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Budapest Interzonal Playoff Match

Andras Adorjan3/6(+2 -2 =2)[games]
Zoltan Ribli3/6(+2 -2 =2)[games] Chess Event Description
Budapest Interzonal Playoff (1979)

Three players from the Rio de Janeiro Interzonal (1979) and three players from the Riga Interzonal (1979) were to advance to the Candidates matches in March 1980. In Riga, Mikhail Tal and Lev Polugaevsky advanced, whilst the shared 3rd place between Adorjan and Ribli had to be decided by a playoff. This took place in Budapest, three weeks after the Interzonal. The match conditions specified best of six games, or first to reach 3.5 points. If tied at 3-3 the winner would be the one with better Sonneborn-Berger score in the Interzonal (Adorjan). (1, 2)

As with fellow grandmaster and olympic team colleague Gyula Sax (27), Adorjan (28) and Ribli (27) lived in the same square kilometre of Budapest. (3) Prior to the playoff, Adorjan had defeated Ribli 2 to 0, with 10 draws. (4) Adorjan was "troubled with illness and interruptions" during the Interzonal (5) and the doctor there had granted him a 14-day extension before the match. (6) The experts gave Ribli the better chances, (7) and he was also higher rated with 70 more Elo points. (8) The players were each entitled to two postponements during the match. (2) In Game 1, the position was even until Adorjan faltered in the double rook endgame just before the time control. Game 2 was an uneventful Symmetrical English. Adorjan could have played on, but offered the draw on move 15. In Game 3, he lost his isolated queen pawn on move 19, and had to play a rook ending a pawn down, until he resigned. When Ribli was leading by two points after the third game, everybody expected him to win the match. (7) Adorjan now postponed Game 4 until 29 October. (2) According to Bent Larsen, this was just his favorite postponement trick. (9) However, Larsen may have been nursing his own wounds in this regard: Adorjan vs Larsen, 1979 had ruined his chance to run once more for the title. Game 4 reached this position:

click for larger view

18.Bh6!! Bf6 19.gxh7+ Kxh7 20.Bxg7 Bxg7 21.h6 Bf6 22.Qg2! 1-0. The diagrammed position and its variants was later published in many books and websites as an example of how to conduct such an attack, and how to avoid it. This game was a blow to Ribli's morale. (2) But Adorjan still needed to win. He complicated matters in Game 5 with the King's Indian Defense (Panno Variation). Ribli could not find the right moves; Adorjan sacrificed the exchange to get a pawn and a dominant position on the queenside. Faced with two connected passers, Ribli resigned on move 41. Now it was he who had to win, and with the black pieces! Ribli requested two days postponement before Game 6, (10) but it was not his day. As time ran out with only two minutes to make 16 moves, he offered the draw. (2) Adorjan naturally accepted.

Budapest, Hungary, 20 October - 4 November 1979

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 GM Adorjan 2525 0 ˝ 0 1 1 ˝ 3 2 GM Ribli 2595 1 ˝ 1 0 0 ˝ 3

Adorjan had better tie-break score in the Interzonal, and advanced to the Candidates matches:

Hübner - Adorjan Candidates Quarterfinal (1980)
Polugaevsky - Tal Candidates Quarterfinal (1980)
Portisch - Spassky Candidates Quarterfinal (1980)
Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1980)

Further reading: Interzonal tournaments. Riga -79. Rio de Janeiro -79 by Viktor Ivanovich Chepizhny (Physical Culture and Sports, Moscow 1980. 415 pp.) (in Russian; covers the playoff).


(1) Harry Golombek in The Times, 17 November 1979, p. 13.
(2) Laszlo Szabo in Jaque 97, p. 38 (
(3) Tidskrift för Schack, October 1979, p. 238 (
(4) Statistics by They have probably played some more games.
(5) Tidskrift för Schack, October 1979, p. 237.
(6) Evening Star (Washington DC), 11 November 1979, p. E-12 (p. 62).
(7) Új Szó, 16 November 1979, p. 7.
(8) FIDE Rating List January 1979 (
(9) Tidskrift för Schack, November 1979, p. 273.
10) De Waarheid, 5 November 1979, p. 6.

Original collection: Game Collection: Budapest Interzonal Playoff 1979 by User: Tabanus. Game dates are from ChessBase (from User: Chessical). The dates of Games 1 and 4 are same as in Jaque 97 p. 38, and Game 6 date is same as in Új Szó 6 Nov 1979 p. 7. Thanks to User: Paint My Dragon and User: OhioChessFan for improving the English.

 page 1 of 1; 6 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Ribli vs Adorjan 1-0431979Budapest Interzonal PlayoffD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
2. Adorjan vs Ribli  ½-½151979Budapest Interzonal PlayoffA36 English
3. Ribli vs Adorjan 1-0621979Budapest Interzonal PlayoffD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
4. Adorjan vs Ribli 1-0221979Budapest Interzonal PlayoffB90 Sicilian, Najdorf
5. Ribli vs Adorjan 0-1411979Budapest Interzonal PlayoffE63 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Panno Variation
6. Adorjan vs Ribli  ½-½241979Budapest Interzonal PlayoffA26 English
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

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