GM Dr. Robert Hübner
Federal Republic of Germany
Dr Robert Hübner was born in Cologne on 6 November 1948. He learnt chess from his father at the age of 5, and joined a chess club for the first time four years later. He achieved his first successes in 1963, becoming German youth champion by an incredible margin of 4 points. In the World Junior Championships in 1965 and 1967 he finished fifth equal and fourth.
In 1969 he was made an International Master, and finished second equal in the zonal tournament in Athens, qualifying for the interzonal tournament in Palma, Majorca. Here, sensationally, he finished second equal to the clear winner and future world champion Bobby Fischer, thus qualifying for the candidates’ competition and becoming the youngest German grandmaster. In the quarter-final of the candidates’ tournament, however, Hübner lost to the former world champion Tigran Petrosjan. Because of the noise in the tournament hall, which disadvantaged him much more than his hearing-impaired opponent, Hübner abandoned the match after the 7th game.
His next attempt at the world championship cycle failed: in the interzonal tournament in Leningrad in 1973 he took fifth place, which was not enough to qualify. Three years later in the interzonal tournament in Biel, Hübner was in the lead for much of the tournament, but lost to Petrosjan again in the second-to-last round, finishing in 5th place.
In 1979, however, he succeeded in qualifying: Hübner won the interzonal tournament in Rio de Janeiro with Portisch and Petrosjan, then went on to the candidates’ tournament, where he first beat Hungarian player Adorjan, and then, in the semi-final, Lajos Portisch (also from Hungary). The win catapulted him to third place in the world rankings, behind world champion Karpov and his opponent in the candidates’ final, Viktor Korchnoi.
The final initially went well for Hübner, who was in the lead after 6 games with 2:1. But an unnecessary defeat in the 7th game brought the turning point: Hübner promptly lost game no. 8 as well, then surrendered the match.
In 1983 Hübner reached the candidates’ tournament for the third time. There he encountered the Russian former world champion Smyslov in the quarter-final, but tied 7:7, then lost when the outcome was decided by chance. 7 years later, at the interzonal tournament in Manila in 1990, 7th place was again sufficient to qualify for the candidates’ tournament. In the eighth-final, however, Hübner was defeated by Jan Timman, 2.5:4.5.
Hübner represented Germany at a total of 11 Chess Olympiads and won the silver medal with the German team in Istanbul in 2000. In the Olympiads in Skopje in 1972 and in Novi Sad in 1990 he won the gold medal on the first board, with 15 points from 18 games and 7 points from 10 games.