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Sousse Interzonal Tournament

Bent Larsen15.5/21(+13 -3 =5)[games]
Viktor Korchnoi14/21(+10 -3 =8)[games]
Efim Geller14/21(+8 -1 =12)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric14/21(+7 -0 =14)[games]
Lajos Portisch13.5/21(+8 -2 =11)[games]
Samuel Reshevsky13/21(+7 -2 =12)[games]
Vlastimil Hort13/21(+7 -2 =12)[games]
Leonid Stein13/21(+9 -4 =8)[games]
Milan Matulovic12.5/21(+9 -5 =7)[games]
Aleksandar Matanovic12/21(+4 -1 =16)[games]
Borislav Ivkov11/21(+6 -5 =10)[games]
Henrique Mecking11/21(+7 -6 =8)[games]
Aivars Gipslis10/21(+4 -5 =12)[games]
Lubomir Kavalek10/21(+5 -6 =10)[games]
Duncan Suttles9.5/21(+6 -8 =7)[games]
Istvan Bilek9/21(+3 -6 =12)[games]
Laszlo Barczay8/21(+2 -7 =12)[games]
Robert Byrne7.5/21(+3 -9 =9)[games]
Miguel Cuellar Gacharna6.5/21(+5 -13 =3)[games]
Lhamsuren Myagmarsuren6.5/21(+4 -12 =5)[games]
Ortvin Sarapu4/21(+1 -14 =6)[games]
Slim Bouaziz3.5/21(+1 -15 =5)[games]
Robert James Fischer8.5/10(+7 -0 =3)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Sousse Interzonal (1967)
From Interzonal Sousse 1967, ed. by Walter Kühnle-Woods (Schweizer Schachdienst, Zürich 1967. 94 pp.):

"The 7th Interzonal took place in Sousse (Tunisia) from October 15 to November 16, 1967. Four of the six forerunners had been organized by Sweden. For the first time a FIDE-Tournament took place in Africa, a remarkable propagandistic success for the FIDE. Out of the 66 member nations only two are from Africa, Tunisia and South Africa. They are integrated into the West European Zone. It is not the fault of the organizers, who have really given their best, that Sousse received great publicity, not only because of the chess deeds, but above all because of the "Fischer case". Robert Fischer, US Champion and one of the best players of our times, but unfortunately bare of sporting spirit and diplomatic ability, opposed himself wholly unjustified to the tournament regulations, which had been bent especially for Fischer and Reshevsky to meet their religious feelings. It seems obvious that such far-reaching concessions - Friday no play, Saturday begin only after 7 p.m., no play on four special Jewish holidays - anticipates also adaptations by the players. Reshevsky honoured the concessions made, Fischer did not. Not even when the secretary of the US Embassy in Tunis reminded him to think himself a representative of the Unites States. He answered: I am here as a representative of Robert Fischer! After Fischer did not appear three times for play, he had to be eliminated. As sad and regrettable the elimination of Fischer is - maybe he would have become the first non-Russian World Champion since 1948 - it is obvious, that no player, not even the World Champion himself, can put himself above the regulations of the FIDE. Fischer barred himself from becoming World Champion for five years, the title fight after the present cycle will take place in 1972." (p. 5)

"Bent Larsen scored a decisive victory, underlining his class yet another time after his co-victory at the 6th Interzonal in Amsterdam 1964, his match wins against Ivkov and Geller, his winning series Havana - Winnipeg. Gligoric managed to leave his younger fellow-countrymen behind him, last time Ivkov squeezed him out. For the Russians, Sousse is not a memorable tournament. Only Geller and Kortschnoj qualified outright, but Soviet Champion Stein, whom many experts considered being the favourite, narrowly attained the tiebreak level. If Fischer had not dropped out, Stein would have been out. Portisch once more qualified, last time he had to beat Reshevsky in a tie-break. Also this time a tie-break is necessary, which Hort, Reshevsky and Stein will contest in the US in February. Narrowly out this time are Matulovic, Matanovic and Ivkov, and also the 15 year old Brasilian Mecking, who showed a remarkable performance in this monster tournament." (p. 6)

"The first five rounds. Panno (ARG) withdrew only a few days before the tournament started. As a replacement from South America was impossible to get, the FIDE gave Tunisia the right to nominate a player which gave Bouaziz this rare chance. Bolbochan (ARG) became ill on his journey, was drawn however, but after three rounds had to be struck off the list. The draw was made in such a manner that players of the same country would meet in the early rounds. The Russians divided the points evenly amongst themselves, only Stein snatched the full point from Gipslis. Did he know, how decisive that half point would become later on? After five rounds Fischer is clearly in the lead, however he scored against outsiders." (p. 15)

"The rounds 6 to 9. These four rounds produced three hattricks. The 15 year old Brazilian Mecking scores three times and seems to have recovered from his shaky start. Also Stein joins in with a hattrick, but his are three defeats, which are inflicted by Fischer, Hort and Larsen. Larsen scores 3,5 points out of four and is the new leader. Fischer with one game less lies half a point behind him. Hort and Portisch are the closest rivals. The Russians, not only because they had to play themselves, are all placed in the middle field." (p. 27)

"Round 10. A remarkable round, in many respects. After having had the tournament schedule (page 14) from the start, Fischer suddenly had the idea that "his" schedule is far too strenuous and should be altered. Naturally his argument found no support, which induced him to forfeit his game against Gipslis, which in turn resulted in a zero in his score card. The Russians - in view of their miserable placing - showed a special performance. Stein beat Mecking, Kortschnoj defeated Larsen, and Geller won against Hort. Ivkov met defeat unexpectedly by young Mjagmarsuren." (p. 38)

"Round 11. In the mean time Fischer had departed for Tunis, but could there be persuaded by the Tunisian officials to return to the tournament, his forfeiture against Gipslis to be reviewed by FIDE-President Folke Rogard. At the start to round 11 Fischer was not to be seen however, and Reshevsky sat alone at the table. Fischer's clock was started. Only minutes before the decisive hour was over, Fischer appeared in the tournament hall and started his game crushing Reshevsky in the remaining 1,5 hours. The game was adjourned in a hopeless position for Reshevsky, who avenged himself by not appearing the next morning for the resumption, which forced Fischer to sit alone for an hour, until he could claim the point. The Russians could not repeat their winning streak of the round before. Kortschnoj was even beaten by Mecking. However the Yugoslavs won all their four games and polished up their score." (p. 44)

"Round 12. Only 3 games out of 11 end drawn. An eventful round! Fischer beats Byrne, Larsen defeats Gipslis, Geller wins over Mecking. Also victorious are Stein, Kortschnoj, Gligoric, Ivkov. Matanovic loses against Cuallar, Reshevsky and Hort draw, Portisch-Bilek also half the point" (p. 47)

"Round 13. Although Fischer is free on the unlucky number 13, the tournament will bring him no luck. Larsen wins against Reshevsky and leads the field. Gligoric has now won five in a row and reinforces the spearhead. Geller, Kortschnoj, Hort and Portisch also score the full point, bringing them valuable improvement of their position. Stein loses for the fourth time in this tournament." (p. 49)

"Round 14. FIDE-President Folke Rogard refers back to the chief arbitre Sajtar (CS) (= Jaroslav Sajtar) the decision about Fischer's forfeiture against Gipslis, who confirms it. Fischer once again withdraws from the tournament and departs for Tunis. Accordingly his game against Hort is again noted as forfeiture. Larsen and Geller score their third consecutive win. Of the favourites Reshevsky and Matulovic better their chances, whilst Mecking loses ground." (p. 52)

"As to schedule the 15th round starts on Saturday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. Fischer is still in Tunis and had received final conditions by the tournament responsibles under which he could re-enter the tournament, although his two forfeitures against Hort and Gipslis would have been ground enough for his expulsion. He must sign a declaration to accept the schedule as it stands and to accept the two forfeitures. At first Fischer refuses and so expresses himself in a phone conversation with a journalist at Sousse. At 7 p.m. the round begins, Fischer's clock is started. At half past seven Fischer is again on the phone talking to the journalist. He surprisingly declares that he would accept the conditions but his game against Larsen must be postponed some hours enabling him to come to Sousse. It does not seem imperative to Fischer to negotiate with the tournament responsibles, and Fischer's drama comes to an end. At 8 p.m. he receives his third forfeiture, he is at the same time expulsed finally from the tournament. His results are annulled because he has played less than half of the games. New placings are set up. Of the favourites Ivkov gains an important win against Kortschnoj. Matulovic obtains his third consecutive win. Gipslis loses for the fifth time and should be out of the race to become a Candidate." (p. 57)

Sousse, Tunisia, 15 October - 15 November 1967

Elo# 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Pts Son-Be 1 GM Larsen 2620 * 0 ½ ½ 0 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 15½ =2 GM Korchnoi 2620 1 * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 1 14 136.00 =2 GM Geller 2630 ½ ½ * ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 14 135.75 =2 GM Gligoric 2570 ½ ½ ½ * ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 14 135.00 5 GM Portisch 2620 1 0 ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 1 1 13½ =6 GM Reshevsky 2580 0 ½ 1 ½ ½ * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 0 1 1 ½ 13 129.75 =6 GM Hort 2580 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ * 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 1 1 13 120.25 =6 GM Stein 2640 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 * ½ ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 ½ 13 117.00 9 GM Matulovic 2530 0 1 0 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ * 0 1 1 ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 1 1 ½ 1 1 12½ 10 GM Matanovic 2530 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 * ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 12 =11 GM Ivkov 2570 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ * 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 11 103.50 =11 IM Mecking ---- 0 1 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 1 * 1 1 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 11 102.50 =13 GM Gipslis 2580 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 * ½ 0 1 ½ 0 1 ½ 1 1 10 93.75 =13 GM Kavalek 2530 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 10 90.00 15 Suttles ---- 1 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 1 ½ 0 0 1 ½ * ½ 1 0 ½ 1 ½ 1 9½ 16 GM Bilek 2510 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 0 ½ * ½ ½ 1 0 1 1 9 17 GM Barczay 2490 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 8 18 GM Byrne 2540 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 1 ½ ½ * 1 ½ ½ 0 7½ =19 IM Cuellar ---- 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 ½ 0 0 0 * 0 1 1 6½ 61.00 =19 IM Myagmarsuren ---- 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 1 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ ½ 1 * 0 1 6½ 54.50 21 IM Sarapu ---- 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 * ½ 4 22 Bouaziz ---- 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 ½ * 3½ GM Fischer* 2670 - ½ - - ½ 1 - 1 - - - - - ½ - - 1 1 1 1 1 - 8½

Fischer had been granted a day off to observe the Sabbath, postponing his eighth round game with Victor Korchnoi. According to Brady, his ninth round game with Efim Geller unnecessarily also had been postponed, resulting in six consecutive days without a break. When Fischer sought to remedy this error, he was refused without being offered an explanation (Frank Brady, Bobby Fischer: Profile of a Prodigy,

Interzonal tie-breaker play-off

Reshevsky, Hort and Stein (the former kept his better tie-breaker performance in this tournament, and therefore advanced) played their Los Angeles Interzonal Playoff (1968) in February and March to determine which seed would advance.

Candidates matches

"The draw for the matches that go to make up the Candidates was made at the final banquet after the end of the Interzonal Tournament at Sousse" (Harry Golombek in The Times 30 December 1967 p. 16):

Boris Spassky beat Efim Geller 5½-2½ at the Sukhumi Candidates Quarterfinal (April, 1968 - see the Spassky - Geller Candidates Quarterfinal (1968) for details).

Bent Larsen beat Lajos Portisch 5½-4½ at the Porec Candidates Quarterfinal (May, 1968 - see the Larsen - Portisch Candidates Quarterfinal (1968) for details).

Viktor Korchnoi beat Samuel Reshevsky 5½-2½ at the Amsterdam Candidates Quarterfinal (May, 1968 - see the Korchnoi - Reshevsky Candidates Quarterfinal (1968) for details).

Mikhail Tal beat Svetozar Gligoric 5½-3½ at the Belgrade Candidates Quarterfinal (April - May, 1968 - see the Tal - Gligoric Candidates Quarterfinal (1968) for details).

In July, Spassky beat Larsen 5½-2½ at Malmö in the semifinals (see the Spassky - Larsen Candidates Semifinal (1968) for details), Korchnoi beat Tal 5½-4½ at Moscow in June and July in another set of semifinals, and Spassky went on to beat Korchnoi 6½-3½ at Kiev (see the Spassky - Korchnoi Candidates Final (1968) for details) in September of 1968 to qualify for the Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Rematch (1969).

Interzonal cycles

The Amsterdam Interzonal (1964) was the previous Interzonal, and the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970) was the next Interzonal.

*Fischer withdrew while leading after a dispute with the organizers.

#Unofficial FIDE Rating List June 1967:

Original Collection : Game Collection: Sousse Interzonal, 1967, by User: Resignation Trap.

 page 1 of 10; games 1-25 of 241  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Fischer vs Myagmarsuren 1-0311967Sousse InterzonalA07 King's Indian Attack
2. Reshevsky vs O Sarapu 1-0351967Sousse InterzonalD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
3. Hort vs I Bilek  ½-½171967Sousse InterzonalD97 Grunfeld, Russian
4. Fischer vs L Barczay 1-0241967Sousse InterzonalC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
5. Geller vs O Sarapu 1-0561967Sousse InterzonalD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
6. Gipslis vs M Cuellar Gacharna 1-0371967Sousse InterzonalC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
7. S Bouaziz vs Ivkov 0-1221967Sousse InterzonalB06 Robatsch
8. Korchnoi vs Kavalek 1-0351967Sousse InterzonalE61 King's Indian
9. Mecking vs A Matanovic  0-1701967Sousse InterzonalA56 Benoni Defense
10. Reshevsky vs Myagmarsuren 1-0331967Sousse InterzonalD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. R Byrne vs Portisch  ½-½301967Sousse InterzonalB47 Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation
12. Suttles vs Gligoric 0-1341967Sousse InterzonalC49 Four Knights
13. Larsen vs Matulovic 1-0761967Sousse InterzonalA04 Reti Opening
14. I Bilek vs Larsen 0-1371967Sousse InterzonalB02 Alekhine's Defense
15. Portisch vs Fischer ½-½461967Sousse InterzonalE69 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line
16. Kavalek vs Geller  ½-½181967Sousse InterzonalB64 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer Attack
17. O Sarapu vs Gipslis 0-1431967Sousse InterzonalB28 Sicilian, O'Kelly Variation
18. L Barczay vs Hort  ½-½421967Sousse InterzonalC07 French, Tarrasch
19. Ivkov vs Suttles  1-0521967Sousse InterzonalA42 Modern Defense, Averbakh System
20. Stein vs Korchnoi ½-½231967Sousse InterzonalB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
21. Matulovic vs Mecking 1-0411967Sousse InterzonalC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
22. Myagmarsuren vs R Byrne  ½-½401967Sousse InterzonalB08 Pirc, Classical
23. M Cuellar Gacharna vs Reshevsky 1-0421967Sousse InterzonalA57 Benko Gambit
24. A Matanovic vs S Bouaziz  ½-½481967Sousse InterzonalB31 Sicilian, Rossolimo Variation
25. Mecking vs I Bilek ½-½211967Sousse InterzonalB08 Pirc, Classical
 page 1 of 10; games 1-25 of 241  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 4 OF 4 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Mar-02-17  ughaibu: Panno announced, in advance, that he would default the game. That he did Fischer a favour by finishing the game early doesn't change that. So, no, you do not count the Panno game unless you similarly count Fischer's losses by default.
Oct-25-17  RookFile: What he did before the game doesn't matter. The game doesn't start until the clocks are pushed. The fact is he changed his mind and showed up, thereby not defaulting.
May-10-18  posoo: who on erth WROTE da tornament sumary?! It is very STRANGELY compused. Da old posoo is good editor, do u need HELP chessgoms?!
Feb-05-20  Everett: Who cares, re: the Panno game? Big picture is Fischer quit the tourney because he wanted special treatment and didn’t get it (or whatever reason that no other player came up with)

It’s basically sad for chess evolution that Fischer quit so many times and at crucial points. But, hey, it’s a free world, and he made his own bed, that’s for sure.

Feb-06-20  Petrosianic: The irony here is that during Eliot Hearst's "Absurd Headlines Contest" back in 1962 or 1963, one of the headlines was "Fischer Quits Interzonal to Permit Reshevsky to Qualify". And that's almost kinda sorta what happened here. Reshevsky was the #6 qualifier, so if Fischer had stayed in and qualified, all other results being the same, Reshevsky would have been out.
Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Everett:

It’s basically sad for chess evolution that Fischer quit so many times and at crucial points.>

Fischer was chess evolution.

Fischer Random, his clock, the standards, and prize funds, now represent modern chess.

If it wasn't for Fischer, Magnus/Caruana would be playing a WCC for $1000.

Feb-15-20  Howard: Regarding the allegation that Fischer wanted "special treatment" back during the '67 interzonal, that doesn't tell the whole story.

First, it was alleged that the event was simply not well-organized. That book that Mueller did on Bobby's games, is one of many sources that states this.

Second, the organizers spoke little English and "weren't interested in learning it", as one source put it. Don't recall where that was, though.

Finally, it's been argued that the Soviets were doing everything they could to slow down Fischer in this event. Frank Brady's book Profile of a Prodigy, makes the point that the four Soviet players actually threatened to withdraw from the interzonal all together, if something wasn't done about Fischer's complaints and threats to withdraw. Granted, that "threat" may have been just a bluff on their part, but it sure didn't help matters any !

Feb-21-20  Everett: <Howard> of course it’s not the “whole story.” It’s simply a case of Occam’s Razor.
Feb-25-20  Howard: Thanks, as always, for the feedback, but I have no idea what Occam's Razor refers to. Yes, I Googled it, but couldn't find an explanation in plain, simple English.
Feb-25-20  Petrosianic: It basically means that the simplest explanation is most likely to be correct. It's not a law of logic, and gets dicier when we're talking about only one instance, rather than a big statistical sample. It might better be called Occam's Gamble.
Feb-25-20  Howard: Thanks !! Appreciate the info very much !
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: Occam's Razor can also be used as a crutch to avoid critical thought--though by no means am I implying, or stating outright, that <Everett>, whose views I respect, is in any way guilty of thus indulging himself.
Feb-25-20  Sally Simpson: The one funny/odd fact about Fischer's withdrawal is his game Fischer vs Stein, 1967 which was voted best game in informator 4.

As Boobys score was expunged officially this game did not exist.

Feb-25-20  Petrosianic: It existed, it just wasn't included in the tournament score.
Feb-25-20  Sally Simpson: 'Booby' slipped right through my spell checker. Suppose when I ever want to write booby, as in booby trap, I'll spell it 'bobby trap.'

I suppose you are right Petro, it existed, it just did not count officially.

(I wonder, if ELO had been on the go back then would the games Bobby played have been used in rating calculation or just ignored.)

Premium Chessgames Member
  harrylime: <<diceman: <Everett: It’s basically sad for chess evolution that Fischer quit so many times and at crucial points.>

Fischer was chess evolution.

Fischer Random, his clock, the standards, and prize funds, now represent modern chess.

If it wasn't for Fischer, Magnus/Caruana would be playing a WCC for $1000.>>

Hey <Dicey> ! lol lol lol

Respects 😎

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Geoff>, how dare you cast aspersions on that Almighty Being spell check, the essence of perfection itself?

Then there's the matter of that nameless game which appeared in Informator, though it was never played.....

Premium Chessgames Member
  diceman: <Sally Simpson:

I suppose you are right Petro, it existed, it just did not count officially.>

RJF: I won, therefore I am.

Feb-27-20  Everett: <Howard> simple explanations should not be expunged or weakened by unsubstantiated rumors and conjecture, all which can be grouped under the term “red herrings.”

It’s great to be able to consider <everything> for all situations, yet so much of it is just smoke and mirrors, when scrutinized critically.

May-27-20  vonKrolock: There's yet another book on this Interzonal, published in Argentina as a supplement to magazine "Ajedrez": < VII TORNEO INTERZONAL. Sousse, Túnez 1967. Intervinieron 23 jugadores con títulos internacionales. Se publican las 253 partidas, incluídas las 12 del desempate del sexto puesto que ganó Reshevsky. Análisis y comentarios de maestros. Suplemento nº 21 de la Revista AJEDREZ Published by Sopena Argentina, Argentina, 1968 >
Premium Chessgames Member
  AylerKupp: There has been a lot of discussion about Fischer having to play a relatively large number of games on consecutive days as a result of his religious observances. But wasn't Reshevsky in the same situation? I don't remember reading anything about that, nor have I been able to find the full dates of the games that he did play to see how many games he played on consecutive days. Does anyone have this information?
Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: Wow, there was actually a FIDE rating list in 1967:

I thought it started in 1970

Amazing to see FIDE ratings here of the players :)

Premium Chessgames Member
  kingscrusher: It seems it was "unofficial" as the documentation mentions. Interesting though :)
Oct-10-22  Petrosianic: <*Fischer withdrew while leading after a dispute with the organizers.>

This well-known claim deserves an enormous asterisk. Fischer did say he was withdrawing after Round 7, at which time he had a half point lead. But he returned and kept playing. By the time he left the tournament for good, after Round 15, he was 3 points out of first.

Oct-23-22  Olavi: <Petrosianic> The only two top tournaments I know of where the leader withdrew are World Master Tournament (1982) - Huebner was tied for first - and FRG-ch International+ (1979) - Karpov had an honourable reason, his father died.
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