Tigran Petrosian, at Banja Luka 1979 joint third / fourth with Ulf Andersson, behind Jan Smejkal and stunning winner Garik Kasparov
In 1979, then 16 year old Garry Kasparov went undefeated to make this his first all-GM tournament victory with a final score of 11.5/15, a full two points over second place. Kasparov had no loss, took seven draws and scored eight wins,
already <the typical Kasparov rhythm> in elite chess tournaments meanwhile the others are hoping to achieve plus one or plus two.
Viktor Korchnoi played twice, winning his personal
premiere with 76 years in 2007 - this was the first international tournament held at Banja Luka after a twenty years break, and coming in as runner-up in the last recent edition in 2008.
At Banja Luka in 1985, reigning Female World Chess Champion, Maia
Chiburdanidze (born 1961, World Champion since 1978 to 1991 and Male Grandmaster since 1984), wins as first woman ever a closed international invitation elite male chess tournament! This was even a bigger upset than the Open Lone Pine in 1977 with
co-winner Nona Gaprindashvili, beating the three GMs Lein, Shamkovich and Tarjan, or Alla Kushnir's sensational first round win over GM Larry Evans, and later also over GM István Bilek at the Open Lone Pine in 1975.
Chiburdanidze wins at Banja Luka in 1985 outright, is surpassing eight male grandmasters and reminds within 13 rounds (single round robin) unbeaten! She beats among others the two Brits Short and Plaskett. The pre-tournament
favourites were Lev Psakhis, twice national champion of USSR in 1980 (together with Beliavsky) and 1981 (together with Kasparov), Bojan Kurajica and of course Nigel Short, already a strong and rising GM.
Biggest upset and only the IM to capture
the Banja Luka tournament, was Roland Ekström in 1987. Despite never being awarded the Grandmaster title, Ekström (originally from Sweden, later playing for Switzerland and four times swiss national champion, now residing
in Malta) made during his career threee GM norms and surpassed the 2500 ELO barrier.
The greatest winning margin at Banja Luka was achieved by Vitaly Tseshkovsky in 1981, scoring 10/11, incredible 3.5 points ahead of joint runners-up
Sax, Nikolic, and Velimirovic.
The only player with two tournament (co-)wins was Krunoslav Hulak (1951 - 2015 R.I.P.).
First winner at Banja Luka International was Bosnian grandmaster Milan Vukić in
a strong field (with Hort, Kuzmin, Ivkov, and Timman), most recent winner is Polish grandmaster Bartłomiej Heberla.
Most notable participants, < not winning > the tournament: Timman, Short, Sax, Nikolic, Smejkal, Ftacnik, Kuzmin, Bagirov, Inkiov, Browne, Lombardy, Tarjan, Farago, Csom, Matanovic, Matulovic, Parma, Kurajica, Cebalo, Velimirovic, Sznapik, Ruck, Stojanovic,
Volkov, Gopal, Solodovnichenko, and Ulf Andersson who has the longest Banja span, from 1976 (and again 1979) to 2007.
Table of honour
12 sole and shared Winners (no play-off, *indicates best tie-break)
(ahead of Hort, Kuzmin, Ivkov, Timman, Tarjan, Csom, Bukic, Lakic, Hartoch, Damjanovic and others) // Inaugural edition
Vlastimil Hort (Vukic sole second, ahead
of Parma, Bagirov, Lombardy, Bukic, Smejkal, Andersson, Hulak, Lakic, Kurajica, Planinc and others)
Garry Kasparov (ahead of Smejkal, joint third / fourth Petrosian,
Andersson; Adorjan, Matanovic, Browne, Bukic, Vukic, Kurajica and others) // Kasparov’s first entry
Vitaly Tseshkovsky (with impressive
10 out of 11 points!, ahead of Sax, Nikolic, Velimirovic, all with 6.5 points; Bukic, Farago, Cebalo, Vukic and others)
Krunoslav Hulak*, András
Adorján, Jonathan Speelman, (ahead of Chekhov, Inkiov, Ftacnik, Kurajica, Vukic, Velimirovic, Bukic, Sznapik and others)
Chiburdanidze (ahead of Farago, Psakhis, Short, Velimirovic, Kurajica, Klaric, Plaskett, Minic, Lechtynsky and others) // Chiburdanidze’s first entry
Ekström*, Krunoslav Hulak (ahead of Matulovic, Skembris, Filipovic, Wiedenkeller, Trepp, Zsuzsa Veroci and others) // Ekström (then Sweden) is the only IM to win
Viktor Korchnoi*, Zlatko Ilinčić (ahead of Ruck, Ulf Andersson, Stojanovic, Vukic, Solodovnichenko, Jakovljevic, Savanovic and
others) // Korchnoi’s first entry
Bartłomiej Heberla (0.5 points ahead of runner-up Korchnoi, Volkov, Gopal, Ilincic;
Lela Javakhishvili, Drasko, Vukic and others) // Last edition to-date
Notable games at Banja Luka (from www.chessgames.com)
-- There is no beauty without some strangeness --
Edgar Allan Poe
Garry’s early years – Sudden tactics in strategic games! Kasparov vs. Browne
Maia isn’t short minded – What
a world class blunder! Short vs. Chiburdanidze (1985) 0-1
Another world class blunder – Sergey Volkov checkmated in two! Volkov vs. Heberla (2008) 0-1
Victor’s youngest years – Legends never get too old for brilliance! Korchnoi vs. Stojanovic (2007) 1-0
A last round draw to secure the joint tournament win in 2007 - then Viktor beat Zlatko
in a long and hard fought endgame the following year! Ilincic vs. Korchnoi
Sudden blitz – Jan Timman
mated by Milan Vukic on the spot! Vukic vs. Timman (1974) 1-0
Immortal game of Milenko Sibarevic
– horses, credo, erat ad portas! Sibarevic vs. Bukic (1976) 1-0
The first major success at the Yugoslav
level, the Banja Luka sport achieved in 1931. Then the chess team, which consisted of four players, became the champion team of Yugoslavia. That same year, World Chess Champion Alexander Alekhine gave a famous simul against players of Banja Luka. 1974 started
the powerful International Tournament........
……… it would be nice to enjoy a tenth and jubilee event at Banja Luka!