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Leningrad Interzonal Tournament

Viktor Korchnoi13.5/17(+11 -1 =5)[games]
Anatoly Karpov13.5/17(+10 -0 =7)[games]
Robert Eugene Byrne12.5/17(+9 -1 =7)[games]
Jan Smejkal11/17(+9 -4 =4)[games]
Robert Huebner10/17(+6 -3 =8)[games]
Bent Larsen10/17(+8 -5 =4)[games]
Gennadi Kuzmin9.5/17(+5 -3 =9)[games]
Mikhail Tal8.5/17(+6 -6 =5)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric8.5/17(+5 -5 =7)[games]
Mark Taimanov8.5/17(+3 -3 =11)[games]
Miguel A Quinteros7.5/17(+4 -6 =7)[games]
Ivan Radulov7.5/17(+5 -7 =5)[games]
Wolfgang Uhlmann7/17(+2 -5 =10)[games]
Eugenio Torre7/17(+4 -7 =6)[games]
Josip Rukavina6.5/17(+3 -7 =7)[games]
Vladimir Borisovich Tukmakov6/17(+3 -8 =6)[games]
Guillermo Estevez Morales4.5/17(+3 -11 =3)[games]
Miguel Cuellar Gacharna1.5/17(+0 -14 =3)[games]
* Chess Event Description
Leningrad Interzonal (1973)

In the preceding FIDE cycles there had been only one Interzonal, such as the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal (1970). The year of 1973 marked the debut of two Interzonals to allow the aspirants for the world title to advance. As was the case with the Petropolis Interzonal (1973), the Leningrad Interzonal was held as an 18-player round robin with the top three players qualifying for the Candidates matches. Korchnoi (+11 =5 -1) and Karpov (+10 =7 -0) tied for first place with 13.5/17. Third was Byrne with 12.5, and just missing out with 11 was Smejkal, whose chances of qualification ended with his loss to Karpov from a favourable position in the penultimate round.

Leningrad, Soviet Union (Russia), 2-27 June 1973

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Pts =1 Korchnoi * ½ 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 0 1 1 1 13½ =1 Karpov ½ * ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 1 13½ 3 Byrne 0 ½ * ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 1 1 1 ½ 1 1 1 1 1 12½ 4 Smejkal ½ 0 ½ * 0 0 ½ ½ 1 1 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 11 =5 Huebner 0 ½ ½ 1 * 0 ½ 1 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ ½ 0 1 10 =5 Larsen 0 ½ 0 1 1 * 1 0 0 ½ 0 1 1 ½ 1 ½ 1 1 10 7 Kuzmin ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 * 1 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 1 1 ½ 9½ =8 Tal 0 ½ ½ ½ 0 1 0 * 1 ½ 1 1 ½ 0 0 1 0 1 8½ =8 Gligoric ½ 0 ½ 0 0 1 1 0 * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ 0 1 1 8½ =8 Taimanov 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ * ½ 1 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 ½ 8½ =11 Quinteros 0 0 0 1 ½ 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ * 0 0 ½ ½ 1 ½ 1 7½ =11 Radulov 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 1 * 1 1 ½ ½ 1 1 7½ =13 Uhlmann ½ 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ ½ ½ 1 0 * ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 7 =13 Torre 0 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 1 0 ½ ½ 0 ½ * ½ 1 1 1 7 15 Rukavina 1 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ * 0 1 ½ 6½ 16 Tukmakov 0 0 0 0 ½ ½ 0 0 1 ½ 0 ½ ½ 0 1 * ½ 1 6 17 Estevez Morales 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 ½ 0 ½ 0 0 ½ * 1 4½ 18 Cuellar Gacharna 0 0 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 ½ 0 0 0 0 ½ 0 0 * 1½

Arbiter: Alexander Kotov, assisted by Walter Kühnle-Woods and others. (1)

Korchnoi, Karpov and Byrne were joined by Henrique Mecking, Lajos Portisch and Lev Polugaevsky from the Petropolis Interzonal for play against Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian (who qualified as losing finalist in 1971) and Boris Spassky (who qualified as ex-World Champion in 1972) in the next year's Candidates matches:

Spassky - Byrne Candidates Quarterfinal (1974)
Petrosian - Portisch Candidates Quarterfinal (1974)
Karpov - Polugaevsky Candidates Quarterfinal (1974)
Korchnoi - Mecking Candidates Quarterfinal (1974)

(1) World Championship Interzonals. Leningrad-Petropolis 1973 by Robert Wade, Leslie Stephen Fraser Blackstock and Alexander Kotov (Batsford, London 1974).

Original collection: Game Collection: Interzonals 1973: Leningrad, by User: capybara.

 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Smejkal vs Tal  ½-½321973Leningrad InterzonalE62 King's Indian, Fianchetto
2. V Tukmakov vs Korchnoi 0-1381973Leningrad InterzonalE04 Catalan, Open, 5.Nf3
3. I Radulov vs Quinteros  1-0481973Leningrad InterzonalB43 Sicilian, Kan, 5.Nc3
4. E Torre vs G Kuzmin  ½-½571973Leningrad InterzonalB08 Pirc, Classical
5. J Rukavina vs Larsen 0-1281973Leningrad InterzonalA10 English
6. Gligoric vs Robert E Byrne  ½-½201973Leningrad InterzonalE61 King's Indian
7. Huebner vs Taimanov  ½-½211973Leningrad InterzonalA00 Uncommon Opening
8. G Estevez Morales vs Karpov 0-1551973Leningrad InterzonalD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
9. M Cuellar Gacharna vs Uhlmann 0-1261973Leningrad InterzonalA22 English
10. G Kuzmin vs G Estevez Morales 1-0511973Leningrad InterzonalE59 Nimzo-Indian, 4.e3, Main line
11. Larsen vs I Radulov 1-0261973Leningrad InterzonalA15 English
12. Karpov vs Huebner ½-½411973Leningrad InterzonalB42 Sicilian, Kan
13. Robert E Byrne vs J Rukavina 1-0331973Leningrad InterzonalC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
14. Tal vs E Torre 0-1671973Leningrad InterzonalA15 English
15. Quinteros vs Smejkal 1-0401973Leningrad InterzonalA04 Reti Opening
16. Uhlmann vs Gligoric  ½-½611973Leningrad InterzonalE73 King's Indian
17. Taimanov vs V Tukmakov  ½-½251973Leningrad InterzonalA34 English, Symmetrical
18. Korchnoi vs M Cuellar Gacharna 1-0331973Leningrad InterzonalD58 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower (Makagonov-Bondarevsky) Syst
19. Smejkal vs Larsen 0-1401973Leningrad InterzonalA95 Dutch, Stonewall
20. G Estevez Morales vs Tal 1-0371973Leningrad InterzonalB84 Sicilian, Scheveningen
21. Huebner vs G Kuzmin  ½-½241973Leningrad InterzonalC84 Ruy Lopez, Closed
22. M Cuellar Gacharna vs Gligoric 0-1701973Leningrad InterzonalE68 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Variation, 8.e4
23. I Radulov vs Robert E Byrne 0-1291973Leningrad InterzonalC07 French, Tarrasch
24. E Torre vs Quinteros ½-½241973Leningrad InterzonalB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
25. J Rukavina vs Uhlmann  ½-½411973Leningrad InterzonalA26 English
 page 1 of 7; games 1-25 of 153  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>
Sep-10-13  twinlark: <Tabanus> That's intriguing. Can you expand on your thought?
Sep-10-13  Everett: <Tabanus: <That day, Bent had sent back a one-word telegrammed response. ‘No.’ Ouch.> That's how to sell books. An outright lie, is my guess. Or a joke that he misunderstood.>

Or the truth. Lots of possibilities. And like I said, Larsen felt wronged by Euwe at least twice, and on both occasions perceived that the decisions damaged Larsen's career goals and aspirations.

Many blithely condemn Larsen, yet I wonder if anyone ever felt deeply wronged by someone while working at a job they loved; someone who thwarted a promotional opportunity, for instance. I imagine there are many lawyers throughout history who, having been blocked from becoming partner, would send a similar one word response to a former boss in their last days.

Is their a posthumous biography on Euwe? This may be able to clear things up.

Premium Chessgames Member
  tamar: Not sure where the truth lies, but Larsen fought desperately hard to redeem his reputation after Denver 1971.

He surged ahead at Leningrad to be tied with Korchnoi with 6 of 7, only to lose to him in the 8th round.

With Karpov and Korchnoi in the field, and a resurgent Tal (although he failed at Leningrad) Larsen knew he was an underdog for the third spot, whereas had he been placed in Petropolis, he would not have conceded any player was objectively better than he was.

Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: So Euwe is on his "deathbed" and one of his last thoughts is, "I must send a telegram and ask Bent Larsen's forgiveness for that Internzonal eight years ago."

Is it possible Larsen's anecdote was phrased like this: "Even if he'd been on his deathbed, and sent me a telegram asking for forgiveness, I'd have sent an immediate reply, No!"

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <twinlark: <Tabanus> Can you expand on your thought?> Not much!

You can choose to believe that story. I choose not to. There is also nothing in Scandinavian books and magazines to indicate that he'd been such an @#$%*@!.

Sep-11-13  twinlark: I see. It's always difficult when the person discussed is not around to defend himself.

There was no doubt Larsen was irascible, but if Seirawan's anecdote is the only evidence of cruelty, then it's probably just as well to take it with a grain or two of salt.

Anecdotes are well and good so it might be time to put this one to bed unless someone has some actual evidence one way or the other.

Sep-11-13  twinlark: Besides the passage of time seems to have lost important information about the processes at work in those days.

I'm mystified at how a player could ask for a transfer from a tournament to which he had qualified to a tournament to which he hadn't.

Even if the case was that Euwe had notified Larsen that his appeal was too late, then this indicates that the appeal committee had the power to re-allocate players between interzonals. If so, why did Larsen wait for so long before he lodged his appeal?

And even allowing for all that, it really doesn't make sense for Larsen to hold such a severe grudge when it was quite possible that convening the appeal committee was beyond Euwe's power, even as FIDE President.

There seem to be too many unanswerable questions behind the episode.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <twinlark> Please forgive me.

But we're discussing my childhood hero, so I'm a little touchy. Don't know why I like him and Korchnoi too, the irascibles.

Sep-11-13  twinlark: It's fair enough.

We can be quick to judge around here, but sometimes it's on the basis of anecdotes that may be of dubious provenance. Your post simply reminded me to critically reconsider and to see just how thin the supposed evidence was.

Sep-11-13  JoergWalter: Doesn't the request look either opportunistic or like low selfesteem. I doubt the latter applies in Larsen's case.
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: People on their deathbeds are well-known for being low in self-confidence.
Sep-13-13  savagerules: Looking back at why Larsen was so upset at being 'denied' a chance at getting back to a possible World Champ. meeting with Fischer in 1975. He probably thought he could revenge his earlier 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Fischer and lose instead something like 13-3 in the 1975 World Championship thus he erroneously blames Euwe for denying this rather dubious honor.
Premium Chessgames Member
  Phony Benoni: Back in 1973, <Chess Life & Review> provided good coverage of international events. I found a rew reports that may have some bearing on this controversy.

In the January 1973 issue, p.34, Fred Cramer presented a report on the FIDE Congress. The two Interzonal were to begin in August in Brasilia and Moscow, with equal prizes as well as playing and living conditions. (Cramer noted that both sides had equally delightful summer climates, appraently forgetting that Brasilia is in the Souther Hemistpher.)

As for the assignments:

<"The delicate balancing job, to equalize strength between the two tournaments, will fall to a committee: Euwe, Dorazil, and Elo.">

Ed Edmondson wrote an article in the May 1973 issue, p.261, detailing what he saw as inequlities in the player distribution:

Players Lenin Brasilia
Top 3 USSR 2643 2625
Oter 3 USSR 2577 2585
All 6 USSR 2610 2605
THe Top 3 other 2603 2615
All 12 other 2510 2519
All 18 players 2543 2548

<"Overall, the two tournaments appear to be of equal strenght, with the average rating at Brasilia only five points higher> (!) <than tat at Leningrad. However, the chance for a non-USSR player to qualify at Leningrad is much slimmer than at Brasilia. The top three USSR entries in Leningrad enjoy a 40-point average rating edge over the top three from other countries. At Brasilia, this edge is reduced to only 10 points.

"Quite apart from the advantages of a familiar environment, then, the top- three USSR players at Leningrad are far more likely to emerge as Candidates than are their compatriots at Brasilia.">

Since this appeared in the Mary issue, it is likely the assignments were announced no later than early-mid April.

By the way, note that phrase "...advantages of a familiar environment." If you are playing in a qaulification tournament with six Soviet players, would you rather do so in Brazil or the Soviet Union?

Edmonson also reported (July 1973, p.392) on the FIDE Bureau meeting of May 15-17, including a summary of Larsen's protest:

<"Grandmaster Bent Larsen of Denmark addressed a protest to the FIDE President on April 18. He stated that he found 'the way the players have been divided between the two Interzonals quite unacceptable.' His main point was that personal wishes were taken into account. He asked, then, why not all personal wishes?

"The President conceded that wishes of individual players and member federations had, in some instances, been taken into account and that perhaps it was not wise of him to do this. Unfortunately, this matter was not presented to the Bureau for its consideration until May 17. With the start of the Leningrad Interzonal only two weeks away, the Bureau felt that it was too late for changes. Changes in the composition of the two Interzonals at such a late date would only bring on an unfair situation for those who were switched from one to the other. The Bureau expressed its regret to Grandmaster Larsen and its hope that he would still participate at Leningrad.">

Now here is the crux of the matter. If Larsent submitted a protest on April 18, that was obviously after the assignments were announced. His protest is described as <"...personal wishes were taken into account. He asked, then, why not all personal wishes>?

To my mind, this indicates that Larsen (in common with other players) made a preference for Petropolis know befreo the assignments were announced, and felt he was being discriminated against whenhis wishes were not granted.

This doesn't excuse Larsen's behavior; it just indicates there may have been other reasone for his anger besides being assigned to a tougher seciton.

Sep-14-13  ozmikey: This is just a hunch, but I'm guessing that at least one of the players whose "personal wishes" were taken into account was Henrique Mecking. He was a big hero in Brazil and would have had the benefit of massive home support in Petropolis; I very much doubt whether he would have qualified from the Leningrad tournament.
Sep-14-13  twinlark: <Phony Benoni>

Thanks for taking the trouble to delve into the historical record.

It settles some questions and leaves others. The gist of the issue indicates that FIDE was at fault, or at least that it used a faulty allocation process that failed to build sufficient flexibility into what was always likely to be a contentious outcome.

Simple qualification into one Interzonal or another would have been much simpler, without having a committee making decisions that were less likely to satisfy everyone than straightforward qualification into a target Interzonal.

Clearly Larsen was dissatisfied at the time and remained unhappy with the allocations thereafter, and clearly there was a reason.

But I think <Tabanus> still has a point in taking the deathbed story skeptically, so whether Larsen's behaviour is excusable or not is probably moot, as the account of the incident in question was anecdotal and IMO insufficient to accept as gospel. Independent corroboration is needed to add enough weight to the anecdote to regard it as reliable evidence.

It is after all a serious accusation to make about Larsen as a person.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: Perhaps one could ask Kavalek about the matter. As far as I know, he and Larsen brought their wife to tournaments and socialized with each other.
Sep-14-13  JoergWalter: <Tabanus: ... he and Larsen brought their wife ...>

They had just one?

Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: From ChessBase: <In the latter part of his life Larsen lived in Buenos Aires with his Argentinian wife Marta.> Another blunder. His 1st wife was Lizzie ca. 1961 - ca. 1980(?), the 2nd was Laura Benedini whom he married in 1982.
Apr-13-14  Everett: So, true or not about the anecdote re: Euwe and Larsen, the latter did indeed have reason to be angry, and to have felt wronged. Thanks <Phony Benoni>
Apr-08-15  Conrad93: So was Karpov already the best player in the world by 1974, considering that Fischer had retired?
Apr-08-15  SimonWebbsTiger: @<Conrad>

on the basis of Elo in 1974, e.g.:

Karpov 2705
Korchnoi 2665
Spassky 2650

You'll remember Karpov and Korchnoi met in the Candidates final which later became the de facto world chp. match because Fischer didn't turn up in '75.

Feb-25-17  ughaibu: It amazes me that Euwe, as FIDE president, didn't understand that nobody's (and no federation's) request to play in a particular interzonal could be granted. Take the top two rated players and toss a coin to decide which plays where. Take the next two top rated and toss a coin, etc. How could Euwe still be so unprofessional? And why has this been the story with FIDE presidents even up till today?
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <ozmikey: This is just a hunch, but I'm guessing that at least one of the players whose "personal wishes" were taken into account was Henrique Mecking..>

Could well be.

<...(Mecking) was a big hero in Brazil and would have had the benefit of massive home support in Petropolis;>

Very definitely.

<....I very much doubt whether he would have qualified from the Leningrad tournament.>

That event was tremendously strong, and it is an open question whether he would have made it.

Nov-30-18  Howard: The Leningrad interzonal was definitely tougher than its Brazilian counterpart.

Karpov, incidentally, lived in Leningrad at the time.

Both Karpov and Mecking were considered to be relatively unseasoned at the time...but they both qualified for the Candidates !

Mar-08-19  RookFile: Strange tournament for Tal. In the first half he was awful, putting up a huge negative score. In the second half, he was the Tal of old and brought his overall result to 50 percent.
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