Lajos Portisch bigraphy, stories - Chess player

Lajos Portisch : biography

4 April 1937 -

Lajos Portisch (born 4 April 1937 in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary) is a Hungarian chess Grandmaster, whose positional style earned him the nickname, the "Hungarian Botvinnik". One of the strongest non-Soviet players from the early 1960s into the late 1980s, he participated in twelve consecutive Interzonals from 1962 through 1993, qualifying for the World Chess Championship Candidates' cycle a total of eight times (1965, 1968, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1983, 1985, and 1988). Portisch set several all-time records in Chess Olympiads. In Hungarian Chess Championships, he either shared the title or won it outright a total of eight times (1958, 1959, 1961, 1964, 1965, 1971, 1975, and 1981). He won many strong international tournaments during his career. In 2004, Portisch was awarded the 'Nemzet Sportoloja', Hungary's highest national sports achievement award. He still competes occasionally at his age. His main hobby is singing operatic arias; he has a fine baritone voice, a quality shared by Vasily Smyslov, a chess world champion and grandmaster who had also talent as an operatic singer. His younger brother, Ferenc (born 1939), is an International Master.

World Title Candidate

Portisch entered the World Championship cycle for the first time with the Madrid 1960 Zonal, where he tied for second/third place, on 13.5/21, along with Arturo Pomar; the winner was Svetozar Gligorić, as all three advanced. Portisch was awarded the grandmaster title by FIDE in 1961.

Portisch's first Interzonal appearance was Stockholm 1962, where he tied for ninth/tenth places, after losing a late-round game to one of the tail-enders, and did not advance; the winner was Bobby Fischer. Portisch won the Halle Zonal 1963 with 14/19 to advance to the next Interzonal. Portisch qualified from the Amsterdam Interzonal 1964, with 14.5/23, in a tied eighth/ninth place (the winners were Mikhail Tal, Spassky, Vasily Smyslov, and Bent Larsen). Portisch defeated Samuel Reshevsky in a playoff match to advance to the Candidates' series for the first time, but he lost his first round match against Mikhail Tal at Bled 1965, by 2.5-5.5.

Portisch won the 1967 Halle Zonal with 15.5/19, to advance. He qualified through the Sousse Interzonal 1967, with 13.5/21 for a solo fifth place finish. The winner was Bent Larsen. Portisch then lost his first-round Candidates' match to Larsen at Porec 1968, by 4.5-5.5. He qualified from the Raach 1969 Zonal, after tying for second/fifth places, on 13.5/21, then winning a four-way playoff for two berths at Prague 1970 with 4/6, against Borislav Ivkov, Jan Smejkal, and Ulf Andersson. He advanced, but narrowly missed Candidates' qualification at the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal 1970, tying with Vasily Smyslov for seventh/eighth places on 13.5/23, after another late defeat at the hands of one of the outsiders; the winner was Fischer. Portisch and Smyslov played a drawn match (3-3) at Portorož 1971 for a reserve place, with Portisch declared the winner, as his tiebreak score from Palma was superior, though this proved unnecessary.

Portisch qualified from the Petropolis Interzonal 1973, scoring 11.5/17 for a shared second/fourth place (the winner was Henrique Mecking), then surviving a further three-man playoff for two berths against Lev Polugaevsky and Efim Geller, at Portorož 1973, by winning outright with 5.5/8; however, Portisch lost his first-round Candidates' match to Tigran Petrosian in 1974, by 6-7 at Palma de Mallorca. At the 1976 Biel Interzonal, he tied for second/fourth places on 12/19 with Petrosian and Tal, after Larsen. Then, in a three-way playoff for two spots, held at Varese 1976, Portisch scored 4/8 for second place, with Tal being eliminated. In the Candidates' matches, he first advanced to the semifinals after beating Bent Larsen by 6.5-3.5 at Rotterdam 1977, then lost to Boris Spassky by 6.5-8.5 at Geneva 1977.

In 1979 he advanced from the Rio de Janeiro Interzonal, sharing first/third places, on 11.5/17, along with Petrosian and Robert Hübner. Portisch got his revenge against Spassky in 1980, when he tied their quarterfinal match 7-7 in Mexico, and advanced to the semifinals since he had more victories with the Black pieces. He then lost the semi-final to Hübner by 4.5-6.5 at Abano Terme 1980. Qualifying from the Toluca Interzonal 1982, where he tied for first/second places on 8.5/13 along with Eugenio Torre, he lost his first-round match to Viktor Korchnoi by 3-6 at Bad Kissingen 1983. Qualifying from the Tunis Interzonal 1985, where he scored 10/16, he made 7/15 at the Montpellier Candidates' tournament, and was eliminated.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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