Grandmaster Mato Damjanovic dies at 83

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Grandmaster Mato Damjanovic dies at 83Yugoslav grandmaster Mato Damjanovic passed away on Saturday, reportedly while playing a game at his chess club. Damjanovic was Yugoslavia's first reserve board at the Leipzig Olympiad in 1960 and an active and strong tournament player in the sixties and seventies. He would have turned 84 next month.

Mato Damjanovic was born on March 23, 1927 in Osijek, Croatia. He became relatively famous in his country during the Candidates Tournament in 1959, which was held in Zagreb and convincingly won by Mikhail Tal (who would defeat Mikhail Botvinnik a year later to become World Champion).

Damjanovic represented Yugoslavia at board 5 (first reserve board) at the 14th Chess Olympiad at Leipzig 1960, where he scored +6 -2 =2. Back then the top four boards were Gligoric, Matanovic, Ivkov and Bertok.

At the European Team Championship, held in Hamburg in 1965, he was part of the team that won the silver medal. Damjanovic was awarded the International Master title in 1962, and the Grandmaster title in 1964.

He played in hundreds of strong tournaments during the 1960s and 1970s, his most active period. Among his best results were shared second place at Sochi 1964 (Chigorin Memorial), first at Rovigo 1966, shared first at Paris 1967/8, first at Zagreb 1969, shared second at Netanya 1969, winning a match against a young Jan Timman 3-1 in Delft in 1969, shared first at Bad Pyrmont 1970, second at Reggio Emilia 1971/2, first at Florence 1972, shared second at Zagreb 1972, second at Birmingham 1976, shared second at Vukovar 1976, shared first at Virovitica 1976 and shared second at Birmingham 1977.

Damjanovic left a large footprint at the local chess scene, with important victories for the Zagreb youth team and later for the Chess Club Mladost Zagreb, where he was first board for quite some time. In recent years he didn't play official games anymore. According to Croatian grandmaster Bogdan Lalic, Damjanovic used to come in at the local chess club an play blitz under his own rules - game would last seven minutes each.

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