20th Chess Olympiad

The 20th Chess Olympiad, organized by FIDE and comprising an open[1] team tournament, as well as several other events designed to promote the game of chess, took place between September 18 and October 13, 1972, in Skopje, Yugoslavia (present-day Macedonia).

Official logo of the Olympiad.


For the first time, the Soviet team only comprised 5 GMs and one IM (Savon). Since Bobby Fischer had beaten Spassky earlier in the year, the team wasn't led by the current world champion – also a first. It did, however, feature three previous (Smyslov, Tal, and Petrosian) as well as one future champion (Karpov). The team still lived up to expectations, though, and won their eleventh consecutive gold medal, with Hungary and Yugoslavia taking the silver and bronze, respectively.

Before the Soviet team could achieve a victory, there was some controversy. In the 4th round of Final Group A, the Soviets played a match against the team from Bulgaria. A game between Victor Korchnoi and Georgi Tringov was adjourned after 41 moves with Tringov to seal his next move. At this Olympiad, sealed moves were written on a separate piece of paper, not the player's score sheet. Tringov rejected this way of sealing his move and instead wrote it on his score sheet.

When the game was resumed, the arbiter opened the envelope. In the envelope was Korchnoi's score sheet but not the one belonging to Tringov. The arbiter ruled the game a forfeit win for Korchnoi. The Bulgarian team captain instituted protest proceedings but an arbitration committee upheld the arbiter's ruling.

After the Olympiad was over, it was learned that Tringov had absentmindedly placed his score sheet in his pocket. Tringov discovered his mistake several days after his forfeit but was too ashamed to admit his mistake to the organizers of the Olympiad.[2]

In Final B, the Albanian team refused to play Israel and withdrew after round 11. Their matches were regarded as "friendlies" and didn't count in the overall standings.

Jens Enevoldsen represented Denmark at his 11th and final Olympiad, 39 years after his first appearance at Folkestone 1933. Both records at the time (although both have since been beaten by Lajos Portisch).

This Olympiad was the first major success for the Benko Gambit, named after Hungarian-American master Pal Benko. In sixteen games, Black players scored ten wins and six draws with the opening.

The 5th Women's Chess Olympiad also took place; this was the first time that it took place at the same time and in the same venue as the open event. It was won by the Soviet Union team.

Open eventsEdit


A total of 63 teams were divided into eight preliminary groups of seven or eight teams each, from which the top two advanced to Final A, no. 3-4 to Final B etc. Unlike the last few tournaments, preliminary head-to-head results were not carried over to the finals, so each teams met one other team twice. All preliminary groups and finals were played as round-robin tournaments. The results were as follows:

  • Group 1: 1. Soviet Union, 2. Denmark, 3. Belgium, 4. Cuba, 5. Finland, 6. Dominican Republic, 7. Luxembourg.
  • Group 2: 1. Yugoslavia, 2. Switzerland, 3. Peru, 4. England, 5. Brazil, 6. Japan, 7. Syria, 8. Cyprus.
  • Group 3: 1. Hungary, 2. Poland, 3. Norway, 4. Indonesia, 5. Scotland, 6. Bolivia, 7. Morocco, 8. Lebanon.
  • Group 4: 1. West Germany, 2. Argentina, 3. Iceland, 4. Greece, 5. New Zealand, 6. Mexico, 7. France, 8. Guernsey.
  • Group 5: 1. Czechoslovakia, 2. Spain, 3. Mongolia, 4. Israel, 5. Portugal, 6. Ireland, 7. Hong Kong, 8. Malaysia.
  • Group 6: 1. East Germany, 2. Sweden, 3. Canada, 4. Italy, 5. Wales, 6. Turkey, 7. Singapore, 8. Malta.
  • Group 7: 1. Bulgaria, 2. Netherlands, 3. Albania, 4. Colombia, 5. Australia, 6. Puerto Rico, 7. Iraq, 8. Andorra.
  • Group 8: 1. United States, 2. Romania, 3. The Philippines, 4. Austria, 5. Tunisia, 6. Iran, 7. Faroe Islands, 8. British Virgin Islands.


Final A
# Country Players Average
Points MP Head-
1   Soviet Union Petrosian, Korchnoi, Smyslov, Tal, Karpov, Savon 2635 42
2   Hungary Portisch, Bilek, Forintos, Ribli, Csom, Sax 2531 40½
3   Yugoslavia Gligorić, Ivkov, Ljubojević, Matanović, Matulović, Rukavina 2543 38
4   Czechoslovakia Hort, Smejkal, Filip, Jansa, Přibyl, Trapl 2534 35½
5   West Germany Hübner, Darga, Pfleger, Hecht, Kestler, Dueball 2540 35
6   Bulgaria Bobotsov, Tringov, Radulov, Padevsky, Peev, Bohosjan 2459 32
7   Romania Gheorghiu, Ciocâltea, Ghițescu, Ungureanu, Ghizdavu, Partoş 2466 31½
8   Netherlands Donner, Ree, Zuidema, Timman, Hartoch, Enklaar 2465 29 13
9   United States Kavalek, Byrne, Benko, Bisguier, Martz, Kane 2515 29 13
10   East Germany Uhlmann, Malich, Knaak, Liebert, Schöneberg, Vogt 2490 27½
11   Spain Pomar, Díez del Corral, Medina, Torán, Bellón López, Visier Segovia 2434 26
12   Poland Schmidt, Bednarski, Pytel, Sznapik, Filipowicz, Sydor 2410 24½
13   Denmark Hamann, Jakobsen, Sloth, Holm, Enevoldsen, Pedersen 2428 23
14   Argentina Rossetto, García, Rubinetti, Emma, Debarnot, Hase 2418 22½ 9
15   Sweden Andersson, Jansson, Ornstein, Liljedahl, Olsson, Uddenfeldt 2399 22½ 8
16    Switzerland Hug, Lombard, Bhend, Schaufelberger, Wirthensohn, Gereben 2383 21½

Individual medalsEdit

Best gameEdit

The Best Game prize went to Werner Hug (Switzerland) - Vlastimil Hort (Czechoslovakia) from Final A.

Women's resultsEdit

Twenty-three nations took part in the women's Olympiad. From four preliminary groups the teams were split into three finals. The Soviet Union won.


  • Group 1: 1. Soviet Union, 2. East Germany, 3. Netherlands, 4. Australia, 5. Ireland.
  • Group 2: 1. England, 2. Czechoslovakia, 3. Yugoslavia, 4. Austria, 5. Scotland, 6. Japan.
  • Group 3: 1. Romania, 2. Bulgaria, 3. Mongolia, 4. Brazil, 5. Israel, 6. Switzerland.
  • Group 4: 1. Hungary, 2. West Germany, 3. Poland, 4. Sweden, 5. Finland, 6. Singapore.


Final A
# Country Players Average
Points MP
1   Soviet Union Nona Gaprindashvili, Alla Kushnir, Irina Levitina 2373 11½
2   Romania Elisabeta Polihroniade, Gertrude Baumstark, Alexandra Nicolau 2258 8 8
3   Hungary Mária Ivánka, Zsuzsa Verőci, Gyuláné Krizsán-Bilek 2233 8 8

Individual medalsEdit


  1. ^ Although commonly referred to as the men's division, this section is open to both male and female players.
  2. ^ Keene, Ray; Levy, David (1973). Chess Olympiad 1972. Doubleday & Company. pp. 68–69.
  3. ^ This was the first Olympiad after the ELO rating system was introduced, so many players on smaller teams were still unrated. For the purpose of calculating team averages, they were given provisional ratings of 2200, equivalent to that of a Candidate Master.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 42°00′14″N 21°27′08″E / 42.003812°N 21.452246°E / 42.003812; 21.452246