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Herman Pilnik
Hoogovenschaaktoernooi, 1963.
Dutch National Archives
Number of games in database: 754
Years covered: 1935 to 1975

Overall record: +273 -171 =310 (56.8%)*
   * Overall winning percentage = (wins+draws/2) / total games in the database.

With the White pieces:
 Sicilian (118) 
    B59 B93 B32 B58 B45
 Ruy Lopez (106) 
    C78 C90 C75 C77 C84
 French Defense (41) 
    C15 C12 C18 C07 C05
 Ruy Lopez, Closed (39) 
    C90 C84 C91 C98 C86
 Caro-Kann (28) 
    B18 B17 B15 B16 B13
 Sicilian Najdorf (25) 
    B93 B91 B92 B94 B98
With the Black pieces:
 Sicilian (61) 
    B84 B92 B98 B91 B33
 King's Indian (58) 
    E95 E60 E80 E63 E94
 Grunfeld (32) 
    D78 D70 D85 D72 D73
 Queen's Gambit Accepted (28) 
    D27 D29 D28 D23 D26
 Orthodox Defense (26) 
    D55 D50 D51 D56 D54
 Sicilian Najdorf (25) 
    B92 B91 B98 B95 B93
Repertoire Explorer

NOTABLE GAMES: [what is this?]
   Pilnik vs Najdorf, 1942 1-0
   Pilnik vs Kashdan, 1948 1-0
   Pilnik vs Pirc, 1950 1/2-1/2
   Pilnik vs Bronstein, 1956 1/2-1/2
   Pilnik vs H Kramer, 1950 1-0
   Pilnik vs Pachman, 1952 1-0
   Euwe vs Pilnik, 1950 0-1
   G Holtey vs Pilnik, 1935 0-1
   Barcza vs Pilnik, 1952 1/2-1/2
   Pilnik vs Geller, 1956 1/2-1/2

NOTABLE TOURNAMENTS: [what is this?]
   Mar del Plata (1944)
   Belgrade (1952)
   Mar del Plata (1942)
   Madrid (1951)
   Santiago (1959)
   Mar del Plata (1947)
   Mar del Plata / Buenos Aires Zonal (1954)
   Hoogovens (1963)
   Mar del Plata (1958)
   Mar del Plata (1953)
   Belgrade (1954)
   Amsterdam (1950)
   Mar del Plata (1955)
   Buenos Aires (1964)
   Mar del Plata (1946)

GAME COLLECTIONS: [what is this?]
   Mar del Plata 1947 by ozmikey
   Santiago 1959 by suenteus po 147
   1945 Hollywood by crawfb5
   1951 Beverwijk Hoogovens by jww
   New York 1948/49 by suenteus po 147
   1956 Beverwijk Hoogovens by jww
   Pan-American Chess Congress, Hollywood,1945 by Phony Benoni

Search Sacrifice Explorer for Herman Pilnik
Search Google for Herman Pilnik

(born Jan-08-1914, died Nov-12-1981, 67 years old) Germany (federation/nationality Argentina)

[what is this?]

Herman Pilnik was born in Stuttgart, Germany. Awarded the IM title in 1950 and the GM title in 1952, he was a Candidate in 1956. Pilnik played on five Olympiad teams for Argentina during the 1950s and won the Argentinian Championship in 1942, 1945 and 1958. He travelled frequently and finally settled in Venezuela, where he taught chess at the Caracas Military Academy. Pilnik passed away in Caracas in 1981.

Wikipedia article: Herman Pilnik

Last updated: 2017-11-16 11:23:02

 page 1 of 31; games 1-25 of 766  PGN Download
Game  ResultMoves YearEvent/LocaleOpening
1. G Holtey vs Pilnik 0-1241935Buenos AiresA52 Budapest Gambit
2. R Grau vs Pilnik 1-0461938ArgentinaA47 Queen's Indian
3. C Guimard vs Pilnik  1-0341941Buenos Aires CirculoD29 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
4. Pilnik vs M Czerniak 1-0271941Buenos Aires CirculoC15 French, Winawer
5. P Frydman vs Pilnik  ½-½251941Buenos Aires CirculoD27 Queen's Gambit Accepted, Classical
6. Pilnik vs P Michel  ½-½431941Buenos Aires CirculoC47 Four Knights
7. Pilnik vs G Puiggros  1-0331941Buenos Aires CirculoB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
8. Pilnik vs Najdorf 0-1351941Buenos Aires CirculoC41 Philidor Defense
9. G Puiggros vs Pilnik  0-1461941Buenos Aires CirculoB84 Sicilian, Scheveningen
10. Stahlberg vs Pilnik ½-½851941Buenos Aires CirculoD26 Queen's Gambit Accepted
11. M Czerniak vs Pilnik  ½-½501941Buenos Aires CirculoC47 Four Knights
12. Palau / Najdorf vs Pilnik 1-0261941Consultation gameD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
13. Pilnik vs C Guimard  ½-½591941Buenos Aires CirculoC14 French, Classical
14. Pilnik vs Stahlberg  0-1411941Buenos Aires CirculoC14 French, Classical
15. Pilnik vs P Frydman  0-1531941Buenos Aires CirculoC12 French, McCutcheon
16. Najdorf vs Pilnik 1-0341941Buenos Aires CirculoD37 Queen's Gambit Declined
17. P Michel vs Pilnik  1-0671941Buenos Aires CirculoC99 Ruy Lopez, Closed, Chigorin,
18. Pilnik vs J Bolbochan  0-1411942Mar del PlataB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
19. Pilnik vs Graf-Stevenson 1-0271942Mar del PlataC47 Four Knights
20. C Espina vs Pilnik  0-1331942Mar del PlataD23 Queen's Gambit Accepted
21. Pilnik vs Stahlberg 1-0491942Mar del PlataC13 French
22. Pilnik vs M Czerniak 1-0671942Mar del PlataB18 Caro-Kann, Classical
23. C Guimard vs Pilnik  1-0421942Mar del PlataD69 Queen's Gambit Declined, Orthodox Defense, Classical,
24. Pilnik vs C J Corte  1-0271942Mar del PlataB45 Sicilian, Taimanov
25. Pilnik vs H Rossetto  1-0251942Mar del PlataC17 French, Winawer, Advance
 page 1 of 31; games 1-25 of 766  PGN Download
  REFINE SEARCH:   White wins (1-0) | Black wins (0-1) | Draws (1/2-1/2) | Pilnik wins | Pilnik loses  

Kibitzer's Corner
< Earlier Kibitzing  · PAGE 2 OF 2 ·  Later Kibitzing>
Jan-08-09  brankat: A very strong player, no doubt, but, apparently, he was not nearly as committed to the game as most of his contemporaries.
Jan-08-09  brankat: I assume Herr/Senor Pilnik was a member of the 1939 German Olympic team in Argentina, and, at the outbreak of the War stayed there together with a number of other European masters.
Jan-08-09  Karpova: No, the 1939 German Olympic team consisted of Eliskases, Michel, Engels, Becker and Reinhardt. According to the wikipedia biography, Herman and his parents emigrated to Argentina already in 1930.
Jan-08-09  brankat: Thanks <Karpova>. I knew about Eliskases and Engels, but not about H.Pilnik.

Regarding A Becker, since he was originally from Austria, I suppose he played for the German team after the Anschlus.

Jan-09-09  Karpova: <brankat>
At the unofficial Chess Olympiad in Munich, 1936 both Eliskases and Becker played for Austria (there was neither a German nor an Austrian team at Stockholm 1937) and also in prior Olympiads.

Pilnik was the best reserve player at his first Olympiad in Dubrovnik, 1950 with +6 -1 =3. In Helsinki 1952 he played on board 4 and scored well again (+6 -1 =7). Amsterdam 1954 was not that good, he was the 2nd reserve player and scored +3 -2 =2 (though the losses were against Bohartichuk and Keres!). Fourth board for him again in Moscow, 1956 and +7 -3 =3 (loss against Bronstein). In Munich, 1958 he was on board 1 with +5 -2 =8 (win over Uhlmann, draws against Reshevsky, Smyslov, Unzicker and Gligoric).

Jan-09-09  brankat: <Karpova> Thank You. You are a wealth of information!
May-01-09  Augalv: Pilnik trivia:

It is said that after his first Olympiad in Dubrovnik (1950), the president of Argentina back then, Juan Perón, invited the Olympic team, which had finished as runner up, to a welcome reception. He accepted the invitation and went along with the other members of the team. Once there, and as a token of gratitude for the Olympic team's achievments at the Olympiad in Dubrovnik, the Argentine president, who was accompanied by his wife Eva Duarte, offered a gift to each member of the team. It was a gift they could choose, so each of them was asked what they wanted. One of them said he wanted a life insurance for the president himself, another one said he wanted a house. When it was Pilnik's turn, he walked up to the first lady Eva Duarte and said to her he wanted "a kiss from you".

Premium Chessgames Member
  GrahamClayton: Pilnik competed in the 1945 Pan-American Congress in Hollywood with his head swathed in bandages. The circumstances of how he was injured can be read here:

Jan-08-11  ozmikey: <GrahamClayton> Looks to be a dead link unfortunately, so I'll fill in the story... ;-)

Pilnik was on his way to the tournament by car at night (he was a replacement, if I remember rightly) and he crashed into a truck without its lights on. He woke up in hospital and was, not surprisingly, a few days late.

He played a beautiful game against Weaver Warren Adams at that tournament, which doesn't appear to be in the database.

Feb-01-11  wordfunph: 1973 Gambone-Leight Invitational:

A near tragedy preceded the start of the tournament. GM Herman Pilnik of Argentina was met at Philadelphia International Airport by one of the local chess organizers and his wife. While driving to the playing site, their car was struck and overturned with part of it hanging over the edge of a steep embankment. Pilnik emerged from this brush with death with many bruises and cuts but without serious injury. The other occupants both were hospitalized with broken bones. It is a tribute to Pilnik's fighting spirit that he started his first round as scheduled, and won, against no less a player than Soltis!

(Source: Chess Life & Review 1973)

Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: <Resignation Trap: .......Other surprises at the Goteborg Interzonal included a great start by Andrija Fuderer . After twelve rounds of play he had scored 7.5/11 (with one bye), but then followed a complete collapse, and Fuderer could only score three more draws in his remaining nine games, lost all the rest, and never made it to this level of play again.>

A response to this last assertion from another thread:

<May-13-08 brankat: <whiteshark> I used to know some people who, in turn, had known Fuderer. GM Ivkov, among others. They were good friends. Apparently, Fuderer's failure in 1955 was not the reason for his quitting a "professional" chess career. Even before, he had already planned to devote himself to scientific pursuits.

In 1955 he turned 24, and it coincided with his university graduation, upon which he proceeded with the post-graduate studies.

I remember Ivkov saying that Fuderer had, and I quote: "..his own philosophical reasons..". Ivkov didn't elaborate on this.

My feeling has been that, when it became apparent how much work, study, time, energy, it would require to reach and maintain the highest level of mastery in (just) a Game, Fuderer decided to devote the same to what he perceived as a more "worthy" pursuit.

There has been a number of very promising masters that did, more or less, the same.>

Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Interesting quote from Pilnik:

"Fischer is a genius, a monster."

Oct-20-12  tim butler: Are there any articles about chess during WW2? I know some storys about the German team got stuck in Argentina just when the war started and some members stayed.
Premium Chessgames Member
  paulalbert: To <tim butler>: The best overview is Reuben Fine's book "Chess Marches On!" published in 1945 which covers chess during the war in the U.S., Russia, South America, and German occupied Europe, and a few games from London 1941 tournament. In addition to 50 annotated games by top players, the text summarizes in each area the impact of the war on chess. Although chess activity was obviously curtailed, each locality to some extent had high level tournaments, but without the normal mix of international competitors. I have the original 1945 edition, but Amazon has available a version recently published by Sam Sloan's Ishi Press.
Oct-20-12  parisattack: One of the originators of the 5. ...e5 Sicilian. Older opening books refer to it as the Pilnik-Pelikan and/or the Lasker-Hunt variation. Sveshnikov gave it new life in the 1970s with ...b5 temporarily trapping white's KN on a3 - although Larsen played ...b5 against Olafsson in 1958 then reverted to ...Rc8 against Robatsch a few years later.
Premium Chessgames Member
  HeMateMe: Seems like Argentina was a good place to spend the war. Grass fed beef, fresh air, and no Nazis.

I couldn't help but notice ChessBase really hyping the present Mar del Plata tournament in Argentina. It doesn't seem to have elite players, but they are treating it as a super tournament.

I'm reminded of Fischer playing in Mar del Platta. I think Spassky, Najdorf and David Bronstein were there, at the tournament in the 60s. Now THAT's a tournament.

Apr-22-13  Abdel Irada: <HeMateMe: Seems like Argentina was a good place to spend the war. Grass fed beef, fresh air, and no Nazis.>

I'm sure the victims of Dr. Josef Mengele ( and other war criminals in the German exodus to South America during and after the war will be tickled to hear it.

Premium Chessgames Member
  Penguincw: R.I.P. <POTD>: Herman Pilnik.
Jun-26-16  Yopo: Leonid Stein cannot stop his "b"-pawn
Pilnik vs Stein, 1966
Jan-07-19  Dijon15: So, why doesn't the bio mention Pilnik's rating?
Jul-20-22  offramp:

Jan 1981 280= 2435\
Jan 1980 270= 2435\
Jan 1979 264= 2435
Jan 1978 252= 2435\
Jan 1977 244= 2435\
Jan 1976 213= 2435\
Jan 1975 228= 2435\
May 1974 217= 2435
Jul 1973 204= 2435
Jul 1972 148= 2450
Jul 1971 213= 2420
Jan 1971 247=2400
1970 274= 2380\
1969 242= 2380\
Apr 1968 56= 2510\
Jun 1967 91= 2450

Jul-20-22  offramp: In the picture the guy is playing Fernschach.
Premium Chessgames Member
  perfidious: According to the caption, Pilnik was playing the event at Beverwijk (Hoogovens).
Jul-21-22  diagonal: Pilnik’s prime time is before FIDE Elo has been introduced, mainly in the 1940s and 1950s, compare the posting by Karpova featuring his five consecutive entries in the first five Chess Olympiads after World War II (1950, 1952, 1954, 1956, and 1958, achieving four team medals with Argentina, and one individual board gold medal).

Best World Rank: no. 12 in 1945 (according to Chessmetrics by Sonas). Best Elo Rating: 2670. Pilnik was an active and regular Top Twenty to Top Fifty player during the 1940s and 1950s, then a Top Forty to Top Hundred+ player during the 1960s (last historical Top Fifty rank in 1964).

Pilnik’s game victories over elite players such as Euwe, Smyslov, Petrosian (World Champions), Bronstein, Stein, Szabo, Portisch, Vidmar, Kostic, Ivkov, Matanovic, Pirc, Pachman, Stahlberg, F. Olafsson, Uhlmann, Unzicker, Donner, Kashdan, Browne, plus Najdorf (+3=11-12, according to Chessgames statistics), Panno, Eliskases, Guimard, among others, demonstrate his skill and talent.

Missing out Keres (four losses, two draws), Fischer (two losses), Spassky (two losses, one draw), Reshevsky (one loss, three draws), Botvinnik (one loss), Larsen (one loss), Tal & Korchnoi (both never played). Pilnik did not well with globetrotter O’Kelly (in nine games no win, negative score, stats may be incomplete).

Pilnik was known for moving and travelling extensively. Somehow forgotten today, Pilnik is one of the greatest Argentinian chess players ever in history.

Always remembering the Argentinian Chess Grandmasters from the Golden Era: Najdorf inaugural GM 1950, Eliskases & Pilnik 1952, Panno (first Grandmaster born in Argentina) 1955, Guimard & Rossetto 1960, plus Julio Bolbochan (GM honour).

Jul-21-22  diagonal: Pilnik first drew attention when he came in third (behind Alekhine and Najdorf) in a speed tournament in Buenos Aires in 1939.

Best international results:

equal second at Mar del Plata 1942 (with Stahlberg, Najdorf won), winning <Mar del Plata 1944> (the only player to be unbeaten, together with Najdorf, ahead of 3./4. Michel, Guimard, 5. Stahlberg, 16 players), equal second at Mar del Plata 1945 (again with Stahlberg, Najdorf won), equal third at New York 1948-49 (Fine won, Najdorf runner-up, Euwe and Pilnik shared third, incl. Horowitz, Kashdan, Bisguier, Denker, H. Steiner),

sole second at Bled 1950 (Najdorf winning, O’Kelly third, Fuderer fourth, incl. youngsters Ivkov, Matanovic, and veterans Vidmar, Kostic, Pirc, Stoltz, Tartakower), winning <Lucerne 1950/51> (together with Euwe as best on tie-break), winning <Beverwijk Hoogovens 1951> (ahead of 2. O’Kelly, 3./4. Kieninger, Kramer, incl. Rossolimo and Donner), winning <Vienna 1951/52> (above 2.-4. Lokvenc, Matanovic, Milic, 5. Rellstab, incl. Canal),

winning <Belgrade International 1952> (20 players, incl. Bogoljubov in his last tournament), arguably Pilnik’s biggest career success, see below for more,

winning <Stuttgart 1954>, sole third at Buenos Aires CA 1955 (Ivkov won, above Najdorf, 18 players, incl. Szabo, Pachman, Panno, Bisguier, Donner), <winning Brussels (Colle Memorial Quadrangular) 1956>, sole second at Beverwijk Hoogovens 1956 (Stahlberg won outright, 2. Pilnik, 3./4. Toran Albero, Scafarelli, 5.= Matanovic), sole third at Santiago de Chile 1959 (above Fischer, winners were Ivkov and Pachman, 13 players), amongst others.

Most prominent win:

The first international chess tournament in Belgrade was held in 1952 and won by Herman Pilnik in a strong field of twenty players including Matanovic, Udovcic, Pirc, Puc, O’Kelly de Galway, Conel Hugh O'Donel Alexander, Stoltz, Golombek, Ernst Grünfeld, legendary Efim Bogoljubov, with Fuderer and Milic as joint runners-up. Then, Grünfeld and Bogoljubov were GM.

<IM Pilnik, got the GM title for this win>. Four further players, then all IMs, namely Pirc (1953), Stoltz (1954), Matanovic (1955), and O’Kelly (1956), got the GM title during the mid-1950s, plus Janosevic (IM 64, GM 65) later. Full standings:

Pilnik became a <Candidate> in the Interzonal at Gothenburg 1955, sharing seventh place with IM Filip and IM Spassky, thus both automatically awarded the GM title, as IM Panno who finished clear third in the IZT, while Najdorf missed a qualification spot for the Candidate's; Reshevsky did not enter the IZT in 1955, playing at the 56th US Open (1955) instead.

In the Candidate's 1956 that followed, Pilnik did rather badly, a tenth and last place (ten players, but none of West Europe or the USA, six from the Soviet Union, two from Argentina (Panno & Pilnik), and one each from Hungary and Czechoslovakia). Smyslov won again the Candidate's in 1956 in Amsterdam as already in 1953 in Zurich, thus challenged Botvinnik after 1954 a second time in 1957, and this time dethroned the Patriarch, well, for a year (re-match clause).

Important friendly matches: <In 1955 and in 1957, Herman Pilnik and Fridrik Olafsson played twice a match, Olafsson won both>. In Spring 1957 (Pilnik then aged 43) with Olafsson (22, still an IM, he gained the GM title automatically when qualifying at the Interzonal in 1958 for the next Candidate’s), Pilnik lost narrowly, Olafsson won by +4=1-3. A good game from that match: Pilnik vs F Olafsson, 1957

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