Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates Tournament

Mikhail Tal20/28(+16 -4 =8)[view games]
Paul Keres18.5/28(+15 -6 =7)[view games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian15.5/28(+7 -4 =17)[view games]
Vasily Smyslov15/28(+9 -7 =12)[view games]
Robert James Fischer12.5/28(+8 -11 =9)[view games]
Svetozar Gligoric12.5/28(+6 -9 =13)[view games]
Fridrik Olafsson10/28(+6 -14 =8)[view games]
Pal Benko8/28(+3 -15 =10)[view games] Historical Chess Event
Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade Candidates (1959)
The 1959 Candidates Tournament was hosted by three cities in Yugoslavia. The first 14 rounds were played in Bled, rounds 15-21 in Zagreb, and rounds 22-28 in Belgrade. This event would select the next challenger to world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, who had just recaptured his title in the Botvinnik-Smyslov World Championship Rematch (1958). Mikhail Tal, Svetozar Gligorić, Pal Benko, Tigran Petrosian, Friūrik ”lafsson and Bobby Fischer qualified from the Portoroz Interzonal (1958). Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres were seeded directly into the candidates tournament on the strength of their 1-2 finish in the previous Amsterdam Candidates (1956). Harry Golombek was arbiter, and the seconds were Bent Larsen (Fischer), Yuri Averbakh, joined later by Alexander Koblents (Tal), Vladas Ivanovich Mikenas (Keres), Isaac Boleslavsky (Petrosian), Aleksandar Matanovic (Gligorić), Johannsen (”lafsson), and Rudolf Maric (Benko).1

Bled/Zagreb/Belgrade 7 Sept - 29 Oct 2

1.Tal XXXX 0010 ==== 01=1 1111 1=11 111= 111= 20 2.Keres 1101 XXXX 0=== 1==0 0101 ==11 1110 1111 18.5 3.Petrosian ==== 1=== XXXX ==0= 11== 0==1 100= =11= 15.5 4.Smyslov 10=0 0==1 ==1= XXXX ==10 0=10 =1=1 =011 15 5.Fischer 0000 1010 00== ==01 XXXX 10=1 ==10 =1=1 12.5 6.Gligoric 0=00 ==00 1==0 1=01 01== XXXX ==10 =1== 12.5 7.Olafsson 000= 0001 011= =0=0 10=0 ==01 XXXX 00=1 10 8.Benko 000= 0000 =00= =100 =0=0 =0== 11=0 XXXX 8

In the first leg the players stayed at the Grand Hotel Toplice, and played in the Bled Casino.3


Photo Bled

Photo Grand Hotel Toplice c1960


1. Harry Golombek, "4th Candidates' Tournament, 1959- Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade- September 7th - October 29th" Hardinge Simpole, 2009 (First published as BCM Quarterly No.3, 1960),


3. Golombek, p.1


Round Count

After 7- Petrosian/Keres/Tal 4.5, Gligoric 3.5, Fischer 3

Golombek: "Shortly after the beginning of play (round 8) I remarked to Fischer about the high number of Caro-Kanns that had been played in the tournament; to which he replied, 'they are all chicken; they just don't want to face Bc4 against the Sicilian.'" p.77


Suggested readings could include: (1) Game Collection: WCC Index (Candidates Tournament 1959) by User: Resignation Trap , (2)


TheFocus: <Nosnibor> <WCCEP> With regard to the 1959 Candidates dates, I can confirm that the event ran from 6 September until 31 October 1959.> The last round was October 29. I have the Ragozin book in German and Russian; and the Golembek one in English. October 30 was put aside for adjournments, and the closing ceremony was on October 31. Golembek provides the dates for each round, but Ragozin does not.

Tabanus: <Can anyone help us with a newspaper report on this event from October 1959, particularly on what day the final round was played?> Well by now you should all know where to look: 1st round started 7 Sept., last round started 29 October (Keres-Olafsson was adjourned and finished 30 October).

Nosnibor: official tournament book edited by Gligoric and Ragosin.The book is "Turnir Kandidata 1959" The opening ceremony was 6 September and the prizes were distributed on 31 October.Immediately after this on November 1st Tal won a rapid play tournament with 18.5 points from 21 games,ahead of Petrosian,Keres,Averbach,Boleslavsky,Gligoric,Sm- yslov,Olafsson,Larsen et al

The results of the rapid play tournament I refered to are on the page following page 29.For some peculiar reason this page is not numbered and appears just before all of the biographies and photographs of all of the contestants.The next page that is actualy numbered is page 33 being the start of the first round results.

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 112  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Smyslov vs Tal 1-065 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
2. Petrosian vs F Olafsson 1-037 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesE50 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 O-O 5.Nf3, without ...d5
3. Benko vs Gligoric ½-½35 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesE61 King's Indian
4. Keres vs Fischer 0-153 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB99 Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line
5. Fischer vs Petrosian 0-168 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB11 Caro-Kann, Two Knights, 3...Bg4
6. F Olafsson vs Benko 0-154 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
7. Smyslov vs Keres 0-159 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
8. Tal vs Gligoric 1-047 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesE89 King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox Main line
9. Keres vs Tal 1-064 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesA16 English
10. Petrosian vs Smyslov ½-½60 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesA21 English
11. Benko vs Fischer ½-½49 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesA16 English
12. Gligoric vs F Olafsson ½-½42 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesE54 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System
13. Keres vs Petrosian 0-151 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB39 Sicilian, Accelerated Fianchetto, Breyer Variation
14. Tal vs F Olafsson 1-043 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
15. Fischer vs Gligoric 1-032 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB57 Sicilian
16. Smyslov vs Benko ½-½28 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
17. Petrosian vs Tal ½-½12 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesD40 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
18. F Olafsson vs Fischer 1-045 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
19. Gligoric vs Smyslov 1-038 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesD16 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
20. Benko vs Keres 0-139 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
21. Keres vs Gligoric ½-½66 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesC72 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 5.O-O
22. Smyslov vs F Olafsson  ½-½67 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesB41 Sicilian, Kan
23. Petrosian vs Benko  ½-½42 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesE62 King's Indian, Fianchetto
24. Tal vs Fischer 1-041 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesE93 King's Indian, Petrosian System
25. F Olafsson vs Keres 0-140 1959 Bled-Zagreb-Belgrade CandidatesA07 King's Indian Attack
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 112  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jan-17-13  Expendable Asset: Bobby Fischer's very first clashes against THE best the chess world had to offer in 1959.
Jan-17-13  fisayo123: wow, this new arrangement is AWESOME!
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eyal: Tal scored here a combined -1 in his 12 games vs. his three Soviet compatriots, and a combined +13(!!) in his 16 games vs. the players who finished in the lower half of the table Ė Fischer, Gligoric, Olafsson & Benko.
Apr-04-13  unluckythirtyfive: Fischer lost all four games against Tal. Check and mate.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I have video annotated Keres against Fischer here (Keres playing White) :

Cheers, K

Premium Chessgames Member
  An Englishman: Good Evening: Great presentation and layout of this tournament. I notice that Fischer kept Keres from winning the tournament; turn Keres' two losses into victories and he beats Tal by a half-point.
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Here are the four Fischer vs Tal encounters of this tournament video annotated:

Cheers, K

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Statistically there are 7 games in Fischer's "My 60 Memorable games" which are consecutively from this Candidates tournament of 1959!. In fact this is a greater sample for any tournament in the entire book and possibly this section could have been called "The Russians vs Fischer" :)

USA Championship 1963-4 gets 4 games

Stockholm 1962 gets 3 games

Leipzig Olympiad 1960 gets 4 games

Mar De Plata 1959 gets 3 games

So from this perhaps we can conclude this was Fischer's most memorable tournament during the period of the book.

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Chessreview has a round by round report of this tournament:

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: I have created a video annotated playlist for this tournament:

Cheers, K

Feb-22-14  RookFile: Poor Keres. He takes 3 out of against Tal yet still doesn't win.
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