Pretoria News - - THE X-FILES -

The Aus­trian grand­mas­ter Karl Ro­batsch (19292000) was a fre­quent vis­i­tor to this coun­try dur­ing the 1970s and 80s where he gave nu­mer­ous si­mul­ta­ne­ous ex­hi­bi­tions. I re­call as an awed young­ster hear­ing play­ers de­scribe how he was es­say­ing 1 b4 and win­ning games in around 7 moves! An ex­ag­ger­a­tion some­what, but he cer­tainly left an in­deli­ble im­pres­sion on many. Ro­batsch played his best chess in the early 1960s and is best re­mem­bered as a pi­o­neer of the Pirc-Ro­batsch De­fence -1 e4 d6 or 1 e4 g6. Un­like many of his peers he was not ded­i­cated purely to chess, but was by pro­fes­sion an or­chi­dol­o­gist. It was in 1988 dur­ing his last visit that I, to­gether with for­mer chess columnist Dar­ryl Ac­cone, joined him on an ex­cur­sion to the Drak­ens­berg to search for wild or­chids!

De Vil­liers,Charles - Ro­batsch,Karl [B89]

RSA Masters ch Cape Town, 1975 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 Nf6 5.Nc3 d6 6.Bc4 e6 7.Be3 a6 8.Qe2 Be7 9.0–0–0 Qc7 10.Bb3 0–0 11.g4 Na5 12.Kb1 Nxb3 13.cxb3 b5 14.g5 Nd7 15.h4 (15 Rc1!?)… b4 16.Na4 Nc5 17.f3 Bd7 18.h5 Nxa4 19.bxa4 Bxa4 20.Rdg1 (Lin­ing up for an at­tack. At the very least the young De Vil­liers should be com­mended for his un­com­pro­mis­ing play, ob­jec­tively though the GM is still in con­trol)… b3 21.axb3 Bb5 22.Qd2 d5!? 23.exd5 Qd7 24.g6 Qxd5 25.h6 fxg6 26.hxg7 Rf7 27.Rxh7 Kxh7 28.Nxe6 (A spec­tac­u­lar shot that meets with a pro­saic refu­ta­tion)… Bd3+! (De Vil­liers no doubt hoped for 28…Qxd2? 29 Rh1+ lead­ing to mate or 28… Qxe6 29 Qh2+ Kxg7 30 Qh6+ Kg8 31 Rxg6+ lead­ing to equal­ity) 29.Ka2 Rf5 0–1

When in 1974 Kortch­noi was fac­ing the fi­nal Can­di­dates ‘ match with Kar­pov, the Sport Com­mit­tee and the lead­er­ship of the na­tional chess fed­er­a­tion were com­pletely on the side of his op­po­nent, Ana­toly Kar­pov. This pref­er­ence was not a se­cret among Soviet grand­mas­ters and only Bron­stein and Keres of­fered their ser­vices to Kortch­noi. His re­ac­tion was re­mark­able - he used Bron­stein ‘ s open­ing ideas , but he grate­fully turned down Keres’ of­fer.

This is his ex­pla­na­tion af­ter all these years. ‘My score with Paul Petro­vich was 0-4, and I had the feel­ing that if l agreed to his help, it would be him fight­ing at the board, and not me. His chess au­thor­ity would put too much pres­sure on me. ‘ (from ‘Chess Sil­hou­ettes’ by Genna Sosonko)

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