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Petar Trifunović

Petar Trifunović in 1962
Country Yugoslavia
Born 31 August 1910
Title Grandmaster

Dr. Petar Trifunović (31 August 1910, Dubrovnik - 8 December 1980, Belgrade) was an International Grandmaster and five-times Yugoslav Champion of chess.

Chess career

Yugoslavia was for many years the world's second strongest chess nation and so it is a measure of his strength that, at the first and second Yugoslav Championships, held 1935 in Belgrade and 1936 in Novi Sad, he finished third behind Vasja Pirc and Boris Kostić, then second behind Pirc, respectively, and later he was able to win the Yugoslav championship five times in 1945, 1946, 1947 (shared with Svetozar Gligorić), 1952, and 1961. The young Trifunovic was also an excellent scholar, obtaining a Law degree in 1933, followed by a Doctorate.

According to Cozens, in his book The Lost Olympiad, he had a reputation as a fierce attacking player in the 1930s and was known as 'Typhoonovic'. Later in his career, he concentrated more on positional play and defensive technique, his style becoming less adventurous but very difficult to refute. Unfortunately, he drew too many games as a result and this may have prevented him from scaling even greater heights in the chess world. For example, his drawn match with Miguel Najdorf at Opatija 1949 included ten drawn games (+1 −1 =10) and at Leipzig in 1965 he drew all 15 of his games.

Of his international tournament successes, perhaps among the most memorable were: Zlín 1945 (first), Prague 1946 (tied for second after Najdorf), Lima 1950 (first), Cheltenham 1951 (tied for second after Gligorić), Belgrade 1954 (third after Bronstein and Matanović, but ahead of Gligorić and Petrosian). At Netanya 1961 he tied for first through third place with Matulović and Czerniak. At Prague 1961 and Beverwijk 1962 he came outright first and at Sarajevo, also in 1962, third after Gligorić and Portisch. On a somewhat amusing note, Trifunović tied for first with ten players at the 1962 Oklahoma City Open after drawing Ken Smith and drawing, Bob Potter, a little-known expert from Dallas. At Noordwijk in 1965 he finished second to Botvinnik (ahead of Flohr, Larsen and Donner).

His International Master title was awarded in 1950 and the grandmaster title in 1953. He played for his country in seven Olympiads between 1935 and 1962, the most memorable being the event held in his birthplace Dubrovnik, in 1950. An outstanding score of 10/13 won him the board 3 gold medal.


He popularised and subsequently had his name associated with a variation of Alekhine's Defence. The Trifunovic Variation is identified by the move 5...Bf5 as a counter to White's Four Pawns Attack (1.e4 Nf6 2.e5 Nd5 3.d4 d6 4.c4 Nb6 5.f4).