Open scacchistico internazionale di Lugano 1976 ‐ 1989

Indefatiguable Viktor Korchnoi (R.I.P.) analyzing with indomitable IM Jay Whitehead (R.I.P.) with his back to the camera. Look at the all-star kibitzers! Ex-World Champion Boris Spassky is seated next to Korchnoi. GM Florin Gheorghiu is standing next to Spassky. (Photo: Catherine Jaeg, France)

Lugano Open, Switzerland
#  Sosonko  #  Seirawan #  Korchnoi  #
Albo d'Oro, the winners from Chess Festival Lugano:

  • 3 victories, record winner:
    GM Viktor Korchnoi (1982, 1986, 1989; 
    and 3rd (shared 1.-7.) in 1988, five entries)
  • 2 wins:
    GM Yasser Seirawan (1983, 1987; 
    and 5th in 1986, six entries)

    IM Béla Tóth (1977, 1980)
  • 1 win:
    GM Gennadi Sosonko (1976,
    the inaugural edition)
    IM Ralf Hess (1978 as amateur)
    GM Sergio Mariotti (1979)
    GM Bojan Kurajica (1981)
    GM Gyula Sax (1984)
    GM Wladimir Tukmakov (1985)
    GM Lubomír Ftáčnik (1988)
    10 winners, 14 events
  • Note: Lothar Nikolaiczuk (1979 as amateur) co-winner 2nd after tie-break

A legendary Open chess tournament, and one of the strongest Open series ever held, sponsored by the Banca del Gottardo, from 1976 to 1989 annually played in March in the beautiful (Swiss-Italian Tyrolian) Prealps town of Lugano, Ticino. Principal initiator and organiser was Alois Nagler from the SG Zürich.

Those were the days, Lone Pine, California in the '70ies (1971 until 1981) and the Lugano Open Festival Series, especially in the '80ies, can be regarded as the predecessors of the Gibraltar Tradewise Chess Festival, Doha Qatar Masters Open or Moscow Aeroflot Open today.

A summary of prominent players:

Open scacchistico internazionale di Lugano 1976 - 1989
(Palazzo dei Congressi di Lugano, Patrocinato dalla Banca del Gottardo)

  • Spassky, Korchnoi, Larsen, Hübner, Unzicker, Teschner, Timman, Sosonko, Piket, Miles, Short, Nunn, Hort, Pachman, Ftáčnik, Sax, Ribli, Adorjan, Szabo, Flesch, Gligoric, Ivkov, P. Nikolic, Kurajica, Georgiev, Gheorghiu, Soos, Balashov, Tukmakov, Psakhis, Gulko, Mednis, Reshevsky, Browne, Seirawan, De Firmian, Spraggett, Quinteros, Nogueiras, Chandler, Torre, Westerinen, Petursson, Dückstein, Mariotti, Lautier, Anand as reigning Junior World Chess Champion,
    plus Karpov for a side blitz event in 1988, and
  • Dlugy, Kudrin, Alburt, Henley, Wilder, Benjamin, Mikhalchishin, Shamkovich, D. Gurevich, Ginsburg, Donaldson, Whitehead, Fedorowicz, Rogers, I. Ivanov, Dolmatov, Gawrikov, Chernin, Lerner, A. Sokolov, I. Sokolov, Lengyel, Farago, Simic, Sahovic, Osmanovic, Damljanovic, Abramović, Vukic, Stohl, Suba, Cvitan, N. Nikolic, St. Nikolic, Franco Ocampos, C. Cuartas, Morovic, A. Yap, Campora, Barbero, Bellon Lopez, Bouaziz, Godena, Tatai, Paoli, Tóth, Zichichi, Renet, Apicella, Kouatly, Prié, Giffard, van der Wiel, van der Sterren, H. Böhm, Langeweg, Plaskett, Flear, Conquest, King, Pein, Hodgson, Hebden, Davies, Norwood, Levitt, W. Watson, Knaak, Bönsch, Lobron, L. Schmid, Treppner, Lau, Maus, Kindermann, Hickl, Klundt, Bischoff, Bartelborth, Lindörfer, V. Budde, Tröger, Zier, Nikolaiczuk, R. Hess, Danner, Wittmann, Klinger, Gutman, Grünfeld, Birnboim, Murey, U. Zak, L. Bo Hansen, C. Hansen, Høi, L. Karlsson, Hector, Hellers, Wedberg, Ekström, Nemet, Gereben, O. Marthaler, Preissmann, Schaufelberger, Wittwer, Wirthensohn, Franzoni, Züger, Huss, Trepp, Hammer, Ditzler, L. Brunner, M. Rüfenacht, R. Roth, Vucenovic, Karl, Boschetti, Costa, Gerber, Gobet, Glauser, Bhend, Lombard, W. Hug, M. Hug, Renato Frick, and
  • Maia Chiburdanidze, Tatjana Lematschko, Alisa Marić, Suzana Maksimovic, Julia Arias, Jana Miles, Pia & her older brother IM Dan Cramling (Swedish champion in 1981), …

Dr. Mark Ginsburg presents a personal chess history – “The Fabulous 80s: Lugano”

Post Scriptum:
Catherine Jaeg, renowned photographer on the international chess circuit (see the picture above and below), is today an artist and serves as President of the Salon Dessin et Peinture à l’eau, Paris.
A biography in french language and sample of her work (nothing to do with chess) can be found on Exposition des oeuvres de Catherine JAEG (2007).

Source:, Mark Weeks.

WGM Tatjana Lematschko (Switzerland, ex-Bulgaria) vs. future twice WC Candidate GM Gyula Sax (Hungary). The picture is from the penultimate round 8 at the Lugano Open in 1984. Sax won that game, and the Open. R.I.P. Grandmaster Sax (1951 - 2014). Photo: Catherine Jaeg (France)

Gennadi "Genna" Sosonko, winner and clear first ahead of Heikki Westerinen at the inaugural Lugano Open in 1976 (picture from Tilburg 1978, Wikipedia)

Yasser Seirawan, twice winner at the International Lugano Chess Open in 1983 and 1985 (picture from 1980, Wikipedia)

Lugano Invitational 1970, Lugano Chess Olympiad 1968

The only Swiss stamp with a chess subject: Lugano Olympiad 1968

The city of Lugano had hosted already the Men Chess Olympiad in 1968 (Gold for USSR with Petrosian, Spassky, Korchnoi, Geller, substitute boards: Polugaevsky, Smyslov; individual gold for Petrosian, Korchnoi and Smyslov). 

And an international GM Tournament in 1970, a double round robin, with eight of the world's top non-soviet chess players (Bent Larsen won outright ahead of easy runner-up Fridrik Olafsson, then as joint third / fourth Unzicker and Gligoric, followed by fifth R. Byrne, sixth Szabo, seventh Kavalek and on eight and last place Donner). No player of the hosting nation invited due to lack of strength. (1968) (1968) (1970)

Chess Holidays today in the Swiss-Italian lake region and the Swiss Alps

Claudio Boschetti, player, practised organizer and arbiter of Open Festivals

The Swiss-Italian chess organizers are enamoured in chess and they are convinced, since the seventy’s when the important Lugano Open Festival took place, that chess players merit an appropriate location in a splendid scenery. 

You may choose if you make Chess Holidays in the swiss-italian lake region (Lugano, Paradiso, Mendrisio, Locarno, Ascona), Stein am Rhein, or onto the Swiss alps (Davos, San Bernardino, Flims, Adelboden).

Swiss CHess Tour:,
organised by Claudio Boschetti (report from the Ascona Open 2016 by Uwe Ritter, in german language)