Svetozar Gligorić

Last updated
Svetozar Gligorić
Svetozar Gligoric 1966.jpg
Gligorić in 1966
Full nameSvetozar Gligorić
Born(1923-02-02)2 February 1923
Belgrade, Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes
Died14 August 2012(2012-08-14) (aged 89)
Belgrade, Serbia
Title Grandmaster (1951)
Peak rating 2600 (July 1971)

Svetozar Gligorić (Serbian Cyrillic: Светозар Глигорић, 2 February 1923 – 14 August 2012) was a Serbian and Yugoslav chess grandmaster. He won the championship of Yugoslavia a record twelve times, and is considered the best player ever from Serbia. In 1958, he was declared the best athlete of Yugoslavia.

Serbia Republic in Southeastern Europe

Serbia, officially the Republic of Serbia, is a country situated at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe in the southern Pannonian Plain and the central Balkans. It borders Hungary to the north, Romania to the northeast, Bulgaria to the southeast, North Macedonia to the south, Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina to the west, and Montenegro to the southwest. The country claims a border with Albania through the disputed territory of Kosovo. Serbia's population numbers approximately seven million. Its capital, Belgrade, ranks among the longest inhabited and largest citiеs in southeastern Europe.

Chess Strategy board game

Chess is a two-player strategy board game played on a checkered board with 64 squares arranged in an 8×8 grid. The game is played by millions of people worldwide. Chess is believed to be derived from the Indian game chaturanga sometime before the 7th century. Chaturanga is also the likely ancestor of the Eastern strategy games xiangqi, janggi, and shogi. Chess reached Europe by the 9th century, due to the Umayyad conquest of Hispania. The pieces assumed their current powers in Spain in the late 15th century; the modern rules were standardized in the 19th century.


In the 1950s and 1960s, Gligorić was one of the top players in the world. He was also among the world's most popular players, owing to his globe-trotting tournament schedule and a particularly engaging personality, reflected in the title of his autobiography, I Play Against Pieces (i.e., without hostility toward the opponent, and not differently against different players for "psychological" reasons; playing "the board and not the man").

Autobiography biography written by the subject

An autobiography is a self-written account of the life of oneself. The word "autobiography" was first used deprecatingly by William Taylor in 1797 in the English periodical The Monthly Review, when he suggested the word as a hybrid, but condemned it as "pedantic". However, its next recorded use was in its present sense, by Robert Southey in 1809. Despite only being named early in the nineteenth century, first-person autobiographical writing originates in antiquity. Roy Pascal differentiates autobiography from the periodic self-reflective mode of journal or diary writing by noting that "[autobiography] is a review of a life from a particular moment in time, while the diary, however reflective it may be, moves through a series of moments in time". Autobiography thus takes stock of the autobiographer's life from the moment of composition. While biographers generally rely on a wide variety of documents and viewpoints, autobiography may be based entirely on the writer's memory. The memoir form is closely associated with autobiography but it tends, as Pascal claims, to focus less on the self and more on others during the autobiographer's review of his or her life.


Gligorić was born in Belgrade to a poor family. According to his recollections, his first exposure to chess was as a small child watching patrons play in a neighborhood bar. He began to play at the age of eleven, when taught by a boarder taken in by his mother (his father had died by this time). Lacking a chess set, he made one for himself by carving pieces from corks from wine bottles—a story paralleling the formative years of his contemporary, the renowned Estonian grandmaster Paul Keres.

Belgrade City in Serbia

Belgrade is the capital and largest city of Serbia. It is located at the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and the crossroads of the Pannonian Plain and the Balkan Peninsula. The urban area of Belgrade has a population of 1.23 million, while nearly 1.7 million people live within the administrative limits of the City of Belgrade, a quarter of total population of Serbia.

Chess set

A chess set has thirty-two chess pieces in two colours and a chessboard used to play chess. Chess is played by two players, each starting with one king, one queen, two rooks, two bishops, two knights and eight pawns. Chess equipment often accompanying a chess set are a chess box, chess clock and chess table. Chess sets are made in a wide variety of styles, often for ornamental rather than practical purposes. For tournament play, the Staunton chess set is preferred or required.

Estonia Republic in Baltic Region of Northern Europe

Estonia, officially the Republic of Estonia, is a country on the eastern coast of the Baltic Sea in Northern Europe. It is bordered to the north by the Gulf of Finland with Finland on the other side, to the west by the Baltic Sea with Sweden on the other side, to the south by Latvia (343 km), and to the east by Lake Peipus and Russia (338.6 km). The territory of Estonia consists of a mainland and 2,222 islands in the Baltic Sea, covering a total area of 45,227 km2 (17,462 sq mi), water 2,839 km2 (1,096 sq mi), land area 42,388 km2 (16,366 sq mi), and is influenced by a humid continental climate. The official language of the country, Estonian, is the second-most-spoken Finnic language.

Gligorić was a good student during his youth, with both academic and athletic successes that famously led to him to be invited to represent his school at a birthday celebration for Prince Peter, who later became King Peter II of Yugoslavia. He later recounted to International Master David Levy (who chronicled his chess career in The Chess of Gligoric) his distress at attending this gala event wearing poor clothing stemming from his family's impoverished condition. His first tournament success came in 1938 when he won the Belgrade Chess Club championship; however, World War II interrupted his chess progress for a time. During the war, Gligorić was a member of a partisan unit. A chance encounter with a chess-playing partisan officer led to his removal from combat.

Peter II of Yugoslavia king of Yugoslavia between October 1934 and November 1945

Peter II was the last King of Yugoslavia, reigning from 1934 to 1945. He was the last reigning member of the Karađorđević dynasty which came to prominence in the early 19th century.

A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent activity. The term can apply to the field element of resistance movements. Most common use in present parlance in several languages refers to anti-fascist fighters from World War II, and more specifically, the Communist or Socialist troops during WW II of Poland, Italy, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Greece. Led by communist parties, they opposed the occupation and led guerilla warfare against the Nazi and Nazi-allied powers during the Second World War.

Following World War II, Gligorić worked for several years as a journalist and organizer of chess tournaments. He continued to progress as a player and was awarded the International Master (IM) title in 1950 and the Grandmaster (GM) title in 1951, eventually making the transition to full-time chess professional. He continued active tournament play well into his sixties.

Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on recent events. The word journalism applies to the occupation, as well as citizen journalists using methods of gathering information and using literary techniques. Journalistic media include print, television, radio, Internet, and, in the past, newsreels.

Chess career

Gligoric at Oberhausen 1961 Gligoric 1961 Oberhausen.jpg
Gligorić at Oberhausen 1961

Gligorić was one of the most successful tournament players of the mid-20th century, with a number of tournament victories to his credit, but was less successful in competing for the World Chess Championship. He was Yugoslav champion in 1947 (joint), 1948 (joint), 1949, 1950, 1956, 1957, 1958 (joint), 1959, 1960, 1962, 1965 and 1971.

World Chess Championship Played to determine the World Champion in chess

The World Chess Championship is played to determine the world champion in chess. Since 2014, the schedule has settled on a two-year cycle with a championship held in every even year. Magnus Carlsen has been world champion since he defeated Viswanathan Anand in 2013. He successfully defended the title in 2014, 2016 and 2018, and is next due to defend the title in late 2020.

He represented his native Yugoslavia with great success in fifteen Chess Olympiads from 1950 to 1982 (thirteen times on first board ), playing 223 games (+88−26=109). In the first post-war Olympiad, on home soil at Dubrovnik 1950, Gligoric played on first board and led Yugoslavia to a historic result, the team gold medal. The Yugoslav team was usually second or third in the world during the 1950s.

His list of first-place finishes in international chess competitions is one of the longest and includes such events as Mar del Plata 1950, Stockholm 1954, Belgrade 1964, Manila 1968, Lone Pine 1972 and 1979, etc. He was a regular competitor in the series of great tournaments held at Hastings, with wins (or ties for first) in 1951–52, 1956–57, 1959–60, 1960–61 and 1962–63.

His record in world championship qualifying events was mixed. He was a regular competitor in Zonal and Interzonal competitions with several successes, e.g. zonal wins in 1951, 1960 (joint), 1963, 1966, and 1969 (joint) and finishes at the Interzonals of 1952, 1958 and 1967 high enough to qualify him for the final Candidates events the following years. However, he was not as successful in any of the Candidates events, with mediocre results in the 1953 and 1959 Candidates Tournaments and a match loss to Mikhail Tal in the 1968 Candidates match series.

Lifetime scores against world champions

Gligorić had the following record against the world champions he played against: Max Euwe +2−0=5, Mikhail Botvinnik +2−2=6, Vasily Smyslov +6−8=28, Tigran Petrosian +8−11=19, Mikhail Tal +2−10=22, Boris Spassky +0−6=16, Bobby Fischer +4−7=8, Anatoly Karpov +0−4=6 and Garry Kasparov +0−3=0.


On August 14, 2012, Svetozar Gligorić died from a stroke at 89 years of age in Belgrade. [1] [2] Gligorić was buried on August 16, 2012, at 13:30 in the Alley of the Greats at Belgrade's New Cemetery. [3] [4]


Although he compiled a superb tournament record, it is perhaps as an openings theorist and commentator that Gligorić will be best remembered. He made enormous contributions to the theory and practice of the King's Indian Defence, Ruy Lopez and Nimzo-Indian Defence, among others; and, particularly with the King's Indian, translated his theoretical contributions into several spectacular victories with both colours (including the notable game below). Theoretically significant variations in the King's Indian and Ruy Lopez are named for him. His battles with Bobby Fischer in the King's Indian and Sicilian Defence (particularly the Najdorf Variation, a long-time Fischer specialty) often worked out in his favour.

As a commentator, Gligorić was able to take advantage of his fluency in a number of languages and his training as a journalist, to produce lucid, interesting game annotations. He was a regular columnist for Chess Review and Chess Life magazines for many years, his "Game of the Month" column often amounting to a complete tutorial in the opening used in the feature game as well as a set of comprehensive game annotations. He wrote a number of chess books in several languages. One of the most notable was Fischer vs. Spassky: The Chess Match of the Century, a detailed account of their epic struggle for the world title in Reykjavík in 1972. He also contributed regularly to the Chess Informant semi-annual (more recently, thrice-yearly) compilation of the world's most important chess games.

Notable games

One of Gligorić's most famous games was this win against the former world champion Tigran Petrosian at the great "Tournament of Peace" held in Zagreb in 1970. It displays Gligorić's virtuosity on the Black side of the King's Indian and his willingness to play for a sacrificial attack against one of history's greatest defenders. Zagreb 1970 was another Gligorić tournament success, as he tied for second (with Petrosian and others) behind Fischer, at the start of the latter's 1970–71 run of tournament and match victories.

Chess rdt45.svg
Chess bdt45.svg
Chess qdt45.svg
Chess rdt45.svg
Chess kdt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess bdt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess ndt45.svg
Chess pdt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess ndt45.svg
Chess nlt45.svg
Chess blt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess nlt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess plt45.svg
Chess rlt45.svg
Chess blt45.svg
Chess qlt45.svg
Chess rlt45.svg
Chess klt45.svg
Position after 14.g3
Petrosian vs. Gligorić, Zagreb 1970; King's Indian Defence, Classical Variation ( ECO E97)
1.c4 g6 2.Nf3 Bg7 3.d4 Nf6 4.Nc3 0-0 5.e4 d6 6.Be2 e5 7.0-0 Nc6 8.d5 Ne7 9.b4 Nh5 10.Nd2 Nf4 11.a4 f5 12.Bf3 g5 13.exf5 Nxf5 14.g3 (diagram) Nd4 15.gxf4 Nxf3+ 16.Qxf3 g4 17.Qh1 exf4 18.Bb2 Bf5 19.Rfe1 f3 20.Nde4 Qh4 21.h3 Be5 22.Re3 gxh3 23.Qxf3 Bg4 24.Qh1 h2+ 25.Kg2 Qh5 26.Nd2 Bd4 27.Qe1 Rae8 28.Nce4 Bxb2 29.Rg3 Be5 30.R1a3 Kh8 31.Kh1 Rg8 32.Qf1 Bxg3 33.Rxg3 Rxe4 0–1 [5]

Indeed, Gligorić was the first person to inflict a defeat on Petrosian after he won the world title from Mikhail Botvinnik in 1963. [6]


See also

Related Research Articles

Boris Spassky Russian chess player

Boris Vasilievich Spassky is a Russian chess grandmaster. He was the tenth World Chess Champion, holding the title from 1969 to 1972. Spassky played three world championship matches: he lost to Tigran Petrosian in 1966; defeated Petrosian in 1969 to become world champion; then lost to Bobby Fischer in a famous match in 1972.

Tigran Petrosian Soviet Armenian chess player and chess writer

Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was an Armenian-Soviet Grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his almost impenetrable defensive playing style, which emphasised safety above all else.

Mikhail Tal Soviet-Latvian chess player

Mikhail Nekhemyevich Tal was a Soviet chess player and the eighth World Chess Champion.

Bent Larsen Danish chess grandmaster and author

Jørgen Bent Larsen was a Danish chess grandmaster and author. Known for his imaginative and unorthodox style of play, he was the first Western player to pose a serious challenge to the Soviet Union's dominance in chess. He is considered to be the strongest player born in Denmark and the strongest from Scandinavia until the emergence of Magnus Carlsen.

Wolfgang Unzicker German chess grandmaster

Wolfgang Unzicker was one of the strongest German chess Grandmasters from 1945 to about 1970. He decided against making chess his profession, choosing law instead. Unzicker was at times the world's strongest amateur chess player, and World Champion Anatoly Karpov called him the "world champion of amateurs".

In chess and some other abstract strategy games, the threefold repetition rule states that a player can claim a draw if the same position occurs three times, or will occur after their next move, with the same player to move. The repeated positions do not need to occur in succession. The reasoning behind the rule is that if the position occurs three times, no real progress is being made and the game could hypothetically continue indefinitely.

World Chess Championship 1972

The World Chess Championship 1972 was a match for the World Chess Championship between challenger Bobby Fischer of the United States and defending champion Boris Spassky of the Soviet Union. The match took place in the Laugardalshöll arena in Reykjavík, Iceland, and has been dubbed the Match of the Century. Fischer became the first American born in the United States to win the world title, and the second American overall. Fischer's win also ended, for a short time, 24 years of Soviet domination of the World Championship.

This article presents a number of methodologies that have been suggested for the task of comparing the greatest chess players in history. Statistical methods offer objectivity but, while there is agreement on systems to rate the strengths of current players, there is disagreement on whether such techniques can be applied to players from different generations who never competed against each other.

Bobby Fischer American chess player and chess writer

Robert James Fischer was an American chess grandmaster and the eleventh World Chess Champion. Many consider him to be the greatest chess player of all time.

Borislav Ivkov Serbian chess player

Borislav Ivkov is a Serbian chess Grandmaster. He was a World championship candidate in 1965, and played in four more Interzonal tournaments, in 1967, 1970, 1973, and 1979.

Petar Trifunović Yugoslav chess grandmaster

Dr. Petar Trifunović was an International Grandmaster and five-times Yugoslav Champion of chess.

Braslav Rabar was a Croatian chess International Master (1950) and chess writer. He was Yugoslav champion in 1951, and in 1953 again tied for the tournament lead, but lost a playoff match. He played for Yugoslavia in three chess Olympiads, winning a total of five medals. Rabar was a co-inventor of the classification systems for the Chess Informant publications.

Dragoljub Janošević Serbian chess grandmaster

Dragoljub Janošević (Janosevic) was a Yugoslav chess Grandmaster.

World Chess Championship 1963

At the World Chess Championship 1963 Tigran Petrosian narrowly qualified to challenge Mikhail Botvinnik for the World Chess Championship, and then won the match to become the ninth World Chess Champion. The cycle is particularly remembered for the controversy surrounding the Candidates' Tournament at Curaçao in 1962, which resulted in FIDE changing the format of the Candidates Tournament to a series of knockout matches.

The Piatigorsky Cup was a triennial series of double round-robin grandmaster chess tournaments held in the United States in the 1960s. Sponsored by the Piatigorsky Foundation, only two events were held, in 1963 and 1966. The Piatigorsky Cups were the strongest U.S. chess tournaments since New York 1927.

Mladen Šubarić (1908–1991) was a Croatian chess master.

Events in chess in 1969;

World Chess Championship 1969

The 1969 World Chess Championship was played between Tigran Petrosian and Boris Spassky in Moscow from April 14 to June 17, 1969. Spassky won.

Events in chess in 1970;

Events in chess in 1971;


  1. Loeb, Dylan. (2012-08-16) Svetozar Gligoric, Who Pioneered Chess Moves, Dies at 89. NY Times. Retrieved on 2012-11-10.
  2. He played the pieces, not the man SVETOZAR GLIGORIC, 1923–2012. SMH. Retrieved on 2012-11-10.
  3. Svetozar Gligorić: 2 February 1923 – 14 August 2012. Chessbase. Retrieved on 2012-11-10.
  4. Svetozar Gligoric. The Telegraph (2012-08-15). Retrieved on 2012-11-10.
  5. "Petrosian vs. Gligoric, Zagreb 1970". .
  6. "Gligoric vs. Petrosian, First Piatigorsky Cup 1963". .
Preceded by
Franjo Mihalić
Flag of Yugoslavia (1946-1992).svg The Best Athlete of Yugoslavia
Succeeded by
Stanko Lorger