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TOURNAMENT STANDINGS
Vidmar Memorial Tournament

Albin Planinc10.5/15(+7 -1 =7)[games]
Svetozar Gligoric10/15(+5 -0 =10)[games]
Wolfgang Unzicker9.5/15(+5 -1 =9)[games]
Georgi Tringov9/15(+4 -1 =10)[games]
Robert Byrne8.5/15(+2 -0 =13)[games]
Aleksandar Matanovic8.5/15(+3 -1 =11)[games]
Florin Gheorghiu8/15(+3 -2 =10)[games]
Stojan Puc8/15(+4 -3 =8)[games]
Gedeon Barcza7/15(+3 -4 =8)[games]
Mato Damjanovic7/15(+2 -3 =10)[games]
Bruno Parma7/15(+1 -2 =12)[games]
Vojko Musil6.5/15(+1 -3 =11)[games]
Karl Robatsch6.5/15(+0 -2 =13)[games]
Ivo Bajec5.5/15(+0 -4 =11)[games]
Gyozo Forintos5.5/15(+2 -6 =7)[games]
Janez Stupica3/15(+0 -9 =6)[games]
*

Chessgames.com Chess Event Description
Vidmar Memorial (1969)
This tournament was contested in Ljubljana, Yugoslavia in June 1969, overlapping the end of the Petrosian - Spassky World Championship Rematch (1969). It boasted ten International Grandmasters, three International Masters, and just three untitled players. FIDE classified it as Category 1A, then the highest category. Almost everyone expected that the battle for first place would be fought among experienced grandmasters like Svetozar Gligoric, Florin Gheorghiu, Wolfgang Unzicker, Aleksandar Matanovic, and Robert Eugene Byrne. (1)

It thus came as a great surprise when the tournament was won by an untitled, little-known local player, Albin Planinc. Ludek Pachman wrote of Planinc's achievement in his 1975 book Pachman's Decisive Games, "Can it happen that a player without a title at all can win a strong tournament and beat several grandmasters? In the last few decades there is only one case I know of."(1) Planinc's victory was well deserved. He took the lead in the first round, and throughout the tournament never stood lower than equal first. Mark H Horton remarked of the victor, "His style is rather similar to Tal, he having a preference for complicated tactical positions."(2) Later writers likened him to Don Quixote,(3) and observed, "An imaginative player, always seeking new ideas, he is capable of a win, or a loss, against almost anyone."(4)

Planinc worked in the local bicycle factory. Pachman wrote that he "was probably the only competitor who was unable to take a day off to prepare for the tournament."(1) The 25-year-old amateur won in the first round against Janez Stupica, another untitled player, while all the other games were drawn. In the second round, Planinc kept the lead with a surprise victory over Matanovic. Planinc played the aggressive and risky Bishop's Gambit (1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Bc4), beating his grandmaster opponent with a king-side attack in 28 moves. Planinc drew in Rounds 3 and 4, enabling GM Georgi Tringov to catch up with him, but again took the outright lead in Round 5 with a win as Black against GM Gedeon Barcza.

After drawing Tringov in Round 6, Planinc was finally brought back down to earth in Round 7 by Gligoric, who defeated his Modern Benoni in 52 moves. That brought about a four-way tie for first among Gligoric, Tringov, Planinc, and IM Stojan Puc at 4.5 points, with Unzicker, Gheorghiu, and Byrne just half a point behind.

The loss only momentarily slowed Planinc, who won as Black against IM Gyozo Victor Forintos in Round 8, drew Byrne in Round 9, and won a pretty game as Black against Unzicker in Round 10. After 10 rounds, Planinc and Puc (who was also having an excellent tournament) were tied for first with 7-3, a point ahead of Byrne, Gheorghiu, and Gligoric.

In the next four rounds, Planinc drew thrice and beat IM Vojko Musil. Meanwhile, Puc lost two games, falling out of contention. Gligoric scored 3-1 in Rounds 11-14, drawing to within half a point of Planinc.

This set up a dramatic last round showdown. Gligoric, as White against tailender Stupica, was heavily favored to win. Planinc was also White, but had a much more dangerous opponent in GM Gheorghiu.(1) Pachman writes: "Many players in Planinc's place would have been content with a tie and have used the advantage of the White pieces to obtain the necessary half point. As things turned out this would have been easy to achieve, for Gheorghiu offered him a draw twice during the game. The young player, however, had other ideas and first sacrificed a pawn in an unclear position and then made a perfectly correct rook sacrifice. The game, which turned out to be one of the most beautiful of the tournament, gave Planinc the final point, which caused a great sensation in the world of chess."(5)

FIDE awarded Planinc the International Master title for this tournament.(6) He had indeed satisfied the standard for the award of the grandmaster title, but could not receive it because the rules did not then allow a player to become a grandmaster without first obtaining the IM title.(7) Planinc became a grandmaster in 1972.(8)

Planinc's Cinderella-like feat - winning a strong international tournament as a little-known amateur, ahead of numerous grandmasters - has few parallels in chess history. Comparable achievements include the first-place finishes of Harry Nelson Pillsbury at Hastings (1895), Jose Raul Capablanca at San Sebastian (1911), Garry Kasparov at Banja Luka 1979 (Game Collection: Banja Luka 1979), and Glenn Flear at London 1986. Of these, perhaps only Pillsbury's stunning triumph at Hastings, ahead of both the reigning and former world champions, was more surprising than Planinc's victory. Capablanca had routed Frank James Marshall in a match two years before; Kasparov, though only 16, had finished with an even score in the previous year's Soviet Championship; and Flear already had the IM title. Even Pillsbury had prior international experience, having played at New York 1893 (Game Collection: New York 1893, The Impromtu Tournament). Planinc was the darkest of dark horses.

Ljubljana, Yugoslavia (Slovenia), 2-20 June 1969

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 Planinc * 0 1 ˝ ˝ 1 1 ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ 1 1 10.5 2 GM Gligoric 1 * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 1 1 10.0 3 GM Unzicker 0 ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ 1 1 ˝ ˝ 1 1 9.5 4 GM Tringov ˝ ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 1 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 1 9.0 =5 GM Byrne ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 1 8.5 =5 GM Matanovic 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ 1 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ 8.5 =7 GM Gheorghiu 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ * 0 ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 1 8.0 =7 IM Puc ˝ 0 0 1 ˝ ˝ 1 * ˝ 1 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 8.0 =9 GM Barcza 0 0 ˝ 0 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ 1 1 7.0 =9 GM Damjanovic ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ * ˝ 0 ˝ 1 1 ˝ 7.0 =9 GM Parma ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 1 ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 7.0 =12 IM Musil 0 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 6.5 =12 GM Robatsch ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ * ˝ ˝ ˝ 6.5 =14 Bajec ˝ 0 ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ * 0 ˝ 5.5 =14 IM Forintos 0 ˝ 0 ˝ 0 ˝ 0 ˝ 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ 1 * 1 5.5 16 Stupica 0 0 0 0 0 ˝ 0 0 0 ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ ˝ 0 * 3.0

Progressive Scores: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 1 Planinc 1 2 2˝ 3 4 4˝ 4˝ 5˝ 6 7 7˝ 8 9 9˝ 10˝ 2 Gligoric ˝ 1 1˝ 2˝ 3 3˝ 4˝ 5 5˝ 6 7 7˝ 8˝ 9 10 3 Unzicker ˝ 1 2 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 5 5˝ 6˝ 7˝ 8˝ 9˝ 4 Tringov ˝ 1˝ 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 5˝ 5˝ 6 7 7˝ 8˝ 9 =5 Byrne ˝ 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 6 6˝ 7 7˝ 8 8˝ =5 Matanovic ˝ ˝ 1 1˝ 2 2˝ 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 5˝ 6˝ 7 8 8˝ =7 Gheorghiu ˝ 1 2 2 2˝ 3 4 5 5˝ 6 6˝ 7 7˝ 8 8 =7 Puc ˝ 1 1˝ 2 ˝2 4 4˝ 5˝ 6 7 7 7˝ 8 8 8 =9 Barcza ˝ 1˝ 1˝ 1˝ 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 6 6 7 =9 Damjanovic ˝ ˝ 1 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3 3 4 4˝ 5 5˝ 6 7 =9 Parma ˝ 1 1 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 5˝ 5˝ 6 7 =12 Musil ˝ 1 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3 3˝ 4˝ 5 5˝ 6 6 6˝ 6˝ =12 Robatsch ˝ 1 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4˝ 5 5˝ 5˝ 6 6˝ 6˝ =14 Bajec ˝ 1 1˝ 2 2 2˝ 3 3˝ 4 4 4˝ 4˝ 4˝ 5 5˝ =14 Forintos ˝ ˝ 1 1˝ 2˝ 3 3 3 4 4 4˝ 4˝ 5 5˝ 5˝ 16 Stupica 0 0 0 ˝ ˝ 1 1˝ 1˝ 1˝ 2 2˝ 3 3 3 3

References: (1) Ludek Pachman, Pachman's Decisive Games, p. 233; (2) The Chess Player, Modern Chess Opening Theory as Surveyed in Ljubliana 1969 Complete with All the Games, p. 3 (this pamphlet is also the source of the dates of the rounds); (3) Dr. Petar Trifunović, Svetozar Gligorić, Rudolf Marić, and Dragoljub Janošević, Yugoslav Chess Triumphs, p. 43; (4) David Hooper and Kenneth Whyld, The Oxford Companion to Chess (2d ed. 1992), pp. 310-11; (5) Pachman's Decisive Games, pp. 233-34; (6) http://www.schack.se/tfsarkiv/histo..., p. 177; (7) Pachman's Decisive Games, p. 234; (8) The Oxford Companion to Chess, p. 310.

Original collection: Game Collection: Vidmar Memorial by User: FSR.

 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 120  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. I Bajec vs Unzicker  ½-½161969Vidmar MemorialE16 Queen's Indian
2. Damjanovic vs G Barcza  ½-½131969Vidmar MemorialC85 Ruy Lopez, Exchange Variation Doubly Deferred (DERLD)
3. V Musil vs Parma  ½-½131969Vidmar MemorialB47 Sicilian, Taimanov (Bastrikov) Variation
4. Puc vs Forintos  ½-½361969Vidmar MemorialD59 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower
5. J Stupica vs A Planinc  0-1361969Vidmar MemorialA71 Benoni, Classical, 8.Bg5
6. Gheorghiu vs R Byrne  ½-½211969Vidmar MemorialE80 King's Indian, Samisch Variation
7. A Matanovic vs Gligoric  ½-½301969Vidmar MemorialC93 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense
8. Robatsch vs Tringov  ½-½151969Vidmar MemorialB92 Sicilian, Najdorf, Opocensky Variation
9. Unzicker vs Gheorghiu  ½-½251969Vidmar MemorialB61 Sicilian, Richter-Rauzer, Larsen Variation, 7.Qd2
10. R Byrne vs J Stupica  1-0441969Vidmar MemorialC93 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Smyslov Defense
11. Tringov vs Damjanovic  1-0411969Vidmar MemorialB32 Sicilian
12. Puc vs V Musil  ½-½151969Vidmar MemorialD59 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tartakower
13. Gligoric vs Robatsch  ½-½211969Vidmar MemorialD68 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Classical
14. Forintos vs G Barcza  0-1281969Vidmar MemorialA14 English
15. A Planinc vs A Matanovic 1-0281969Vidmar MemorialC33 King's Gambit Accepted
16. Parma vs I Bajec  ½-½251969Vidmar MemorialC98 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin
17. Gheorghiu vs Parma  1-0341969Vidmar MemorialD32 Queen's Gambit Declined, Tarrasch
18. V Musil vs Forintos  ½-½161969Vidmar MemorialB27 Sicilian
19. G Barcza vs Tringov  0-1601969Vidmar MemorialE69 King's Indian, Fianchetto, Classical Main line
20. I Bajec vs Puc  ½-½931969Vidmar MemorialA70 Benoni, Classical with 7.Nf3
21. J Stupica vs Unzicker  0-1571969Vidmar MemorialD30 Queen's Gambit Declined
22. Robatsch vs A Planinc  ½-½201969Vidmar MemorialC78 Ruy Lopez
23. A Matanovic vs R Byrne  ½-½291969Vidmar MemorialC72 Ruy Lopez, Modern Steinitz Defense, 5.O-O
24. Damjanovic vs Gligoric  ½-½181969Vidmar MemorialB53 Sicilian
25. R Byrne vs Robatsch  ½-½161969Vidmar MemorialD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
 page 1 of 5; games 1-25 of 120  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Apr-14-18  morfishine: Excellent write-up on this tournament! Planinc's play was powerful and relentless!

I've spent hours and hours going over Planinc's games (not only from this tournament) and the best description is of a book one cannot put down: it is so good and exciting, you just can't wait to turn the page and keep on reading

*****

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