Andor Lilienthal, chess grandmaster, dies at 99

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May 8, 2010, 10:26 p.m. |
BUDAPEST — Andor Lilienthal, the last surviving member of 27 original grandmaster chess players, died Saturday in Budapest at the aged of 99, the Hungarian Chess Federation said. Lilienthal died at his home after a long illness, the federation's communications director Zsuzsa Veroci told The Associated Press.

"He was a phenomenon," said Veroci, also a FIDE woman grandmaster. "It may sound like an exaggeration, but he had no enemies, just friends. He loved chess and was always helping other players."

Lilienthal was born in Moscow to Hungarian Jewish parents on May 5, 1911, but moved to Budapest with his mother. He eventually competed for Hungary in three Chess Olympiads in the 1930s and later continued his career in the Soviet Union.

He trained world champion Tigran Petrosian from 1951 to 1963, and was the second to Vasily Smyslov during his successful world championship matches against Mikhail Botvinnik.

During his career, Lilienthal won matches against six world champions — Alexander Alekhine, Jose Raul Capablanca, Botvinnik, Max Euwe, Emanuel Lasker and Smyslov.

In 1950, FIDE, the international chess federation, included Lilienthal on its inaugural list of grandmasters, a title awarded to the world's strongest players. The list also included, among others, Soviet Alexander Kotov, American Reuben Fine and Miguel Najdorf, a Polish-born Argentine.

Lilienthal retired from tournament play in 1965 and returned to Budapest in 1976, staying active in the chess world until recently, Veroci said.

Lilienthal is survived by his wife, Olga. Funeral details were not immediately available.
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