Members · Prefs · Laboratory · Collections · Openings · Endgames · Sacrifices · History · Search Kibitzing · Kibitzer's Café · Chessforums · Tournament Index · Players · Kibitzing

Smyslov - Hübner Candidates Quarterfinal Match

Vasily Smyslov7/14(+1 -1 =12)[games]
Robert Huebner7/14(+1 -1 =12)[games] Chess Event Description
Smyslov - Hübner Candidates Quarterfinal (1983)

The ageing Vasily Smyslov (62) surprisingly qualified for this match from the Las Palmas Interzonal (1982). Robert Hübner (34) qualified when he reached the Korchnoi - Hübner Candidates Final (1980). Three other quarterfinal matches were held in parallel: the Korchnoi - Portisch Candidates Quarterfinal (1983), the Kasparov - Beliavsky Candidates Quarterfinal (1983), and the Ribli - Torre Candidates Quarterfinal (1983). The draw for pairings had been made in Lucerne, Switzerland on 10 November, 1982, at the FIDE congress during the chess olympiad (29 October - 16 November). (1, 2) Each match would be played to 10 games, (3) and the first player to achieve 5½ points would go to the semifinal. If tied at 5-5, the matches would be extended with either two games (and two more if still tied) or four games. Der Spiegel says four, and that if still tied (the rules may not have been 100% clear), the players could choose between two more rapid games and drawing of lots. (4) The matches were held in order to select a challenger for Anatoly Karpov, the World Champion.

The match was held in Velden, Austria, about 500 meters from the Casino Velden. (5) The city had hosted the Korchnoi - Petrosian Candidates Quarterfinal (1980). Smyslov resided with a delegation headed by Yuri Averbakh. (6) Hübner had hired the Lucerne dentist Otto Meyer as his manager, and Lubomir Kavalek as his second. (7) He was also supported by Gisbert Jacoby, (7, 8) who in his own estimation was "more of a caretaker than a second". (7) The preparation for the match had cost Hübner 60,000 Mark, and he had no chance of getting it back. The German Sports Federation covered barely more than one-fifth of this, and the winner would receive only 12,500 Swiss francs, the loser 7,500 Swiss francs. (7) A central organizer of the match was Franz Hoelzl. (9) The Swiss referee was Willy Kaufman. (6, 10)

After a four-day delay, necessitated by an undisclosed Smyslov illness, play started on Thursday, his 62nd birthday. (6) Being an exchange down, Kaufman thought Smyslov had the initiative when Game 1 was adjourned. But Averbakh insisted that he would have to fight hard to hold the draw. (6) The position is certainly not easy to win,

click for larger view

and Hübner's 41.Kf3 was not the best. Fifteen moves later, the game was drawn. Later, there were only two decided games: Smyslov won Game 4 and Hübner won Game 9. After 14 games, the score was deadlocked at 7-7.

Velden, Austria, 24 March - 19 April 1983

Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 1 2 3 4 GM Smyslov 2595 ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 7 GM Hübner 2625 ½ ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ ½ ½ 7

According to Ove Kinnmark, FIDE's rules now required drawing of lots. (11) He does not mention the possibility of rapid games. (11) In any case, it seems that Hübner went home, (12) and on 20 April, Smyslov and the others set off to Casino Velden to settle the issue. (5) The casino was usually closed during winter. (5) It was based on Blackjack, but later in 1983, slot machines and American Roulette were added to the games. (13) And now there was an opportunity to try the roulette board. There is a photo at If the ball plunged into the black numbers, Hübner would win. If it landed on red, Smyslov was the winner. At 8 pm, the turntable was put in motion, and the ball plunged into .. zero! (14) They tried again. Red 3! (14) A report in The Times (apparently by Harry Golombek) concluded: Trois, impair, rouge. And Hübner went out. (15) It was unfair, and in his column in New York Times, Robert Eugene Byrne (who was a candidate in 1974) suggested a "speeded-up series of tie-break games to be used after the first tie-break fails to produce a winner". (16)

Smyslov advanced to the Smyslov - Ribli Candidates Semifinal (1983).


(1) Tidskrift för Schack, December 1982, p. 317.
(2) Harry Golombek in The Times, 5 February 1983, p. 8.
(3) Tidskrift för Schack, March-April 1983, p. 86.
(4) Der Spiegel, 21 March 1983, p. 231,
(5) Alexander Jongsma in De Telegraaf, 20 April 1983, p. T21.
(6) Edwin Albaugh in Washington Times, 31 March 1983, p. 16D.
(7) Der Spiegel, 21 March 1983, p. 232.
(8) Schach Zeitung, August 2009, p. 5.
(9) Schachclub Reinach Rössli 97 website (now defunct).
(10) AP report in Observer-Reporter, 5 April 1983, p. D-4,
(11) Tidskrift för Schack, May 1983, p. 138.
(12) Lars Grahn in his blog Inte Bara Schack,
(13) Casino Velden's web page at
(14) Het Vrije Volk, 21 April 1983, p. 27.
(15) The Times, 30 April 1983.
(16) Robert Byrne in New York Times, 8 May 1983,

Original collections: Game Collection: WCC Index (Smyslov-Huebner 1983) by User: Hesam7 and Game Collection: Smyslov - Hübner Candidates Quarterfinal 1983 by User: Tabanus.

 page 1 of 1; 14 games  PGN Download 
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. Huebner vs Smyslov ½-½551983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalC42 Petrov Defense
2. Smyslov vs Huebner ½-½441983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA30 English, Symmetrical
3. Huebner vs Smyslov  ½-½441983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalC42 Petrov Defense
4. Smyslov vs Huebner 1-0481983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA35 English, Symmetrical
5. Huebner vs Smyslov  ½-½351983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA28 English
6. Smyslov vs Huebner  ½-½511983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA35 English, Symmetrical
7. Huebner vs Smyslov  ½-½621983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalD17 Queen's Gambit Declined Slav
8. Smyslov vs Huebner  ½-½491983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA15 English
9. Huebner vs Smyslov 1-0361983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA20 English
10. Smyslov vs Huebner ½-½471983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalD35 Queen's Gambit Declined
11. Smyslov vs Huebner  ½-½741983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalE39 Nimzo-Indian, Classical, Pirc Variation
12. Huebner vs Smyslov  ½-½611983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalA29 English, Four Knights, Kingside Fianchetto
13. Smyslov vs Huebner ½-½601983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalD23 Queen's Gambit Accepted
14. Huebner vs Smyslov ½-½381983Smyslov - Hübner Candidates QuarterfinalC53 Giuoco Piano
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2)  

Kibitzer's Corner
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: There is a summary of this match by GM Lubomir Kavalek in Jaque, August 1983 (no. 139), pp. 314-320. Here's a translation (from the intro):

<The match in Velden was organized in a short period of time and conditions were agreed only verbally between the organizers and the contestants. Upon arrival, Hübner found that these conditions were very different from what was promised. The biggest problem came with the television. He had been promised that there would be only one television transmitter inside, in order to transmit the moves of the game room to the analysis. But on arrival he found that the official Austrian radio and TV company ORF already had a contract in their power, allowing them to focus on players from any position for 55 hours and use this material for any purpose without the consent of the players. Thus, during the first five games the match, it was not Hübner versus Smyslov, but Hübner versus Television. After these games, an agreement was reached, but then came a new controversy.

The day after the opening of the match, Smyslov had a fever and asked Hübner for a postponement. Hübner accepted, but two days later Smyslov was ill and returned to ask for a second postponement. This was already against the rules of the FlDE. Hübner again accepted and, thus, the first game of the match was held on Smyslov's birthday, March 24. Before the game began, the Soviets asked if their doctor could give Smyslov some drinks during the game. Meanwhile, Hübner asked them to allow him to have head massage, formerly practiced by former world champion Max Euwe. Both sides accepted, and this was taken as a noble gentleman's agreement. But when the problems with television ceased, just before the 6th game, Averbach addressed us and asked if Hübner could stop having head massage, pointing to the FlDE rules. Feeling betrayed by the knights of Moscow, Hübner refused to shake hands with Smyslov until the end of the match.>

Mar-22-16  suenteus po 147: <Tabanus> Thank you for the excellent story. I wonder if Huebner actually had a guy standing behind him, fingers vigorously rubbing his scalp while he sat and thought about a position during the game?
Premium Chessgames Member
  Tabanus: <suenteus po 147> Probably not at the playing table, but I don't know :)
Premium Chessgames Member
  offramp: The croupier span the wheel.

The ball eventually landed in the black.

Huebner was not there, so the croupier said to Smyslov, "Which colour did you pick?"

"Black", said Smyslov.

The croupier said, "Then you win".

And Smyslov went through to play Ribli.

Apr-05-17  Petrosianic: <Thus, during the first five games the match, it was not Hübner versus Smyslov, but Hübner versus Television.>

Kavalek fails to explain, or even attempt to explain, how the TV cameras harmed one player more than the other. It comes off sounding like an excuse for the defeat in Game 4.

Apr-05-17  savagerules: Huebner getting his head rubbed during games. -And you wonder why the general public thinks chessplayers are weird? Regarding the roulette tiebreak it's odd they didn't come up with a fast time limit chess playoff like they do now. Doesn't seem too difficult to come up with that as a better tiebreak than a wheel spin.
Apr-05-17  Olavi: <Kavalek fails to explain, or even attempt to explain, how the TV cameras harmed one player more than the other.>

It doesn't need explaining, Hübner's sensitivity is famous, as is his sticking to principles. For instance in Teesside 1975 he forfeited the last game because the round was started a couple of hours earlier than it stood in the original invitation half a year before.

Apr-06-17  Howard: As far as a roulette wheel being used to break the tie, bear in mind that the two players may have agreed to this method before the match--in other words, don't be so quick to blame the match organizers, if one didn't like this method.

Personally, I'm not so sure that rapid chess games are necessarily a "better tiebreak" than a roulette wheel. The former method can obviously be extremely nerve-wracking, plus Hubner was known (as was Ivanchuk) for having weak nerves.

Sure, a roulette wheel is just pure luck as far as breaking a tie. But rapid games also have a very high "luck" element. If the two players decided to spare their nerves and go with a roulette wheel, that may have been a wise decision.

Apr-27-17  zanzibar: It doesn't sound like Smyslov liked the tiebreak any more than Huebner (who supposedly was very opposed):

From an 2003 interview with Smyslov:

<Q- But what predominates in chess: the divine or the satanic?

Chess has something of the devil. I cant specify exactly what it is but I feel it intuitively. I think that the Ecclesiastics had every reason to consider chess a demonic game. Not only Christians held this opinion, chess was also banned in Iraq. Even today priests renounce chess. John Paul II used to be a confirmed chess player in his youth and even composed a three-move problem. But when he became the Pope, he gave up chess.

My own experience shows that Devil fights God in chess as in real life, and the field of the battle is not the chessboard but in peoples hearts. I realized this after my match against Huebner that ended in a draw. Lots were cast for the winner, in a casino. It was the first time I had the feeling that I could not influence my own fate. Roulette was to decide the outcome and a golden ball was used to avoid magnetism. If the ball landed on a red number I would be the winner. A black number would give victory to Huebner. The ball was thrown and it fell on the zero, as in Dostoevsky. There was no winner. The ball was thrown again and this time it landed on the red number three (the first number of Pushkins famous three cards: three, seven, ace). I won the match in this way. Later it dawned on me that God had been fighting Satan in the casino and they had made a draw the first time. But, eventually, God won and sentenced Huebner to defeat. As far as I know there were good reasons: Huebners behaviour was incorrect during the match.>

2003 Chess Today

Aug-13-20  diagonal: A decision by chance in a game of skill:

The photo link is taken from the cg. report by <Tabanus>, sitting top right: chief arbiter Willy Kaufmann, Switzerland, sitting as third from right: Vasily Smyslov.

Robert Hübner, the victim of the roulette wheel at Velden Casino in the Candidate's Quarterfinal 1983, did not watch the scenario.

According to the swiss chess weekly DIE SCHACHWOCHE no. 16/83, the roulette ball came extra from Vienna, it was a special golden one. Colour Choice as mentioned: Hübner got <Black>, Smyslov <Red> *no political talks please*

NOTE: Create an account today to post replies and access other powerful features which are available only to registered users. Becoming a member is free, anonymous, and takes less than 1 minute! If you already have a username, then simply login login under your username now to join the discussion.

Please observe our posting guidelines:

  1. No obscene, racist, sexist, or profane language.
  2. No spamming, advertising, duplicate, or gibberish posts.
  3. No vitriolic or systematic personal attacks against other members.
  4. Nothing in violation of United States law.
  5. No cyberstalking or malicious posting of negative or private information (doxing/doxxing) of members.
  6. No trolling.
  7. The use of "sock puppet" accounts to circumvent disciplinary action taken by moderators, create a false impression of consensus or support, or stage conversations, is prohibited.
  8. Do not degrade Chessgames or any of it's staff/volunteers.

Please try to maintain a semblance of civility at all times.

Blow the Whistle

See something that violates our rules? Blow the whistle and inform a moderator.

NOTE: Please keep all discussion on-topic. This forum is for this specific tournament only. To discuss chess or this site in general, visit the Kibitzer's Café.

Messages posted by Chessgames members do not necessarily represent the views of, its employees, or sponsors.
All moderator actions taken are ultimately at the sole discretion of the administration.

Spot an error? Please suggest your correction and help us eliminate database mistakes!

Copyright 2001-2023, Chessgames Services LLC