Chess in 1970

by Bill Wall


In 1970, Kenneth Rogoff won the US Junior Championship.


In 1970, Charles Khachiyan, President of the New Jersey Chess Association, died of a heart attack while playing chess at the Montclair Chess Club in New Jersey.


On January 6, 1970, †Vincenzo Castaldi (1916-1970) died in Firenze, Italy at the age of 53. †He was Italian champion in 1936, 1937, 1947 (after a play-off), 1948 (after a play-off), 1952 (jointly), 1953 and 1959 (after a play-off). †He was Italian correspondence champion in 1956.† He was awarded the IM title in 1950.


On January 7, 1970, Lajos Portisch (1937- ) won the 45th Hastings International chess tournament.† He won a gold trophy and the first prize of $480.† (source: Kokomo Tribune, Jan 8, 1970)


On March 19, 1970, Herbert Abel died in California at the age of 72.† He was a former President of the Santa Monica Chess Club.† He founded the American Open Tournament in 1965.


On April 5, 1970, the USSR won the USSR vs. the Rest of the World (ROW) match, held in Belgrade.†


On May 4, 1970, Boris Alterman was born in the Ukraine.† In 1985, he won the Ukrainian under 18 Junior Chess Championship. In 1987 in the strongest ever-Soviet Junior Chess Championship he shared 1st place with Gata Kamsky.† He was awarded the GM title in 1992.†


On May 6, 1970, Bobby Fischer won at Rovinj-Zagreb, scoring 13 out of 17.† Fischer was playing White against Vlatko Kovacevic at Zagreb.† On his 18th move, Fischer had a chance to win if Black made the obvious move.† Petrosian and Korchnoi, who were watching the game, spotted Fischerís deadly intention and were analyzing the position in a different room.† Petrosianís wife had followed the analysis of the Petrosian and Korchnoi, then walked across to the board and whispered the lines to Kovacevic.† Kovacevic then played another, less obvious, but stronger move, and actually won the game.† It was Fischerís only loss in the 17-round tournament.


On June 9, 1970, chess was played in space for the first time.† Cosmonaut Vitaly Sevastianov (1935-2010), along with cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev, played chess against the ground crew (including cosmonaut Viktor Gorbatko) during their Soyuz 9 spaceflight. Sevastianov, who also flew on the Soyuz 18 mission, retired from the cosmonaut corps in 1993 and became a member and President of the Duma, representing the Communist Party. He also became President of the Soviet Chess Federation (1977-1986, 1988-1989. The mission, and the chess game, was commemorated in a stamp issued shortly after the mission was completed. The first chess set in space, used by Sevastianov and Nikolayev, is now on display at the first Russian Chess Museum on Gogol Blvd in Moscow (opened in September 2014).


In June, 1970 Anatoly Karpov tied for 4th place at an international tournament in Caracas, Venezuela, gaining a Grandmaster norm.  He was awarded the Grandmaster title at the 1970 FIDE Congress in Siegen in September, 1970 at the age of 19. He was the world's youngest Grandmaster.


On July 12, 1970, Zoltan Varga was born in Hungary.† He was awarded the GM title in 1995.


In August, 1970, Bent Larsen won the US Open, held in Boston.† There were 303 players in the event.


On August 21, 1970, the 4-man US team won the World Student Chess Championship for the first time in 10 years.† Britain took 2nd and West Germany took 3rd.† The event was held in Haifa, Israel. (source: Fresno Bee, Aug 22, 1970)


In September, 1970 the first all-computer championship was held in New York and won by CHESS 3.0 (CDC 6400), a program written by Slate, Atkin and Gorlen at Northwestern University. Six programs had entered the first Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) North American Computer Championships. The event was organized by Monty Newborn. The other programs were DALY CP, J Brit, COKO III, SCHACH, and the Marsland CP.


In September, 1970, at the 18th Chess Olympiad in Siegen, Germany, Andrew Sherman played for the Virgin Islands at the age of 11, the youngest player in the chess Olympiads.  In round two of the preliminaries, Viktor Korchnoi overslept and lost his game by default against Spain, his only loss.  The round started at 3 pm and he was unable to make it to his game by 4 pm.  During the event, Jonathan Penrose collapsed from nervous tension.  Oscar Panno drew 15 games, the most in an Olympiad.  For the first time, teams had to be rejected because the event reached its capacity of 60 teams to fit the playing schedule.  64 teams registered.  The teams from France, Ecuador, and Venezuela had to return home without playing any chess.  Panama pulled out, which allowed Argentina to play.


On October 9, 1970, Vivek Rao was born in the USA. He was the 1986 National High School co-champion and 1987 National High School champion. He attended Harvard and helped them win three Pan-American intercollegiate championships (1988, 1989, 1990) and helped the University of Illinois win the 1991 Pan-Am. He was awarded the IM title in 1993.†


On October 15, 1970, Grandmaster Ludek Pachman went to trial in Prague, Czechoslovakia on charges of anti-government activities.† He was charged with threatening the Czechoslovakian republic and with activities against the constitution and against the friendship and alliance of the Soviet Union. (source: Connellsville, PA Daily Courier, Oct 10, 1970)


On October 30, 1970, Xie Jun was born in Baoding, China.† She was awarded the WIM title in 1989. †In 1991, Xie became China's second Grandmaster, after Ye Rongguang.† In 1991 she defeated Maia Chiburdanidze (+4, =9, -2) to become the 7th Women's World Champion. She successfully defended the title against Nana Ioseliani in 1993 but relinquished it in 1996 to Susan Polgar.


On November 26, 1970, Abraham Kupchik (1892-1970) died in New York at the age of 78.† He won the Manhattan Chess Club championship 11 times.† He was an accountant by profession.


In December, 1970, Korchnoi won the 38th Soviet Championship, held in Riga. He was followed by Tukmakov, Stein, Balashov, Gipslis, Karpov, And Savon. There were 22 players in the event.


On December 13, 1970, Bobby Fischer won the Palma de Mallorca Interzonal.


In 1970, at age 59, Botvinnik gave up tournament chess in order to concentrate on the development of chess computers.† He developed a chess-playing algorithm that tried to ďthinkĒ like a human grandmaster rather than a brute-force strategy now used by fast chess engines.† His algorithm was based on Claude Shannonís selection type B strategy.†† The chess computer program he worked on was called Pioneer.