The match was played on ten boards and the ten players on each board played four games against each other. Before the match the USSR had been the clear favourite but in the end they won the prestigious encounter with the narrowest possible margin, In the fourth game Portisch was an exchange up but agreed to a repetition of moves and a draw to secure victory in his mini-match against Kortschnoi. In the commentary section of the ChessBase website Portisch reacted to rumours that he had agreed to a draw to avoid a defeat of the Soviet team in the match. A few comments on my draw against Kortschnoi in our fourth game.
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Lajos Portisch, still driven and active. What do you think of that? Lajos Portisch — Recently in the summer, I played in a senior tournament and it was a rapid tournament in Russia. Korchnoi won the tournament. Anyhow, in Russia they also told me I was the Hungarian Botvinnik.
Then when I addressed the public, I was forced to say this was a mistake as I had never seen myself as Botvinnik. I was always very positional. Unfortunately I started very late. I was only twelve years old when I started to play the game, and it was a very slow development as I was born in a small town in Hungary.
There were no books, no computers of course, nor even chess clocks. This is why I am not so good at rapid chess, and blitz is even worse. We were unable to play blitz games when I was a child since the club itself only owned three clocks, and they were hidden from us.
The director of the club was afraid that if he let us use them he would be unable to play a team match. Tactically I was very weak in the beginning, just like Spassky, who it is said was also very weak tactically, though he started much younger than me.
You started playing chess at twelve, which is a very late age to start and then develop into one of the top players in the world. How old were you when you realized you might be talented enough to become a professional player? After I finished high school, I went to a university to study economics, however I had no talent for it. So I gave it up after one month on it and by then I had already decided I wanted to be a professional chess player.
I was eighteen. Well it was just after the World Junior Championship which was my first real strong tournament. Spassky won it, and Mednis was there also. This was in in Antwerp. I was only fourth. Yes, I qualified but I was lucky because the young players who were stronger were already over twenty years old which was the limit.
The federation simply nominated me. Yes, but before I had not even been able to qualify for the final of the Hungarian championship. After my good result in the World Junior Championship, I gained self-confidence, and I then won the semi-final of the Hungarian championship, qualifying for the final. I had also been selected to be a member of the national team, as a reserve player, for friendly team competitions. In fact I had wanted to become a musician, my parents more than me, because I played the violin when I was young, which I gave it up for the sake of chess.
Yes, I am a singer now, but this is because of my musical background with the violin. I cannot play any longer as my fingers no longer move as they did. I only play the piano a little when I practice, but I have always loved music. Only classical though. Then chess grew in importance and I was forced to give up my music ambitions.
At that time, chess was not as organized as it is now. We received support from some of the clubs. We had so-called hidden jobs for which we received a salary, but not very much.
For example, when I played in Bewerwijk in , my first. At that time it was held in Bewerwijk and not in Wijk aan Zee. It was bigger than Wijk aan Zee, which was just a village, whereas Bewerwijk was a town. There were no prizes then. The Dutch organizers said that prizes were against their principles. Let me understand this correctly: the first tournaments from the Wijk aan Zee series had no prizes because the organizers declared it was against their principles? No prizes. We received some compensation at the start, which was not much, but no prizes, no.
Slowly, perhaps by the second or third tournament I played in there were prizes. We liked chess, and I never played for the sake of a prize. I have always played for the satisfaction from the game itself and competition. We always got something, but in the beginning I played in many tournaments where there were practically no prizes at all. In most tournaments in Hungary there were no prizes either. When I became Hungarian Champion for the first time I only received a trophy.
I never counted. I played in it many times. More than ten, maybe fifteen times. Actually, it is interesting because Holland has been the most successful country in the world to me.
Perhaps if I count the Veterans vs. The Wijk aan Zee in , was the strongest one you won in terms of the lineup the players from what I saw. In the earlier tournaments which I won, such as and , the tournament was longer with at least sixteen players. Smyslov was there in 72, and in 78, yes, Korchnoi was there, and Timman. Korchnoi was certainly number two in the world behind Karpov.
You also met with all these great players: Korchnoi, Timman, Mecking… Speaking of whom, Korchnoi once said that if Mecking, who lived in Brazil, had had the proper infrastructure, he could have been world champion. Would you agree with this? He was very talented of course, but Mecking had health problems at one point, and they were rather serious.
These were probably a disadvantage of course, and he could not play for quite a long time. Whether or not he could have been a world champion is hard to say. There have been many chess players, like Korchnoi, like myself, like Timman, like Keres from the older generation, who never became world champion though they were very strong. I think I only played once with Mecking in Wijk aan Zee. It is a funny story. We met in the church. I am a Catholic, you know, a believer, and go to the church every Sunday.
There was only one very small church in Wijk aan Zee, and it was the first time I saw a single church being shared by both Protestants and Catholics. For example, in the morning there was a catholic mass, and later there was a protestant service.
At that time it was very strange to me, but then I realized: why not? We pray to the same god after all. If you do then we have nothing more to say to each other. I thought that facts just spoke for themselves.
Yes, poor Bobby, fortunately he made an exception in my case. He stayed a long time in Hungary, you know, and we met very often. We talked and we analyzed. He was still very strong at that time. Copyright ChessBase. Enjoy the best moments of recent top tournaments World Cup, Isle of Man Open with analysis of top players. In addition you'll get lots of training material. For example 10 new suggestions for your opening repertoire.
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A talk with legendary Lajos Portisch – Part I
Chess was always fairly popular in Hungary. In the s, Laszlo Szabo competed successfully in international tournaments. He was succeeded by Lajos Portisch, who became one of the strongest chess players of the ss. The young Hungarian champion became famous in , when at a prestigious international tournament in Bled, he defeated the invincible Petrosian, who was at the peak of his powers. Portisch remained the most difficult opponent for the Iron Tigran, who did not win a single game against him until In , Portisch performed admirably at the inter-zonal tournament in Amsterdam, where he defeated Reshevsky in an additional match and qualified for the candidates tournament. However, he lost in the first round of the candidates matches to Tal.
Lajos Portisch. Three Games Inspired By Other Posts.
He won the Hungarian Championship for the first time in , and in he became a grandmaster. In , he qualified from the Madrid Zonal for the Stockholm Interzonal , where he came equal 9th. Over the course of his career he qualified for the Candidates eight times and played for his country in nineteen consecutive Olympiads He had another fine tournament finish with an equal 2nd with Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian after Anatoly Karpov at Milan At the Biel Interzonal , he qualified again with an equal 2nd after Bent Larsen , and went on to win the Portisch - Larsen Candidates Quarterfinal match, but then lost the Spassky - Portisch Candidates Semifinal match. He led the Hungarian team to an unprecedented 1st place finish ahead of the Soviets at the Buenos Aires Olympiad He still lives in Hungary, and is still active in local tournaments.