Thursday, August 16, 2012

In Memorium: Svetozar Gligoric, 1923-2012

The recent death of Svetozar Gligoric, one of the strongest players of the 20th century (he played for his country, Yugoslavia, in 15 Olympiads, with great success) is universally regretted, Gligoric being known not only as a strong player, but also as a gentleman and a decent, friendly person.

For example, he remained friendly with Robert "Bobby" Fischer for decades -- no easy task -- and recorded his first popular music album at the age of 88 (I haven't checked, but it's probably some sort of record). He was also known as a chess teacher for generations of younger players.

This being the case, I am sure Gligoric would not have minded for me to commemorate his death with a game he lost -- because he lost it in an amusing manner, showing all us patzers that, contrary to what we might think, awful one-move blunders occur on all levels of play. What's more, the move he missed -- a queen sacrifice -- is pretty in itself.

The Jewish connection? He blundered against the Israeli chess master, Yosef Porat.

Perhaps the most famous example of high-level blunders is Fischer's 29. ... Bxh2? in the first game of the world championship against Boris Spassky, 1972. Fischer, however, surely saw the reply 30. g3 traps the bishop. His real error was more excusable error of calculation: he mistakenly believed that he could extricate it. In the Gligoric-Poratt game, on the other hand, the error is a real "oops!" one-move slip.

Gligoric-Porat, Amsterdam Interzonal, 1964.  Position after 18. ... Rad8.

Porat played well and has some advantage, although the game should probably be a draw. Gligoric, perhaps wishing to "make a draw" by exchanging queens, played 19. Qf5?? --- only to resign immediately after Porat's pretty 19. ... Qg2! (20. Rxg2 Re1#; 20. Rd1 Rxd1+ 21. Kxd1 Qf1+ 22. Kd2 Qxc4-+).

It happens to them, too.

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