16th Chess Olympiad: Tel Aviv 1964

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Basic data

16th Chess Olympiad
(see all-time tournament summary)
Date: 2nd - 25th November 1964
City: Tel Aviv, Israel
Venue: Sheraton Hotel
Head of Organizing Committee: Mr. Israel Eshel (ISR)
Chief Arbiter: IA Alois Nagler (SUI)
Teams participating: 50
Players participating: 294 (incl. 31 GMs and 40 IMs)
Games played: 1820 (2 games were forfeited)
Competition format: Two stage four board round robin. Top two from each of 7 preliminary groups qualified to the championship final.
Final order decided by: 1. Game points; 2. Match points; 3. Direct match
Time control: 40 moves in 2 hours 30 minutes, then 1 hour for each next 16 moves
Downloadable game file: 64olm.zip


Courtesy of IM Jorge Egger.
Olympic medal

Tournament review

The 16th Olympiad was the first ever to be held in Asia; it also attracted a new record number of participants. The chosen representatives of fifty countries entered for the event, among them a team from the green continent, Australia. Thus for the first time in the history of the Chess Olympiads players from all five continents were able to take part in a world gathering. As much as 294 players took part, among them more then 70 titled players. This was first Olympiad to be held as late as in November because of specific Israeli climate, with high temperatures even during autumn months. Lovely beaches nearby, very good organization and perfect air-conditioning inside luxurious halls of Sheraton assured great conditions of play. Because of growing number of participants the teams were divided into six groups of 7, and one group of 8. Only two top teams of each group were qualified into the main final. There were four final sections this time, three comprised of 14 teams and the bottom one with just 8 nations on the start line.

Soviet Union was the only team to have 6 GMs at their disposal with Petrosian once again at top board. Yugoslavia had their top four unchanged and their reserves were GM Udovčić and IM Matulović. USA were missing Fischer, Lombardy and Evans but Reshevsky came back after long break. Weakened Americans were not the favourites. West Germany had all their top players in the squad unlike Denmark, who once again missed Larsen, Iceland without Ólafsson, Austria without Robatsch and others. Especially Argentina were significantly diluted. Argentinian Chess Federation offered low prize fund for their national championship and imposed a regulation stating that only top championship players would qualify into Olympic team. Their top GMs, namely Najdorf, Panno, Rossetto, Bolbochán and other refused to take part. As a result Eliskases, the veteran, was accompanied by players of moderate, IM level strength.

Group one was a solo show. We have seen USSR many times outclassing the rest but their 23½/24 record was enormously high, even considering modest rivals. Spain easily went on to a final as well. They secured their second position after fifth round when they beat Switzerland. The Swiss were surprisingly relegated to final C taken over by the Philippines and Chile. In group 2 Austria were not able to threaten Yugoslavia and Holland, the favourites. In second round they were hammered by Yugoslavs by 0-4, then lost to Holland by similar margin and were happy to retain final B qualification. An interesting battle for final A spot was held in group 3 behind Hungary's shoulders. Israel, the home nation, were burning with a lust for revenge for past failures but Sweden did not want to give away the second spot for nothing. Israel lost to Hungary in first round but Sweden were much disappointed being beaten by poor France. Sweden earned valuable 2-2 draw vs Hungary in round 4. Hungary was in safe lead, the two were running shoulder to shoulder. Israel beat France 2½-1½ in fifth round and they would consider it bad if Ståhlberg did not sensationally lost to Keogh, an Irish player. Sweden dropped priceless point and before last round both teams had 13½ pts with a Match Point record favouring Israel. Sweden needed to beat Israel but they lost after fierce battle. What a reason for celebration for home crowd. France were relegated to final C by Scotland, who beat the Frenchmen 3-1 in the last round, exactly what they needed to take over. US were big favourites of group 4. England were seeded with no 2, followed by Poland and Norway. USA beat Poland by a narrow margin in round 1 and defeated England a few days after. Poland drew against Norway. In 4th round England lost badly two games vs Iran and then lost 1½-2½ to Norway. Poland had 2½ points advantage over England after penultimate round and England had to beat the Poles as high as 3½-½ in last round's match. This proved too much and Poland were in, for the first time in their post-War history. In group 5 we had seen Romania and Czechoslovakia far ahead of the rest, and Latin American countries struggling for final B qualifiers. People were surprised watching Paraguay taking over Colombia, who did badly vs Puerto Rico on the last day of the games and drew 2-2, half a point worse than they needed. Australia, the newcomers, started with modest final D qualification. In group 6 three teams struggled for top two places: Argentina, East Germany and Canada, who beat the Germans in the very beginning. Weakened Argentinians devastated German morale even more on the next day since they beat them 3-1 and Germany suddenly found themselves in critical situation. Round 3 summit Canada-Argentina ended up in a draw, a score comfortable for both of them and highly depressive for the Germans who recovered trashing Iceland 4-0. With series of impressive victories over lower seeded nations East Germany took over the lead before last round, but they had a bye and both Canada and Argentina easily passed them by mercilessly crushing Ecuador and Monaco respectively. Monaco sensationally leveled on points with Iceland, former final A members. Group 7 was very dull event. Eight teams quickly split into four groups of two. Bulgaria and West Germany went on to the main final, Denmark and Peru, a small surprise, earned final B spots relegating Finland and Greece down to final C.

The finals began on 10th November. Bulgaria beat Hungary unexpectedly high at the start and the Hungarians made up for the losses beating Yugoslavia in round 2. USSR took an early lead with respectable advantage over the rest. A huge sensation occurred in round 5 when USSR, the team that was forfeited only once in the history, were beaten 3-1 by the Germans! The sensational and well-deserved win did not deny Soviet lead but let the opposition come closer. Romania were in runner-up position followed by Argentina. Gligorić beat Botvinnik in a prestigious battle but Stein leveled the scored wiping out Matanović at #3. Romania lost their excellent second place after they had been beaten by Hungary. Czechoslovakia and then USA were in runner-up position. The Soviets demolished USA in ninth round sending them home with four nils in their scoresheet. In 10th round Poland sensationally drew against USSR ending a match with four draws and it is Soviet Union who were happy to see that. All the chasing teams were very far behind USSR but very close to each other. Yugoslavia had easy ride to the end though and won silver medals comfortably. The battle for bronze was held between Hungary and West Germany, who were paired in the last round. Hungary were 1½ point behind and needed 3-1 win. They narrowly missed it since Lengyel did not find a way to save the Rook ending and lost. Germany were back in the medal zone after 14 years. Czechoslovakia came 5th ahead of disappointed USA and Bulgaria. Argentina were down in 9th and Poland earned respectable 10th place in their debut. Israel won their last match 3½-½ but came last nevertheless. Still a championship final spot was not bad for home team. East Germany won final B comfortably despite of their sensational loss against Mongolia. Sweden came second and 16th overall ahead of Denmark and England. Peru finished in excellent 19th place, much more valuable than 14th position in Dubrovnik. Ecuador, Paraguay and Scotland were happy just to be members of final B. Austria were thoroughly disappointed with their performance, a. o. they lost 0-4 to Denmark, and were beaten by Paraguay and Scotland. Iceland won third section ahead of Switzerland and Colombia. Finland were down to 32nd. Australia won final D comfortably ahead of South Africa. Cyprus once again were indisputably worst team of the Olympiad.

The Soviets won yet another trophy but suffered 4 defeats, most number since 1952 and lost a match by a margin never met before. Yugoslavia won silver medals once more although some of their players were not in top form. Matulović scored brilliant 85% (and was awarded with gold individual medal) but Gligorić on top board drew most of his games. West Germany's outstanding success was contributed mainly by young Pfleger, whose record of +10=5 was fantastic achievement, and their full-time number one GM Unzicker, who played bravely and firmly making impressive 13/18. Hungary were lying in 4th climbing up year by year but yet not enough for medals. Lengyel's loss in the last round was his only but most painful one. Czechoslovakia finished in decent 5th but could they frankly claim they wanted more given that, say, Filip drew 12 out of 15 games? USA deprived of most of their leaders were helpless this time. No one apart from Bisguier maybe was able to level up overall performance and morale and Reshevsky was simply too old. Bulgaria owe their 7th spot to Bobotsov and Milev. Argentina did badly judging by their standards, but without virtually all top players it couldn't had been better. Poland's debut was promising and their best player Śliwa once again proved his superiority over the rest. Holland without Euwe and Donner couldn't afford much of course. East Germany's easy victory in section B partly made up for their poor showing in the preliminaries. Uhlmann's performance was stunning. Möhring at 2nd reserve board had best individual score as well. Peru's 19th place was earned maily because of Rodriguez Vargas (13½/19). Ujtumen for Mongolia was another newly emerged star. South African Friedgood had best individual score at #4 but since he played in final D this in incomparable with other players.

There were eight Chess Olympiads before the war, and now there have been the same number since. After the first eight it was a long time before we knew whether the bloodless battles would continue or not; as the eight Olympiad of the second series came to a close the competitors took leave of each other knowing that they would surely meet again in Cuba in 1966.

Best board results

1st Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Uhlmann, Wolfgang East Germany GDR B 15 18 83.3
2. IM Cuéllar Gacharna, Miguel Colombia COL C 14 18 77.8
3. GM Portisch, Lajos Hungary HUN A 12 16 75.0

2nd Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. Ujtumen, Tudev Mongolia MGL B 13½ 17 79.4
2. Westerinen, Heikki Finland FIN C 13 17 76.5
3. GM Botvinnik, Mikhail Soviet Union URS A 9 12 75.0

3rd Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Smyslov, Vassily Soviet Union URS A 11 13 84.6
2. Vergara, Pablo Chile CHI B 10½ 15 70.0
3. Fred, Aatos Finland FIN C 11 16 68.8
3. GM Bobotsov, Milko Bulgaria BUL A 11 16 68.8

4th Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Keres, Paul Soviet Union URS A 10 12 83.3
1. Friedgood, David Republic of South Africa RSA D 10 12 83.3
1. Pfleger, Helmut Germany GER A 12½ 15 83.3

1st Reserve Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. GM Stein, Leonid Soviet Union URS A 10 13 76.9
2. IM Milev, Zdravko Bulgaria BUL A 11½ 16 71.9
3. Hindle, Owen England ENG B 11 16 68.8

2nd Reserve Board
no. name flag code fin. pts gms %
1. IM Matulović, Milan Yugoslavia YUG A 11 13 84.6
1. Möhring, Günther East Germany GDR B 11 13 84.6
3. GM Spassky, Boris Soviet Union URS A 10½ 13 80.8

Portisch (HUN), Botvinnik (URS), Smyslov (URS), Pfleger (GER), Stein (URS) and Matulović (YUG) received special prizes for best inidvidual results at respective final "A" boards. Uhlmann (GDR) and Ujtumen (MGL) received prizes for best overall results as their teams missed the Championship final.

Interesting games

World Champion was lucky to save the draw.
Portisch, Lajos (HUN) - Petrosian, Tigran (URS) ½ - ½

Gligorić's sensational defeat.
Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) - Kuijpers, Franciscus (NED) 0 - 1

Lots of open files and active piece play.
Uhlmann, Wolfgang (GDR) - Kottnauer, Cenek (ENG) 1 - 0

This vivid attack was enough only for a draw.
Pachman, Luděk (CSR) - Unzicker, Wolfgang (GER) ½ - ½

Excellent harmony of white pieces.
Portisch, Lajos (HUN) - Eliskases, Erich (ARG) 1 - 0

Shortest decisive game of the Olympiad.
Uhlmann, Wolfgang (GDR) - Andersen, Borge (DEN) 1 - 0

It took Black much time to find the plan but they won the ending.
Botvinnik, Mikhail (URS) - Gligorić, Svetozar (YUG) 0 - 1

After long and exhausting battle Schmid broke down Keres' resistance.
Schmid, Lothar (GER) - Keres, Paul (URS) 1 - 0

Romantic chess style attack.
Külür, Coşkun (TUR) - Zwaig, Arne (NOR) 1 - 0

Certainly most unusual and creative game of the Olympiad.
Mora, Federico (ESP) - Suttles, Duncan (CAN) ½ - ½

Who was the accacking side actually?
Medina García, Antonio Ángel (ESP) - Darga, Klaus (GER) 1 - 0

White's pseudo-active play was harshly punished.
Benko, Pal (USA) - Ivkov, Borislav (YUG) 0 - 1

Beautiful Rook sacrifice based on passed pawn motive.
Aloni, Yoel (ISR) - Botvinnik, Mikhail (URS) 0 - 1

Gigantic and multi-plotted combat.
García, Raimundo (ARG) - Szabó, László (HUN) 1 - 0

What did Black think of while making their 7th move?!
Szabó, László (HUN) - Langeweg, Christian (NED) 1 - 0

Black could not take over the initiative even at a cost of a pawn.
Śliwa, Bogdan (POL) - Botvinnik, Mikhail (URS) ½ - ½

Black neglected in their duty of develompent.
Stein, Leonid (URS) - Zuidema, Coenraad (NED) 1 - 0

Black's 19th move was truly stunning.
Aloni, Yoel (ISR) - Balcerowski, Witold (POL) 0 - 1

White lost on time after just 20 moves! Famous Olympic oddity.
Godoy Bugueño, David (CHI) - Fridh, Anton (SWE) 0 - 1

Black coped perfectly with a problem of bad Bishop.
Letelier Martner, René (CHI) - Uhlmann, Wolfgang (GDR) 0 - 1

White sacrificed piece by piece in order to clear the field.
Durão, Joaquim Manuel (POR) - Zwaig, Arne (NOR) 1 - 0

It is very sad to lose a game in such a way given this was Ivkov's only loss.
Ivkov, Borislav (YUG) - García, Raimundo (ARG) 0 - 1

White surprisingly saved by fabulous Queen sacrifice followed by perpetual check.
Mazzoni, Guy (FRA) - Kraidman, Yair (ISR) ½ - ½

Making use of such tiny advantage seems near impossibility. But not for Benko.
Benko, Pal (USA) - Darga, Klaus (GER) 1 - 0

White tempted for a pawn but this took too much time.
Schweber, Samuel (ARG) - Keres, Paul (URS) 0 - 1

Black recklessly redeployed all their forces to the Queenside
leaving the King without defence.
Mazzoni, Guy (FRA) - Minaya, Juan (COL) 1 - 0

Very neat endgame idea based on breakthrough motive.
Milev, Zdravko (BUL) - Wexler, Bernardo (ARG) 1 - 0

Black felt so comfortable they could afford not to care about the Queen.
Fernandez, Bernardo (COL) - Kaválek, Lubomír (CSR) 0 -1

Very subtle tactical idea, far from brute force attacks.
Keres, Paul (URS) - Walther, Edgar (SUI) 1 - 0

White major pieces broke through pawn cordon
and shot black King dead from the back.
Macskasy, Elod (CAN) - Fuchs, Reinhart (GDR) 1 - 0


Tel Aviv was the only Olympiad to start as late as in November, perhaps because of hot and humid climate during the summer.


West Germany's route was truly unpredictable. Round 4: Germany-Spain 1-3, round 5: Germany-USSR 3-1...