02 April 2019

April 1969 'On the Cover'

In last month's March 1969 'On the Cover', we saw two top Soviet players. This month we see two top American players.

Left: 'Anthony Saidy Acquires International Master Title at Venice' (Photo: Art Zeller; 'Story next month')
Right: 'Winner at Malaga'

Chess Life; 'Story next month' was in fact 'story in two months', so we skip ahead two months then go back 50 years. From the June 1969 CL, 'We Open in Venice' by Anthony Saidy:-

Vlastimil Hort, 25-year-old Czech International Grandmaster, romped undefeated to an easy victory in the 3rd annual International Venice Tournament, March 5-23. The "baby" of the event took the sole lead with four straight wins, had 7 points after 8 rounds and coasted to a final tally of 11 1/2 - 3 1/2.

U.S. stars Pal Benko and Anthony Saidy were bunched in a mammoth tie for second-seventh places with Grandmaster M. Taimanov (USSR), "ex"-Grandmaster K. Robatsch (Austria), IGM L. Lengyel (Hungary) and IM S. Tatai (Italy), two points behind the winner. The result gave Saidy the FIDE title of International Master. Trailing were Yugoslav IGMs M. Matulovic and B. Ivkov and W. German IGM W. Unzicker.

Chess Review

In a recent international tournament, at Malaga, Spain, Pal Benko won first place, or at least shared it with Borislav Ivkov, 11 - 3. Levente Lengyel, Garcia A. Medina and Arturo Pomar were next with 9 1/2 - 4 1/2. And Junior World Champion Julio Kaplan of Puerto Rico was sixth, 8 1/2 - 5 1/2.

Both photos had been used for previous covers. We saw the same photo of Saidy, flipped on the vertical axis, in the January 1968 'On the Cover' (January 2018). When was the last time you saw a chess board with 'black on right' on the cover of a major chess magazine?.

The Benko photo was seen in the April 1967 'On the Cover' (April 2017). The last time he appeared on either cover was the May 1968 'On the Cover' (May 2018).

Back to the Chess Life quote, what did the phrase '"ex"-Grandmaster K. Robatsch' mean? Later in the same article, we find:-

[Benko] was playing in his fifth international event in as many months and was understandably not in his usual fighting mood, taking several peaceful draws. What's more, he faced another tournament in Monte Carlo only a week later. (He was pressed into the Venice event at a late hour, as was Matulovic, in an effort to qualify it as a FIDE "1A" tournament. The effort just failed, for lack of another IGM, because Robatsch's title had lapsed.)

I always thought FIDE titles were for life.

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