a vengeance. In the "Match of the Century" in Belgrade, USSR against the "Rest of the World" that recently ended, Fischer won 3-1 against Tigran Petrosian. Two wins, two draws. Everybody knows how difficult it is to beat the former world champion. Fischer did it twice.

Some of the players stayed in Yugoslavia after the match and accepted an invitation to play a blitz tournament in Herceg Novi. Before this tournament Fischer had not been known as a particularly strong blitz player. But he dominated the event from beginning to end and won with 19/22, 4.5 points ahead of runner-up Mihail Tal. While the other players gave lessons to Yugoslavian chess fans before and after the tournament Fischer gave the best players of the world a lesson. The spectators reverently called him the "terrible Bobby".

The only player who managed to win a game against Fischer in blitz was Viktor Kortschnoi. After the blitz tournament some of the participants travelled from Herceg Novi to Rovinj to participate in the "2nd Tournament of Peace". The first "Tournament of Peace" was played five years ago, in 1965, in Zagreb. GM Wolfgang Uhlmann from East Germany and GM Boris Ivkov from Yugoslavia shared first prize.

This year the tournament celebrates the 25th anniversary of the United Nations and the World Chess Federation FIDE recognized it as a grandmaster tournament. Thus, lower ranked players have a chance to make the coveted GM-norms.

Until now FIDE has given the grandmaster title to 104 players but 16 of them are already dead. Currently, there are 88 grandmasters in the world, the oldest is the 73-year-old Friedrich Sämisch from West Germany, the youngest is the 18-year-old Soviet talent Anatoly Karpov.

Voices from Soviet chess circles claim that Karpov is indeed an exceptional talent. However, Mikhail Botvinnik, the "Patriarch of Soviet Chess" is said to have been much less flattering and supposedly advised against a career in chess when reviewing a number of games by Karpov. Time will tell.

18 players take part in the tournament, ten from Yugoslavia, eight from abroad.

The non-Yugoslavian players

Kortschnoi (USSR), Petrosian (USSR), Smyslov (USSR), Browne (USA), Fischer (USA), Hort (Czechoslovakia), Uhlmann (GDR), Ghitescu (Romania)

The Yugoslavian players

Bertok, Gligoric, Ivkov, Kovacevic, Kurajica, Marovic, Minic, Nicevski, Parma, Udovcic

The first eleven rounds of the tournament will be played in Rovinj, a small, quiet seaside resort on the Istrian peninsula.

Rovinj (Yugoslavia)

Then the tournament moves to Zagreb, where the remaining six rounds will be played.

At the opening ceremony when the lots were drawn Fischer created quite a stir. He demanded to ignore the usual procedure of drawing the lots and to pair the three Soviet grandmasters against each other in the first rounds.

Of course, there is a background story to Fischer's demand. Eight years ago, at the Candidates Tournament in Curacao, the then 19-year-old Fischer felt betrayed by the Soviet players. In Curacao three – Petrosian, Geller and Keres – of the five Soviet players in the eight-player tournament apparently had agreed to a non-aggression pact and played short draws against each other to save strength and energy and to make sure that Fischer would not win the tournament – had he done so he would have played a world championship match against Botvinnik, something Soviet officials wanted to avoid desperately.

After Curacao Fischer had sworn never again to participate in a tournament under such conditions. Well, Petrosian, the winner of Curacao who had dethroned Botvinnik in 1963, is here though without his title which he lost to Spassky in 1969. But Geller and Keres do not play in Rovinj and Kortschnoi vehemently assured that the alleged arrangements back then were also directed against him.

The organizers pointed out to Fischer that this was not an official tournament and asked the American whether he wanted to participate or not. Fischer was silent. He drew the number 18 and the organizers left it to the headstrong American to think about whether he wanted to play or not.

Fischer and Minic during the drawing of lots | Photo: Sindik

But the Czechoslovakian grandmaster Vlastimil Hort looked rather worn out. When asked whether he was ill, he answered cryptically: "I was at a simultaneous in Ogulin. From Ogulin we took the car. A long drive. And things happened to me that nobody would believe. Maybe I'll tell them later, in 50 years or so."

Fischer was the talk of the town in Rovinj. Does he have what it takes to become world champion? The result in Belgrade against Petrosian was nice, but after all it was only a short match. Four games, nothing more. And the tournament in Herceg Novi was only a blitz tournament, as impressive as Fischer's result might be. But journalists and spectators agree that Fischer has to show his mettle now, at the tournament in Rovinj-Zagreb.

We are trying to get a connection to Rovinj. Maybe we will have live-commentary in some of the rounds. In the meantime, we will broadcast the games of the current rounds by telex every day. All rounds start at 5 pm daily, the first round is scheduled for April, 9.

Translation from German: Johannes Fischer

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

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