Hall of Famer GM Lubomir Kavalek Dies at 77

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Lubomir Kavalek 1943-2021
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GM Lubomir Kavalek at the 1981 US Championship. (credit Stella Monday; Chess Life, December 1981)

US Chess is saddened to hear that Czech-American GM Lubomir Kavalek, a US Chess Hall of Fame inductee with incredible contributions to the world of chess as player, coach, author and friend; suddenly passed away Monday. He was 77. 

“US Chess mourns the death of our three-time U.S. Champion GM Lubomir Kavalek,” US Chess Executive Board President Mike Hoffpauir said. “As a 2001 inductee into the US Chess Hall of Fame, GM Kavalek not only embraced American chess, but America itself after escaping Communism.” 

Reactions to the news of GM Kavalek's passing have been felt around the world, including many memories of games and moments throughout his illustrious career.  

 

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Said longtime friend and fellow author GM Andy Soltis: “I was stunned to hear about his death. We exchanged emails last month, and he seemed to be the Lubos I had known for 50 years. He said he was writing a book, in Czech, but otherwise hunkering down during the pandemic like the rest of us.  

“I had been trying to get him to write for years. He had the best chess stories of just about anyone I knew – and he knew everyone who mattered. For example, he once brought Bobby Fischer to the municipal menagerie in Lubos’ town of Reston, and watched as Bobby tried to outrun one of the animals. Fischer lost. 

“I suspect few of today’s young players know much about Lubos. To them I’d suggest taking a look at the 1962 game of Gufeld-Kavalek. When I have a bad day, I open up that game and enjoy it one more time. I’ll be looking at it several times today.” 

 

 

[pgn][Event "Student Olympiad"] [Site "Marianske Lazne CSR"] [Date "1962.07.20"] [EventDate "?"] [Round "7"] [Result "0-1"] [White "Eduard Gufeld"] [Black "Lubomir Kavalek"] [ECO "C64"] [WhiteElo "?"] [BlackElo "?"] [PlyCount "64"] 1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bb5 Bc5 4. c3 f5 5. d4 fxe4 6. Ng5 Bb6 7. d5 e3 8. Ne4 Qh4 9. Qf3 Nf6 10. Nxf6+ gxf6 11. dxc6 exf2+ 12. Kd1 dxc6 13. Be2 Be6 14. Qh5+ Qxh5 15. Bxh5+ Ke7 16. b3 Bd5 17. Ba3+ Ke6 18. Bg4+ f5 19. Bh3 Rhg8 20. Nd2 Bxg2 21. Bxg2 Rxg2 22. Rf1 Rd8 23. Ke2 Rxd2+ 24. Kxd2 e4 25. Bf8 f4 26. b4 Rg5 27. Bc5 Rxc5 28. bxc5 Bxc5 29. Rab1 f3 30. Rb4 Kf5 31. Rd4 Bxd4 32. cxd4 Kf4 0-1 [/pgn]

US Chess members may read a fully appreciated obituary for GM Lubomir Kavalek written by GM Andy Soltis in the March issue of Chess Life. We invite everyone to share their favorite memories in the comment section of this page. 

 

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Lubomir Kavalek 1943-2021
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GM Lubomir Kavalek, 1943-2021 (credit Bill Hook)

 

 

Comments

He wrote my favorite chess column of all time in the Washington Post. That column was a big reason I became so interested in chess and, in my opinion, had the clearest and most concise annotations of all the columns at the time. Thank you, Mr. Kavalek and RIP.

In 8 US Championships , he won 2, tied for 1st in another one. Record was 31-5-75. He also was undefeated in 4 US Championships. Never lost back to back games (most for anyone with 100+ games). Only James Tarjan had a plus score vs. Kavalek in US Championship play 1-0-4. A 47 games unbeaten streak in the US Championship. 4th Best ever. Roman Dzindzichashvili now the oldest living former US Champion at 76.

I downloaded every single Washington Post chess column he ever wrote...it was absolutely mandatory. Jude Acers/ New Orleans

Lubosh stayed with my family when I was 12 or 13 for the summer when first came to the U.S. My father Dr William Bundick was a chess fanatic and for some time posted the Sunday chess problem in the Baltimore Sun. What I didn't know about Lubosh was how good he was at other sports , like soccer (which he turned me on to). But the biggest enjoyment I got was when he played my father and his friends (7 of them) at the same time with his back to the tables. Beat them all...
One of the funniest things I remember was it was almost impossible to wake Lubosh up in the morning. So much (after I got to know him a bit) so after banging and yelling to wake Lubosh up , I threw a firecracker in his room (to the dismay) of my mother. It was a great 3 months or so with Lubomir and I'm so sorry to hear of his passing. RIP friend...

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