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Niksic Tournament

Garry Kasparov11/14(+9 -1 =4)[games]
Bent Larsen9/14(+6 -2 =6)[games]
Boris Spassky8/14(+3 -1 =10)[games]
Lajos Portisch8/14(+4 -2 =8)[games]
Anthony Miles7.5/14(+3 -2 =9)[games]
Ulf Andersson7.5/14(+3 -2 =9)[games]
Mikhail Tal7/14(+1 -1 =12)[games]
Jan Timman7/14(+2 -2 =10)[games]
Yasser Seirawan6.5/14(+4 -5 =5)[games]
Ljubomir Ljubojevic6.5/14(+3 -4 =7)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric6/14(+1 -3 =10)[games]
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian6/14(+1 -3 =10)[games]
Predrag Nikolic5.5/14(+1 -4 =9)[games]
Gyula Sax5/14(+1 -5 =8)[games]
Bozidar Ivanovic4.5/14(+1 -6 =7)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Niksic (1983)
Five years after Niksic (1978), the chess organizers in Yugoslavia were ready to announce a new event. Fourteen players were invited, including six from 1978: Timman (who shared the win with Boris Gulko), Gligoric, Andersson, Ljubojevic, Ivanovic and Vlastimil Hort. The addition of ex-World Champions Spassky, Tal and Petrosian, the veteran Larsen, and promising stars Miles, Seirawan, Nikolic and Sax ensured an exciting mix of players. The organizers also attempted to get ex-World Champion Robert James Fischer to participate, but found his demand of $30,000 too high. (1) In August, the organizers brought forward the scheduled start date in order to accommodate Kasparov and Portisch, who would also be able to play. (2, 3) Hort’s withdrawal the day before the start was a setback, but there remained a stellar group of players. (3) With 15 participants, one player received a bye in each round. Tournament category: 14 (average rating 2592). First price was $4,000, and the total cost of the tournament was about $48,000. (4) The tournament was held in celebration of Gligoric's 60th birthday. (4, 5)

Nikšić (6) was in 1983 a town with 50,000 people of which 20,000 were students. (4) With the added support of 70 sponsors, the organizers were able to secure funding normally reserved for football, the town’s other passion. (4) The participation of Kasparov created a media buzz, but another matter involving the young, rising star also grabbed a share of the headlines. The FIDE President Florencio Campomanes had neglected the wishes of both Kasparov and Viktor Korchnoi in ordering them to play their Candidates semifinal match in Pasadena, USA, rather than at Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Kasparov had been ordered by his federation not to go to Pasadena, (7) with the result that he had not turned up there on 6 August, and had forfeited the match. (8) While the Soviets lobbied for a reversal of the forfeiture at the FIDE congress (in the Philippines in October), (8) Kasparov got a call from WGM Milunka Lazarevic, one of the Nikšić organizers. She was sincerely worried, and invited him to this tournament, which would involve many of the major players of the time, (5) but not the World Champion himself, Anatoly Karpov. The 20-year-old Kasparov had already climbed to second place in the world ranking, and this was a good time to prove that he deserved a shot at the world title.

Kasparov brought with him Viktor Litvinov, a KGB lieutenant colonel. (9, 10) He was not a professional trainer or a 'chief coach', (10) but he played chess and took good care of Kasparov's interests. (9) Kasparov had been in a good mood at a recent press conference in Moscow, and in Nikšić he played as if he did not worry about the Candidates matches at all. (3) He was reportedly angry when Larsen guessed that he would finish only fifth, but Larsen was truly impressed, (3) and joking as usual. The weather was hot during the first half of the event, and there was no proper ventilation, according to Larsen. Kasparov started out with two wins (including one with Black against Seirawan in Round 1) and a draw. The game with Portisch in Round 4 "was typical of others, in that it elicited noisy outbreaks of applause from the normally staid chess audience." (11) Shelby Lyman wrote that Kasparov's ability to defeat leading grandmasters "is reminiscent of Bobby Fischer." (11) Portisch may have felt something was wrong, but may not have anticipated this sacrifice:

click for larger view

Kasparov played 21.Bxg7! Kxg7 22.Ne5! and Portisch could not defend his exposed king. His next victims were Ljubojevic, Ivanovic and Larsen: 6.5/7! An inevitable setback came in Round 8, when he pondered too long in a good but complex position against Spassky and lost on time. He did not fail to impress though, even in defeat: "Watching Garry at that particular post-mortem in Niksic gave me the same feeling as watching Michael Jordan and Bruce Lee at the top of their game. Garry showed ten and twelve-move variations effortlessly and easily. Boris was reduced to comments like "Yes. Of course." "Yes, very interesting." "Yes. Of course." And Boris won the game!" (12) "This was a calculating machine without peer. Ljubo, Jan and I had a 15-minute walk back to our hotel. We were so dumbfounded by what we witnessed that hardly a single word was exchanged." (12) Spassky made a bold sacrifice in the game, but according to Tal it was unsound, and White missed two wins. It was the only game that Kasparov lost, and an example of how psychology can trump objectivity. (2) He was back to winning ways the very next day, before rounding off with three draws and another two wins.

Miles - Kasparov post-mortem (Round 11):

Miles was close behind Kasparov early on and had the edge in their individual game, but a string of tough adjournments set him back. (13) He and Portisch fought bravely for a high placing. (3) Larsen was also dogged with adjournments, yet continued to play forcefully in every game. (3) The Dane’s second place was a surprise to some but not to himself. (4) He had been sick in Linares (1983) and finished last, (14) but had moved from the Canary Islands, married a woman from Argentina and now lived there, (15) with his health having seemingly improved. (14) He lost to Miles and Kasparov but won six games. Spassky and Andersson played more solidly and quietly, to assure themselves of a good placing, while entertaining little risk along the way. (4) Seirawan scored well with the White pieces, but he lost almost everything as Black. Tal did not seem inspired, and Petrosian even less so. It appeared that they both suffered in the heat. Timman performed as expected, but not beyond, whereas Ljubojevic (endowed with the second highest rating) disappointed. He had not played much recently, and his rating and the expectations of fans made him nervous. (3)

The last round was unusually hard-fought. Kasparov was determined to defeat the birthday boy, and Petrosian tested Andersson with an ambitious opening that did not suit his normally cautious style - it backfired badly. Timman and Seirawan sparred with each other for 12 hours, only to arrive at a 102 move draw. (2)

Nikšić, Yugoslavia (Montenegro), 24 August - 13 September 1983

Age Elo* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 Pts 1 GM Kasparov 20 2690 * 1 0 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 1 1 1 1 1 ˝ 1 11 2 GM Larsen 48 2565 0 * ˝ ˝ 0 1 ˝ 1 1 ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ 1 1 9 =3 GM Spassky 46 2605 1 ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 1 8 =3 GM Portisch 46 2600 0 ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 1 1 1 1 8 =5 GM Miles 28 2595 ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ * 0 0 ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 7˝ =5 GM Andersson 32 2640 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 1 * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 1 1 ˝ ˝ 7˝ =7 GM Tal 46 2620 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ * ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 7 =7 GM Timman 31 2605 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ * ˝ 1 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 7 =9 GM Seirawan 23 2605 0 0 1 1 ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ * 0 ˝ ˝ 0 0 1 6˝ =9 GM Ljubojevic 32 2645 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 0 1 * ˝ 0 ˝ 1 1 6˝ =11 GM Gligoric 60 2505 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 6 =11 GM Petrosian 54 2580 0 ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ 6 13 IM Nikolic 22 2540 0 ˝ 0 0 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ 5˝ 14 GM Sax 32 2570 ˝ 0 ˝ 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ * 0 5 15 GM Ivanovic 34 2515 0 0 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 * 4˝

After the event there was a blitz tournament in Herceg Novi (Montenegro) where the organizers surprisingly invited Korchnoi. There was a keen interest in who would shake Korchnoi's hand, as his defection to the West in 1976 and subsequent boycott had reduced his status to persona non grata in some Soviet chess circles. But everything went as normal and his handshake with Kasparov even brought applause from the spectators. Korchnoi asserted that since Fischer was not there, the first two places were valuable to Kasparov and him! Kasparov won both games against Korchnoi, and it ended with (double round, 9 players) Kasparov 13.5, Korchnoi 10.5, Tal 9.5, Ljubojevic 8.5, Timman 8, Spassky 7, Sax 6, Larsen 5.5, Ivanovic 3.5. (4)

On Kasparov's forfeit of the Candidates semifinal: Karpov addressed a letter on 9 September to the grandmasters in Nikšić, pointing out that it was "in the interest of world chess that the semifinal matches be decided at the chess board", and asked for their support through FIDE's Grandmasters' Council. (16) At the same time, chess journalist Alexander Borisovich Roshal collected the signatures of those grandmasters present, (17) who were agreed that both semifinals (including Vasily Smyslov versus Zoltan Ribli, originally scheduled for Abu Dhabi) should have the forfeits rescinded and be decided by normal means. (2) The players unwisely put their names on the organizer’s own headed notepaper, (2) and were told they should use other more appropriate channels for submitting such representations. Stanislav Koprivica, president of the organizing committee of the tournament, stated that "we can not let anyone take advantage of our tournament for political ends." (17) Kasparov and Korchnoi met and discussed the problems of staging the match a few days later in Herceg Novi. (18) Korchnoi recalls the meeting: Kasparov with Litvinov, and he along with his fan and 'guardian angel', the author Branislav (Brana) Crnčević. (9) In conclusion, they made a declaration to FIDE stating that they wished to play the match, asking that it should be rescheduled. (16) Korchnoi was willing to play (and have the forfeit cancelled), and in exchange, the Soviet Chess Federation should end the boycott against him. (18)

The Grandmasters' Council, represented by Raymond Keene, Gligoric and Timman, also pledged its support. (19) Keene visited Moscow and convened a meeting in Nikšić. (20) Finally, chess history was set back on course at an October 4 meeting of the Central Committee of FIDE, when Campomanes announced that he was rescinding the forfeits. An obstacle to this decision had been removed when Korchnoi dropped his objections and agreed to the "rematch". (21) The USSR Chess Federation made an apology to FIDE, and paid a hefty fine - $200,000. (22) The Pasadena organizers were refunded for at least part of the $50,000 loss they suffered. Vitaly Sevastianov of the USSR federation sent a cable to US Chess Federation President Tim Redman, expressing the hope that the cordial relations between the federations could be maintained. (21) In November, the Kasparov - Korchnoi Candidates Semifinal (1983) and Smyslov - Ribli Candidates Semifinal (1983) both took place in London.

Meanwhile, on 26 September, Kasparov arrived in Barcelona to collect the Chess Oscar (for 1982), awarded by the Asociación Internacional de la Prensa de Ajedrez (International Association of the Chess Press). (23) He got a total of 1021 points, followed by Karpov (943 points) and Andersson (594 points). (24)

Tournament books: Međunarodni šahovski turnir Nikšić '83, ed. by Bogoljub Poleksić et al. (Šahovski Klub "Celik", 1983. 87 pp.); Niksic 1983, ed. by Robert Wade (GM Editions/C. Laird, London 1983. 29 pp.).

*From FIDE Rating List July 1983 (

1) Morgunbladid, 26 August 1983, p. 15. 2) British Chess Magazine, November 1983, pp. 491-494. 3) Bent Larsen in Skakbladet, 10/1983, pp. 176-177. 4) Dragoslav Andric in Tidskrift för Schack, November 1983, pp. 305-309 ( 5) Unlimited Duel by Garry Kasparov ( 6) Wikipedia article: Nik%C5%A1i%C4%87 7) Harry Golombek in The Times, 24 September 1983, p. 30. 8) Shelby Lyman in Trenton Evening Times, 28 August 1983, p. 15. 9) The KGB Plays Chess by Boris Gulko, Vladimir Popov, Yuri Felshtinsky and Viktor Korchnoi ( 10) Natalia Narochnitskaya citing Aleksander S Nikitin in The Spy Who Loved Nobody ( 11) Shelby Lyman in The Herald Statesman, 25 September 1983, p. F6. 12) Chess Duels: My Games with the World Champions by Yasser Seirawan ( 13) CHESS, October 1983, pp. 117-118. 14) Jaque 142, p. 446 ( 15) Helgi Olafsson in Ţjóđviljinn, 17 September 1983, p. 21. 16) Harry Golombek in The Times, 22 October 1983, p. 30. 17) El Mundo Deportivo, 13 September 1983, p. 35. 18) La Vanguardia, 16 September 1983, p. 42. 19) Johann Oern Sigurjonsson in Tíminn, 2 October 1983, p. 21. 20) British Chess Magazine, December 1983, pp. 514-515. 21) Shelby Lyman in The Herald Statesman, 23 October 1983, p. F6. 22) Soviet Chess 1917-1991 by Andrew Soltis (McFarland, 1999), pp. 375-376. 23) Roman Toran Albero in La Vanguardia, 27 September 1983, p. 43. 24) El Mundo Deportivo, 1 October 1983, p. 35.

Original collections: Game Collection: Niksic 1983 by User: suenteus po 147 (who put the games together and sorted them by round) and Game Collection: Niksic 1983 by User: Tabanus. Dates are mainly from the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblađiđ. These were added to the games by User: Benzol. Thanks to User: Paint My Dragon for information from chess books, CHESS and BCM, and for improving the English.

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 105  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Portisch vs Miles  ½-½581983NiksicE41 Nimzo-Indian
2. Larsen vs Spassky ½-½431983NiksicC26 Vienna
3. Sax vs Ulf Andersson  ½-½201983NiksicB46 Sicilian, Taimanov Variation
4. Ljubojevic vs Tal  ½-½251983NiksicC82 Ruy Lopez, Open
5. Petrosian vs Timman  ½-½281983NiksicA28 English
6. Seirawan vs Kasparov 0-1541983NiksicD34 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
7. B Ivanovic vs P Nikolic  ½-½341983NiksicC92 Ruy Lopez, Closed
8. Kasparov vs Petrosian 1-0511983NiksicA93 Dutch, Stonewall, Botvinnik Variation
9. Gligoric vs Seirawan  ½-½291983NiksicE42 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3 c5, 5.Ne2 (Rubinstein)
10. P Nikolic vs Larsen  ½-½621983NiksicA40 Queen's Pawn Game
11. Tal vs B Ivanovic  ½-½181983NiksicA33 English, Symmetrical
12. Timman vs Sax  ½-½421983NiksicB76 Sicilian, Dragon, Yugoslav Attack
13. Miles vs Ljubojevic  1-0601983NiksicA04 Reti Opening
14. Ulf Andersson vs Portisch  ½-½251983NiksicA04 Reti Opening
15. Sax vs Kasparov ½-½391983NiksicB82 Sicilian, Scheveningen
16. Spassky vs P Nikolic  1-0371983NiksicC25 Vienna
17. Ljubojevic vs Ulf Andersson  ½-½181983NiksicA30 English, Symmetrical
18. Petrosian vs Gligoric  ½-½441983NiksicA46 Queen's Pawn Game
19. Portisch vs Timman  ½-½521983NiksicE00 Queen's Pawn Game
20. Larsen vs Tal ½-½881983NiksicA13 English
21. B Ivanovic vs Miles  ½-½231983NiksicB22 Sicilian, Alapin
22. Ulf Andersson vs B Ivanovic  ½-½561983NiksicA37 English, Symmetrical
23. Timman vs Ljubojevic 1-0401983NiksicB99 Sicilian, Najdorf, 7...Be7 Main line
24. Gligoric vs Sax  ½-½451983NiksicA77 Benoni, Classical, 9...Re8, 10.Nd2
25. Seirawan vs Petrosian ½-½211983NiksicE32 Nimzo-Indian, Classical
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 105  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Jun-13-15  sfm: "The organizers also attempted to get ex-World Champion Robert James Fischer to participate, but found his demand of $30,000 too high."

Maybe it would have raised the problem that all the other players would have gotten the idea that they would like some more money too. Otherwise, raising 30,000 USD to see Fischer play again could have been done before the end of a working day.

Aug-10-15  dusk: Would have been such a great tournament.
Premium Chessgames Member
  thegoodanarchist: Kasparov had a great tournament, "+8" in 14 games. Well done
Premium Chessgames Member
  keypusher: Terrific cover article/game collection -- kudos and thanks to everyone who contributed to it (starting with <suenteus po 147> who originally compiled the games).

For those of us who were around back then, the article brings back memories of just how dumbfounding Kasparov was at the beginning of his international career.

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