The purpose of any chess tournament organization is to enable the playing of the royal chess game, to enable creativity on the 64 squares for the world’s greatest and to provide opportunities for improvement of local players. At the same time, the promotion of the organizers, city on the world stage is inevitable, especially today with a number of platforms that propagate and promote chess.
Tournaments that have been played for years are becoming a long-awaited tradition. Every chess player wants to participate in a tournament of a famous name and tradition. The most famous in the history of chess is Hastings in England and Wijk aan Zee in the Netherlands which have a nearly 100-year tradition.
Zagreb with its Memorial of Mijo Udovčić, which is now held for the 57th time (!) and with the Peace Tournament, whose first edition took place in 1965, also joins these great traditions. The biographies of the chess greats always state in which cities they played. Zagreb is definitely on that list of important places in chess history. The FIDE World Chess Federation, in preparation for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of its founding in 2024, has inserted Croatia on the list of about 10 countries that have contributed to chess in the world.
1st INTERNATIONAL TOURNAMENT IN ZAGREB 1955
We mention this tournament here because it was a significant world event with a number of well-known names and in a way the “forerunner” of the Peace Tournament. The later world champion Vasilij Smislov won with 14.5 out of 20, ahead of Geller, Gligorić, Matanović and Ivkov. Rabar, Fuderer, Udovčić and Bertok performed in Zagreb, and let’s not forget that that year Rabar and Fuderer played the Interzone tournament for the World Cup, which placed them among the 25 best in the world.
- I. PEACE TOURNAMENT IN ZAGREB 1965
The Croatian political leadership supported the organization of the tournament, including the Year of International Cooperation declared by the UN on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of its founding. Controversial entrepreneur and politician Lazo Vračarić was the ‘spiritus movens’ of the project and he succeeded brilliantly. Uhlmann from the GDR and Ivkov unexpectedly won in front of the world champion Petrosjan! Portisch, Parma, Bronstein and Larsen were among the winners along with a number of world-famous names. Udovčić, Damjanović, Minić, Bertok and Marović, who became an international master, were among the Zagreb players.
- II. PEACE TOURNAMENT TO ZAGREB AND ROVINJ 1970
The most important event of that year was the arrival of the legendary Fischer in Croatia. Thanks to the connections of Mr. Andelko Bilušić with Bobby, he came to Vinkovci and Zagreb, and later participated in the meeting between the USSR and the rest of the world. Also there, the two places Rovinj and Zagreb shared the organization of the tournament as well as the costs. Today it is the standard in football, and we chess players were ahead of our time then!
We had as many as 3 world champions at the tournament! Smislov, Petrosjan and the future Fischer. Fischer was superior to everyone, scoring as many as 76.5% points! Hort, Gligorić, Smislov and Korčna were ahead of Petrosjan, and among the winners were also Minić and Ivkov. Bertok, Kovačević, Kurajica, Marović and Udovčić also played from Zagreb. Kovačević’s victory with black pieces over Fischer still has a legendary status in the chess world.
- III. PEACE TOURNAMENT IN ZAGREB AND ROVINJ 1975
The same combination of organizers from Rovinj and Zagreb conducted The III. Peace Tournament 1975. It was won by Hungarian Gyula Sax ahead of Kovačević and Nikolac. The composition was not at the level of 1975, but Češkovski, Tringov, Ljubojević, Andersson, Kuzmin, Keene and Planinc were very famous chess names worldwide. Hulak, Marović and Minić also played from Zagreb.
It was not recorded that the B tournament of the level of international masters was played in Zagreb, under the name of the International Championship of Zagreb. There were 4 participants that tied in first place. The winner was Marangunić, Rogulj and Pavičić made an international norm, and Antunac became an international master. Nemet, Bukal and Košanski also played from Croatia. It turned out it was important to give international playing opportunities to local players.
- IV. PEACE TOURNAMENT IN ZAGREB AND RIJEKA 1985
And in this case there were 2 organizers, Zagreb and Rijeka. The tournament is organized under the sponshorship of the United Nations. In the introductory speech of Čedo Paić, President of Croatian Chess Federation, conveniently said – Let chess cannons (Rook is called cannon in the croatian language) replace real cannons. The line-up was slightly weaker than in 1975, but the names of the winners Timman, Sax, Smiley and others were high on the world rankings of that time. Kruno Hulak was placed at excellent second place, and also Cvitan, Kovačević, Cebalo, Rukavina and Bukal played from Zagreb and Rijeka.
In the organization of the tournament itself, the following should be noted: an extended session was played, 40 moves for 4 hours, and 20 moves for the next 2 hours. The number of so-called interrupted games was significantly reduced. These were the first steps towards Fischer’s demands, which proved to be correct, that there should be no “interrupted” games. Bobby rightly argued that in this case the players use the analyzes of others which is not fair. A few years later the interrupted games were history.
The renewed Peace Tournaments in 2018 and 2019 showed the need of modern times for this type of tournament.
Hotel Palace hosted the renewed Peace Tournaments both times, and the Zagreb Chess Federation as an organizer did a great job setting the City of Zagreb both times as an important chess event in the world, because the organization of elite berger tournaments is a rarity in recent times.
12 grandmasters, 6 foreign and 6 from Croatia, performed at the 1st renewed Peace Tournament. Among the foreigners played: Vasily Ivanchuk, Ivan Cheparinov, Etienne Bacrot, Baskaran Adhiban, Bassem Amin and Vladimir Malakhov. The home players were: Ivan Šarić, Hrvoje Stević, Zdenko Kožul, Mladen Palac, Robert Zelčić and Zoran Jovanović.
The Indian grandmaster Adhiban Baskaran won, and showed exceptional fighting spirit and determination in difficult games.
At the 2nd renewed Peace Tournament 2019, 12 grandmasters also performed, but as many as 7 foreign ones! Among the foreigners played: Vasily Ivanchuk, Ivan Cheparinov, Etienne Bacrot, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu, Alexey Dreev, Melkumyan Hrant and Markus Ragger.
From the local grandmasters played: Hrvoje Stević, Zdenko Kožul, Mladen Palac, Robert Zelčić and Marin Bosiočić.
The legendary Ukrainian grandmaster Vasily Ivanchuk won, and showed that even in his veteran years he belongs to the very top of world chess.
The great tradition and importance of modern Peace Tournaments for the development of chess in the City of Zagreb give the Zagreb Chess Federation a chance to impose itself as the bearer of chess development in the Central European region, and with hopes that it will become a tradition like the Memorial of Mijo Udovčić I announce Peace Tournament 2021 which will be held at the Congress Center of the National and University Library from the 5th October to the 13th of October. The main tournaments of the Zagreb Chess Federation, which are also the main ‘brand’: Zagreb open – Krunoslav Hulak Memorial, Memorial of the first Croatian grandmaster Mijo Udovčić and the Peace Tournament.
I would like to thank the main sponsor of the City of Zagreb and the Organizing Committee of the tournament for their engagement in this time of pandemic, which is challenging at all levels, and I wish the tournament competitors a pleasant stay in the City of Zagreb and good play.
President of Zagreb chess federation