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Friday, July 19, 2019

Gheorghiu Miscalculates

     London had a great tradition for chess tournaments. It was there that the first international tournament was held in 1851 and subsequent tournaments were held in 1862, 1866, 1883, 1899, 1922, 1927 and 1932. It was also in London that the first international team tournament was held in 1927. 
     After that chess activity declined and wasn’t until 1980 that London began hosting the Phillips and Drew King's Tournament. The Phillips & Drew Kings was a series of tournaments held in London in 1980, 1982 and 1984 and was sponsored by the stockbroker firm Phillips & Drew and the Greater London Council. 
     The 1980 event was the inaugural. The 14-player tournament featured the West's strongest players and the most promising of England's chess talent, including 14 year-old prodigy Nigel Short. You can buy a big photo of Miles playing Short HERE for only $499. 
     The stars included were the dynamic Viktor Korchnoi. Although Karpov was the World Champion, some were referring to Korchnoi as the “vice-champion of the world” because of his great successes in match play at the time. Anthony Miles was, at the time, considered the strongest English player since Staunton.
     There was the super-solid (and super-boring) Ulf Andersson, the solid ex-Soviet Dutch player Sosonko, the resourceful British player Speelman, the attacking Gheorgiu and the explosive Ljubojevic.
     Jan Timman and Gyula Sax both possessed enormous talent and it was going to be interesting to see how they fared. Both the colorful and dangerous Walter Browne and Bent Larsen were there, but they were in bad form. 
     Michael Stean, known for his attacking style, played too many draws, the strong and dangerous John Nunn was sick with a cold throughout the whole tournament and Nigel Short, who had a brilliant result a few months earlier at Hasting, was badly out of form. 
After 11 rounds the leaders were: 
1) Andersson 8.0 
2-3) Korchnoi and Sosonko 7.5 
4) Miles 7.0 
5-8) Speelman, Gheorghiu, Ljubojevic and Timman 6.0 

     In round 12, Andersson lost to Miles. Korchnoi, who had an overwhelming position, let Gheroghiu off with a draw. Sosonko suffered his first defeat when he lost to Speelman. Thus going into the last round Miles, Andersson and Korchnoi were all tied with 8.0. Sosonko had 7.5 and Speelman 7. 
     In the last round the large crowd of spectators expected to see a fight for first, but they and the organizers all got cheated when Andersson and Korchnoi played a GM draw that lasted all of 18 moves. Miles and Ljubojevic played an even shorter GM draw; it last only 10 moves. Poor Sosonko lost again, this round to Stean. One can forgive Nunn and Speelman for playing a 14 move draw because it gave Speelman his first GM norm. The only game of any real interest in the last round was Timman’s; he smashed Larsen in 19 moves! View game.
     Timman was very critical of the last round results saying, “They never remember who shares first place; only outright winners earn their place in history.” 

1-3) Miles, Korchnoi and Andersson 8.5 
4-5) Sosonko and Speelman 7.5 
6-8) Timman, Gheorghiu and Ljubojevic 7.0 
9) Sax 6.5 
10-12) Stean, Browne and Larsen 5.5 
13) Nunn 4.5 
14) Short 2.0 

    If you run across the book on the tournament, London 1980: Phillips and Drew Kings Chess Tournament by William Hartston and Stewart Reuben for a reasonable price don’t hesitate to pick it up. 
     One of the more exciting games happened right in round two when Romanian GM Florian Gheorghiu cut loose with some tactics that lead to his getting two minor pieces for a R only to mistakenly give back a piece for a mate that wasn’t there, only a perpetual check. 
     Generally speaking, if you have two minor pieces the essential elements are 1) coordinate your pieces against the Rook and 2) security...it is always good policy to pay particular attention to the general security of your position. 
     Remember that the Rook is adept at picking off stray Pawns, but in the absence of targets it loses a lot of its strength. By the way, this also applies to playing assorted minor pieces against a Queen. 
     The Rook usually comes into its own in the ending and its value increases relative to the other pieces so that winning with two minor pieces against a Rook is often much harder than it would be in the middlegame. See my post concerning two minor pieces vs. R+P HERE
     Florin Gheorghiu (born April 6, 1944) is a Romanian GM who lectured in French at Bucharest University; he also speaks English, Russian, German, and Spanish. He was awarded the IM title in 1963 and became Romania's first GM two years later. He was also awarded the title of World Junior Champion (on tie-break) in 1963 at Vrnjacka Banja. 
     Few could rival him in Romania in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. He won the Romanian Championship nine times (the first at age 16) and represented his country in all of the Chess Olympiads between 1962 and 1990, playing first board on ten occasions (1966–1974, 1978–1982, 1988–1990). 
     Ljubomir Ljubojevic (born November 2, 1950) is a Serbian GM who won the Yugoslav Championship in 1977 and 1982. In 1983 he was ranked third in the world, but he never succeeded in reaching the Candidates Tournament stage of the World Championship. He has defeated almost every top GM that was active during his career. 

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