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Friday, September 16, 2016

Playing Second Fiddle to Montreal 1979

     In 1979, Lubomir Kavalek, along with Czech filmmakers Milos Forman and Ivan Passer, organized a double round robin tournament held in Montreal, Quebec from April 10th to May 7th. Dubbed "The Tournament of Stars," the event was attended by ten of the strongest GMs of the day: Anatoly Karpov, Lajos Portisch, Boris Spassky, Bent Larsen, Jan Timman, Mikhail Tahl, Vlastimil Hort, Robert Huebner, Lubomir Kavalek and Ljubomir Ljubojevic. The only two top-ten rated players missing were Bobby Fischer who was hiding somewhere and Viktor Korchnoi who was being boycotted by the Soviets. The world champion Karpov and the then Soviet champion Tahl tied for first with 12-6. 
     Meanwhile, over in Bankja Luka, Yugoslavia another tournament was taking place. It had 14 GMs and two untitled players, one of whom didn't even have an FIDE rating. The GMs were Tigran Petrosian, Ulf Andersson, Jan Smejkal, Walter Browne, Andras Adorjan, Bojan Kurajica, Slavoljub Marjanovic, Roman Hernandez, Milorad Knezevic, Enver Bukic, Aleksandar Matanovic, Milan Vukic and Drazen Marovic. The untitled player was Milenko Sibarevic and the unrated player was Gary Kasparov. 
     Kasparov had performed remarkably well in the previous Soviet Championship where he had finished in ninth place and Botvinnik had described him as the most promising student he had ever coached, Karpov included. 
     At the start of the tournament Kasprvov was only 15 years old (he celebrated his 16th birthday after the first round) and this was his first international event. After 10 (out of 15) rounds Kasparov made his IM norm, and three rounds later assured himself of first place and earned his first GM norm. He finished the tournament undefeated and two full points ahead of Andersson and Smejkal. The other unrated guy finished last with 4 points, a full two points behind the 14th and 15th place finishers. 
     The following impressive positional and tactical crush of Walter Browne was typical of Kasparov's play even as a young player. At the time this game was played Browne was a dominant presence in U.S. chess, winning many U.S. Championships, major open tournaments and was having many international successes. He had finished first in Venice 1971, Wijk aan Zee 1974, Winnipeg 1974, Lone Pine 1974, Mannheim 1975 and Reykjavík 1978. At Bankja Luka he only managed an even score, +2 -2 =11 which tied for places 7-8 with Matanovic who had 15 draws.

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