Gligoric i Göteborg 19-20 september
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Two days with the chess legend, GM Svetozar Gligoric - 19-20 september 2003 Gothenburg

The City Museum of Gothenburg, Sweden

Serbian grandmaster Svetozar Gligoric (born 1923, Belgrade) is one of the major figures of 20th-century chess. Circa 1945-1970 he was not only the best player in his own country, winning its championship 11 times, but he also had excellent results internationally, playing in more than 70 tournaments and taking about 20 first prizes. Along with Fischer, Larsen, Portisch, and a small handful of others he was one of the few non-Russians who could hold his own against the Soviet Empire at the height of its power, notching numerous wins against their top GMs and ranking among the world’s top 10 through much of the 1950s and ’60s.

He played in seven FIDE Interzonals and was a Candidate three times, in 1952, 1958, and 1968. In a career spanning over 50 years, he has played every world champion from Euwe to Kasparov, and has about two dozen victories against them collectively. Elo’s The Rating of Chessplayers puts his 5-year peak rating at 2620, and Divinsky’s Life Maps of the Great Chess Masters lists him among the top 50 players of all time.

He had, for example, an even lifetime score (+2 –2 = 6) against Botvinnik, was nearly even (+6 –7 =25) with Smyslov, defeated Fischer four times (a number exceeded only by Geller and Spassky), and beat the “unbeatable” Petrosian seven times, which is exceeded only by Korchnoi, Spassky, and Fischer. At his peak, circa 1956-1959, he may well have been #3 in the world, according to David Bronstein.

In 1970 he was still strong enough that he played 5th board for the Rest of the World team in the historic match against the USSR. Secondly, few chess figures could write more interesting memoirs than Gligoric, who for five decades had major roles as a player, journalist, and FIDE administrator. Yet for “autobiography” we get hardly more than an encyclopedia article. A pity.

Gligoric was, for example, on the appeals committee of the 1981 Karpov-Korchnoi world championship match and for Fischer-Spassky 1992, and was chief arbiter for 12 FIDE Candidates matches and the aborted 1984-85 Karpov-Kasparov match.

The games receive better and far more detailed treatment. Gligoric has a great store to draw from, having played probably more serious games than anyone else of his generation except Korchnoi. As he himself notes “In the period 1945-1975 I travelled and played perhaps more than anyone else.” He also played quite well: his victims here include Tal, Fischer, Botvinnik, Smyslov, Euwe, Keres, Petrosian, Geller, Taimanov, Najdorf, Ivkov, Larsen, Portisch, Szabo, Hort, Unzicker, Miles, Andersson, Timman and many other top-echelon GMs.
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