Vlastimil Hort: A strange encounter at night

by Vlastimil Hort
4/11/2020 – In 1970 Vlastimil Hort played several tournaments in Yugoslavia. Between these tournaments he also found time for a simul in the town of Ogulin. But when driving to Ogulin at night he had a strange encounter in the forests that surround the city.

ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024 ChessBase 17 - Mega package - Edition 2024

It is the program of choice for anyone who loves the game and wants to know more about it. Start your personal success story with ChessBase and enjoy the game even more.


Meeting a lion

After the "Match of the Century" in Belgrade 1970 and the blitz tournament in Herceg Novi I wanted to play in the tournament in Rovinj-Zagreb. But first I drove to a simul in Ogulin. The Yugoslavs were chess crazy and though the simuls were not easy, they were well paid. My Renault 8 was also satisfied with its work. The number of kilometres we left behind got higher and higher and the engine hummed and hummed.

But I had overestimated myself and my car. It was half past two in the night and I was really tired. Still, I did not want to stop because I wanted to reach my hotel as soon as possible and at all costs. Ogulin was not far away and I had already reached the forests that surround the city. The forests were dark and huge and, sometimes, bears were spotted in them.

I lit a cigarette for myself. It was raining hard. Suddenly, I saw something on the side of the road. I drove very slowly and stopped. Who else was awake but me?

It was no bear but an imposing lion!

"Vlasti, you're hallucinating!" At first I wanted to get out of the car, but then I waited. The lion came out of the bushes and it came closer and closer. Then he turned around and disappeared.

The rain had stopped. I smoked another cigarette, and finally, at four o'clock in the morning, I saw a sign, Ogulin 4 km.

In the hotel the receptionist, also a chess player, was still awake. A comfortable bed was waiting for me...

Late morning breakfast. The coffee was excellent. I opened the paper and what do I see? The lion from last night. A lion escaped from the Circus Sarrasani. It is somewhere in the surrounding woods. Look out!

I had a long breakfast. I knew that the local chess players were already preparing for the event. But I often had to interrupt the simul. Playing on 30 boards in Yugoslavia was a lot. And the lion was always with me. I slept very little in the the night after the simul and the next morning I left Ogulin very early – in the opposite direction!

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.


Rules for reader comments


Not registered yet? Register