Interviews Jun 10, 2014 | 1:30 PMby Macauley Peterson

Vlastimil Hort: "I'm a chess entertainer"

Vlastimil Hort, June 10, 2014 | photo: Macauley Peterson

Vlastimil Hort was five-time champion of Czechoslovakia and one of the world's top grandmasters in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1985 he defected to West Germany, and he now lives in Eitorf, a town east of Bonn, with his wife Brigitte, who is German. He has been a frequent guest of the Prague Chess Society, which is currently hosting an exhibition match between Hikaru Nakamura and Czech number one David Navara.

On Monday, Hort presented a series of positions to a live audience of about thirty who were asked to guess the famous historical game in which the positions arose. Afterwards, I sat down with him for a brief chat.

"You know I am a chess entertainer. I want to entertain people. If they want to learn something I'm happy."

Hort hosted a TV program in Germany called Schach der Großmeister ("Grandmaster Chess") for many years together with Helmut Pfleger.

Hort still plays occasionally for clubs in Germany and Switzerland, and is a tournament guest and commentator. He is currently working on an autobiographical memoir.

"I have my history in a way. I still collect chess books. I'm in my rooms and I can, each day, practice. I'm living in chess. But I am living somewhere in the very past. I have no hurry."

Chess is beautiful and it gives you always some idea that maybe you are not so old.

Always philosophical, Hort briefly lamented the passing of old chess friends.

"Chess is beautiful and it gives you always some idea that maybe you are not so old. You know because my generation is dying — it's terrible. Matulović, Velimirović died. There is — from all these very proud Yugoslavs — there is only Matanović left, and Ivkov. Time is running. You cannot discuss with time. Look on Spassky and Korchnoi. Of course I wish them the best health possible, but this is only a wish."

At seventy, Hort himself still appears to be in good health.

"Well, my diabetes — my wife is taking care — but still what I like is Lilienthal — he was 99 and he looked tremendously well. Averbakh is still okay. I saw him and he is still walking normally."

Vlastimil Hort, still going strong at seventy | photo: Macauley Peterson

Chess Quiz

As part of his presentation in Prague, Hort showed this position:

Can you guess which famous game this position comes from?

Think you recognize it? We'll post the answer on our Facebook page later this week.

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