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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Excitement at the Moscow Interzonal 1982

     The tournament got off to an interesting start when Boris Gulko and his wife, who had for years been agitating leave the Soviet Union, staged a demonstration which resulted in both getting arrested.
     Viktor Korchnoi and Robert Huebner were already pre-qualified for the next tournament to select a challenger for the 1983 match against World Champion Anatoly Karpov. This time the other qualifiers would not come from one huge tournament as in the past, but from three smaller events held in Las Palmas, Moscow and Toluca. 
     The Moscow event contained the most drama. Although Kasparov managed to finish clear first, one and half points ahead of second place Beliavsky, he had some anxious moments. His play in the early rounds was risky and exciting, but in three games (Tahl, Andersson and Velimirovic) he was in serious trouble. For some reason both Tahl and Andersson offered draws when they had winning positions. 
     The real drama was Beliavsky's final surge to second place. He had a mediocre start, losing to Sax and Murey, but then went on a roll by defeating Tahl, Geller and the early leader, Garcia. 
     Beliavsky downed Tahl in a crucial round 7 game and after 8 rounds the surprise leader was Garcia with Andersson, Beliavsky, Geller, Kasparov and Tahl all hot on his heels. 
     In Round 9 Beliavsky defeated Garcia. Kasparov was near defeat in his game against Anderrson when all of a sudden the latter offered a draw. 
     Then in round ten things started to go wrong for Beliavsky. He established a powerful attack against Andersson and the game was adjourned. The problem for Beliavsky was that the adjourned game was to be played off the day before the final round.  In his next game he outplayed Rodriquez who managed to hold out until adjournment and that game was also scheduled to played before the last round. 
     In round 11 Beliavsky faced van der Weil who was having a bad tournament and was setting records for the most adjournments. In their game van der Weil took a gamble and played the Svehnikov and it didn't work out well. Beliavsky quickly gained the advantage and emerged from the complications a full R up.  Beliavsky then went on a blunder rampage and resigned at adjournment! Considering his strength and the fact that he was way ahead on his clock, the result left everyone flabbergasted.
     At the end of the 12th round Andersson, Beliavsky, Geller, Garcia and Tahl were in 2nd place. Disaster struck Garcia when he lost to Rodriguez and Geller fumbled and lost to Sax.  For some reason Andersson and Tahl agreed to a quick draw.  
     When it came time for Beliavsky to play off his adjourned games, the game against Andersson was a blunder filled ending that lasted until move 110 and ended in a draw. As a result, Beliavsky's adjourned game against Rodriquez had to be delayed until the next morning. When the game resumed Beliavsky was completely winning, but then a hung piece! Fortunately, his position was good enough that even after that disaster he was able to draw. 
     Going into the last round Tahl missed his chance to qualify when he could only draw against the last place Quinteros. Beliavsky moved into clear second by defeating Gheorghiu. It was this crucial last round win over Gheorghiu that allowed Beliavsky qualify because if Tahl, Andersson, Garcia or Geller would have won, there would have been a playoff for the final spot. 
     Interesting sidelights: 
     After seven rounds Guillermo Garcia was sporting a 6-1 score, but his run came to an end after successive defeats by Beliavsky and Larry Christiansen. 
     Yacov Murey, playing under difficult circumstances, was almost ignored by the Soviet press because he was a former Soviet player from Moscow who had immigrated to Israel in 1977; he later settled in France. 
     Raymond Keene (there as a reporter) and the US representative Christiansen were subjected to intensive luggage searches at the Moscow airport on the way home. Christiansen was caught carrying an article by Gulko which was intended to be published in a US chess magazine. The article was in Russian and the officials confiscated it. Keene had been given a letter from Gulko to FIDE, but anticipating that the guards would intercept it, Keene had memorized and destroyed the letter. 
     In an interview after the event Kasparov said, besides himself, he had considered Beliavsky and Andersson as other favorites, but Andersson was more concerned about not losing than winning and Beliavsky's play merited his second place finish.
     As for Boris Gulko (born in 1947 to a Jewish family), he was an ardent anti-Communist. In 1977, shortly after sharing the title of Soviet Champion, he applied to leave the country, but permission was denied. He and his wife, WGM Anna Akhsharumova, became Refuseniks. They weren't allowed in top-level chess competition until the period of glasnost and they were finally allowed to immigrate to the United States in 1986.  Gulko was subject to anti-semitic discrimination almost 20 years later when he qualified for the 2004 World Championship in Libya. The president of the Libyan Organizing Committee, dictator Gaddafi’s son, announced: “We did not and will not invite the Zionist enemies to this championship.” Gulko and several other Jewish players withdrew from the tournament and Gulko's letter to FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov protesting the decision went unheeded. 

1) Kasparov 10.0 
2) Beliavsky 8.5
3-4) Tahl and Andersson 8.0 
5-6) Geller and Garcia 7.5 
7) Murey 6.5 
8-9) Sax and Christiansen 6.0 
10) Velimirovic 5.5 
11-12) van der Wiel and Gheorghiu 5.0 
13) Rodriguez 4.5 
14) Quinteros 3.0 


  1. Nice post, but the tournament was an interzonal, not a zonal. There *is* a difference.

  2. Yes. of course...my mistake. Thanks for the correction!