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Wolfgang Unzicker
Photograph by FM Hartmut Metz.    
Number of games in database: 805
Years covered: 1939 to 2005
Last FIDE rating: 2433
Highest rating achieved in database: 2545

Overall record: +230 -136 =431 (55.9%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database. 8 exhibition games, blitz/rapid, odds games, etc. are excluded from this statistic.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (142) 
    B92 B83 B73 B84 B47
 Ruy Lopez (102) 
    C92 C97 C93 C75 C95
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (54) 
    C92 C97 C93 C95 C99
 French Defense (38) 
    C11 C18 C13 C12 C07
 Sicilian Najdorf (34) 
    B92 B96 B91 B93 B98
 Sicilian Scheveningen (22) 
    B83 B84 B85 B81
With the Black pieces:
 Ruy Lopez (84) 
    C83 C97 C95 C81 C80
 Nimzo Indian (84) 
    E55 E54 E30 E39 E53
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (37) 
    C97 C95 C94 C96 C84
 English (35) 
    A15 A13 A14 A18 A17
 Ruy Lopez, Open (30) 
    C83 C81 C80 C82
 Queen's Indian (30) 
    E12 E14 E17 E16 E19
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Unzicker vs O Sarapu, 1970 1-0
   Unzicker vs Tal, 1975 1-0
   Unzicker vs M Czerniak, 1954 1-0
   Unzicker vs Saemisch, 1949 1-0
   Unzicker vs Keres, 1956 1-0
   Unzicker vs L A Sanchez, 1952 1-0
   Unzicker vs Fischer, 1960 1-0
   Unzicker vs E R Lundin, 1954 1-0
   Unzicker vs G Stein, 1948 1-0
   Unzicker vs T van Scheltinga, 1951 1-0

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Hastings 1969/70 (1969)
   Lugano (1970)
   Vidmar Memorial (1969)
   Second Piatigorsky Cup (1966)
   Hastings 1954/55 (1954)
   Zurich (1959)
   Oldenburg (1949)
   Hastings 1971/72 (1971)
   Stockholm Interzonal (1952)
   Buenos Aires (1960)
   Alekhine Memorial (1956)
   Milan (1975)
   Palma de Mallorca (1969)
   Gothenburg Interzonal (1955)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Wolfgang Unzicker (1925-2006) by capybara
   Second Piatigorsky Cup 1966 by Benzol
   Zurich 1959 by suenteus po 147
   Alekhine Memorial International Tournament, 1956 by Resignation Trap
   Hastings 1971/72 by suenteus po 147
   Vidmar Memorial by FSR
   Lugano 1970 by Phony Benoni

   Unzicker vs A Dueckstein, 1967

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(born Jun-26-1925, died Apr-20-2006, 80 years old) Germany
[what is this?]
Wolfgang Unzicker was born in Pirmasens. He was taught to play chess by his older brother and some cousins when he was 10.

Awarded the IM title in 1950 and GM title in 1954 he was West German Champion in 1948, 1950, 1952, 1959, 1963 and 1965 (joint). He played on 13 West German Chess Olympiad teams between 1950 and 1982, sharing the prize for the best top board score for the West German team at the 1950 Dubrovnik Chess Olympiad. Another first board triumph that propelled his West German team to success was during the Tel Aviv Olympiad in 1964 when he scored 13.5 points, assisting his team to winning the bronze medal after a 3:1 team victory over the Soviet Union.

Unzicker also won the unique East and West German Championship in 1953. He was equal first with Spassky in the Chigorin Memorial Sochi in 1965, first in Maribor in 1967, equal fourth in the second Piatigorsky Cup in 1966 behind Spassky, Fischer and Larsen, second at Hastings in 1969-70 and equal first in Amsterdam in 1980. Although he was never a serious World Championship contender, he nevertheless played and on occasion defeated some of the finest players of his generation.

Unzicker chose to be a lawyer and a judge by profession and was for many years the legal advisor to the German Chess Association. He is survived by wife Fraia and three sons Alexander, Dr. Ferdinand Unzicker and Stefan.

Wikipedia article: Wolfgang Unzicker

 page 1 of 33; games 1-25 of 805  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves Year Event/LocaleOpening
1. Unzicker vs K Junge 1-050 1939 Jugendschachwoche FurstenwaldeC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
2. Kettisch vs Unzicker 0-116 1945 MunichC31 King's Gambit Declined, Falkbeer Counter Gambit
3. Unzicker vs E Zemgalis  ½-½37 1946 Regensburg GERC11 French
4. Unzicker vs F Krautheim 1-031 1946 Augsburg GERB01 Scandinavian
5. Unzicker vs F Herzog  0-135 1946 Regensburg GERD52 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Unzicker vs M Riedmiller 1-023 1946 Augsburg GERC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
7. R Palme vs Unzicker  0-147 1946 Augsburg GERE17 Queen's Indian
8. S Wolk vs Unzicker  0-159 1946 Regensburg GERE17 Queen's Indian
9. L Endzelins vs Unzicker  ½-½20 1946 Augsburg GERD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
10. J Steger vs Unzicker  0-133 1946 Regensburg GERD48 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav, Meran
11. A Krumins vs Unzicker  ½-½25 1946 Augsburg GERC29 Vienna Gambit
12. Unzicker vs Merkle 1-016 1946 MunichC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
13. Unzicker vs E Zemgalis  ½-½26 1946 Augsburg GERC11 French
14. Unzicker vs F Bohatirchuk  ½-½41 1946 Regensburg GERC73 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense
15. Unzicker vs R Arlauskas  1-024 1946 Augsburg GERB73 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
16. Unzicker vs W Fleischmann  1-039 1946 Regensburg GERB63 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack
17. P Troeger vs Unzicker 0-120 1946 Augsburg GERE21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
18. P Tautvaisas vs Unzicker  0-140 1946 Augsburg GERC23 Bishop's Opening
19. Unzicker vs J Huber  1-056 1946 Augsburg GERD64 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
20. Unzicker vs C H Meyer  1-050 1946 Regensburg GERB73 Sicilian, Dragon, Classical
21. Unzicker vs A Rankis  1-043 1946 Augsburg GERC12 French, McCutcheon
22. Saemisch vs Unzicker  ½-½32 1946 Augsburg GERC83 Ruy Lopez, Open
23. F Nuernberg vs Unzicker  0-141 1946 Augsburg GERE24 Nimzo-Indian, Samisch
24. Meyer vs Unzicker  0-148 1946 Regensburg GERD02 Queen's Pawn Game
25. L Dreibergs vs Unzicker  0-140 1946 Augsburg GERC47 Four Knights
 page 1 of 33; games 1-25 of 805  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Unzicker wins | Unzicker loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
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Premium Chessgames Member
  twinlark: Unzicker was one of those rare players who attracted universal respect and admiration for his activities on and off the board. Some people's passing are noticed and felt more than you would expect and Unzicker's passing was one such. A rare person indeed.
May-03-06  LIFE Master AJ: < May-01-06 plang: The references to amateur status in chess seem a little strange. Since when is there a distinction between amateur and professional in chess? Botvinnik had a job away from chess. I never have seen him referred to as an amateur. Taimanov was a pianist but was a great chess player. I think it would be a better tribute to Unzicker to remember him for the high quality of his chess and leave it at that. >

I have to agree completely. Some refer to players as amateurs. With many of these, that distinction is blurred. Real amateurs are guys like Anderssen, who went long periods being unable to play chess ... because of his job as a teacher.

Guys like Lasker and Euwe, often spent long periods of their life where they mostly played chess, did so at the highest level, and were paid handsomely for it. Additionally, they got paid to travel, lecture and talk about chess ... plus give chess exhibitions.

Morphy was so fixated with even the possibility of being labeled a professional, that he gave up the one thing he did far better than anything else. Personally, I see no shame in either label, some with aristocratic airs might think it "high-minded" to label themselves as an amateur.

Today - amateur athletes go to great lengths to avoid the "pro" tag. They have to abide by very complex rules to avoid a label. Let's say a guy is an Olympic Boxer or Cyclist. He would constantly be in training and competing in meets, all with the aim of winning the Olympics, which is held only once every four years. To me - an amateur is someone who cycles for fun. (On the weekends.) A guy who spends all of his time doing something ... and is one of the best in the world ... is a PRO, no matter how you slice it.

I would have to say - that for a period of nearly 30 years - Unzicker was simply a very good player, and easily in the "Top 100," if not the "Top Fifty" for most of that period. (, see number # 14.)

I have also read - through a variety of sources - that Unzicker was a fine man.

A good person, a great chess player ... what better compliments can I offer? RIP, honored GM.

May-04-06  Sleepdeprived: It seemed to me that Herr Unzicker remembered everything he read. I remember his passion for history and languages. His spoken English was eloquent and precise. When I would visit, he would ask me to clarify what puzzled him from his review of the English dictionary! He even read old English poetry. Herr Unzicker was a true "renaissance GM". He leaves behind a family as amazingly accomplished and talented as he himself. Danke Herr Unzicker!
May-04-06  JustAFish: Just for clarification <sleepdeprived> is that family Friend of Unzicker I mentioned above. I suspect he's living up to his name, today, working nights, playing too much online chess (is that possible) and probably typing that message in a blur... :-)
Premium Chessgames Member
  IMlday: Max Euwe was the model for amateur players who could still aspire to the World Championship. He was a math prof who played chess. Unzicker, Hubner, Taimanov etc. followed that model. Considering eccentric champs like Alekhine and Fischer, I find it reassuring that a successful career and happy family life can be an alternative to monomania.

The obit I wrote for Toronto Star Syndicate (may 6, 06)::::::::::

German Grandmaster Wolfgang Unzicker (1925-2006) died recently of heart failure while vacationing in Portugal. He was the top German player throughout the 1950s and '60s regularly appearing as top board on their Olympic teams. Most players of his strength would have turned professional but Unzicker maintained a career, first as a lawyer and then a judge. Anatoly Karpov referred to him as "World Champion of Amateurs". He first drew international attention with his board one performance at the Dubrovnik Olympics of 1950 where he shared the individual Gold with Argentina's Miguel Najdorf. FIDE awarded him the GM title in 1954. While establishing a family (three sons) and career he played relatively rarely until the mid-60s when he had his best performances. In 1965 he shared first with Boris Spassky at the Chigorin Memorial in Sochi and in 1967 he won at Maribor ahead of Sammy Reshevsky. Invited to the elite 1966 Piatigorsky Cup in Santa Monica he took fourth place behind Spassky, Bobby Fischer and Bent Larsen but ahead of Reshevsky, Najdorf and then World Champion Tigran Petrosian. Unzicker was always popular for his diplomacy, fair-mindedness and sense of humour. A veteran's event was organized at Mainz to celebrate his 80th birthday. Spassky, Karpov and Victor Korchnoi turned out to play against him.
His chess style was very classical although he considered himself more of a tactician than a strategist.
Played in Moscow 1956:
White: W. Unzicker Black: P. Keres
Ruy Lopez
1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 Nf6
5.O-O Be7 6.Re1 b5 7.Bb3 d6 8.c3 O-O
9.h3 Na5 10.Bc2 c5 11.d4 Qc7
[Chigorin's Variation is considered by many to be the epitome of correct classical chess. Unzicker and Paul Keres reached this position many times against each other quite regardless of colours.]
12.Nbd2 cxd4 13.cxd4 Nc6 14.Nb3 Bb7
[Keres tried many different moves here including Unzicker's preferred choice of 14..a5.] 15.Bg5 h6 16.Bh4 Nb4?!
[Keres-Bronstein, Candidates, 1956 varied with 16..Nh5 17.d5 Nd8!? 18.Bxe7 Qxe7 with balanced chances.]
17.Bb1 Rac8 18.Re2 Nh5 19.a3 Nc6 20.d5 Nb8
[The more solid 20..Nd8 is impossible because 21.Rc2 Qd7 22.Nxe5 de 23.Qxh5 wins a pawn. But now the unprotected B/b7 allows a different combination.] 21.Rc2
{CG: i should note Leonard ♗arden in The Guardian considered this move to be the key error.} 21..Qd8 22.Na5! Rxc2 23.Nxb7 Qc7 24.Qxc2 Qxb7
25.Bxe7 Rc8
[Since 25..Qxe7 26.Ba2 and 27.Rc1 would give White a decisive grip on the open c-file.] 26.Bxd6!! Rxc2 27.Bxc2 f6 28.Bb3 Nf4
[In general a Queen is worth about a Rook, Bishop and Pawn but here the passed pawn is very strong.]
29..Nd7 30.Rd2 Nb6 31.Bc7 Nc4 32.d6 Ne6
33.Ba5 Nc5 34.Bb4 Nd7 35.Rc2 a5
[Time trouble, but the position was beyond salvage anyway.] 36.Bxa5 Qxe4 37.Nd2 Qd3 38.Rxc4 Kh7 39.Bc2 Black resigned.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Calli: Chess Note 4373 has a rare picture of Unzicker playing Alekhine at a simul in 1941.

Whats the opening?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Benzol: Pity nobody kept a score of the game. There's no official game between Unzicker and Alyekhin. At least according to Skinner & Verhoeven.
Feb-19-08  wolfmaster: RIP Unzy.
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: R.I.P. GM Unzicker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Unzicker's first tournament success was the Augsburg tournament in October/November 1946, which he won with a score of 14/16.

Source: Anthony Wright "Australian Chess - 1949 to 1960", Melbourne, 2004

Jun-26-09  furrer: There is a mistake in his bio: its Olympiad not Olypiad.
Premium Chessgames Member
  whiteshark: unforgotten
R.I.P. Wolfgang
Jun-26-09  WhiteRook48: R.I.P. Unzicker
Jun-11-10  Cushion: It is a shame so few people have gone here.
Premium Chessgames Member
  wordfunph: Anatoly Karpov called Wolfgang Unzicker "The World Champion Among Amateurs"..
Premium Chessgames Member
  Eric Schiller: Here is a great game on video, not yet in the database.
Premium Chessgames Member
  RookFile: Wolfgang sounds like the coolest name ever to me.

He was an extremely strong player, of course.

Jun-26-12  LoveThatJoker: GM Unzicker, today you are remembered!


Premium Chessgames Member
  eternaloptimist: Wolfgang Unzicker was w/o a doubt a very strong player, a legend of the game & was very knowledgable in the Ruy Lopez (especially the open variation) & the Sicilian defense. He defeated several strong GMs including Tal, Saemisch, Keres, Fischer, Stein, Stoltz, Hort & Gallagher. Like LTJ said he will be remembered.
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: Always fondly remembered.
Jun-26-13  SimonWebbsTiger: I had the very great pleasure of playing against and chatting with Dr. Ferdinand Unzicker at Politiken Cup 2010. Ferdinand is the youngest son, a strong player himself (2300+) and pleasant chap.

He told me a cute story of how Paul Keres and Wolfgang immediately started analysing the Ruy Lopez before their match in 1956, a veritable Spanish treat! They were great friends.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. World Chess Championship Candidate GM Wolfgang Unzicker.
Jun-26-15  dgm1214: He beat me good that game, hats off to a master!
Premium Chessgames Member
  brankat: R.I.P. GM Unzicker.
Premium Chessgames Member
  TheFocus: Happy birthday, Wolfgang Unzicker.
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