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Eugenio Torre vs Zoltan Ribli
Ribli - Torre Candidates Quarterfinal (1983), Alicante ESP, rd 7, Apr-18
Sicilian Defense: Kan. Modern Variation (B42)  ·  1-0



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Kibitzer's Corner
Aug-09-06  rjsolcruz: This was the closest that a Filipino went to the World Championship ladder.
Jan-13-09  AnalyzeThis: Yes, this was closer than Cardoso in 1958 at Portoroz.
Jun-08-09  visayanbraindoctor: Battling desperately from a 2-0 deficit, GM Torre gave this game his all. However, against his experienced and well-prepared Hungarian opponent (GM Ribli), he could not score a win in the remaining games.
Dec-11-10  The Eagles:

Eugene Torre played well in the just-concluded 2010 Asian Games and he deserves great credit for the silver medal finish of the Philippine team there. He had four wins (Dhamir, IM Khamrakulov, GMs Adhiban and Gopal) three draws and a loss. Consider this an emphatic statement that his career is not yet over.

This might be a good opportunity to address the many e-mail I have received on what ever happened to the book I was writing on GM Eugene Torre’s chess career. Well, here is the answer.

Around three years ago I sat down with Eugene and Meralco’s Raul Sol Cruz to write a chess biography that would make Eugene proud, but right in the middle of our work the publisher just withdrew without a word, leaving me with a manuscript that was around half done. Completely disgusted with seeing all that work going to waste I just shelved the project.

It was really a great pity, for it contained some of the best work I had ever done. A few days ago I saw in something written about NM Ed Bernal, a name that many of us had already forgotten, and this inspired me to reveal the contribution he made to GM Torre’s career.

Way back in 1983 Eugene played a candidates’ match in Alicante versus GM Zoltan Ribli of Hungary -- if he wins this he would be two matches away from the world championship. Eugene lost two games at the start and this is the 7th game. I will now quote from the Torre manuscript, which is written in the first person by Eugene:

I was quite happy for having been matched against Ribli. We are the same age and played each other twice before -- he defeated me in the 1971 Athens World Juniors, where I placed fourth to his second, while I had my revenge in the 1976 Manila Interzonal. As White he usually plays solid, positional chess. He tries to build a strong pawn structure and strives to make something out of the smallest of advantages. Makunat, in local chess lingo.

As Black Ribli is a completely different player. Against 1.e4 he invites tactical play and likes the Najdorf Sicilian. Against 1.d4 he plays solid defense and likes maneuvering.

As for my preparation before the match, Don Pablo Carlos of Toyota was one of the few who made good on his promise to help -- he put his house in Baguio at my disposal for training. Still, I had to personally shell out for my seconds and food and meals: International Masters Ricky de Guzman, Rico Mascarinas, and National Master Ed Bernal.

Rico Mascarinas and Ricky de Guzman were two of my close buddies. There were some quarters who criticized the choice of Bernal since he was not internationally titled, but Ed was actually very helpful. He was highly organized and had a great aptitude for hard work. There were no computers yet back then and the fruits of our preparation had to be written out in index cards and constantly updated. This he accomplished with flying colors.

One week before departure we still had no tickets. Thankfully, at the last moment, the Philippine Chess Federation, through its President Justice Federico Moreno, managed to get plane tickets for myself, Marilin and IM Rico Mascarinas. Sadly we had to make do without GM Miguel Quinteros of Argentina as our chief Second, since there was just not enough money. I wanted Miguel in because he is one of my trusted GM friends and more importantly he helped me during my crucial adjourned game vs Lajos Portisch in Toluca.

Around the time of game 7 the cigarette company La Suerte came through with some financial help which enabled NM Ed Bernal to buy plane tickets to make his way to Alicante to help me out. His arrival buoyed up my morale, as I felt that finally the people back home were coming through for me, and I swore a silent resolution myself to really make a go of it.

Dec-11-10  The Eagles: Torre, Eugenio (2580) -- Ribli, Zoltan (2595) [B42] Candidates qf4 Alicante (7), 1983

1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 e6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 a6 5.Bd3 Nf6 6.0-0 d6 7.c4 Be7

Ribli spent 50 minutes on his 7th and 8th moves. I suspect that he was planning the knight maneuver starting 9...Nbd7, but in that case it is a misguided concept, wasting enough time for me to get in an attack.

8.Nc3 0-0 9.Be3 Nbd7 10.f4 Nc5 11.Bc2 e5 12.Nf5 Bxf5 13.exf5 exf4 14.Rxf4 Rc8 15.Rd4 Ncd7 16.Be4

Played after 30 minutes, I wanted to make sure he couldn’t open up the position with ...d6-d5.

16...Nxe4 17.Nxe4 Nf6 18.Nc3

[18.Nxd6?! Bxd6 19.Rxd6 Qe7 and Ribli’s position is alive. Take note that the c4-pawn cannot be protected: 20.Qd3 Rxc4]


Ribli made this double-edged pawn sacrifice and offered a draw. This is part of his psychological tactics, he wants me to waste time considering whether to accept it or not, especially since the position is going to be more complex now.

19.cxb5 axb5 20.Nxb5

I was so nervous and kept calculating and recalculating the tactics, so much so that I spent an hour and 14 minutes over the last three moves, leaving myself with 15 minutes to reach move 40. Ribli’s situation was not much better -- he had 10 minutes left. Once again, as in the 5th game, Ribli started blitzing out his moves.

20...d5 21.Rd3 Re8 22.Kh1 Qd7 23.Nd4 Ne4 24.Qf3 Bf6 25.Rad1 Qa4 26.a3 h6 27.Bg1 Qa6 28.b4 Qa4 29.Ne2 Ng5 30.Qf1

By this time both of us had a minute left for the last 10 moves. My second Rico Mascarinas was furious at me for my impractical time management and stormed out of the playing hall, but my stupid loss in game 5 had unnerved me a bit and I just wanted to make sure this game is brought to its proper conclusion.

30...Ne4 31.Nf4 Nc3 32.Ra1 Qd7!

After this move I felt that Ribli was once again outplaying me in the time scramble. I took a deep breath and refocused my energies.

33.Nh5 Be5 34.Re1 Qb5 35.Rf3 Qxf1 36.Rfxf1 d4 37.Ra1

In a flash I saw 37.Rxe5! Rxe5 38.Bxd4 but didn’t have time to calculate its consequences, and I was thinking that there was no need to force matters -- just reach the 40th move and then study at home how to push forward my queenside pawns.

37...Ra8 38.Nf4? Bf6?

[38...Bxf4 39.Rxf4 d3 turns the tables. Not much point discussing moves made with seconds left, though]

39.Nd3 Re2 40.Rf2 Re3 41.Rd2 Ne4 42.Rdd1 Re2 43.Nf4 Nf2+ 44.Bxf2 <D>

Position after 44.Bxf2

At this point Rico Mascarinas, visibly pale, reentered the playing hall and asked Ed Bernal if my flag had fallen. "No, the game is adjourned," replied Ed. "You are kidding." "No, I am not. Look, Eugene is about to make his sealed move."

As Ed recounted to me later, the change in expression of Rico’s face from depression to pure joy was a sight to behold.


The adjourned position. My two passed pawns on the queenside are very threatening and the local press declared my game won. If only it were that easy! I had heard Orso Miklos, one of Ribli’s seconds, answering a frantic phone call from Hungary asking for the adjourned position for an in-depth analysis. Obviously they were not going to give up without a fight.

45.Nd3! Rxf5 46.a4 Kf8 47.h3 Ke7 48.Rdc1 Kd8 49.a5 h5 50.Rc6 h4 51.Rac1 Be7 52.Kg1 Bg5

[52...Rb5 53.R6c4 and if now 53...Bf6 54.Rc5 more or less forces the exchange of a pair of rooks, simplifying the win]

53.R1c5 Be3+ 54.Kh2 Rxc5 55.Rxc5 Kd7 56.g3! hxg3+ 57.Kxg3 Bd2 58.Rd5+ Ke6 59.Rb5

[59.Rxd4 Bxb4 60.Rxb4 Rxa5]

59...Kd6 60.Ne5!

The decisive move.

60...Be1+ 61.Kf3 f6 62.Nc4+ Kc6?

[62...Kc7 63.Rc5+ Kd8 is better. Now Black is forced into the corner where the harmonious cooperation of rook, knight and pawn places the Black king in an untenable position]

63.Rc5+ Kb7 64.Nd6+ Ka6 65.Rc6+ Ka7 66.a6 Rd8 67.Nb5+ Ka8 68.Rc7! 1-0

A nice comeback! From a hopeless position Eugene was now only one down with three games to go. Sadly, he fell again in round 10 and lost the match.

Sep-23-17  Howard: Of the four Candidates matches from the 1983 quarterfinals, this was almost certainly the lowest-profile one. In other words, it probably had the least general interest among chess fans.

Not to say that a few of the games weren't interesting !

Nov-17-21  stridergene: Miguel Quinteros would have been a big help. Philippine Chess su�️ks at that time and its worse today
Nov-17-21  bubuli55: Nice game.

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