Kandidatenturnier fur Schachweltmeisterschaft Bled, Zagreb, Beograd 6 September - 31 Oktober 1959

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Author: Gligorić, Svetozar (1923-2012) and Wjatschewslaw Ragosin signed by Mikhail Tal

Year: 1960

Publisher: Jugoslawischer Sschachverband

Place: Beograd


320 pages with diagrams, photographs and tables. Royal octavo (9 1/2" x 7") bound in original publisher's quarter beige cloth with black lettering to spine in stiff boards. Signed by Mikhail Tal. First edition.

The 1959 Candidates Tournament was hosted by three cities in Yugoslavia. The first 14 rounds were played in Bled, rounds 15-21 in Zagreb, and rounds 22-28 in Belgrade. This event would select the next challenger to world champion Mikhail Botvinnik, who had just recaptured his title in the Botvinnik - Smyslov World Championship Rematch (1958). Mikhail Tal, Svetozar Gligorić, Pal Benko, Tigran Petrosian, Friðrik Ólafsson and Bobby Fischer qualified from the Portoroz Interzonal (1958). Vasily Smyslov and Paul Keres were seeded directly into the candidates tournament on the strength of their 1-2 finish in the previous Amsterdam Candidates (1956). Harry Golombek was arbiter, and the seconds were Bent Larsen (Fischer), Yuri Averbakh, joined later by Alexander Koblents (Tal), Vladas Ivanovich Mikenas (Keres), Isaac Boleslavsky (Petrosian), Igor Bondarevsky (Smyslov) Aleksandar Matanovic (Gligorić), Klaus Viktor Darga and Ingi Randver Johannsson (Ólafsson), and Rudolf Maric (Benko). The players would meet each other four times, twice in Bled and once in both Zagreb and Belgrade. In Bled, the players stayed at the Grand Hotel Toplice, the site of Alexander Alekhine's historic triumph in Bled (1931). Mikhail Tal had just had his appendix removed less than two weeks earlier, but FIDE insisted he make it in time for the tournament. It may also have surprised Bobby Fischer, who complained after his first game with Tal that whenever he "rose from the board... he'd begin talking to the other Soviet players, and they enjoyed whispering about their or others' positions." Pal Benko later revealed that due to his "demanding" job in a US brokerage firm, he "didn't prepare at all" for the event, although he reckoned "I did reasonably well." He didn't. After the first cycle Tal, Paul Keres and Tigran Petrosian shared the lead. During the second cycle, shortly after the beginning of round 8, Golombek remarked to Fischer on how many Caro Kanns the Soviets had been playing. Bobby replied "they are all just chicken; they just don't want to face B-QB4 against the Sicilian." Tal emerged the hero of round 8 with his spectacular win over Vasily Smyslov. He won the brilliancy prize by crushing the ex-world champion with a series of sacrifices he later described as "pure improvisation". Such improvisation did not serve him as well in his round 10 encounter with co-leader Keres, who "seemed to enjoy taking all the material Tal was offering". According to Golombek, "most onlookers thought (Tal) might well have resigned ten moves earlier." Though Tal finished off the cycle with three straight wins, it was Keres who led by a half point when the players set off for Zagreb. Perhaps the biggest surprise in the first two cycles was the lackluster play of Smyslov, who trailed a full four points behind Keres. Golombek had noticed that in his round 11 game against Benko, "Smyslov seemed to be struggling, not only against his opponent, but against himself". Now it seemed it was Petrosian's turn to struggle. Though he finished the second cycle respectably close to the leaders, he too would fall back to join Smyslov in the middle of the table. According to his biographer Vik Vasiliev, "It was... the uncompromising vigor of... Tal and Keres... which troubled Petrosian... He began to reckon his chances of success as extremely small." Petrosian's round 15 game can't have helped his spirits, though it became one of very few bright spots for Friðrik Ólafsson. Their adjourned game was finished on a balcony overlooking Zagreb's Republic Square, where a giant demonstration board had been erected: "A crowd of... 5,000 assembled to watch. Olafsson won to... great acclamation... When he tried to go back to the hotel... the crowd insisted on carrying him on their shoulders." Tal led Keres by a point and a half as the final cycle began in the 2,000 seat Belgrade Trade Union House, with the rest of the field trailing far behind. Smyslov's woes continued in round 22 when he blundered so badly against Tal that a Russian journalist actually sent in a report that Smyslov had won the game, and "later had to contact Moscow again by telephone and eat his words". Keres showed he was still full of fight in round 24 when he won the best game prize against Tal. The hometown favorite, Yugoslavian grandmaster Gligorić, had played a disappointing tournament until he beat Smyslov in round 26 in just eighteen moves. Needless to say, this created quite a stir. As Golombek later described the scene, "There came a full-throated roar from over 2,000 (spectators)... and it was quite impossible for the other players to continue their games. So I hurriedly asked Gligorić and Smyslov to vacate the stage at once."15 With one round to go, Tal only needed a half point against Benko to win the tournament. Benko showed up wearing dark sunglasses, "fearing- or pretending to fear the hypnotic power of Tal's eyes." Unfazed, Tal easily forced an early draw by perpetual check to emerge victorious over Keres and all the rest. He had earned the right to face Mikhail Botvinnik in the Tal - Botvinnik World Championship Match (1960).


Signed by Tal on his picture under the faux signature. Corners bumped, previous owner's name on front pastedown else a very good copy.