Person of day   -  2 FEBRUARY 2021

SVETOZAR GLIGORIC

SVETOZAR GLIGORIC

He first announced himself in 1939, when he won the Yugoslav amateurs’ championship. But the young man’s chess career soon halted for four years- he fought with Tito’s army of partisans against fascists. Immediately after the war, Svetozar Gligorić immersed himself in chess completely and quickly became one of the world’s strongest grandmasters.

In 1947 he performed a sensation- he won in an international tournament in Warsaw, taking 8 points out of 9, finishing ahead of Smyslov and Boleslavsky. In 1950, the Gligoric-led Yugoslav team won the Chess Olympiad, even if the USSR team was absent. Svetozar was his country’s champion 11 times and led the national team at Olympiads for about 30 years, showing the best result at the first board in 1958 (12 points out of 15), overtaking Botvinnik.

The 1950s were the best in Gligoric’s chess career. He performed spectacularly in the traditional matches between the USSR and Yugoslavia, winning against Petrosian, Smyslov, Keres and Korchnoi, he split 1-2nd places in a tournament between eight grandmasters in Dallas in 1957 and in the inter-zonal tournament in Portoroz in 1958 and in a tournament in Zurich in 1959, he lost by a mere half point to Tal, who was at the peak of his strength. In the candidates’ tournament of 1959, he split 5-6 places with Fischer and, 9 years later, he was once again among the eight strongest chess players, but he lost to Tal in his first match.

On Gligoric’s count are significant achievements in multiple international tournaments. He won in Mar del Plata twice, Hastings five times, London, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, Stockholm, Goteborg, Belgrade and other cities. He was noted for his thorough preparation in debuts, his universal style and his high level of technique.

In 1972, the sociable and respected grandmaster became an international arbiter and oversaw large tournaments, including Kasparov’s matches against Korchnoi in 1983 and against Karpov in 1984-1985.

Gligoric was a talented promoter of chess and he worked with Yugoslav’s largest newspaper for several years, while publishing several renowned books. In the last few years of his life, Gligoric occasionally played in veterans’ competitions, but he mainly focused on music, writing songs and compositions. In 2011, the grandmaster published his own record.

The legendary grandmaster Svetozar Gligorić died on 14th August 2012, half a year before his 90th birthday.