Stort grattis på födelsedagen Ulf Andersson!

Stort grattis på födelsedagen Ulf Andersson!

RoaringPawn
RoaringPawn
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18

Happy belated birthday to Ulf Andersson of Sweden, one of the greatest (positional) chess geniuses the noble game has ever had.

I have tweeted on this extraordinary and exceptional chess player yesterday. And then an idea came, why not share some of the visual material I posted with you, the visitors and members of chess dot com. In a quick, ad-hoc piece (my intention was to post it yesterday, on Ulf's birthday, but there was a storm here and a power outage ensued for almost five hours; when the power came back on, there was time to celebrate my wife's birthday, so, unfortunately, I couldn't make this visual in time).

Ulf was born on yesterday's date, on June 27, 1951, in the small town of Västerås, which arose on the site of a Viking settlement.

And an amazing chess story began there when, at the age of 13, Ulf was attracted to the Arboga Chess Club by a friend. It was in 1964. Here is a photo (by Reinhold Carlsson) that was taken in the basement of the house in Arboga where the club had its premises. Ulf, you already recognized him, is the boy in the dark sweater standing on the right.

He fell deeply in love with chess (at a relatively late age to become a such formidable, world-class player) and had progressed fast since.

Norrköping 1968. One of the local tournaments. Before Ulf's decisive threat Re6-h6+, Kurt Lagerquist stretches his hand out resigning. Ulf won in his group with ten wins and two draws.

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In 1969, he is already a serious player, folks. Ulf took part in the European Zonal 2 of the 1969-1972 world championship cycle that was held in the Austrian village of Raach, with 22 players participating. The winner was Wolfgang Uhlmann (15½/21), a full two points clear of the field, which includes Ulf Andersson, Jan Smejkal, Borislav Ivkov and Lajos Portisch (all 13½/21).

Here is a photo from the 1969 World Junior chess championship in Stockholm. Tolya and Ulf, both 18 (photo: Börje Ivegård)

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Next year, Ulf plays Hoogovens-B at Wijk aan Zee 1970. Here are GM Igor Platonov and Mark Taimanov (the later winner of the main tourney) analyzing a game while the young Ulf is looking on. He got the IM title same year, and a GM title two years later.

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Ulf Andersson shares the first place with Vlastimil Hort (8½/11) at Göteborg 1971, ahead of the World champion Boris Spassky (8/11), with whom the 20 year old Ulf drew. That was sort of sensation back then.

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Ulf Andersson scored a great success by winning the 11th Capablanca Memorial Tournament in Camaguey, Cuba in 1974. GM Robert Byrne writes the Chess: Andersson, Oft Too Mild, Mows Down Foes in Cuba article for The New York Times. "The Swedish grandmaster had previously been hampered by his unwarlike, contemplative approach to the game, but that was nowhere in evidence this time."

In the closely fought competition, Andersson, scoring +9-1=5, beat out GM Eduard Gufeld by a half point. "Their individual encounter told the story: after Gufeld pressed to a middlegame advantage, Andersson ran rings around him in the endgame to obtain the victory.

"Evgeny Vasyukov, who tied for third place, also had Andersson on the ropes, but Andersson's redoubtable endgame once again saved the draw.

"Although Andersson experienced some difficulty in his Pirc defense in the eighth round with Eldis Cobo, the Cuban international master who won the United States Open in 1958, he got off to an unsettling exchange sacrifice in the endgame to put away what has become for him a characteristic way of gaining a point."

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Andersson won the Capablanca Memorial the following year, too. In the same year of 1975, he also mercilessly smashes Bent Larsen in the Stockholm match (5.5 - 2.5) becoming the best player of Scandinavia (photos Hans Svedbark).

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A beautiful example of "stretching" opponent's defenses and the play on two weaknesses.

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In 1977 played Ulf in my hometown of Belgrade in the RAD tournament. He shared the first with Smejkal and Matulovic (Mr J'adoubovich) and declared the winner on coefficients.

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Tilburg 1977. Jan Timman and Ulf Andersson. Photo. Lars Grahn

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He almost does not lose and is already well known as a brilliant master of positional play, a great master of the endgame. At the 1978 Olympics, he showed one of the best results on the first board, only slightly behind the best player of the tournament, Viktor Korchnoi.

I liked very much a sacrificial attack at the strong point 20...h5! in the below game. Folks, I keep repeating, without us pawns there would be no chess, there would be no Strategy (=how you manage the Pawn formation)

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For those who understand Swedish, here is a detailed analysis of the game by GM Nils Grandelius.

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The Phillips & Drew Kings, London 1982. Ulf shares the first place with the World champion Karpov (both +5-1=7). Below at the post mortem with another World #1, and during the game with the legendary Brit Tony Miles (photos Lars Grahn)

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Bugojno 1982, the XIV category tournament. GM Robert Byrne reports for the New York Times. "The brilliant 19-year-old Soviet co-champion, Gari Kasparov, achieved another great triumph in the formidable Bugojno (Yugoslavia) International Tournament. His imposing 9 1/2-3 1/2 score brings him up to second place on the FIDE computer rankings behind his countryman, Anatoly Karpov, the world champion."

The playing field was: Jan Timman (2655), Garry Kasparov (2640), Boris Spassky (2625), Robert Huebner (2620), Tigran Petrosian (2605), Bent Larsen (2605), Ulf Andersson (2605), Lev Polugaevsky (2600), Ljubomir Ljubojevic (2600), Lubomir Kavalek (2590), Svetozar Gligoric (2535), Miguel Najdorf (2510), Bozidar Ivanovic (2485), and Borislav Ivkov (2480).

Bugojno 1982

In this game, "Montenegrin Fischer" (dubbed by Botvinnik), the first Grandmaster of my ancestral land, a great attacking player, Bozidar Ivanovic, was unable to overpower the defenses of our hero Ulf Andersson.

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The same year, Nov 1982, the Lucerne Olympiad. Andersson vs Kortchnoi (photo Lars Grahn).

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Ulf Andersson and Misha Tal (with his signature cigarette dangling from his lips) during their game and at the post-mortem, Malmö 1983. Ulf was already the World #4 at the time, only after Karpov, Kasparov and Korchnoi.

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The 1984 Olympiad in Thessaloniki, Greece. "Spassky offered a glass of water and later Andersson offered a draw. Both accepted" (the citation and photo by Lars Grahn). Next to France-Sweden is Yugoslavia-Iceland (the former without Gligorić this time, who was the chief arbiter of the memorable WCh marathon between Karpov and Kasparov played at the time).

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Kasparov-Karpov, Seville 1987. The first photo, Ljubomir Ljubojevic, Ulf Andersson, and Bjarke Kristensen (now Sahl). The second, Taimanov (Radio Moscow), Andersson, and Gufeld in the press room (photos Lars Grahn).

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The Thessaloniki Olympiad 1988. Sweden vs France. Andersson vs Spassky. Kouatly watching (photo Lars Grahn).

The same event, the post-mortem with Sosonko and Hodgson (photo Lars Grahn).

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Wijk aan Zee 1990. Sofia Polgar, Ferdinand Hellers, Ulf Andersson, and Susan Polgar (photo Christer Olesen).

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Ulf Andersson, Anatoly Karpov, Tony Miles (Biel, 1990; photo via Edward Winter)

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The Björn Borg of Swedish chess, here as an ice hockey player in the 1981 cartoon by I. Sokolov

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In the 90s, Ulf Andersson left the competitive chess. He primarily focused on the correspondence, winning the title of Grandmaster of the ICCF. During his career, Ulf Andersson met at the board with all the chess kings from Vasily Smyslov to Magnus Carlsen.

In August 2006, the NH Chess Tournament was held in Amsterdam where the young talents met the Old Guard. Here Ulf and Maggie. It was a draw

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In 1995, the Swedish SK33 Chess Club from the small town of Enköping hosted Ulf Andersson and Anatoly Karpov. They played two fast games. Karpov won the first, Andersson the second one.

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In 1996, Andersson broke the world record for playing a simul with 310 opponents (+268 -2 =40 for 92.9%), a record that stood until Andrew David Martin broke it in 2004.

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is an Ulf's episode I was part of that I want to share with you.

During the 2000 Belgrade riots, the streets filled with smoke, my eyes full of tear gas, I retreated to The Old Palace, royal residence of the Serbian Obrenović dynasty,  where the Boskovic Memorial tournament was played. The Old Palace is located just across the street from the Parliament you see here.

All other players had left the tournament hall, only Ulf and GM Ivanovic went on playing calmly as nothing was happening outside!

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Ulf Andersson in front of his home at Arboga (photo Calle Erlandsson).

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Two chess legends of Sweden, Pia and Ulf (foto Lars O A Hedlund)

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The Lund ASK Chess Club (since 1906) is the place Ulf has visited often. Here during one of the meetings, Ulf Andersson, Axel Smith, Nils Grandelius, Hans Tikkanen and Lars Grahn (we saw quite a few pix of his above). Photo Calle Erlandsson

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What is in the head of Ulf?

Ulf Andersson, such an extraordinary genius of (positional) chess. Inserting 'positional' in the previous sentence may not make sense as chess is a game of strategy, that is of acting from the position of strength by building it up and improving all the time, where tactics is only subordinate and serves strategy (think 'small tactics'). As for the 'big firework tactics,' it may only originate from a strong, strategically advantageous position. 

For most of us, simplifying position by numerous exchanges of pieces mean only one thing - a quick draw. For Andersson, the exchanges are not a prelude to a peace truce, but a signal that his rival would soon begin to suffer! — Dennis Monocroussos

The other day, I have checked the .ru and .ua domains on Ulf to see what Russians and Ukrainians think of him. And you would agree they know chess and do understand it. I still remember what the former US champion who emigrated from Russia, GM Alex Yermolinsky, said about the Swede, "Ulf was our cult figure, we'd give anything to become like him."

So no surprise I came across this book on a Ukrainian site, 'The Endgame Technique of Ulf Andersson.' A player with an "amazingly subtle sense for position and deep understanding of chess," they say.

Here is what else they think of our Swedish chess hero,

There is "an amazing sense of magic that naturally arises when going over the best games of Ulf Andersson. Their scenario is pretty much similar to each other: an unobtrusively played opening, a middlegame without much of tactical struggle, in which men are traded, and then a roughly equal endgame is reached where Andersson makes a couple of dozen moves more... without noticeable mistakes on the side of his opponents. At first it seems that this is just a coincidence, then a suspicion falls upon you that everything is not that simple, finally you admire the outwardly unpretentious, but impeccably subtle game. Positions with few men have always been Andersson’s edge. Someone has joked that Ulf could, when in his best form, win even positions where only two kings remain on the board."

Wow! What else is to be said chess-wise about Ulf, chess folks?

Ulf Andersson, you are the most amazing chess player, happy belated birthday to you!

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So you want to become a chess Master?

Then study these games by Ulf!

Doing tactics is awesome, but studying Strategy is much more than that. Because you get a DEEP UNDERSTANDING and POSITIONAL FEELING that only can create positions ripe with firework tactics for you!

You may also want to check this lovely book from which I took liberty to list the games, 



Here is Andersson vs Huebner, Johannesburg, 1981 (the annotations are from Nikolaev's book).

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TEST YOURSELF

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Here is some more 'Test yourself' from Nikolaev's Endgame Technique of Ulf Andersson (will put up solutions in a week's time or so; the white/black triangle indicates the player to move)