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Prague Candidates Reserve Playoff (1956)
Compiled by Chessical


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 If one of the players in Amsterdam Candidates (1956) had withdrawn, the winner of this match would have taken his place.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

The Interzonal was scheduled to begin on the 27 March -and this play-off match took place in a 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 Czech capital: the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (4) - - with any adjournments being played in the clubhouse for the "State Committee for Physical Education and Sport". Designed by the architect Eduard Hnilička it is a key building of 1920's "modern classicism" -

This had been the Prague YMCA 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 young Czech players: Henryk Fabian, Vaclav Brat, Jiri Vesely, Jiri Podgorny, Karel Urbanec, Antonin Vyslouzil, Milan Bartosek, and Milos Altschul took place during this match. (7)

The participants:

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

Georgy Ilivitsky 's career was largely confined to internal Soviet events. An engineer by profession, he became an IM in 1955 and was twice Russian champion in 1948 and 1949.

Ilivitsky was tenth in the USSR Championship (1948), and fourteenth in the USSR Championship (1952). His chess activity and playing strength was at its peak in the mid 1950's where he played at grandmaster level. Ilivitsky was fifth in the extremely strong USSR Championship (1955) which was also a zonal tournamant. This qualified him for the Gothenburg Interzonal (1955)

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

Ludek Pachman - Wikipedia article: Lud%C4%9Bk Pachman#/media/File:PachmanLudek.jpg - had been Czechoslovak champion in 1946 and 1953, and had become a GM in 1954. In 1956, he brought out his "Moderne Schachtheorie" three volume series and he was a leading openings expert of the time.

He took part in four successive interzonals from 1948 to 1958. He qualified for Gothenberg, by winning the Prague Zonal tournament 1954 scoring 15/19

Progress of the match:

Round 1 2 3 4 5 6 Ilivitsky, Georgy (USSR)IM ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 3˝ Pachman, Ludek (CZH) GM ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 2˝

The games commenced at 4 pm.

Game 1 - Game 1 - Sunday, 8th January 1956 - played in the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (10). This was a carefully played game in which Pachman as White could not achieve any significant advantage from the opening.

Game 2 - Game 2 - Monday, 9th January 1956 - played in the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (11). Pachman played a line of the Nimzo-Indian which was topical in 1956-57 and quickly equalised. Neither player attempted to outplay the other and a draw was rapidly agreed in 18 moves.

Game 3 - Thursday 12th January 1956 - played in the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (12) -

This was the first substantial game of the match. The players had rested on Tuesday 10th and Wednesday 11th January (13).

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 14th January in the clubhouse of the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport. Ilivitsky held the endgame of Bishop and Pawns a pawn down (14).

Game 4 - Friday 13th January - played in the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (15)

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. Ilivitsky had not made anything of his two Whites so far, and the balance of the match was lightly in Pachman's favour.

Game 5 Sunday, 15th January - played in the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (16). The game was adjourned and resumed on Monday, 16th January at clubhouse of the State Committee for Physical Education and Sport (17).

Pachman as White, having achieved nothing with <1.d4> changed to <1.e4>. Ilivitsky replied with a Sicilian system that Isaac Boleslavsky had been championing in 1956-57.

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, 17th January - played in the auditorium of the Charles University Law Faculty (18).

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 that had a powerful effect on Pachman. Pachman played a poor move <13...Be6?> which gave his opponent a significant advantage.

Ten year's 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 Grandmaster. 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 1955 Soviet Championship coming ninth in the semi-final, and Ilivitsky was not to play in any important international tournament outside of the Soviet Union.


(1). "De Waarheid, (Holland) - 12th January 1956, p.4. and "Új Szó", (Hungary) - 2nd January 1956, p.18.

(2). "Chess Results, 1956-1960", ed. Gino Di Felice, McFarland & Co Inc, p.81.


(4). "Rudé Právo", (Czechoslovakia), 16th January 1956, p.6 and "Rudé Právo", 18th January 1956, p.4

(5). "Rudé Právo", 14th January 1956, p.6 and "Rudé Právo", 15th January 1956, p.6.

(6). See: and

(7). "Rudé Právo", 9th January 1956, p.6.


(9). "Rudé Právo", 7th January 1956, p.4

(10). "Rudé Právo", 9th January 1956, p.4.

(11). "Rudé Právo", 10th January 1956, p.4.

(12). "Rudé Právo", 10th January 1956, p.4.

(13). "Rudé Právo" 10th January 1956, p.4.

(14). "Rudé Právo", 14th January 1956, p.6 and "Rudé Právo", 15th January 1956, p.6.

(15). "Rudé Právo", 13th January 1956, p.4.

(16). "Rudé Právo", 15th January 1956, p.6.

(17). "Rudé Právo", 15th January 1956, p.6.

(18). "Rudé Právo", 17th January 1956, p.4.


User User: 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.

Game 1
Pachman vs G Ilivitsky, 1956
(E60) King's Indian Defense, 33 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 2
G Ilivitsky vs Pachman, 1956
(E55) Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Gligoric System, Bronstein Variation, 18 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 3
Pachman vs G Ilivitsky, 1956
(E98) King's Indian, Orthodox, Taimanov, 9.Ne1, 79 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 4
G Ilivitsky vs Pachman, 1956
(A25) English, 29 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 5
Pachman vs G Ilivitsky, 1956 
(B65) Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack, 7...Be7 Defense, 9...Nxd4, 49 moves, 1/2-1/2

Game 6
G Ilivitsky vs Pachman, 1956 
(A96) Dutch, Classical Variation, 32 moves, 1-0

6 games

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