Article provided by: Iván Bottlik
The first registered result of Hungarian correspondence chess was already a remarkable success: Pest beat Paris 2:0 in a match played between 1842 and 1845 (the Budapest of today was founded in 1873 when the cities of Pest, Buda and Óbuda were unified). The Hungarian consultants were mostly Szén, Löwenthal (who later moved to England) and Grimm.
In the 1880s and 1890s the French chess periodical “La Stratégie” and the prominent chess column of the famous weekly “Le Monde Illustré” organised the first international tournaments for individuals in the history of CC. Dr. György Mayer achieved excellent results (he even won first place once) in the tournaments organised by “La Stratégie”; and in those organised by “Le Monde Illustré”, Dr. Imre Engel played excellently.
The “Budapesti Sakk-Szemle” (Budapest Chess Review), the chess periodical of those days, organised the first Hungarian individual CC tournament between 1893 and 1897. On this occasion two young men – who at the start of the tournament were only promising OTB players – achieved joint first place and rose to become world class champions: Géza Maróczy and Rezsö Charousek. Third place was for Gyözö Exner, fourth for Dr. Adolf Vértes, fifth for Dr. Árpád Csipkés, sixth for Dr. György Mayer (out of 19 players, all of which were Hungarian).
In the second decade of the 20th century, the Hungarian daily papers and chess periodicals organised a series of CC tournaments. The most remarkable one was organised by the “Alkotmány” (Constitution) between 1912 and 1914. Besides well-known players of many nationalities of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, some foreign players also took part in this event. In first place was Dr. Miklós Bródy, followed by Kosta Rozic, János Balogh, Ferenc Chalupetzky, Jenö Jánoss and Dezsö Elekes (out of 20 players). Forty years later, well after getting their doctorates, Dr. Balogh and Dr. Elekes were members of the gold medallist team in the first CC Olympiad…
When the First World War began the tournament was interrupted and two years later it was declared finished. The final results of some adjudicated games were never published, but the final result was left unchanged.
When Hungary lost two-thirds of her thousand-year old territory in the Treaty of Paris (1920), so many excellent chess players and organisers became new citizens of neighbouring countries. For example, Dr. Mayer, Dr. Bródy, Dr. Balogh (who repatriated from Transylvania to Budapest in 1934) and Dr. Vécsey (who repatriated from Czechoslovakia to Budapest in 1934).
In the CC Olympiad of European countries (1935 to 1937) the Hungarian team (Dr. Balogh, Dr. Nagy, Chalupetzky, Szigeti, Dr. Gecsey and Szücs) won the Preliminaries – and later the final (1937 to 1939) with Dr. Balogh, Dr. Nagy, Szigeti, Barcza, Boros and Szücs. This tournament corresponded to the CC Olympiads organised after the Second World War, but did not include teams from other continents, due to the undeveloped air mail service of those days.
Hungarian players also participated in the IFSB Bundesmeisterschaft (Federation Championship) which was the predecessor to the individual World Championships. The Hungarian players were Dr. Balogh (as Romanian citizen) in 1930-31 (2nd/3rd place), 1932-33 (4th place), and again as a Hungarian in 1936-37 (7th/8th place); Szigeti in 1937-38 (1st place), 1936-37 and 1938-39 (3rd/4th place); and finally Dr. Nagy in 1936-37 (7th/8th place) and in 1937-38 (4th/6th place).
Fernschach (edited by Hans-Werner von Massow and others) was printed in Hungary from 1936 to 1939. Its publisher was László Tóth, the well-known chess editor from the town of Kecskemét. The first CC tournament book was also published by him, dealing with the IFSB Bundesmeisterschaft 1932-33 (it was edited by Chalupetzky in 1935).
The first Hungarian National CC championship was organised in 1941-42 with participation of excellent players: 1°. Barcza, 2°. Dr. Balogh, 3°. Brilla (known as Brilla-Bánfalvi since 1951). Thirty-six Hungarian championships have been held until today. The only players to have won three championships are Ferenc Fábri, István Gosztola and Imre Müllner.
The Hungarian team won the first CC Olympiad (from 1949 to 1952) with a team made up by Dr. Balogh, Barcza, Szigeti, Szücs, Dr. Gonda and Dr. Elekes. Later on, the Magyars won two silver medals: at the 3rd Olympiad (1958-61), teaming Dr. Balogh, Dr. Szily, Honfi, Haág, Dalkó, and Brilla-Bánfalvi) and at the 8th Olympiad (1977-82), teaming Haág, Ozsváth, Flórián, Tompa, Meleghegyi and Brilla-Bánfalvi). The Ladies chess team achieved their best result at the 3rd Olympiad (1986-92) in which it won the bronze medal: Honfi, Bognár-Cynolter, Horváth-Szalai and Dr. Hargitay made up the team.
Several Hungarian players competed in World Championship Finals. Among the men, Dr. Balogh (three times), Dalkó, and Szántó; and in the ladies, Cynolter (later Bognár-Cynolter), Hargitay, Honfi, Késö and Németh-Csom.
István Abonyi became President of IFSB from 1935 until 1939. Dr. József Vándorffy was ICCF Vice-president (1976-92) and Chairman of the Rules Commission (1965-92). Iván Bottlik was an ICCF Vice-President from 1993-96.
Up till the end of 2011, five Hungarians have become CC Grandmasters: Sándor Brilla-Bánfalvi, Csaba Meleghegyi, László Bárczay (who is an OTB Grandmaster as well); after 2001: Gábor Glatt and Tamás Sasvári.
Hungary has never had a real CC Federation. The Hungarian Chess Federation has had a CC Committee since 1960. Its leaders were Dr. Balogh, Dr. Négyesy, Dr. Vándorffy and Bottlik.
The periodicals read by CC players are “Levelezési Sakkhíradó” (edited by Antal Ruttkay from 1967 to 1982 and by Dezsö Solt 1982-2001) and “Távsakk” (compiled by Péter Tóth since 1998-2002).
At present, the Hungarian chess periodical (known as “Magyar Sakkélet” from 1951 until 1984, and since 1985 just as “Sakkélet”) contains a CC column, which was originally edited by Dr. Négyesy (from 1951 until 1985) and is currently edited by Bottlik (1985-2002).
A reputable CC life cannot exist without high standard tournament organisation and excellent directorship. Let us mention some people who have done much valuable work: Chalupetzky, Dr. Vécsey, Dr. Négyesy, Dr. Vándorffy, Jenik, Söreghy, Dr. Németh, Dr. Frivaldszky, Klinkó, Bóna and Bottlik. Both Dr. Négyesy and Dr. Vándorffy became Honorary Members of ICCF.
The history of Hungarian CC was reviewed in Volumes 1 to 4 of the “Magyar Sakktörténet” (Hungarian Chess History). The period from 1842 to 1944 by Gedeon Barcza, Árpád Földeák and Iván Bottlik (the series is being continued), and the period between 1842 and 1984 can be found in the Appendix of Grodzensky-Romanov’s book “Correspondence Chess”, Hungarian translation (text by Bottlik).
There is not enough room here to mention the many famous events and significant personalities of the past and we are sorry that due to this, we cannot show a long series of games. But here are two of those: the first is an interesting battle between the two winners (1.-2.) of the first Hungarian individual CC tournament (1893 to 1897) – Charousek and Maróczy.
How different was the destiny of these two geniuses from Hungary! Both became world-known OTB players in 1896, but Charousek gave up playing tournament chess in 1898 and died two years later; Maróczy however was still actively and successfully playing in 1936 (!), when he was first board of the Hungarian gold medallist team at the Munich OTB chess Olympiad. He died in 1951. The second game is a brilliant win by Dr. Balogh, who played CC for more than 70 years and during 40 of them, he was among the world’s best players.
In the decade that elapsed since the report about the international activities of Hungarian competitors published in the edition of the ICCF Gold, their participation has continued albeit in somewhat reduced form, compared to past activities.
In the field of higher level competition:
Our team finished 8th in the finals of the XIVth Olympiad for men (Csaba Szucs, Péter Hardicsay, Attila Kiss, István Schrancz, Tamás Sasvári , Ervin Jánosi), and took part in the semi-finals of the XVth, XVIth, XVIIth, and XVIIIth Olympiads.
In terms of individual results, Gábor Glatt finished 8th in the final of the XVIIth World Championship for men, László Jakobetz 14th in the XXIst, Tamás Sasvári 12th in the XXIInd World Championship finals.
Tamás Sasvári finished 2nd in the EU/FSM/63 European Championship and Mária Németh 4th in the VIth Women’s World Championship.
Attila Kiss finished 2nd in the AEAC Alcazar Memorial Tournament.
Our representatives are participating in other venues as well, such as World Championship preliminaries, tournaments for M, Ist and IInd class, thematic tourneys (the latter producing some Hungarian winners).
Our organizers have been awarded the Bertl von Massow medal (received by Attila Kiss) and Honorary Membership (Iván Bottlik).
Several competitors have attained GM, SIM, IM, WGM and WIM titles (see the chapter on ICCF titleholders).
We have organized national championships and occasionally played matches against other nations.
Attila Kiss - E-Mail Contact, Bertl von Massow Silver Medal, SIM
István Abonyi became President of IFSB from 1935 until 1939
Dr. József Vándorffy was ICCF Vice-president (1976-92) and Chairman of the Rules Commission (1965-92)
Dr. György Négyesy, Honorary Member
Iván Bottlik - ICCF Vice-President from 1993-96, ICCF-Delegate, Honorary Member, Bertl von Massow Silver and Gold Medal, IM
Dr. J. Balogh