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Prague Candidates Reserve Playoff Match

Georgy Ilivitsky3.5/6(+1 -0 =5)[games]
Ludek Pachman2.5/6(+0 -1 =5)[games] Chess Event Description
Prague Candidates Reserve Playoff (1956)

The match arose from the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955) where Ilivitsky (34) and Pachman (31) both scored +1, and shared 10-11th places. FIDE decided that this tie had to be resolved. (1) If one of the players in Amsterdam Candidates (1956) had withdrawn, the winner of this match would have taken his place. (1) In the end, no substitutes were to be required.

The Interzonal was scheduled to begin on the 27 March, and this playoff match took place in mid-winter Prague, Sunday 8th - Tuesday 17th January 1956. (2) Fortunately, the weather was unusually mild. (3)

The match was held in two prestigious venues in the Czechoslovak capital: the Collegium Maximum auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (pictures: &, (4) with adjournments being played in the clubhouse for the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport. Designed by the architect Eduard Hnilička this is a key building of 1920's "modern classicism" (picture: It had been the Prague Young Men's Christian Association building (Na Poříčí 12, Prague New Town) (5) but was taken over in 1951 by the Communist government's Central Committee of the Czechoslovak Union of Physical Education. (6)

A "training tournament" consisting of the Czech players Henryk Fabian, Vaclav Brat, Jiri Vesely, Jiri Podgorny, Karel Urbanec, Antonin Vyslouzil, Milan Bartosek and Milos Altschul took place during the match. (7)

The participants

Chessmetrics has Ilivitsky at 37th and Pachman 19th in the world ratings at the time. (8)

Ilivitsky's career was largely confined to Soviet events. An engineer by profession, he became an IM in 1955, and was twice Russian champion (1948 and 1949). He was tenth in the USSR Championship (1948) and fourteenth in the USSR Championship (1952). His chess activity and playing strength were at their peak in the mid 1950's when he played at grandmaster level. He was fifth in the strong USSR Championship (1955) which was a zonal tournamant and qualified him for the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955).

Ilivitsky's second was Vladimir Alatortsev, (9) an International Master who had acted as the second for Vasily Smyslov in the FIDE World Championship Tournament (1948). It is significant that he was also an important Soviet chess official: in 1954 he had been appointed as the Chairman of the All-Union chess section.

Pachman (picture: had been Czechoslovak champion in 1946 and 1953, and had become a GM in 1954. In 1956, he brought out his Moderne Schachtheorie (three volumes). He was a leading openings expert of the time. He took part in four Interzonals from 1948 to 1958, and qualified for the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955) by winning the Prague zonal tournament in 1954 (scoring 15/19).

Prague, Czechoslovakia, 8-17 January 1956

1 2 3 4 5 6 IM Ilivitsky (USSR) ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 3½ GM Pachman (CSR) ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 2½

The games commenced at 4 pm.

Game 1. Sunday 8 January - played in the Collegium Maximum auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty. (7) This was a carefully played game in which Pachman as White could not achieve any significant advantage from the opening.

Game 2. Monday 9 January - played in the Collegium Maximum auditorium. (10) Pachman played a line of the Nimzo-Indian Defense which was topical in 1956-57 and quickly equalised. Neither player attempted to outplay the other and a draw was agreed in only 18 moves.

Game 3. Thursday 12 January - played in the Collegium Maximum auditorium. (10) This was the first substantial game of the match. The players had rested on Tuesday and Wednesday 10-11 January. (10) Ilivitsky chose a King's Indian defence, and the players employed cutting edge theory. Ilivitsky was under some pressure and the game was adjourned on move 42. It was resumed on Saturday 14 January in the clubhouse for the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport. Ilivitsky held an endgame of bishop and pawns a pawn down. (11)

Game 4. Friday 13 January - played in the Collegium Maximum auditorium. (12) Ilivitsky's English Opening secured a spatial advantage and some pressure along the c-file. The position became locked by pawn chains and a draw was agreed after 29 moves. Ilivitsky had not made anything of his two Whites so far, and the balance of the match was lightly in Pachman's favor.

Game 5. Sunday 15 January - played in the Collegium Maximum auditorium. (13) The game was adjourned and resumed Monday 16 January in the clubhouse for the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport. (13) Pachman as White, having achieved nothing with 1.d4 changed to 1.e4. Ilivitsky replied with a Sicilian system that Isaac Boleslavsky has been championing in 1956-1957. Pachman built up considerable pressure and Ilivitsky had to defend sharply. He sacrificed a pawn although this denuded his king of pawn cover. A hard game was agreed drawn although Pachman had the better chances.

Game 6. Tuesday 17 January - played in the Collegium Maximum auditorium. (14) Pachman chose a Dutch, Classical Variation (A96) with 7...a5 and played a pawn sacrifice that was considered to lead to equality. Ilivitsky, however, played an innovation (13.g4) that had a powerful effect on Pachman. Pachman played a poor move 13...Be6? which gave his opponent a significant advantage. Ten years later, Bent Larsen improved Black's play - Reshevsky vs Larsen, 1966. Ilivitsky won a second pawn and the game in short order.

After the match

Pachman became a leading European GM. He played in six Interzonal tournaments and represented Czechoslovakia in eight consecutive chess olympiads.

Ilivitsky's triumph faded away quickly. He did not qualify for the USSR Championship (1956), coming ninth in the semifinal, and was not to play in any important international tournament outside of the Soviet Union.


1) De Waarheid (Holland), 12 January 1956, p. 4; Új Szó (Hungary), 2 January 1956, p. 18.
2) Chess Results 1956-1960, ed. Gino Di Felice, McFarland & Co Inc., p. 81.
3) Historical Weather For 1956 in Prague (
4) Rudé Právo (Czechoslovakia), 16 January 1956, p. 6; Rudé Právo, 18 January 1956, p. 4.
5) Rudé Právo, 14 January 1956, p. 6; Rudé Právo, 15 January 1956, p. 6.
6) See and
7) Rudé Právo, 9 January 1956, p. 4 (
8) Chessmetrics at
9) Rudé Právo, 7 January 1956, p. 4.
10) Rudé Právo, 10 January 1956, p. 4.
11) Rudé Právo, 14 January 1956, p. 6; Rudé Právo, 15 January 1956, p. 6.
12) Rudé Právo, 13 January 1956, p. 4.
13) Rudé Právo, 15 January 1956, p. 6.
14) Rudé Právo, 17 January 1956, p. 4.

Original collections: Game Collection: Prague Candidates Reserve Playoff (1956) by User: Chessical and Game Collection: Prague Candidates Reserve Playoff 1956 by User: Tabanus. The introduction was written by the former and edited by the latter. Tabanus provided translations of the match report using material he found and transcribed from the "Institute of Czech Literature" ( This has an archive of digitized copies of "Rudé Právo" ("The Red Right") which was the official newspaper of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. This provided a valuable and complete account of the match, confirming the dates of the games. User: OhioChessFan improved the English.

 page 1 of 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Pachman vs G Ilivitsky  ½-½331956Prague Candidates Reserve PlayoffE60 King's Indian Defense
2. G Ilivitsky vs Pachman  ½-½181956Prague Candidates Reserve PlayoffE55 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, Bronstein Variation
3. Pachman vs G Ilivitsky  ½-½791956Prague Candidates Reserve PlayoffE98 King's Indian, Orthodox, Taimanov, 9.Ne1
4. G Ilivitsky vs Pachman  ½-½291956Prague Candidates Reserve PlayoffA25 English
5. Pachman vs G Ilivitsky ½-½491956Prague Candidates Reserve PlayoffB65 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...Be7 Defense, 9...Nxd4
6. G Ilivitsky vs Pachman 1-0321956Prague Candidates Reserve PlayoffA96 Dutch, Classical Variation
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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