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TOURNAMENT STANDINGS
Biel Interzonal Tournament

Bent Larsen12.5/19(+8 -2 =9)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian12/19(+6 -1 =12)[games]
Lajos Portisch12/19(+9 -4 =6)[games]
Mikhail Tal12/19(+6 -1 =12)[games]
Vasily Smyslov11.5/19(+5 -1 =13)[games]
Robert Eugene Byrne11.5/19(+6 -2 =11)[games]
Robert Huebner11.5/19(+6 -2 =11)[games]
Ulf Andersson10.5/19(+6 -4 =9)[games]
Istvan Csom10/19(+7 -6 =6)[games]
Efim Geller10/19(+4 -3 =12)[games]
Jan Smejkal10/19(+5 -4 =10)[games]
Gennady Borisovich Sosonko9.5/19(+3 -3 =13)[games]
Vladimir Mikhailovich Liberzon9/19(+3 -4 =12)[games]
Kenneth S Rogoff9/19(+4 -5 =10)[games]
Boris Gulko9/19(+4 -5 =10)[games]
Raul Sanguineti8.5/19(+3 -5 =11)[games]
Aleksandar Matanovic8/19(+3 -6 =10)[games]
Oscar Humberto Castro Rojas6/19(+3 -10 =6)[games]
Andre Lombard5/19(+2 -11 =6)[games]
Joaquin Carlos Diaz Diaz2.5/19(+0 -14 =5)[games]
*

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
Biel Interzonal (1976)

As part of the cycle which culminated in the Karpov - Korchnoi World Championship (1978), the three highest-scoring players from this event would advance to the 1977 Candidates matches. Qualified from the zonal tournaments (1) were: Sosonko from Barcelona (1975), Sanguineti from Fortaleza (1975), Csom and Andersson from Pula (1975), Liberzon from Reykjavik (1975), Diaz and Castro from Santo Domingo (1975), Rogoff from the US Championship (1975), Matanovic from Vraca (1975), Gulko from Vilnius (1975) and Smejkal1 from Arandjelovac (1976). Portisch, Petrosian and Byrne were qualified from the Candidates matches 1974. FIDE also selected Larsen, Tal, Smyslov, Hübner and Geller, and added Lombard from the host country to have 20 players.

Kongresshaus/Palais de Congrès, Biel/Bienne, Switzerland, 11 July - 6 August 1976

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 GM Larsen 2625 * 0 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 12½ =2 GM Petrosian 2635 1 * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 12 =2 GM Portisch 2625 0 ½ * 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 0 ½ 1 0 1 12 =2 GM Tal 2615 ½ ½ 1 * 0 1 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 12 =5 GM Smyslov 2580 ½ ½ ½ 1 * 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 11½ =5 GM Byrne 2540 1 ½ ½ 0 1 * ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 11½ =5 GM Hübner 2585 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ * ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 11½ 8 GM Andersson 2585 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ * 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 10½ =9 GM Csom 2490 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 1 0 1 * ½ 0 0 0 1 1 1 0 1 1 ½ 10 =9 GM Geller 2620 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 ½ 1 0 1 1 10 =9 GM Smejkal 2615 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ * 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 10 12 IM Sosonko 2505 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 * ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 9½ =13 GM Liberzon 2540 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ * 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 9 =13 IM Rogoff 2480 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 * ½ 0 ½ 1 1 ½ 9 =13 GM Gulko 2530 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ * ½ 0 1 1 1 9 16 IM Sanguineti 2480 0 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 8½ 17 GM Matanovic 2525 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ * ½ ½ 1 8 18 IM Castro 2380 0 1 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ ½ * 1 ½ 6 19 IM Lombard 2420 0 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 * 1 5 20 IM Diaz 2385 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 ½ 0 * 2½

Chief arbiter: IA Hansjürg Leuzinger. (2) Games started 5 pm.

Larsen advanced directly, and Petrosian and Portisch advanced via the Varese Interzonal Playoff (1976). The three were joined by Henrique Mecking, Lev Polugaevsky and Vlastimil Hort from the Manila Interzonal (1976) for play against Boris Spassky and Viktor Korchnoi in the next year's Candidates matches:

Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1977)
Portisch - Larsen Candidates Quarterfinal (1977)
Polugaevsky - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1977)
Spassky - Hort Candidates Quarterfinal (1977)

Korchnoi was qualified as the loser of the Karpov - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1974). During the Biel Interzonal he was playing in IBM Amsterdam (1976). On 27 July 1976, he applied for political asylum in The Netherlands. (3, 4)

Hans Suri, the father of the Biel Chess Festival, was busy because parallel to the main event there were also 1) Internationale Blitzturnier (169 players, won by Oscar Panno), 2) Internationale Open (224 players, won by Dragutin Sahovic), 3) Internationale Open Meisterturnier (96 players, won by Radovan Govedarica), 4) Internationales Open Hauptturnier (139 players, won by Edgar Prang), 5) Internationales Open Allgemeines Turnier (126 players, won by Christian Flueckiger), and finally, 6) Jugendturnier (72 players, won by Murray Chandler).

Tournament books: WM 76 Biel-Schweiz. Offizielles Turnierbuch, by Janos Flesch and Alex Crisovan (Hans Suri/Hertig & Co. AG, Biel 1976. 160 p.); Sakkvilágbajnokság 1976: Manila, Biel, Varese by Janos Flesch (Sport, Budapest 1979. 391 p.) (in Hungarian).

1) Several masters were not allowed by their federations to play in Barcelona (1975) because of the Franco regime. So FIDE added a 4-player playoff in Arandjelovac (1976), from which Smejkal qualified. And also Wolfgang Uhlmann, who went to the Manila Interzonal (1976).
2) Jaque, No. 57 (September 1976), p. 2.
3) Het Vrije Volk, 27 July 1976, p. 1.
4) Augusta Chronicle, 28 July 1976, p. 8.

Original collections: Game Collection: Interzonals 1976: Biel by User: capybara and Game Collection: Biel Interzonal 1976 by User: Tabanus. Thanks to User: sneaky pete for understanding the qualification process (which was more detailed than presented here).

 page 8 of 8; games 176-190 of 190  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
176. Tal vs O Castro  1-0281976Biel InterzonalB00 Uncommon King's Pawn Opening
177. Huebner vs Petrosian 0-1411976Biel InterzonalA04 Reti Opening
178. Portisch vs Sosonko  1-0251976Biel InterzonalE53 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3
179. Smejkal vs Larsen  0-1591976Biel InterzonalA35 English, Symmetrical
180. J Diaz Diaz vs Smyslov ½-½461976Biel InterzonalA45 Queen's Pawn Game
181. V Liberzon vs Tal  ½-½131976Biel InterzonalB67 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...a6 Defense, 8...Bd7
182. Larsen vs Huebner ½-½251976Biel InterzonalA15 English
183. Csom vs Gulko 1-0421976Biel InterzonalA10 English
184. Ulf Andersson vs Robert E Byrne  ½-½591976Biel InterzonalD15 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
185. Sosonko vs A Lombard  ½-½531976Biel InterzonalD43 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
186. Smyslov vs R Sanguineti  ½-½281976Biel InterzonalB23 Sicilian, Closed
187. O Castro vs Portisch  0-1281976Biel InterzonalB40 Sicilian
188. A Matanovic vs Smejkal  ½-½121976Biel InterzonalB47 Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation
189. Petrosian vs J Diaz Diaz 1-0521976Biel InterzonalE81 King's Indian, Samisch
190. Geller vs K Rogoff ½-½281976Biel InterzonalB17 Caro-Kann, Steinitz Variation
 page 8 of 8; games 176-190 of 190  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  


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Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-11-14  Everett: The "washed up" Larsen wins an Interzonal with his unorthodox and uncompromising style intact.

Petrosian's loss to Castro and Portisch's loss to Lombard were likely shockers that helped determine the placing.

Portisch bangs out nine wins.

Apr-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> Huebner vs Petrosian, 1976, from the last but one round, was of greater significance still at the finish.
Apr-11-14  Everett: Thanks <perfidious> very interestingly.
Apr-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> Recall reading the critical fragment of Huebner-Petrosian at the time in amazement. More proof-if any were needed-that even great players are human beings, not machines.

It is unfortunate that Byrne had a near miss at Biel as well, but his loss to Tal proved costly in the end.

Apr-11-14  Howard: As one who is pretty familiar with this event, let me point out that a key reason why Larsen took clear first was that he "cleaned up the players at the bottom of the scoretable", as Pal Benko pointed out in his excellent tournament report in "Chess Life and Review" (as the magazine was called back then).

More specifically......Larsen scored a perfect 5/5 against the five tailenders--and the only other player who managed that was Andersson (who didn't make the top three Candidates spots though). As Benko stated, Larsen's sharp, aggressive style was deadly against players much weaker than he was.

But then Larsen didn't do especially well against the top players. He beat Portisch but he lost to Petrosian and Byrne.

Granted, Larsen took clear first place, fair and square---there's no denying that. But some people argued back then that this illustrated a drawback of allowing weaklings to be playing in a world championship qualifying event. Someone like Larsen, in other words, could slip into first place by bowling over the weaker players much more effectively than his rivals.

In fact......this case was strangely similar to Fischer's taking clear first at the 1962 interzonal ! The young, brash American scored 9.5 against the bottom 10 players, allowing only one draw against them. None of this rivals, such as Petosian and Geller, were able to do this well against these weaklings.

But then Fischer didn't do particularly well against the other, much stronger players. Thus, his impressive winning margin of 2.5 points (!) was perhaps not as impressive as it looked.

Thus, Fischer's fate in the Curacao tournament, later that year, was similar to Larsen's fate 15 years later (1977) when he was slated to play Portisch in the Candidates quarterfinals....

Apr-11-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Andersson, it should be noted, scored +6=2 against the eight players who finished minus, same as Larsen. Difference was, Larsen split his games against the remainder of the field, whereas Andersson lost four games without a victory, an all too typical failing for him at top level.

It is possible to ascribe too much to Benko's report as well, for in the period 1967-70, Larsen had a tournament record at least equal to that of any player in the world--for this reason, he was selected as first board in USSR-ROW. Larsen did a bit more than simply whaling on bottom markers for his fine tournament results.

Match play? That was another kettle of fish, same as Bogoljubov in his day. The optimism which propelled Larsen to such heights in tournament play was punished by the sangfroid necessary to achieve the greatest success.

Apr-13-14  Everett: <It is possible to ascribe too much to Benko's report as well, for in the period 1967-70, Larsen had a tournament record at least equal to that of any player in the world--for this reason, he was selected as first board in USSR-ROW. Larsen did a bit more than simply whaling on bottom markers for his fine tournament results.>

Indeed, Larsen went +2 -1 =1 vs the combo of Spassky and Stein. Just wasn't so great, comparatively, in longer match play situations.

Apr-13-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett> Recall a comment somewhere on Larsen vs the tag team, after Spassky sat the last round: 'Larsen, smouldering, beat Stein'.

One can only imagine the paroxysms of horror which might well have passed through the Soviet chess bureaucracy had Spassky played that critical fourth round and lost a second consecutive game, as well as the mini-match.

Apr-13-14  Howard: It is certainly correct that in the late 60's Larsen's tournament record was among the very best in the world--certainly better than, say, Petrosian's, and the latter was world champion during that time.

But there is no doubt that by 1976, Larsen's best days were behind him. He was 41, and as far as FIDE ratings he was no longer in the top five.

But there's no denying that his taking clear first at Biel 1976--ahead of Petrosian, Geller, Portisch, etc--was a very notable achievement. That was, however, his last appearance in the Candidates.

Apr-13-14  Everett: <Howard> so what about his age? Did you notice the ages of those he beat? And what of the FIDE ratings? Look what happened. See Anand recently for more info. See Karpov in his early 40's.

Strange things happen when one doesn't quit but keeps playing. Why are you even on this topic?

And read about his '73 and '79 gripes. Maybe he has a point that he may have been screwed by traveling to the Eastern (Soviet) Interzonals.

And, it is all but certain that <every single person> on average did much better against the bottom half compared to the top half of the table. No need for a mathematician to explain it.

Aug-21-14
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Everett: Strange things happen when one doesn't quit but keeps playing.....>

Considering that my last serious game was played at age forty, I have nothing to say, this once. (laughs)

Mar-29-18  csmath: <In fact......this case was strangely similar to Fischer's taking clear first at the 1962 interzonal !>

No, it is not similar. Fischer did not lose a single game and he did beat Korchnoi and Portisch.

If he were to beat top players that easily in 1962 the way he was beating the bottom then he would have had perhaps 6 point margin which would have been the best performance ever on any tournament. How far he should have shined when he was only 18 years old? The Stockholm tournament was a spectacular result which announced his arrival at the top of the world chess. I can only find one other similar "youngster" and he is well known to you - 19-year-old Kasparov in Bugojno 1982. Tal came at the age of 20 winning Soviet championship, Karpov did similar feat in Alekhine Memorial at age 20 and even "wunderkind" Magnus who is arguably one of the best players ever to play chess had less spectacular arrival at that age.

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