Person of day   -  6 NOVEMBER 2023



The main sensation of the Interzonal tournament of 1970 was the success of an unknown chess player Robert Hübner, who shared the 2nd and 4th places and won the right to compete in the Candidates Tournaments. In the very first match Hübner faced Tigran Petrosian, who, according to popular opinion, should have easily beaten the 23-year old German player. However, the struggle for victory turned out to be rigorous. The first six matches finished with draws, and only in the seventh match did Petrosian win a victory, after which Hübner…surrendered the match. Thus began his career in the world of big chess.

A philosopher and an eccentric, a doctor of philology and a polyglot who knew extinct languages, Robert Hübner was a continuation of the 20th century tradition, whereby chess players were not mere sportsmen, but also thinkers and philosophers. Like Euwe, he could easily be considered an “amateur” that could, nonetheless, compete with any professional.

Hübner repeatedly took part in the world championship. His greatest success came in 1979, when he split places 1-3 with Petrosian and Portisch in the inter-zonal competition. In the candidates’ tournament of 1979, he outplayed A. Adorjan (5,5:4,5) and L. Portisch (6,5:4,5) consecutively, but lost to Korchnoi in the final. He led the score but lost a rook, succumbed in the next two matches and gave up the contest. Nerves often let the talented grandmaster down. Hübner made an another attempt in 1983, but was knocked out in the quarter-finals of the candidates’ matches, this time…by lot. The match with Smyslov ended up as a draw, but the wheel of fortune favoured the former world champion.

Dr. Hübner successfully competed in multiple international tournaments. On his count are victories in Oslo and Houston, Munich and Chicago, Biel, Linares and Solingen. As a member of the chess club “Solingen” he was the winner of the European club championship in 1976 and he performed in the world team against the USSR in 1984. As one of the strongest Western grandmasters, he led the German national team for many years. From time to time he still competes in tournaments to this day.

Hübner’s best matches are examples of subtle positioning and a combination of strategy and tactics that have entered the golden fund of the art of chess.