Chess tournaments Chess strategy Computer chess Chess players FIDE Chess variants Chess rules and history

Florin Gheorghiu

Gheorghiu in 1961

Gheorghiu (far right) playing against Anatoly Karpov

Florin Gheorghiu (born 6 April 1944) is a Romanian chess player and university lecturer in foreign languages.

Born in Bucharest, his prodigious talent for the game was evidenced by his many early achievements; he became an International Master in 1963 and Romania's first Grandmaster just two years later. He was also awarded the title of World Junior Chess Champion (on tie-break) in 1963 at Vrnjacka Banja.

In his home country there were few who could rival his dominance of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s. He won the Romanian Championship nine times (the first at age 16) and represented his country in all of the Chess Olympiads between 1962 and 1990, playing first board on ten occasions (1966-1974, 1978-1982, 1988-1990).

Gheorghiu was a lecturer in French at Bucharest University and also speaks English, Russian, German, and Spanish.

Chess career

Gheorghiu has seldom been regarded a serious contender for the world chess championship title, although he regularly participated in the cycle and at other prestigious events. His placings at four Interzonal Tournaments (world championship qualifiers) confirm that he was not as strong as the world's elite players at the time, but could nevertheless perform consistently well at a high level. At Petropolis 1973 he finished 14th, at Manila 1976 10-13th, Riga 1979 5-6th and twelfth at Moscow 1982. At the Riga Interzonal, he only narrowly failed to qualify for the Candidates Matches. Overall, he participated in 9 zonal and 4 interzonal tournaments.

When playing at his peak on the regular international tournament circuit, he won on many occasions, including Hastings 1967-68 (with Hort and Stein), Reykjavik 1972 (with Hort and Ólafsson), Orense 1973, Torremolinos 1974 (with Torre), Lone Pine 1979 (with Gligorić, Liberzon, and Hort), Novi Sad 1979, Biel 1982 (with Nunn) and Lenk 1990. He was always a formidable opponent at the U.S. Open tournament and finished first in three successive years - 1979, 1980 (with Fedorowicz) and 1981 (with Christiansen and three others).

Gheorghiu is renowned for his success against the reputedly solid Nimzo-Indian Defence. The variation comprising an early f3 for White (which is allied to the Samisch Variation) became his trademark weapon, improving on the games and development work of Lajos Portisch and Gyozo Forintos before him. The system is now referred to as the Gheorghiu Variation in many chess opening manuals and has been employed by tactical experts such as Alexei Shirov.

Notable game

Here is how Gheorghiu, playing White, beat future world champion Bobby Fischer at the Havana Olympiad in 1966. This was the only competitive game Fischer ever lost to a player younger than himself.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4 4.f3 d5 5.a3 Bxc3+ 6.bxc3 0-0 7.cxd5 exd5 8.e3 Nh5 9.Qc2 Re8 10.g4 Nf4 11.h4 c5 12.Kf2 Ng6 13.Bd3 Nc6 14.Ne2 Be6 15.g5 Rc8 16.h5 Nf8 17.g6 fxg6 18.hxg6 h6 19.Qb1 Na5 20.Nf4 c4 21.Bc2 Rc6 22.Ra2 Nd7 23.a4 Nf6 24.Ba3 Qd7 25.Rb2 b6 26.Rb5 Nb7 27.e4 dxe4 28.Bxe4 Rcc8 29.Re5 Bg4 30.Nd5 Rxe5 31.Nxf6+ gxf6 32.dxe5 Nc5 33.Bxc5 Qd2+ 34.Kg3 Bxf3 35.Bxf3 Rxc5 36.Qc1 Qxc1 37.Rxc1 Rxe5 38.Kf4 Kg7 39.Be4 h5 40.Rd1 Re7 41.Rd5 Kh6 42.Rd6 Kg7 43.Rc6 h4 44.Rxc4 h3 45.Kg3 Kh6 46.Bb1 Re3+ 47.Kh2 Re1 48.Bd3 Re3 49.Rh4+ Kg5 50.g7 1-0