Arturo Pomar Salamanca (1 September 1931 – 26 May 2016) was a Spanish chess player. He was the first Spanish player to be awarded the title of grandmaster (GM), and was a seven-time national champion.[1][2]

Arturo Pomar
Arturo Pomar 1972.jpg
Arturo Pomar in 1972
Born1 September 1931 Edit this on Wikidata
Died26 May 2016 Edit this on Wikidata (aged 84)
Barcelona Edit this on Wikidata


The prodigyEdit

Arturo Pomar (Baarn, 1947)

Pomar was born in Palma de Mallorca and was known in his youth, as Arturito.[3][4] Hailed as a chess prodigy,[5] he was runner-up at the Championship of the Balearic Isles when he was 10 years old, and won the title the following year.[6] World Champion Alexander Alekhine spent time in Spain and Portugal after World War II and took an interest in the young Pomar, even giving him a series of special chess lessons.[7] A part of Alekhine's 1946 book ‘’Legado!’’ was devoted to him.[8]

He played his first international tournament at Madrid in October 1943. Narrowly avoiding last place, he defeated Friedrich Saemisch, who was of grandmaster strength.[5] Then, at just 13 years of age, he was able to draw a game against his esteemed teacher at a tournament in Gijón (1944). The game itself was an exciting "back and forth" affair, with Pomar outplaying the World Champion in the endgame phase and reaching a theoretically won position. However, inexact play allowed Alekhine to draw, in a game that lasted over 70 moves. Alekhine won the event and Pomar finished fifth.

His precocious talent caused chess writers to speak of him in the same breath as celebrated child prodigies Paul Morphy, José Raúl Capablanca, Sammy Reshevsky and Bobby Fischer.[3][9][10] In his home country, he became quite famous, appearing in radio interviews and on film.,[6] but as his career progressed, he never quite fulfilled the early promise.[5][10][11]

Spain's first grandmasterEdit

Pomar's best results in international competition probably occurred at the Madrid Zonal of 1960, where he shared first place with Svetozar Gligorić, Jan Hein Donner and Lajos Portisch; at Torremolinos 1961 (first with Gligoric); Malaga 1964 (first, ahead of Portisch); Palma de Mallorca 1966 (second, after Mikhail Tal, ahead of Portisch); and at Malaga 1971 (first).[5] His success in 1960 qualified him for a place at the Stockholm Interzonal tournament of 1962, where he finished 11th= (Fischer won). This was as close as he got to mounting a challenge for the world title.[6]

He was awarded the International Master title in 1950 and became Spain's first grandmaster in 1962.[1][2]

Pomar was Spanish champion seven times (1946, 1950, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, and 1966),[1] and Sub-Champion four times (1951, 1956, 1964, and 1969), a record not surpassed until 2010, by Miguel Illescas.[12]

A prolific tournament playerEdit

Close to the end of the war, he tied for fourth/fifth place at Madrid 1945 (Alekhine won); took fourth place at Gijón 1945 (Antonio Rico won); and shared third place at Almería 1945 (F. López Núñez and Alekhine won).

There followed many international appearances. His further results included sixth place at London 1946 (Herman Steiner won) and victory in a short match against Jacques Mieses (1½–½, also held in London). He tied for 12–13th at Barcelona 1946 (Miguel Najdorf won); tied for 15–16th at Mar del Plata 1949 (Héctor Rossetto won); won at Santa Fe 1949; tied for second/third place, behind Paul Michel, at Rosario 1949; shared first at Paris 1949; tied for second/third at Gijón 1950; took 15th at Madrid 1951 (Lodewijk Prins won); took 14th at Bad Pyrmont 1951 (zonal); took 2nd at Hollywood 1952; tied for first/second at New Orleans 1954 (US Open); won at Gijón 1955;[13] tied for second/third at Madrid 1957; won at Santander 1958; shared first with Francisco José Pérez at Madrid 1959.

Pomar finished in fifth place at the Enschede Zonal 1963 (Gligorić won); he took fourth at Málaga 1965 (Antonio Medina won); shared first with Alberic O'Kelly de Galway and Klaus Darga at Palma de Mallorca 1965; took second, behind Mikhail Botvinnik, at Amsterdam 1966 (IBM tournament); tied for 10–12th at Beverwijk 1967 (Boris Spassky won); took eighth at Palma de Mallorca 1968 (Viktor Korchnoi won); took 13th at Palma de Mallorca (Bent Larsen won); won at Málaga 1971, tied for 12–14th at Madrid 1973 (Anatoly Karpov won). He won at Alicante 1975 and ceased playing in serious events around 1985.

A team playerEdit

He played for Spain at twelve consecutive Chess Olympiads, and won the individual bronze medal at Leipzig.[14]

Full results:

A career setbackEdit

Pomar suffered at least two nervous breakdowns while attending tournaments.[11] At Marianske Lazne in 1965, he completed nine of his fifteen games to finish with a share of last place.[15] At Dundee 1967, he withdrew with less than half of his games completed, and his score was cancelled.[16][17] Although he made a good recovery, his later play and results were affected by the experience.[10][11] Times journalist Harry Golombek refers to an incident at Palma de Mallorca 1971, when Pomar was winning against Bent Larsen, but went astray and suffered the ignominy of being checkmated by an advancing pawn.[18]

Later lifeEdit

In later life, he was many times a guest of honour, especially at the Chess Olympiad of Calvia, held in 2004 on his birth island. In 2016, FIDE recognized his contribution to chess history with a special prize, following a proposal of the ACP[4]

He died in Barcelona, on 26 May 2016, after a long illness.[2]


Pomar wrote several instructional books in Spanish.

  • Mis cincuenta partidas con maestros (1945)
  • Temas de ajedrez (1956)
  • Las pequeñas ventajas en el final (1958)
  • Ajedrez (1962)
  • El arte de ver la ventaja (1968)
  • Ajedrez elemental (with Vasily Panov) (1971)

Notable chess gamesEdit


  1. ^ a b c "Arturo Pomar Salamanca (1931)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-26. Retrieved 2007-08-14..
  2. ^ a b c Leontxo Garcỉa,Muere Arturo Pomar - El legendario ajedrecista, heptacampeón de España, tenía 84 años El Pais, May 27, 2016 (in Spanish)
  3. ^ a b Schonberg, Harold C. (1974). Grandmasters of Chess. Davis-Poynter. pp. 26, 27. ISBN 978-0-7067-0135-7.
  4. ^ a b "Pomar obituary". FIDE. Retrieved 2016-06-01.
  5. ^ a b c d Whyld, Kenneth; Hooper, David (1984). The Oxford Companion to Chess. Oxford University Press. p. 259. ISBN 0-19-217540-8.
  6. ^ a b c Sunnucks, Anne (1976). The Encyclopaedia of Chess (2nd Ed.). Hale. pp. 372, 373. ISBN 0709146973.
  7. ^ Kotov, Alexander (1974). Alexander Alekhine. Batsford. p. 196. ISBN 978-0-7134-2963-3.
  8. ^ Divinsky, Nathan (1990). The Batsford Chess Encyclopedia. Batsford. p. 165. ISBN 0-7134-6214-0.
  9. ^ Saidy, Anthony; Lessing, Norman (1974). The World of Chess. William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. p. 13. ISBN 0-394-48777-X.
  10. ^ a b c Finkenzeller, Roswin; Ziehr, Wilhelm; Bührer, Emil M. (1990). Chess: A Celebration of 2000 Years. Mackenzie. pp. 48, 49. ISBN 978-0-9516-3550-6.
  11. ^ a b c Golombek, Harry, ed. (1981). The Penguin Encyclopedia of Chess. Penguin. p. 349. ISBN 978-0-1404-6452-8.
  12. ^ "Report of Illescas' achievement". Chessbase. Retrieved 2016-06-01.
  13. ^ Torneo Cerrado Internacional Archived October 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2012-11-07.
  14. ^ Encyclopedia of Team Chess. OlimpBase (2011-01-01). Retrieved on 2012-11-07.
  15. ^ Di Felice, Gino (2013). Chess Results 1964-1967. McFarland & Co. p. 163. ISBN 978-0-7864-7573-5.
  16. ^ The Times, July 17, 1967 p. 3
  17. ^ Di Felice, p. 375
  18. ^ The Times, December 18, 1971, p. 7

External linksEdit