02 July 2014

Zt: 1975 Barcelona & 1976 Arandjelovac

When it comes to chess history, one thing generally leads to another, and a particular subject is often incomplete. While I was working on the actions identified in Zonal Overview 2013 (plus the following three weeks), I discovered a curious paragraph on Zonals 1990-1993 (C15). A clipping for zone 3, Stara Zagora 1990-02, mentioned
The zone of Europe is one of the strongest, and used to send representatives to compete with the rest of Europe till the Pachman affair and the orders of now discredited governments led to tournament disruption. [BCM, 1990-05, p.197]

Pachman affair? What was that all about? Looking at my index page for World Chess Championship Zonals, I identified the 1975 zonals as the likely root of the 'affair', especially two events: 1975 Barcelona and 1976 Arandjelovac. Pachman played in the first event and the the second was a mystery to me that I had investigated several times without much success. The clippings for that cycle, including notes from a relevant discussion with 'EK', are on my page for Zonals 1975-1978 (C10).

A copy of a Pachman obituary from Google groups -- Ludek Pachman, chess grandmaster; Telegraph obit -- gave me further details.

In 1975 Pachman qualified once again for a world championship zonal tournament, this time held in Barcelona. After his departure from Czechoslovakia, East European chess federations had done their utmost to continue damaging his career, and they now used the bullying tactic of threatening a total Eastern European boycott if he took up his place.

Fortunately, the Spanish organisers and the World Chess Federation stood their ground. Pachman's invitation remained and it was the communist players who suffered, by being deliberately excluded from the event. As it was, he went on to qualify, and his presence in the 1976 interzonal contest obliged the communist federations to abandon their boycott, since to have withdrawn en masse from this advanced stage of the world championship would have been a considerable political setback.

This was confirmed in a passage from the book 'Smart Chip from St. Petersburg' by Genna Sosonko, in a chapter titled 'If the Trumpet Sounds; Ludek Pachman (1924-2003)'.

A few months later, in August 1975, we both played in the zonal in Barcelona. This was an unusual tournament. About ten days before it began in Spain —- where Franco was in power at the time -- several people were sentenced to death for killing a policeman. When we arrived in the capital of Catalonia we found out that some representatives of Eastern European countries -- strong grandmasters from Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia -- had refused to come to the tournament in protest, while the Romanian and Hungarian chess players had arrived in Barcelona but eventually decided not to play because they were afraid of being punished by their governments when they returned home. [p.52]

The reason for the boycott is different for the two accounts, but the underlying facts correlate nicely. A little further investigation led me to a long discussion on Chessgames.com's Biographer Bistro. It starts,

Jan-26-14 thomastonk: I see. Some Dutch newspapers also reported on the zonal in Barcelona because of Sosonko. Three places for the interzonals, one newspaper says two. Four strong players from eastern Europe did not start because of Sosonko and Pachman. Diez del Coral is mentioned as second, and since Pachman played in Manila, he should have been qualified, too.

The discussion is too long to quote in its entirety, but it did tie 1975 Barcelona to 1976 Arandjelovac.

Jan-26-14 sneaky pete: In Barcelona 1975 not 4 but 6 masters from eastern Europe (Adorjan, Ciocaltea, Smejkal, Uhlmann, Velimirovic and Ermenkov) were not allowed to play by their federation because of some recent murders of political opponents committed by the Franco gang. The Swedish master Ornstein didn't play for the same reason (the murders).

Four of the 6 eastern Eastern masters later played a double round qualifier for 2 places, where of course 3 players shared first place. After drawing of lots Smejkal and Uhlmann qualifed at the expense of Adorjan. Velimirovic was number four.

There are more leads here for further investigation, especially the qualification process for the two subsequent Interzonals, but that isn't too surprising. 'When it comes to chess history, one thing generally leads to another, and a particular subject is often incomplete.'


Later: Some quotes from the Chessgames.com reference for further investigation:-

  • A) 1975 Barcelona : 'The Swedish master Ornstein didn't play for the same reason (the murders).'
  • B) 1976 Arandjelovac : 'After drawing of lots Smejkal and Uhlmann qualifed at the expense of Adorjan.'
  • C) IZ Qualifiers : 'Diez del Corral couln't play because of professional obligations and was replaced by first reserve Pachman.'
  • D) IZ Qualifiers : 'Perhaps only one place [from 1976 Arandjelovac] because Smejkal was already qualified from the Leningrad Interzonal (1973). As was Larsen, Kuzmin (who withdrew), Hübner, and somehow Tal (possibly as reserve for Kuzmin).'
  • E) IZ Qualifiers : '"EK" in http://www.mark-weeks.com/chess/zon... (bottom of page) writes that Smejkal was 2nd reserve and that Kuzmin was replaced by Kavalek etc., but I'd like to see hard evidence.'
  • F) IZ Qualifiers : 'The British Chess Magazine, issue May 1976, page 184, reports on the results of a FIDE Bureau meeting in Rome, March 16-19.'
  • G) IZ Qualifiers : 'When FIDE decided to create 2 extra places to give the Barcelona five (originally six) a second chance, they also added 2 more places (for a reserve from the previous cycle and a Swiss guest player)'

The BCM reference (F) looks to be extremely useful.

1 comment:

jennifer lofranco said...

Originally, there should have been only 18 players each IZT. Two were added from Arandjelovac and then one nominee from host Swiss federation. Smyslov was replacement for Kuzmin. Tal qualified by high Elo. Kavalek added to balance the number. He is from list of reserves by Elo.