13th Chess Olympiad: Munich 1958

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Basic data

13th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 30th September - 23th October 1958
City: Munich, West Germany
Venue: Deutsches Museum
Head of Organizing Committee: Mr. Ludwig Schneider (GER)
Head of Executive Committee: Mr. Willi Fohl (GER)
Chief Arbiter: IA Alois Nagler (SUI)
Teams participating: 36
Players participating: 207 (incl. 25 GMs and 42 IMs)
Games played: 1368 (1 game was forfeited)
Competition format: Two stage four board round robin. Top three from each group qualified to the final.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours 30 minutes, then 1 hour for each next 16 moves
Official logo: MUNICH 1958
Downloadable game file: 58olm.zip

Tournament review

The Chess Federation of the German Federal Republic undertook the organisation of the 13th Olympiad and chose Munich as the setting. It was the eight-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the city, and the Olympiad provided a link with the colourful series of events in its celebration. 36 countries entered and of these two were from the dark continent of Africa. More than 1,300 games were in plan and strict regulations disallowing to extend length of the event for more than 25 days imposed an obligation to share the teams into four groups of 9 in the preliminaries, and three groups of 12 in the finals. Of course as usual top three out of each qualifying group entered the championship final and the rest were relegated to lower sections.

The interest of the chess world had already been exceptionally stimulated by the unexpected outcome of the Interzonal Tournament which had finished just a few days before. Tal had come straight on to the Olympiad, but Fischer and Benko, whose performances had been even more sensational, were regrettably unable to participate. USSR comprised of six top GMs and were unanimous favourites for another win, other top nations were Yugoslavia, Hungary, Argentina and USA who played without second reserve player.

The qualifiers began at 1st October. Group 1 comprised of USSR, Bulgaria and some decent West European teams of which Holland seemed strongest. The Netherlands started promising wrenching 1½ points from The Soviets while Bulgaria barely drew against Denmark watching Neikirch being executed by Larsen at board 1. Austria produced another valuable result vs USSR in round 2 and Dückstein beat Botvinnik after hard battle. Since few days later USSR trashed Bulgaria and Holland drew against Austria those two had good prospects for future. Holland beat Bulgaria in consecutive round and earned another extra advantage. Bulgaria beat Austria 3-1 though in round 5 and it looked like Bulgaria and Holland are to make top 3. However the Dutch lost to Denmark in penultimate round (Larsen-Euwe: a draw!) and were thrown back to 4th place. Austria beat Denmark 2½-1½ in last round (Dückstein beat Larsen), Bulgaria easily outplayed Ireland and Holland needed to score 3½ points vs Puerto Rico in order to come through. They were close, but Van den Berg blundered terribly and lost, a game that cost them the place in "A" final in favour of Austria. Games of group 2 were not interesting. Spain proved true discovery of the event and won seven matches out of 8. US and West Germany were far behind the reach of other teams including Iceland, who couldn't afford more deprived of their top player Ólafsson. Israel were this time very poor and hardly managed to retain their "B" final position although they beat West Germany in round 2. Group 3 brought most tension and sensational results among the preliminary sections. Hungary were top seeds while Argentina, without Najdorf and Bolbochán, and East Germany were supposed to be their contenders. England, Poland and Colombia were lined up in back rank. Argentina started with modest 2-2 vs Poland but then beat the Hungarians who had a day off at the beginning. Poland lost 1-3 to England and seemed to be out of play. England then put up a tough resistance vs Hungary but were finally defeated by a small margin. Since they beat Argentina in next round they became true threat for the favourites. East Germany beat modestly Poland in round 5 and Hungary dropped a full point against Lebanon as Barcza lost badly to Chalabi. They also failed to beat East Germany on next day. With three rounds to go Poland were in the lead, but they were yet before their rest day and already matched all three cannon fodder teams that is Scotland, Philippines and Lebanon. East Germany and Argentina were 1½ behind the lead, Hungary were lying 4th with 12½ points, a fraction ahead of England who had easy run in last days though. Argentina beat East Germany in round 7, a score that did not hurt the losers much and helped the winners and Poland virtually lost their chances as they barely drew against Colombia. East Germany beat England convincingly in penultimate round and were already safe while Colombia produced one of most surprising results in the history of the Olympiads beating Hungary 3-1. This meant that both Argentina and East Germany were in, and a fierce battle for last championship final spot would be held between England, who were yet to play Philippines, Hungary and Poland, who played against each other. Poland had least chances as they had to retain their ½ advantage over Hungarians and not let England to pass by. England were very lucky to beat the Asians by 3-1 and were in, since Hungary dropped 1½ point against Poland (Szabó lost to Śliwa) and were eliminated making one of biggest disappointments ever seen, a real shock for all. Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia had easy run in group 4 but Switzerland, Canada and Sweden had very hard fight for last championship final place. Canada beat Sweden in round 1, but then barely drew against Portugal while Sweden put up tough fight vs Czechoslovakia. The Swedes were richly disappointed dropping 2 points vs Tunisia on next day and being forfeited by Switzerland in round 5. Switzerland seemed confident about their final A qualification but then lost unexpectedly to Greece and Canada managed to earn as much as 2 points vs Czechoslovakia. However Switzerland recovered earning excellent 2-2 vs Yugoslavia and Canada needed 3-1 win over them in last round to take them over. Canada pushed truly hard but failed to do what they planned. Switzerland were in.

The finals brought much tension and excitement as for many rounds top teams were tightened inside narrow gap. Yugoslavia produced vigorous starting leap beating East Germany 3½-½ and USSR drew against USA. Most matches among top teams in consecutive rounds were either draws or lowest possible wins of one side. SU-Bulgaria and SU-Czechoslovakia, 3½-½ both, were rare exceptions. Yugoslavia and USSR, both with 13½ points were co-leaders in the halfway followed by Argentina and USA. Seventh round was quite decisive in the field of psychological aspects. USA lost to Yugoslavs and the Soviets suffered hard hours vs Argentina. Argentinians were going on for a win but Pilnik, the team captain, accepted a package deal to end up all remaining games in a draw. The Soviets won all remaining matches easily and comfortably grabbed yet another Olympic championship. Yugoslavia came second without menace after they had beaten Czechoslovakia 3-1 in round 8. Argentina hardly managed to defend bronze medals hardly pushed by the Americans who imposed good speed in the final rounds. Czechoslovakia and both German teams came in joint 5th place. The rest were far behind but Switzerland who scored 19 points finished 8th which is outstanding performance after all. Bulgaria failed to win a single match and were far away from the standards set in Moscow. Austria finished last although they drew against most of top nations. Hungary won final B without trouble of course, but they lost to Canada and once again failed to beat Colombia (2-2 this time). Holland came second and until round 7 when they were trashed by Hungary they were even hoping for more. Canada and Colombia came in 3rd place, and 16th overall was, until 1976, Colombian all-time best. Israel must have definitely been disappointed lying down in 17th as well as Denmark with GM Bent Larsen and Sweden with GM Ståhlberg at top boards who were in 18th and 20th place, respectively. Belgium came last, but that they already qualified into final B must have been recognized as a sort of success. Norway won final C and came 25th overall ahead of Philippines and South Africa, who together with Tunisia were first ever African team to appear. Lebanon came last, perhaps only because Luxembourg, customary red lantern, did not appear.

USSR won yet another cup, yet another time they lost least number of games (namely 1, lost by Botvinnik). For the first time their overall score exceeded 80% and they won as much as 48 games. They all played equally strong but perhaps Tal (+12=3) was their top star. Yugoslavia came second and did not suffer a single lost match also. Gligorić was in excellent form scoring 12/15 and won special prize for best individual result at board 1. Matanović and reserve player Fuderer were other major contributors. Argentina was weakened a lot but still they brought 3 GMs including veteran Eliskases at board 3. Pilnik started badly with two losses but then ran beyond reproach. Panno stayed undefeated and Eliskases was extremely hard to defeat (he was not very aggressive though). USA were missing reserve player since Fischer and Benko were absent and Kashdan finally did not arrive. Reshevsky managed to win only 2 games and because of his religious believes he missed some crucial matches like prestigious USSR-USA clash (he refused to play on Friday evening and Saturday morning). Bisguier was defeated as much as 6 times and only Evans scored better than 70%. Czechoslovakia confirmed their high position in world' hierarchy but were not very impressive and East Germany (without GMs and with just 1 IM!) lead by Uhlmann bravely forced their way into top world nations. Spain lead by IM Pomar Salamanca were happy to see themselves up in 9th place and their #4 player Farré Mallofre won first consecutive 7 games (but failed to win any out of remaining 8). Bulgaria were little disappointing lying in 10th and no one of their top 4 scored better than 50% (Neikirch's result was 4/13). England and Austria had nothing to say in the final group. For Hungarians Munich Olympiad was nothing more than infamous slip up. Forintos scored 80% and this was best individual result at 2nd reserve board. Szabó and Barcza were both disappointing though, especially in preliminaries. The Netherlands were not very happy missing final A again. Again they were led by Euwe who played very well and won silver medal for his individual performance. Anderson for Canada won second individual gold medal in his second appearance at the Olympiads. Yanofsky missed preliminary stage and this might had cost the Canadians the final. The Colombians played without any reserve player and their game burden was definitely excessive. This is why they drew so many games. Nevertheless they managed to score sensational 3-1 win over Hungary which had innumerable consequences for the latter. Israel were much disappointing because some top players were missing and Porath on top board was disappointing across-the-board. Poland were plunged in profound crisis as well as Sweden even though they were once again lead by GM Ståhlberg. The Munich Olympiad was the one that initiated much unwanted phenomenon of growing number of fast, insipid draws. On the other hand many splendid battles were played, as you can see below.

Best board results

1st Board
no. name code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Gligorić, Svetozar YUG A 12 15 80.0
2. GM Euwe, Machgielis NED B 11 77.3
3. GM Botvinnik, Mikhail URS A 9 12 75.0

2nd Board
no. name code fin. pts gms %
1. IM Anderson, Frank Ross CAN B 10½ 13 80.8
2. GM Smyslov, Vassily URS A 12 79.2
3. GM Panno, Oscar ARG A 12 16 75.0

3rd Board
no. name code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Keres, Paul URS A 12 79.2
2. Fichtl, Jiří CSR A 12½ 17 73.5
3. Borja, Melitón PHI C 13½ 19 71.1

4th Board
no. name code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Bronstein, David URS A 12 79.2
2. GM Evans, Larry Melvyn USA A 11½ 16 71.9
3. Nilsson, Zandor SWE B 11 16 68.8

1st Reserve Board
no. name code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Tal, Mikhail URS A 13½ 15 90.0
2. Tringov, Georgi BUL A 7 10 70.0
3. GM Rossolimo, Nicolas USA A 10 15 66.7
3. IM Kramer, Haije NED B 8 12 66.7

2nd Reserve Board
no. name code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Petrosian, Tigran URS A 10½ 13 80.8
1. Forintos, Győző HUN B 10½ 13 80.8
3. IM Fuderer, Andrija YUG A 11 77.3

Tal received special prize for best individual result of the Olympiad. Gligorić (YUG), Larsen (DEN) and Borja (PHI) received prizes for best individual result achieved in consecutive final sections ("A", "B" and "C" respectively).

Interesting games

White skilfully built up the pressure.
Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) - Lombardy, William James (USA) 1 - 0

Fickle course of brave battle.
Pilnik, Herman (ARG) - Śliwa, Bogdan (POL) 0 - 1

Surprisingly White went on to a winning ending.
Śliwa, Bogdan (POL) - Szabó, László (HUN) 1 - 0

Sharp French lines require quick piece development.
Dückstein, Andreas (AUT) - Kupper, Josef (SUI) 0 - 1

Simple yet powerful play of Canadian ex-prodigy.
Yanofsky, Daniel Abraham (CAN) - Portisch, Lajos (HUN) 1 - 0

The only game lost by Soviets in Munich.
Dückstein, Andreas (AUT) - Botvinnik, Mikhail (URS) 1 - 0

World Champion taking fierce revenge.
Botvinnik, Mikhail (URS) - Dückstein, Andreas (AUT) 1 - 0

Sleek coordination of White pieces.
Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) - Reshevsky, Samuel Herman (USA) 1 - 0

Larsen outplayed after series of tactical plots.
Dückstein, Andreas (AUT) - Larsen, Bent (DEN) 1 - 0

White tempted for a piece but their pawn shield was destroyed.
Ojanen, Kaarle (FIN) - Euwe, Machgielis (NED) 0 - 1

Black's dynamite play was highly unlike that
of experienced, eminent ex-World Champion
Euwe, Machgielis (NED) - Yanofsky, Daniel Abraham (CAN) 1 - 0

White's 22nd move was commonly recognized as
most beautiful Olympic manoeuvre.
Rojahn, Ernst (NOR) - Aggos, Alexandros (GRE) 1 - 0

Sensational Barcza's defeat pushed Hungary down to section "B".
Chalabi, Edgard (LIB) - Barcza, Gedeon (HUN) 1 - 0

It is amazing how awkwardly White pieces move and how smooth are Black pieces.
Pérez Pérez, Francisco José (ESP) - Keres, Paul (URS) 0 - 1

What was White Bishop aiming at from a3?!
Penrose, Jonathan (ENG) - Smyslov, Vassily (URS) 0 - 1

Truly unbelievable game and White were lucky to stay alive.
Keres, Paul (URS) - Benitez, Francisco (PUR) ½ - ½

Excellent attack left Black helpless.
Dittmann, Sieghart (GDR) - Barcza, Gedeon (HUN) 1 - 0

One of longest and most dramatical games of the Olympiad.
Smyslov, Vassily (URS) - Filip, Miroslav (CSR) 1 - 0

White pawn chain thoroughly penetrated Black's camp.
Tröger, Paul (GER) - Vestøl, Aage (NOR) 1 - 0

One should never tease Tal in the field of tactics.
Beni, Alfred (AUT) - Tal, Mikhail (URS) 0 - 1

Tal's tactical sense in full brightness.
Tal, Mikhail (URS) - Minev, Nikolay (BUL) 1 - 0

Tigran the Strangler in action.
Petrosian, Tigran (URS) - Kozma, Julius (CSR) 1 - 0

Cardoso blundered under heavy time pressure
and England went into championship final.
Cardoso, Radolfo Tan (PHI) - Penrose, Jonathan (ENG) 0 - 1

Very interesting ending.
Barcza, Gedeon (HUN) - Sánchez, Luis Augusto (COL) 1 - 0

Both sides performed dangerous attack. White proved quicker.
Farré Mallofre, Miguel (ESP) - Gudmundsson (ISL) 1 - 0

This game is a must for those who do not
believe Petrosian was able to take any risk.
Clarke, Peter (ENG) - Petrosian, Tigran (URS) 0 - 1


De Greiff (Colombia) set a new world record making 15 draws in one event. He also scored three draws more than anyone else at the Olympiad.


In Spain vs USA match Toran won against Bisguier on the third board. As soon as the American master resigned Toran said with a smile: "I am so happy, it's a nice present for my birthday!". "It's all right" - said his opponent politely - "today happens to be my birthday too"...