The match on this page was one of seven Candidates eighthfinals played simultaneously in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, 24 January - 1 February 1988.* The other six matches were the Spraggett - Sokolov Candidates Eighthfinal (1988), Speelman - Seirawan Candidates Eighthfinal (1988), Timman - Salov Candidates Eighthfinal (1988), Short - Sax Candidates Eighthfinal (1988), Hjartarson - Korchnoi Candidates Eighthfinal (1988) and Yusupov - Ehlvest Candidates Eighthfinal (1988). The eighth match did not take place because the loser of the Kasparov - Karpov World Championship Match (1987), who turned out to be Anatoly Karpov, was seeded into the quarterfinals. The matches were held in order to select a challenger for the world champion, Garry Kasparov.
Portisch had qualified from the Szirak Interzonal (1987) and Budapest Interzonal Playoff (1987), and participated in the Candidates for the eighth time. His last tournament was Reggio Emilia (1987/88), where he ended =4th. Vaganian was seeded into this match from the previous cycle, having reached the Sokolov - Vaganian Candidates Quarterfinal (1986). Portisch was scheduled to leave from Europe on January 16th together with his second Istvan Csom, expecting to arrive in Saint John on Tuesday January 19th. All the matches were best of six games. In case of 3-3, two more games, and if 4-4, two rapid games. If still tied, then games with shorter time controls to decide the winner. The winner would get 6000, and the loser 3000 Canadian dollars. Play would start 3 pm, and the players should wear a suit and tie. Time controls at move 40 (2 hours) and 60 (3 hours). Robert Hamilton was a main organizer, and the chief arbiter was Svetozar Gligoric. Portisch had white in Game 1, which was drawn. Game 2 was also drawn. In Game 3, Vaganian was a pawn up and slightly better until
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29...Ng5? (to protect f7 and eventually put the knight on e6) 30.Kf2. Now Portisch was better, since he could bring his king to c4 and start hunting Vaganian's a-pawn. After the a-pawn fell, Portisch's a-pawn decided the game. Three draws followed, and Portisch was through.
St. John, Canada, 24 Jan - 1 Feb 1988
Portisch advanced to the Timman - Portisch Candidates Quarterfinal (1989). Portisch's opponent (and the other quarterfinal pairings) was announced by FIDE president Florencio Campomanes at the press conference and awards ceremony on February 7th. Two weeks later, Portisch played in Linares (1988), and after this, he and Vaganian played in Brussels World Cup (1988).
Age Elo 1 2 3 4 5 6
Portisch 50 2610 ½ ½ 1 ½ ½ ½ 3½
Vaganian 36 2625 ½ ½ 0 ½ ½ ½ 2½
The Candidates matches were part of a month-long World Chess Festival which attracted players from every part of the globe. Boris Spassky turned up, and eventually some of the players from Hoogovens (1988). Lectures and simuls were held. There was an Open tournament, won by Yuri S Razuvaev, and an International Open tournament, won by Joel Benjamin. About 400 players attempted to qualify for participation in the "unofficial" World Blitz Championship (1988), a 32-player knockout tournament on February 20th (Saturday) in which Kasparov, Karpov, Artur Yusupov, Jonathan Speelman and other greats took part. Vaganian also participated, and with success. He defeated Attila Groszpeter in Round 1, Roman Dzindzichashvili in Round 2, Michael Wilder in the quarterfinal and Kiril Dimitrov Georgiev in the semifinal. He then lost the final to Mikhail Tal.
Festival book: World Chess Festival: January 23 to February 20, 1988, Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, ed. by Luis Bernardo Hoyos Millan. World Chess Festival, Saint John 1988. Approx. 250 pp. Unpaginated book in several varieties and editions.
*The Hjartarson - Korchnoi and Spraggett - Sokolov matches finished later, on February 5th and 6th, respectively. Hjartarson won the playoff games 1½-½, while Spraggett won the blitz after 1-1 in the playoff games and 1-1 in the rapid playoff games.
Mark Weeks' website (https://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/wc...)
FIDE rating list January 1988 (http://www.olimpbase.org/Elo/Elo198...)
Nógrád, 19 January 1988, p. 7 (https://library.hungaricana.hu/en/v... )
AP News, 26 January 1988 (https://www.apnews.com/c6ff0908e691...)
AP News, 31 January 1988 (https://www.apnews.com/152d2f5264ea...)
AP News, 21 February 1988 (https://apnews.com/1ff9e812e7ddf3b7...)
Þjóðviljinn, 4 February 1988, p. 2 (http://timarit.is/view_page_init.js...)
Morgunblaðið, 9 February 1988, p. 61 (http://timarit.is/view_page_init.js...)
Dagblaðið Vísir, 2 February 1988, p. 6 (http://timarit.is/view_page_init.js...)
Pest Megyei Hírlap, 19 January 1988, p. 7 (https://library.hungaricana.hu/en/v... )
Video of Tal - Vaganian World Blitz final (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2c...)
Hans Ree in NRC Handelsblad, 25 January 1988, p. 11 (https://www.delpher.nl/nl/kranten/v...)
Jan Berglund in Tidskrift för Schack, March 1988, pp. 55-60 (https://tfsarkiv.schack.se/pdf/1988...)
And we were so close... by Yasser Seirawan in WhyChess (2011) (https://web.archive.org/web/2012111...)
Northern (Official Organ of The Chess Federation of Canada), 5 February 1988, pp. 6-9 (https://web.archive.org/web/2013011...)
Original collections: Game Collection: WCC Index (Portisch - Vaganian 1988) by User: Raisin Death Ray and Game Collection: Portisch - Vaganian Candidates Eighthfinal 1988 by User: Tabanus. Game dates (from the daily reports on Johann Hjartarson in Icelandic newspapers): January 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, February 1.