19th Chess Olympiad: Siegen 1970

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Basic data

19th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 5th - 27th September 1970
City: Siegen, West Germany
Venue: Siegerlandhalle
Tournament Director: Mr. Willi Fohl (GER)
Chief Arbiter: IA Harry de Graaf (NED)
Teams participating: 60
Players participating: 360 (incl. 35 GMs and 66 IMs)
Games played: 2280 (incl. 6 forfeits)
Competition format: Two stage four board round robin.
Top two from each of 6 preliminary groups qualified to the championship final.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours 30 minutes, then 1 hour for each next 16 moves
Official logo: SIEGEN 1970
Downloadable game file: 70olm.zip

Tournament review

For the first time in the history of the Chess Olympiads since London 1927 teams had to be rejected, because the playing schedule in force has reached its utmost capacity with 60 participants. Admissions to the FIDE in recent years has led to a total of enrolling nations of 64. It was sheer luck for FIDE that 4 nations sent in their applications after the date specified. Therefore their entry could be refused because of this ground. It was Argentina, France, Ecuador and Venezuela. Panama pulled out of the Olympiad which allowed Argentina to take its place. France, Ecuador and Venezuela placed their faith in the experience of former years when always teams did not turn up without giving due notice in time. But this time all 60 nations turned up in Siegen. Last hope vanished when on the opening day the Philippines and Guernsey sent telegrams announcing their arrival on September 6th. France, Ecuador and Venezuela had to return home without having executed one single move. No doubt this occurrence shook FIDE congress up to focus its full attention to the playing schedule of the Olympiad for it stands to reason that no nation should miss the fixed date of entry.

The 60 nations were placed into six preliminary groups of 10 teams. This was done by a small commission which was formed by the meetings of the captains presided by FIDE chairman Folke Rogard on September 5th in the morning. Siegen Game Hall From each group the first two were to qualify for the final A, the next two for final B etc. For the first time since Varna 1962 the finals consisted of 12 teams instead of the usual 14. Would Fischer play? The answer to this question was of hot interest to all chess fans. Finally he was in, and together with Reshevsky. For the first time the USA team had these two players on the team. Fischer was this time satisfied with the playing conditions and found them very reasonable. That he wanted his table to be moved half a meter further away from the spectators can hardly be called a demand, the distances were a bit subnormal. Fischer had made it up with the US Federation and with his team mates, a new era began in the USA.

The opening ceremony of the 19th Chess Olympiad took place at the Bühne of the City of Siegen on September 5th. The anthem of FIDE, a composition by Conte dal Veme, the member of the FIDE presidium was played under the direction of R. Agop, who had orchestrated this hymn for this occasion. Ludwig Schneider, President of the German Chess Federation welcomed the guests and players. After addresses by Karl Althaus, the Lord Mayor of Siegen and Folke Rogard, President of the FIDE, Hans-Dietrich Genscher, Federal Minister of the Interior, opened the Olympiad. Schneider presented Rogard with a FIDE flag, which rotated from organiser to organiser of the Olympiads in the future.

In the preliminary rounds altogether 1080 games were played. In group 1 USSR were of course the winners and behind their shoulders Poland and Spain fought for second spot feeling Australia's breath at their back. In round 2 Spain lost to USSR 1-3 and their only point they won by default since Korchnoi overslept and appeared too late at the game hall. Poland lost some points vs Peru and Dominicana. In third round Poland suffered horrible losses dropping two points vs Tunesia but on the next day they defeated strong Australian side by 3-1 (IM Kostro drew against GM Browne). In fifth round Poland earned a full point vs USSR thanks to Bednarski who beat Geller. Unfortunately for the Poles Spain were scoring 4-0 day by day. In penultimate round Poland played Spain and needed major win, 3½-½ or something close to that in order to retain their chances. It seemed they could achieve this but finally they merely drew and it was all over. USSR and Spain came info main Olympic final. Poland sensationally lost to Greece under strange circumstances (two players lost on time) which let the Greeks to take over Peru and qualify into final C. Australia easily went into final B. In group 2 Yugoslavia were out of reach of anyone else. A fierce combat for second place was held between England, Canada, Indonesia and Mongolia. Switzerland were surprisingly bad shaped and were taken over by Iran being relegated as low as to final D. Although Mongolia started with dreadful 0-4 vs Yugoslavia they quickly made up for a lost ground beating Hong Kong, Switzerland and Iran. England earned 1½ vs Yugoslavia in second round and Canada lost sensationally to Indonesia on the next day. Mongolia drew against Canada then but England barely halved with Iran making four draws. Mongolia drew once again on the next day and Iran unexpectedly took over third place beating Andorra. In round 7 Canada won extremely important match vs England and Iran won another match by 4-0 finding themselves up to second place. In penultimate they lost all the chances being beaten by Indonesia who suddenly took over second place ahead of Canada and Mongolia. England were definitely out since Penrose blundered a piece in his game vs Ulvestad and fainted at the board. Canada played Andorra in last round and dropped priceless point since GM Yanofsky failed to beat Ulvestad but they were the winners, since Indonesia lost to Mongolia 1½-2½ missing immense chance to take second spot, and for Mongolia this was too modest win to level on points with the Canadians. In group 3 East Germany, USA and Holland fought hard for the final. Holland lost 1-3 to East Germany in the early stage of the games and were chasing the top 2. In penultimate round they matched USA and needed a win, but barely halved with the Americans. USA lost unluckily to East Germany in last round but both teams remained in top two places and went through to the championship final. Finland, apart from Holland, won final B place. Japan, the long awaited newcomers, managed to avoid relegation to the bottom section at a cost of Turkey and Virgin Islands. In group four Hungary and Romania were the big shots and Denmark, Sweden and Philippines were listed as potential contenders. Denmark started badly barely drawing against Ireland but they soon recovered outscoring Philippines and Morocco. Sweden lost to Italy and diminished their chances which virtually disappeared after their miserable 2-2 draw vs Ireland in round 4. Larsen lost badly to Portisch on the next day and Denmark lost modestly to Hungary. The Hungarians beat Romania in 6th round summit after exciting battle. Denmark were fighting very hard though and managed to beat Romania in penultimate round although they were very lucky to reach that since Larsen won on time in lost position. Hungary dropped as much as 3 points vs Italy and Ireland and their last round's clash vs Philippines looked no much better as they hardly drew 2-2 and came through only thanks to Italian master Cosulich who was so nice to beat IM Enevoldsen from Denmark and hold the Danes down to the final B area. Philippines, the Lugano finalists were relegated down to final C. In group 5 Argentina and Czechoslovakia dropped many points vs lower ranked nations and Israel were very eager to threaten them. They failed, but it was close. Although they lost modestly both to Argentina and Czechoslovakia they wiped out the rest with ease at minimal loss and watched Argentina dropping 1½ points vs Portugal or Czechoslovakia barely halving with Singapore (!!) with GM Hort destroyed by Tan Lian Ann at top board. Israel were just a fraction behind Argentina before last round but dropped three draws vs Singapore and had to be satisfied with final B qualification together with Cuba who outscored Norway. Group 6 was definitely least interesting as Bulgaria and West Germany dominated the pitch and qualified without problems. Austria and Colombia won the following places. Iceland were relegated down to final C. We have faced first of the series of unpleasant incidents on the political background that broke out in early 70's and lasted for a decade, as Albania refused to play South Africa and were forfeited, but not expelled from the competition.

The finals began on September 16th. USSR and Hungary took an early lead while Argentina fell down the table. USSR made eight draws vs Yugoslavia and Hungary. USA were missing Fischer and barely drew against Canada but then wiped out Bulgaria and took joint lead together with Hungary. In the 6th round USSR played USA and were extremely lucky to win 2½-1½ since it looked like the Americans are going on for 3-1 win, if not better. Hungary beat West Germany whose performance worsened considerably this year and Yugoslavia halved with Czechoslovakia. The leaders lost to Yugoslavia on the next day because of Portisch's terrible blunder and USSR took the lead after they had comfortably beaten East Germany. USA leveled on points with Hungary and Yugoslavia against whom they drew in eighth round. The Soviets extended their lead beating Romania. In penultimate round Hungary beat USA (and it could have even been worse for the Americans!) and USSR beat Canada by a wide margin extending their lead to safe distance of 2 points with one round to go. USSR took the gold, Hungary took the silver with their desperate final sprint and Yugoslavia were in bronze medal position. USA stayed in 4th place, somehow disappointing given both Fischer and Reshevsky were in the squad. Czechoslovakia were lying in 5th ahead of West Germany, the hosts. Israel won section B (13th overall) ahead of Poland despite of their 0-4 collapse vs Finland. Australia led by GM Browne lost as much as 5 matches but won remaining 6 and finished in excellent 15th place. Mongolia's 16th was highly respectable as well. Netherlands down in 19th must have been thoroughly disappointed same as Austria in 22nd. Indonesia, who narrowly missed the championship final, finished last, so no consolation prize was granted for them. England who were unhappy to be down in final C won easily 25th place ahead of Philippines and Iceland, both of whom were ex-Olympic finalists discouraged with final C relegation. Switzerland won final D (still not without any problem!) ahead of Albania, despite of their 0-4 default vs South Africa carried over from preliminaries. Finally New Zealand won bottom final section ahead of Rhodesia and Turkey.

The Soviet Union won for the tenth time in succession. Scoring six wins and four matches ending in draws the Soviet victory was extremely slim this time. Two years ago al Lugano they had 8½ points to spare. This slender margin shows how strong the tournament was and how tensely it was fought. Only towards the end Soviet victory became apparent when they produced some high scores against weaker teams. It is interesting to note that the differences between the first four teams correspond exactly to their results against the tailenders. Thus, the one point lead of the Soviets in front of Hungary is the difference in their scores against Canada and Spain. However, the question is not answered, whether the Russians had any force left which was not tapped, or whether they had been compelled to utmost performance. The highlight came with the game between Spassky and Fischer, which ended in a win for the World Champion who thereby snatched first board prize from Fischer. The Hungarians went in the lead at the beginning and held on the silver medals whereas Yugoslavia and USA which had to be conceded the better chances only finished third and fourth. The Hungarians herewith confirmed their success at the European Team Championship some months ago at Kapfenberg. Then the bottom Yugoslav boards (10 boards) were responsible for the relative failure of their team, this time also the top grandmasters could not show the necessary punch, conceding too many draws. The United States, for the first time with Fischer and Reshevsky, giving even real chances for first place, not even managed to acquire a medal. The Czechs retrieved their former strong position, but the Bulgarians faced the question whether their third place in 1968 at Lugano had been a success or coincidence. Especially successful and interesting newcomers to the Olympic floor were Smejkal for Czechoslovakia with a 13/17 record, Quinteros for Argentina (10/14) and Ribli for Hungary with 4½/7. GM Browne led Australia from first place in final C at Lugano (29th overall) to a proud third in group B at Siegen, making it excellent 15th overall.

The finals lured an unbelievably numerous flow of spectators to the Siegerland Hall at Siegen. Hundreds of them arrived in special coaches, the hall was filled to utmost capacity. At weekends the organisers could hardly manage the crowds that converged to Siegen. That the big attraction Spassky-Fischer was played on a Sunday let the waves of enthusiasm completely somersault. The fans nearing 5,000 in number had the difficult choice between standing on their toes in order to catch a glimpse of Spassky's or Fischer's hair now and then, or to be somewhat less squeezed in the demonstration room, where grandmaster Benko commented the game and R. Cardoso translated his explanations into German. During 41st FIDE congress Folke Rogard who had been FIDE chairman for 21 years retired and Dr. Max Euwe, former World Champion was elected as his successor.

/ The review was based on "Schach Express" no 18, 19, 20 (1970). /

Best board results

1st Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Spassky, Boris Soviet Union URS A 12 79.2
2. GM Fischer, Robert James United States USA A 10 13 76.9
3. GM Larsen, Bent Denmark DEN B 13 17 76.5

2nd Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Ivkov, Borislav Yugoslavia YUG A 10 13 76.9
2. IM Ujtumen, Tudev Mongolia MGL B 13½ 18 75.0
2. GM Schmid, Lothar Germany GER A 9 12 75.0

3rd Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. Hartston, William Roland England ENG C 12½ 16 78.1
2. GM Matulović, Milan Yugoslavia YUG A 13 17 76.5
3. GM Korchnoi, Viktor Soviet Union URS A 11 15 73.3
3. IM Langeweg, Christian Netherlands NED B 11 15 73.3

4th Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Matanović, Aleksandar Yugoslavia YUG A 10 12 83.3
2. IM Smejkal, Jan Czechoslovakia CSR A 13 17 76.5
3. GM Polugaevsky, Lev Soviet Union URS A 9 12 75.0

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Lombardy, William James United States USA A 11 14 78.6
2. IM Csom, István Hungary HUN A 10½ 14 75.0
3. GM Smyslov, Vassily Soviet Union URS A 8 11 72.7

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. Estimo, Samuel The Philippines PHI C 8 10 80.0
2. Konçi, Eqrem Albania ALB D 7 10 70.0
3. Øgaard, Leif Norway NOR C 11 68.2

Best game prizes

Best game prize:
Schmid, Lothar (GER) - Kinzel, Anton (AUT) 1 - 0

Interesting games

Well deserved win of the World Champion over his strongest contender.
Spassky, Boris (URS) - Fischer, Robert James (USA) 1 - 0

This is why people used to call Fischer "The Robot".
Just strongest moves. All the time, all the place.
Fischer, Robert James (USA) - Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) 1 - 0

Excellent white piece co-operation.
Yanofsky, Daniel Abraham (CAN) - Bobotsov, Milko (BUL) 1 - 0

Romanian master ran out of time in clearly won position.
Larsen, Bent (DEN) - Gheorghiu, Florin (ROM) 1 - 0

Dubious lines are not recommended while playing against Fischer.
Fischer, Robert James (USA) - Câmara, Hélder (BRA) 1 - 0

Sensational failure of Hort who played badly that day.
Tan Lian Ann (SIN) - Hort, Vlastimil (CSR) 1 - 0

Unusual exchange of material followed by white's Queen decisive activity.
Portisch, Lajos (HUN) - Gheorghiu, Florin (ROM) 1 - 0

Brilliant game with White's fierce charge from the very start.
Dückstein, Andreas (AUT) - Sigurjónsson, Guðmundur (ISL) ½ - ½

Fischer was very lucky to avoid loss.
Portisch, Lajos (HUN) - Fischer, Robert James (USA) ½ - ½

White pawn cramped Black's position so it was worth a Rook.
Adamski, Jan (POL) - Ardiansyah, Haji (INA) 1 - 0

Quick debacle of experienced GM proved Kaplan's talent was unique.
Bobotsov, Milko (BUL) - Kaplan, Julio (PUR) 0 - 1

Larsen in his favourite, pushy mood.
Larsen, Bent (DEN) - Scholl, Eduard (NED) 1 - 0

GM Portisch is not very generous partner for testing new opening lines.
Larsen, Bent (DEN) - Portisch, Lajos (HUN) 0 - 1

Dazzling game of Mongolian master in their best ever appearance at the Olympiads.
Ujtumen, Tudev (MGL) - Kinnmark, Ove (SWE) 1 - 0

White desperately aimed at trades and succeeded. Every trade at tiny cost...
Filip, Miroslav (CSR) - Korchnoi, Viktor (URS) 0 - 1

First, historical win of Japanese player in the history of the Olympiads.
Matsumoto, Yasuji (JPN) - Winter Gallegos, Willy de (MEX) 1 - 0

Series of captures on both sides gave Black decisive advantage.
Hecht, Hans (GER) - Forintos, Győző (HUN) 0 - 1

Gigantic battle excellently planned by White.
Quinteros, Miguel Ángel (ARG) - Polugaevsky, Lev (URS) 1 - 0

White fell into a trap that any woodpusher would be ashamed of.
Jakobsen, Ole (DEN) - Gelfer, Israel (ISR) 0 - 1

White's thorough play was enough for Geller's obscure ideas.
Bednarski, Jacek (POL) - Geller, Efim (URS) 1 - 0

Fairly simple but spectacular problem.
Bednarski, Jacek (POL) - Nouisseri (TUN) 1 - 0

Uhlmann neatly forced threefold repetition and earned valuable draw.
Uhlmann, Wolfgang (GDR) - Spassky, Boris (URS) ½ - ½

Fasctinating ending with creative ideas on both sides.
Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) - Fischer, Robert James (USA) 0 - 1

Portisch's famous blunder after great battle.
Portisch, Lajos (HUN) - Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) 0 - 1

Myagmarsuren went on for winning endgame.
Larsen, Bent (DEN) - Myagmarsuren, Lhamsuren (MGL) 0 - 1

Fabulous ending with white pieces exploding like a dynamite!
Matulović, Milan (YUG) - Tringov, Georgi (BUL) 1 - 0

Control over opened 'h' line is worth more than any piece.
Ghiţescu, Theodor (ROM) - Popov, Luben (BUL) 1 - 0

Lombardy wasted huge advantage carelessly exposing his King.
Lombardy, William James (USA) - Geller, Efim (URS) ½ - ½


The Siegen Olympiad was the first one to reject some nations from participation (literally those whose applications came late). This happened because number of applications overcame pre-set maximum of 60 teams.


For the first time all 60 teams submitted full squads of 6 people making thus a total of 360 players in the pool. However a few players did not come to Siegen.


Panno drew as much as 15 games. An all-time record.


Only 5 players scored 80% or better.