August 17, 2012

Svetozar Gligoric - The Evergreen Hero!

“The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.”
When I checked our faithful ChessBase website on the day of Indian Independence, August, the 15th, I went really sad on hearing the news of Gligoric’s death, for, he was one of my most favourite players. But then, one has to come into terms with reality. He lived for 89 glorious years! We should all thank him for his great personality and his numerous contributions to the game of Chess. A great player in the middle of the 20th century, he contributed a lot to the development of opening theory, especially in the King's Indian Defence and Ruy Lopez. Don't miss this article on an evergreen hero.

Svetozar Gligoric -  The Evergreen Hero!
By Arun Karthik

Svetozar Gligoric (1923 - 2012)

Of course, just like others, in my early days of chess, I quite liked his piece play with Black. Any beginner learning to play the King’s Indian would first and foremost go for Gligoric’s games. But Mr.Gligoric is also known for many other reasons too! After Tigran Petrosian won the World Championship in 1963, the first person he lost to was the great Gligoric.
Position after White's 14.g3
(Petrosian – Gligoric, Zagreb 1970)
The position above is from one of his games against Petrosian which is very special, considering Petrosian’s worldwide reputation as a defender! The game continued…
14...¤d4 [14...¤g6 15.¤de4 ¤d4 16.¥xg5!±] 15.gxf4 ¤xf3+ [15...exf4 16.¥g4 (16.¦b1 g4 17.¥h1 f3 18.¤de4 £h4 19.¤g3 ¥e5 20.¥e3 ¦f5! 21.¥xd4 ¦h5!–+) 16...¥xg4 17.£xg4 f3 … 18... ¤e2 –+ 18.¦b1 ¦f4 19.£g3 h5 20.h3 ¥e5µ] 16.£xf3 g4 17.£h1 [¹17.£d3] 17...exf4 18.¥b2 ¥f5 19.¦fe1 f3 20.¤de4 £h4 21.h3 ¥e5 22.¦e3 [22.hxg4 £xg4+ 23.¢f1 ¥xc3 µ/–+] 22...gxh3 23.£xf3 ¥g4 [23...¥xe4=] 24.£h1 h2+ 25.¢g2 [25.¢f1 ¦f3!] 25...£h5 26.¤d2 ¥d4 27.£e1 [27.¦ae1 ¥h3+ 28.¦xh3 ¦xf2+ 29.¢g3 £g5#] 27...¦ae8 28.¤ce4 [28.¤d1 ¦xe3 29.fxe3 ¥xb2 30.¤xb2 ¥h3+ 31.¢xh2 ¥f1+ 32.¢g1 £g4+–+] 28...¥xb2 29.¦g3 ¥e5 30.¦aa3 ¢h8 31.¢h1 ¦g8 32.£f1 ¥xg3 33.¦xg3? ¦xe4 0–1

That was a big mess, isn’t it?
Sometimes, he didn’t take that long to embarrass his opponents! Have a look at this short game:

Smyslov – Gligoric, Candidates Tournament 1959
1. d4 ¤f6 2.c4 g6 3.¤c3 ¥g7 4.¥g5 c5 5.dxc5 ¤a6 6.g3 ¤xc5 7.¥g2 d6 8.¦c1 0–0 9.b4 ¤e6 10.¥d2 a5 11.a3 axb4 12.axb4 ¤d4 13.¤h3 ¥e6 14.¤d5 ¤xd5 15.cxd5 ¥d7 16.¦c3 ¦a2 17.£b1 £a8 18.¦c1 ¥f5
The final position of the game Smyslov - Gligoric, 1959

His autobiography titled “I play against pieces” aptly suits this game. It didn’t matter who his opponent was; he always played in the same lively style!
His genial understanding of the King’s Indian Defence was shown to the world as early as 1953 in a game against Miguel Najdorf, by no means a small opponent. The clarity of this particular game makes this a must-see for any rookie of the “KID”. Most of the ideas in this game for Black are nowadays considered ‘standard’!
Najdorf - Gligoric, Mar del Plata 1953
White has just played 14.c5
From now on, it’s “taking notes time” for any connoisseur! 14…h5 15.¤f2 ¤g6 16.¦c1 ¦f7
(This move forms a major idea in the King’s Indian for Black – controlling c7)
17.cxd6 cxd6 18.a4 ¥f8
A move like this is nowadays considered commonplace in the KID. In the October of 1953? No comments!
 19.a5 ¦g7 20.h3 ¤h8 21.¤b5 g4 22.fxg4 hxg4 23.hxg4 a6 24.¤a3 ¥d7 25.¤c4 ¦c8 26.¤b6 ¦xc1 27.¥xc1 ¥e8
Look how much he valued this pet bishop of his!
28.¥a3 ¤f7 29.£c2 ¤h6 30.g5 ¦xg5 31.¦c1 ¦g3 32.¥b2 ¤fg4 33.¤xg4 ¤xg4 34.¥xg4 ¦xg4
Even after this liquidation, Black looks good… Gligoric conducts this game with elan      
35.£f2 ¥g6 36.¦c4 £e7 37.¥c3 £h7 38.£e2 ¦h4 39.¢f2 f3!!
This position deserves a diagram!
It’s easy to play moves like this, but bring this kind of position over the board is tough!
 40.£e3 ¦f4 41.gxf3 £h2+ 42.¢e1 £h1+ 43.¢e2 ¥h5 44.¢d2 ¦xf3 45.£g5+ ¥g7 46.¢c2 ¦f2+ 47.¥d2 £d1+ 48.¢c3 £a1+ and Najdorf resigned!

I will give just one more of my favourites.
Golombek - Gligoric, Alekhine memorial 1956
The position occurred after White’s 18th move in a King’s Indian Saemisch. Now the great man played
18... ¥e8! 19.g4?! [19.f4? ¤e4!; 19.¦c1!?] 19...¥g6 20.¢a1 fxg4 21.fxg4 £h4 22.¤xc5 ¦xc5 23.¦hf1 ¦cc8 [23...£xh2!? 24.¦xf8+ ¢xf8 25.¦f1+ ¢g8 26.£g5 ¦xc3 27.£d8+ ¤e8 28.£e7] 24.¥d3 ¦xf1 25.¦xf1 £h3 [25...£xg4 26.¥xg6 hxg6 27.£f2 ¤f5 28.¦g1 £h5 29.a3 … ¤e4/] 26.¥e2 [26.¥xg6?? £xf1+] 26...¤e8 [26...£xh2 27.£g5©] 27.£g5?? [27.¦f2!?] 27...¦xc3!
It’s only fitting that this game ends with a nice blunder by White and a beautiful move from Gligoric!
 [27...¦xc3! 28.£e7 (28.a3 ¦xa3+–+) 28...£xf1+–+]  0–1

Of course, no tribute can be enough for a man who had played Chess for such a long time. We can just remember him at the time of his death and honour his services to the game. All said and done, it makes Chess even more beautiful. Men may come, men may go, Chess will go on for ever! Rest in peace, Mr.Gligoric!

                                            Here are a few photos of the great man in action!
A photo from the famous 1953 Candidates tournament in Zurich
Reshevsky - Gligoric, Olympiad, November 1950!

We look at you with respect and awe!
Thank you for everything you have done!

Gligoric forever…