Chess in 1978

by Bill Wall


In 1978, Arthur Bisguier won the 12th National Open, held in Charleston, SC.


In 1978, Joe Bradford won the US Open, held in Phoenix.


In 1978, the chess computer, Belle, won the 9th North American Computer Chess Championship.


In 1978, the Professional Chess Association (PCA) was formed.† Jack Peters was its first president.


In 1978, Bent Larsen took 1st place at Lone Pine.


In 1978, Strauss and Paul Whitehead tied for 1st place in the American Open, held in Santa Monica.


In 1978, Tal and Tseshkovsky won the 46th Soviet Championship, held in Tbilisi.


In 1978 Bobby Fischer filed a $3.2 million lawsuit against the publishers of a magazine critical of the Worldwide Church of God. He claimed the writers taped his conversations without his consent. He then accused the church of reneging on their promise to finance the lawsuit.


In 1978, the FIDE Master (FM) title was introduced.


In 1978, grandmaster William Lombardy (1937- ) was attacked in New York City by a mugger who had a knife.  Tendons in two fingers were severed and he underwent a long operation to repair the severed tendons.


In 1978, a Chinese player defeated a GM for the first time - Liu Wen Che beat Jan Donner at the Chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires.


In 1978, the student team championship was renamed to the world youth team championship (under-26).


In 1978, Peter Biyiasas won the World Open, held in Philadelphia.† There were 1,063 players.


On January 12, 1978, Viktor Korchnoi (1931-2016) defeated Boris Spassky in Belgrade, Yugoslavia to become official challenger to world chess champion Anatoly Karpov.


On February 4, 1978, Harriet Vaughan Hunt was born in Oxford, England.† She won the British womenís championship in 1995, 1996, 1997, and 1999.† She won the World Women U-20 Championship in 1997.† She was awarded the WGM title in 1999.


On February 5, 1978, Tal Shaked was born in Arizona.† He won the Arizona State Primary Championship in 1986, the National Elementary Championship in 1990, and at age 13, became the youngest ever Arizona State Champion.† He was awarded the IM title in 1994.† He was US Junior champion in 1995.† He won the World Under-20 championship in 1997.† He was awarded the GM title in 1997.†


On February 10, 1978, Boris Avrukh was born in Karaganda, Kazakhstan.† He won the world under-12 championship in 1990.† He was awarded the GM title in 1997.† He won the Israeli championship in 2000 and 2008.†


On March 17, 1978, Semyon Furman died in St Petersburg of a heart attack at the age of 57. †He was Leningrad champion in 1954 and 1957.† He was awarded the IM title in 1954 and the GM in 1966.† He was the chief trainer to Anatoly Karpov.


On March 19, 1978, Carlos Torre Repetto (1904-1978) died in Mexico at the age of 73.† He was awarded the GM title in 1977 based on his chess results in the mid-1920s.† He was the first Mexican grandmaster.


On March 23, 1978, Eeltje Visserman, Eeltje died in The Netherlands at the age of 56. He was one of first 4 players to be awarded the GM for Compositions when it was introduced in 1972.† He composed over 800 chess problems of all kinds.


In May 1978, Walter Browne won an international tournament in Reykjavik, Iceland, scoring 9-4.


In June, 1978, a chess piece was auctioned for $82,000 in London and was purchased by a German museum.† The art auction was part of an effort to return some of the treasures Adolf Hitler drove out of the country. (source:† Iola Register, June 24, 1978)


In June, 1978, Kavalek won the US Chess Championship, held in Pasadena.† It was the first US championship to be held on the west coast.† Current US champion Walter Browne dropped out of the US chess championship in protest over the lighting in the tournament hall at Ambassador College.


On June 11, 1978, Pertii Poutianen (1952-1978) died in Helsinki at the age of 25.† He was Finnish champion in 1974 and 1976.† He was awarded the IM title in 1976.


At the 1978 chess Olympiad in Buenos Aires, a member of a Middle East team tried to buy one of the girls working at the site for $1 million.  The offer was not taken up.  Grandmaster Hans Ree broke his leg at the event after someone told him a joke and he laughed so hard he fell out of bed and broke a bone.  The Hungarians won the gold medal, ahead of the Soviets, who took the silver medal.  This was the first time the Soviet team did not take the gold medal when participating in an Olympiad.  USA took the bronze medal.  This Olympiad almost didnít happen.  Argentina almost went to war with Chile (a dispute over the Beagle Islands in Antarctica) and the chief organizer of the event, Rodolfo Zanlungo, was kidnapped and was being held under the threat of death should the Olympiad be held.


On October 17, 1978, Anatoly Karpov defeated Viktor Korchnoi, 16.5-15.5, in Baguio City and retained his world champion title.† During the match, Karpov had a parapsychologist in the audience against his world championship match with Korchnoi in Baguio, Philippines.† Korchnoi claimed the parapsychologist was distorting his brain waves.† Korchnoi then hired his own psychics to counteract the negative vibrations.† During the match, Korchnoi also accused Karpov of cheating by receiving different flavors of yogurt during the game.† The different flavors were part of coded instructions that Karpov followed.† The arbiter treated the accusation seriously and imposed a fixed time of sending yogurt to Karpov.††† The flavors had to be in writing from Karpov to the arbiter.


On December 12, 1978, Ilya Kan died in Russia at the age of 69.† He won the Moscow championship in 1936.† He was awarded the IM title in 1950.†


On December 22, 1978, Gregory Shahade was born. He was the 1993 Junior High School co-champion, the 1996 National High School co-champion, and 1996 US Junior Open champion.† He is an International Master.