Saturday, October 17, 2009

Fischer's Photos: Remembering Rosendo Balinas

Among the Chessbase photos , I was drawn to two of them (reproduced on the left).

If I am not mistaken, Fischer's opponent is Rosendo Balinas. This Filipino grandmaster is probably not as well known as Eugene Torre. He holds the distinction of being the first non-Soviet to win a tournament in the then Soviet Union. This achievement was at the 1976 Odessa International Tournament where he went undefeated. There were many Russian and East European grandmasters playing such as Lev Polugaevsky ,Konstantin Lerner, Lev Alburt, Vladimir Savon , Jan Plachetka, Mikhail Tseitlin ,Istvan Bilek, Lutz Espig, Vladimir Tukmakov,Anatoly Lutikov and David Bronstein. These names may not be instantly recognisable today, but at that time they were very prominent grandmasters. Bronstein was a former World Championship contender whose book 1953 Zurich International Tournament is one of the best chess books ever in my opinion.

Balinas was a talented player but he did not enjoy the support of his chess federation due to his conflict with its president , Florencio Campomanes. This probably resulted in reduced opportunities from competing in international tournaments.

At the 1990 Asian Zonals in Jakarta, we conversed at length. I believe he was already suffering from some illness. He was very health conscious and kept asking me about Chinese herbal medicines and their use. In 1998, he passed away.

In the pictures Balinas is playing white against Fischer's Sicilian. I believe Balinas drew against Fischer and this is probably the game.


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