Death, fame, medals and all that JAZZ

 GM  Dragoljub Miladin Čirić  RIP


12-11-1935 to 16-08-2014

It is always a reflective moment when the chess community loses another grandmaster. Grandmaster Ciric passed away on the 16th at age 78.  A memorial service is scheduled  today.


CHESSDOM wrote yesterday : ‘Belgrade Chess Union has the sad duty to inform that Grandmaster Dragoljub Ćirić passed away at the age of 80.

Ćirić was born in Novi Sad in 1935 and already as a 10-years old boy made a debut for the senior team of Čačak Chess Club.

He became International Master in 1961 and Grandmaster in 1965. Already next year he played for Yugoslavia at the Chess Olympiad in Havana making a perfect score 8/8 on his board. In 1968 he played at the Chess Olympiad in Lugano, scoring 5/7 points and winning team silver medal.

Ćirić also played in the European Team Chess Championship, in Oberhausen 1961 and Hamburg 1965. Yugoslavia won team silver medal in both events.’


I never met Dragolju though, ofcourse,  over the years I had played over quite a few of his games. A strong 1.e4-player. Ciric was an excellent tactician and played many sharp and interesting games. Ciric was of the generation when the grandmaster-title was hard to achieve and carried with it more prestige than today’s title.  Tal was perhaps Ciric’ prize scalp. On another occasion, he lost a famous game against Spassky at a student university team championship which was later annotated by Spassky and included in his best games collection.

Unfortunately, health issues prevented him from playing as often as he would have liked.  It is said that Ciric’ results were never at the same level as his understanding of our noble game…


im  Kuijpers Frans 


gm   Ciric Dragoljub M 

Amsterdam, 1968.  Position after Black’s 27th move (27…Nxc4). Material is even and things appear to be sound enough in Black’s position.  His Knight on e5, in particular, seems to guarantee this…but a very unpleasant surprise awaits Black:

28.BxN!! NxB 29.Ng4 Ne5


 30.Nh5!!  (1-0)


Kapelan Milorad

2gm  Ciric, Dragoljub

From a tournament in Yugoslavia, 1980.  White has just played 28.Nd5 and Black resigned!  White threatens 29.RxB+! RxR 30.Ne7+ soon mating.  The most obvious defence appears to be 28…Qe8:









That is right!  Two chessplayers , Kurt Meier (Seychelles) and Alisher Anarkulov (Uzbek), died suddenly and unexpectedly right before the end of the Tromso Olympiad. Kurt had a heartattack during the last round and died later in hospital, while Alisher died in his hotel room after the closing ceremony.


FIDE graciously decided to cover the expenses to return the deceased to their family.





Sad, no doubt, but people die all the time and it is not so uncommon to witness this during a chess tournament.  This writer has seen this first hand.  But what is curious about the deaths in Tromso is that it was precisely this that catapulted the Tromso Olympiad onto the front line of news items in numerous countries!







The well known StreathamBrixton blog today rightly questioned whether this kind of news reporting is indicative of public interest in chess or is really just morbid curiosity.


I think that such news reporting is NOT chess promotion, not by a far shot!  In a way, it is a sad indication when an organizer spends more than 10-million euros to hold a world class event and the only real time that the event gets any signicificant coverage is when something totally unconnected with chess happens. Should we anxiously wait for a chess event to be attacked by terrorists and then declare this as a high point in the promotion of chess?

I am reminded by the Canadian Open in 2004 held in Kapuskasing, Ontario.  One of Canada’s strongest open tournaments up to that time, not a single word appeared in any major Canadian newspaper about the event.  UNTIL one of the players had a heartattack and died. Donald Hervieux collasped and died over the board while playing FM Ryan Harper during round 8. Mr Hervieux, an American citizen, was playing only his second tournament in Canada when that occurred.

FINALLY, only then was this tournament deemed worthy of coverage…Toronto’s STAR wrote a small piece about it! Perhaps, every organizer should ‘pretend’ that someone dies during their tournament and immediately inform the local press!?


Irina Bulmaga is so NOT happy!


One of the blogs that I only recently discovered and LOVE  belongs to the talented Romanian WGM/IM Irina Bulmaga.  Called simply ‘The blog of Irina Bulmaga‘, you can find a lot of original material and a very personal perspective on the chess world. Sometimes the writing is very ZENish..


Yesterday Irina wrote about her winning a medal at Tromso and about how LITTLE attention she is getting for it.  But let me assure you, Irina, that I DO care that you won a medal!  And keep up the GREAT work:  

”The last time I wrote was just before the beginning of the Olympiad and since then a lot of things have happened.

Our team was very unlucky in some crucial matches and unfortunately we weren’t able to repeat our success from 2012, when we took the 5th place. We finished 11th this year.

 Despite our not fantastic play, I had a rather good tournament, winning the bronze medal on the 4th board with the score of 8p/10. 

Someone knowing me a bit would know how much I wanted to add to my collection a worthy medal and how hard I’ve tried during the last years in order to get it. Though it came as a big surprise to me ( I didn’t expect to get it after I lost one game) I can’t say that I was not happy about it. After all, show me a sportsman who would win an Olympic medal and won’t be happy (maybe only Plushenko with silver)…

So what is the point of writing all of this? Well, I will tell- some important to me people were telling me during the last half year: ” You don’t have any worthy results”, “you play rather bad”, well, now- here it is- a result ( Olympic must be worthy, right?)- and no one seems to care or to notice.

What can I say?    The more years pass, the more I get disappointed in people.

P.S. I am at the Turkish League now, where I hope to play well, but not for anyone else, just for myself, because it seems that’s how it works- one should be only for himself.”



You can also follow Irina on TWITTER




My readers are no doubt aware of one of my favourite chess players, WGM Ana Matnadze who currently resides in Spain. A rare creature in today’s cynical world, the photogenic Ana is even more beautiful on the inside!  I enjoy reading her facebook and her twitter.  As in the case of Irina, we can get a different perspective on LIFE and chess…

IN ANY CASE, at Tromso Ana won the silver medal playing for Spain (congrats!!) and this has catapulted her onto the stage in Spain, making her very sought after for interviews , etc.



Indicative of Ana’s unique style of being, she has today given notice to journalists–or anyone interested in doing interviews with her–that her PRIVATE life is going to remain just that: PRIVATE.  Bravo, Ana!!



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