Chess in 1976

 by Bill Wall


In January, 1976, the top chess players were Karpov (2695), Korchnoi (2670), Petrosian (2635), Polugaevsky (2635), Spassky (2630), Larsen (2625), Portisch (2625), Geller (2620), Ljubojevic (2620), and Mecking (2620).


In 1976, Walter Browne had his highest Elo rating of 2585.  He was ranked 27th in the world.


In 1976, Anatoly Karpov met secretly with Bobby Fischer three times, in Japan, in Washington, DC, and in Manila, to discuss an unofficial match.


In 1976, Fischer lost a lawsuit against Life magazine and one of its writers, Brad Darrach, for violation of a contract.  After this loss, Fischer stopped paying any federal income taxes.  He was getting about $6,000 a year in royalties for his chess books.

In 1976 CHESS 4.5 won the Class B section of the Paul Masson tournament in Northern California. The performance rating was 1950.  In 1976 CHESS 4.5 wins the 7th ACM computer championship, held in Houston.

On January 16, 1976, Lenka Ptacnikova was born in Czechoslovakia.  She was women’s Czech champion in 1994 and 1996.  She was women’s Icelandic champion in 2003 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2014.  She is a Woman Grandmaster.


On February 15, 1976, Daniel Fridman was born in Riga, Latvia.   He was awarded the IM title in 1994, and the GM title in 2001.  He was Latvian champion in 1996.  He was German champion in 2008, 2012, and 2014.


On February 17, 1976, Almira Skripchenko was born in Kishinev, Moldavia.  She was awarded the WGM title in 1995 and the IM title in 1998.  She won the Ladies’ French championship in 2004 and 2005.


In March, 1976, Tigran Petrosian won the 6th Louis D. Statham masters-plus tournament at Lone Pine.


On March 10, 1976, Wu Wenjin was born in China.  He was awarded the GM title in 2000.


On March 13, 1976, Zhu Chen was born in Wenzhou, China.  She was World Woemn’s Under-20 champion in 1994.  She was awarded the GM title in 2001.  She was Women’s World Champion from 2001 to 2004.


On April 8, 1976, Donald Byrne (1930-1976) died of lupus in Philadelphia at the age of 45.  He was US Open champion in 1953.  He was awarded the IM title in 1962.  He was the younger brother of GM Robert Byrne.  He was captain of the US team for the 1966 Chess Olympiad in Havana.  He was an assistant professor of English at Pennsylvania State University.  He graduated from Yale and had a masters degree at Michigan.  (source: Clearfield Progress, PA, April 10, 1976)


On April 20, 1976, Ramachandran Ramesh was born in Chennai, India.  He was awarded the IM title in 1996 and the GM title in 2003.  He was British champion in 2002.  He was Commonwealth champion in 2007.


On April 26, 1976, Jozsef Szily (1913-1976) died in Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1950.


On May 4, 1976, Daniel Gormally was born in England.  He was awarded the IM title in 1997 and the GM title in 2005.


In May, 1976, Michael Wilder, age 13, became the youngest US master since Bobby Fischer.


On June 7, 1976, Boris Kreiman was born in Moscow.  He won the US Junior Championship in 1993 and 1996.  He was awarded the GM title in 2004.


On June 17, 1976, Peter Svidler was born in Leningrad.  He was awarded the IM title in 1991 and the GM title in 1994.  He was world under 18 champion in 1994.  He won the Russian championship in 1994, 1995, 1997, 2003, 2008, 2011, 2013. 


In June-July, 1976, at the World Open in New York, a stronger player used the identity of a weaker friend  in one of the lower sections.  The stronger player was winning all his games until his identity was found out.  Director Bill Goichberg had a talk with the person who disappeared before the end of the tournament


On July 21, 1976, Anna Hahn was born in Riga, Latvia.  She was awarded the WIM title in 1995.  She won the Latvian women’s championship in 1992.  She won the US women’s championship in 2003.


On July 23, 1976, Judit Polgar was born in Budapest, Hungary.  She was awarded the GM title in 1991 at the age of 15 years and 4 months. She is considered the strongest female chess player of all time.  She was the #1 woman player in the world for an unbroken period of over 26 years starting from the age of 12 in 1989.


On July 27, 1976, Viktor Korcnoi, age 45, world’s No, 2 rated chess player, defected from the USSR and asked for political asylum in The Netherlands.  His wife, Bela, and their 17-year-old son, Igor, were at home in Leningrad and both said they had no idea that Viktor was defecting.  Korchnoi had just finished playing in the IBM International in Amsterdam.  He tied for 1st with Tony Miles.  (source: Colorado Springs Telegraph, July 28, 1976 and “Korchnoy’s Complaint”, by Bill Wall, Statesville Record and Landmark, Sep 25, 1976)


On August 1, 1976, Liviu-Dieter Nisipeanu was born in Brasov, Romania.  He was Romanian champion in 1996.  He was awarded the GM title in 1997.


On August 18, 1976, Vadim Zvjaginsev was born in Moscow.  He was awarded the GM title in 1994. 


On August 29, 1976, Zoltan Almasi was born in Hungary.  He was awarded the IM title in 1993.  He was World Under 18 champion in 1993.  He won the Hungarian championship in 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006, and 2008.


On September 22, 1976, Yannick Pelletier was born in Biel, Switzerland.  He was Swiss champion in 1995, 2000, 2002, 2010, and 2014.  He was awarded the GM title in 2001.

In October-November, 1976, computers were first used to do the pairings at the Haifa Olympiad and the first Olympiad conducted as a Swiss System.  Libya protested and had an Olympiad of their own.  The USSR and other communist countries did not play and the USA team (R. Byrne, Kavalek, Evans, Tarjan, Lombardy, Commons) won the event.  It was the first time since 1937 that the USA team won the chess Olympiad.  This Olympiad was the only one not to have medals for board prizes.  The Israel team won the women’s event.  That team consisted of four Soviet émigrés.  An unofficial chess Olympics was held in Tripoli, Libya in protest to the main chess Olympiad in Haifa.  There were 37 countries that played in this event, called the “Against Israel Olympics.”  Italy was the only country to send teams to both events.  The event was won by El Salvador, a nation which had never competed in a FIDE Olympiad.

October 9, 1976 was declared National Chess Day by President Ford.


On October 15, 1976, Dusko Pavasovic was born in Split, Croatia.  He was awarded the GM title in 1999.  He was Slovenian champion in 1999, 2006, and 2007.


On October 23, 1976, Gabriel Schwartzman was born in Romania.  He was awarded the IM title in 1991 and the GM title in 1993.  He won the US Open in 1996 at the age of 19. 


On October 29, 1976, Xu Yuhua was born in Jinhua, China.  She was awarded the GM title in 2006.  She was Women’s World Champion from 2006 to 2008.


On December 4, 1976, Joshua Waitzkin was born in New York City.  He was US Junior Champion in 1993 and 1994.  He was awarded the IM title in 1993.  He is the only person to have won the National Primary, Elementary, Junior High School, High School, U.S. Cadet, and U.S. Junior Closed chess championships in his career.  He later gave up chess and became a martial artist.


In December, 1976, Anatoly Karpov won the 44th Soviet Championship, held in Moscow. He was followed by Balashov, Petrosian, Polugaevsky, Dorfman, Smyslov, and Tal. There were 18 players.