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Portoroz Interzonal Playoff Tournament

Lajos Portisch5.5/8(+3 -0 =5)[games]
Lev Polugaevsky3.5/8(+2 -3 =3)[games]
Efim Geller3/8(+1 -3 =4)[games] Chess Event Description
Portoroz Interzonal Playoff (1973)

Henrique Mecking won the Petropolis Interzonal (1973) with Geller, Polugaevsky and Portisch in a shared second place. But only three players from Petropolis could go to the 1974 Candidates matches, and a playoff was necessary. It took place in Portoroz, Yugoslavia (Slovenia) in September. The ultimate goal was to select a challenger for Robert James Fischer, the World Champion.

The Hungarian Portisch started the four-way round robin with a disadvantage, as he had the lowest Sonneborn-Berger score in the interzonal. In the event of a three-way tie, or a tie for second place, he would be eliminated. His two rivals were also of the same nationality. The suggestion was made that the order of games be arranged so that the Soviet masters would always play each other first. Portisch protested. He trusted his opponents’ sportsmanship and with reason: during the course of the play, Geller and Polugaevsky won against each other in turn. (1) In Geller vs Portisch, 1973, Geller (who had better SB score in the interzonal) erroneously marked the time control on the score sheet at move 84, and lost on time. (2)

Portoroz, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 5-21 September 1973

Elo 1234 1234 1234 1 GM Portisch 2650 **** 11˝˝ ˝1˝˝ 5˝ 2 GM Polugaevsky 2625 00˝˝ **** 110˝ 3˝ 3 GM Geller 2605 ˝0˝˝ 001˝ **** 3

Geller was thus eliminated. Mecking, Portisch and Polugaevsky joined Anatoly Karpov, Viktor Korchnoi and Robert Eugene Byrne from the Leningrad Interzonal (1973) for play against Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian (qualified as losing finalist in 1971) and Boris Spassky (qualified as ex-World Champion in 1972) in next year's matches:

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

All three qualifiers from Petropolis were eliminated in these matches.

(1) Selected Games of Lajos Portisch by Egon Varnusz (Batsford, London 1979), p. 159.
(2) World Championship Interzonals, Leningrad-Petropolis, 1973 by Robert Wade, Leslie Stephen Fraser Blackstock and Alexander Kotov (Batsford, London 1974), pp. 277-281.

Original collections: Game Collection: Interzonals 1973 play-off: Portoroz by User: capybara and Game Collection: Portoroz Interzonal Playoff 1973 by User: Tabanus. Thanks to User: Chessical for information from Wade's book (incl. game dates), and to User: OhioChessFan for improving the English.

 page 1 of 1; 12 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Geller vs Polugaevsky 0-1381973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffB96 Sicilian, Najdorf
2. Portisch vs Geller  ½-½481973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffD31 Queen's Gambit Declined
3. Polugaevsky vs Portisch 0-1541973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
4. Polugaevsky vs Geller 1-0351973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffE88 King's Indian, Samisch, Orthodox, 7.d5 c6
5. Geller vs Portisch 0-1861973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
6. Portisch vs Polugaevsky 1-0491973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffD47 Queen's Gambit Declined Semi-Slav
7. Geller vs Polugaevsky 1-0331973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffB83 Sicilian
8. Portisch vs Geller  ½-½271973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffE92 King's Indian
9. Polugaevsky vs Portisch  ½-½271973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffD63 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense
10. Polugaevsky vs Geller  ½-½171973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffD62 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox, Rubinstein Attack
11. Geller vs Portisch ½-½311973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffC95 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Breyer
12. Portisch vs Polugaevsky  ½-½191973Portoroz Interzonal PlayoffD41 Queen's Gambit Declined, Semi-Tarrasch
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: < The suggestion was made that the order of games be arranged so that the Soviet masters would always play each other first. Portisch protested. He trusted his opponents’ sportsmanship... >

What good sportsmanship, and he ended up on top.

Aug-20-19  Petrosianic: <The suggestion was made that the order of games be arranged so that the Soviet masters would always play each other first. Portisch protested. He trusted his opponents’ sportsmanship and with reason:...>

Speaking of sportsmanship, the final game raises some questions. If Portisch beat Polugaevsky in the last game, with White, Geller would qualify. Otherwise, Polugaevsky qualifies. The game was drawn in 19 moves, giving the spot to Polugaevsky. How much sporting obligation, if any, did Portisch have to try to win that game?

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