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Gligoric - Stahlberg Match

Svetozar Gligoric6.5/12(+2 -1 =9)[games]
Gideon Stahlberg5.5/12(+1 -2 =9)[games] Chess Event Description
Gligoric - Stahlberg (1949)

The match of twelve games took place in May 1949 in Split and Belgrade, Yugoslavia. It was announced in January 1949 in the Swedish magazine Tidskrift för Schack (Journal of Chess):

"Ståhlberg meets Gligoric - A definitive agreement has been reached with regards to a match between Ståhlberg and the Yugoslavian master Gligoric. It is to be played in Belgrade in May and is to be of twelve games. We confine ourselves to pointing out how fearsome the energetic and ambitious Yugoslavian will be on home turf". 1

The match commenced on Friday, May 20th and ended on Thursday, June 9th, 1949. 2

The match was keenly followed in Yugoslavia: "The public's interest was very great, the competition hall was filled to overflowing, and outside several hundred spectators followed its progress by way of the game's large demonstration boards. The Yugoslav Chess Federation showed the greatest hospitality, and the press devoted considerable space to the match. At the conclusion Gligoric as well as Stahlberg were acclaimed in lively fashion." 3

The first eight games were played in Croatian port of Split, with the last four games played 530 kms away in the Serbian and Yugoslav capital Belgrade. 3


Game 1 - Split, Friday, 20th May, 1949
Game 2 - Split, Saturday, 21st May, 1949
Game 3 - Split, Sunday, 22nd May, 1949
Game 4 - Split, Wednesday, 25th May, 1949
Game 5 - Split, Thursday, 26th May, 1949
Game 6 - Split, Friday, 27th May, 1949
Game 7 - Split, Sunday, 29th May, 1949
Game 8 - Split, Tuesday, 31st May, 1949

Game 9 - Belgrade, Sunday, 5th June, 1949
Game 10 - Belgrade, Monday, 6th June, 1949
Game 11 - Belgrade, Wednesday, 8th June, 1949
Game 12 - Belgrade, Thursday, 9th June, 1949 2

The players

This was a match between Ståhlberg, an established grandmaster at his peak and ranked fifth in the world, and a rising star ranked 17. 4

Ståhlberg vied with Max Euwe in the late 1940's and early 1950's to be the pre-eminent grandmaster in Western Europe. His best results were in the decade after World War Two: Saltsjöbaden Interzonal (1948) (6th, qualifying as a Candidate), the Budapest Candidates (1950) 1950 (7th of 10), Amsterdam (1950) (3rd out of 20), and the Stockholm Interzonal (1952) where he again qualified as a Candidate. Unfortunately, at the Zurich Candidates (1953) he came 15th and last. As Ståhlberg recognised in his book "I kamp med världseliten" (1958)5 this marked the end of his career at the summit of the chess world, although he remained a strong grandmaster.

Gligoric at 26 year's old, was a rapidly rising star of Yugoslav chess. Gligoric had dominated the Yugoslav championship since the war (joint winner 1947, 1948, winner 1949). He was also coming to be recognised as a major force in international tournaments. In the strong tournaments in Warsaw 1947 (defeating Smyslov - Smyslov vs Gligoric, 1947) and in Budapest 1948, he came 1st and 2nd respectively. He shared 11th-13th places in Saltsjöbaden Interzonal (1948). In the first post-war Olympiad, at Dubrovnik 1950, Gligoric played top board for the Yugoslavian team which was to win the gold medal.

After this match, Gligoric continued to progress becoming an International Master in 1950 (although a photograph of the players in the match book clearly shows a sign with "International Master" against his name) and a Grandmaster in 1951. This was a real achievement at a time when international opportunities were scare and titled players few in number.


The openings were those heavily used in the 1930's. Although Gligoric became one of the leading contributers to the Kings Indian Defence (, in this match he relied on the Queen's Gambit with the Slav and a single Nimzo Indian as his second strings against <1.d4>.

Gligoric chose games 8 and 9 for inclusion his best games collection of 1952, 100 partija Svetozara Gligorića (pages 79-80).

Ståhlberg was recognised as aleading expert on the French Defence and used it the three times Gligoric opened <1.e4>, against <1.d4> in this match and throughout his career he almost invariably prefered the Queen's Gambit to a hypermodern defence.


Gligoric was White in the odd numbered games. It was a closely fought contest which was tied at one win each until Game 8 when Gligoric pulled ahead and remained so until the end of the 12 game match.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 Gligoric ½ 0 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 6½ Ståhlberg ½ 1 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 5½

Progressive scores:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Gligoric ½ ½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 3½ 4½ 5 5½ 6 6½ Ståhlberg ½ 1½ 1½ 2 2½ 3 3½ 3½ 4 4½ 5 5½

Both players annotated the games in a book, Meč Gligorić-Štalberg 6½:5½, Beograd-Split, published in Belgrade in 1949 by Šahovskog saveza Srbije.



1 Tidskrift för Schack, No. 2, Feb. 1949, p. 35.
2 Meč Gligorić-Štalberg 6½:5½, Beograd-Split.
3 Tidskrift för Schack, No. 6, June 1949, p. 128.
5 In Battle against the World Elite.

This text by User: Chessical. Thanks to User: zanzibar for research into sources and User: Tabanus for sources and links to the photograph. Many thanks to The National Chess Library, University of Brighton in Hastings (Sussex, UK), for access to their copies of ""Meč Gligorić-Štalberg 6½:5½, Beograd-Split" and "100 partija Svetozara Gligorića" -

 page 1 of 1; 12 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Gligoric vs Stahlberg  ½-½371949Gligoric - StahlbergD60 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
2. Stahlberg vs Gligoric 1-0301949Gligoric - StahlbergD20 Queen's Gambit Accepted
3. Gligoric vs Stahlberg 1-0591949Gligoric - StahlbergC09 French, Tarrasch, Open Variation, Main line
4. Stahlberg vs Gligoric  ½-½301949Gligoric - StahlbergD68 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Classical
5. Gligoric vs Stahlberg  ½-½431949Gligoric - StahlbergC07 French, Tarrasch
6. Stahlberg vs Gligoric  ½-½291949Gligoric - StahlbergD68 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Classical
7. Gligoric vs Stahlberg ½-½311949Gligoric - StahlbergC14 French, Classical
8. Stahlberg vs Gligoric 0-1561949Gligoric - StahlbergD45 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
9. Gligoric vs Stahlberg  ½-½721949Gligoric - StahlbergD66 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Bd3 line
10. Stahlberg vs Gligoric  ½-½561949Gligoric - StahlbergD68 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Classical
11. Gligoric vs Stahlberg ½-½461949Gligoric - StahlbergD33 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
12. Stahlberg vs Gligoric  ½-½891949Gligoric - StahlbergE21 Nimzo-Indian, Three Knights
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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