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Aleksandar Matanovic, Whose Publishing Firm Modified Chess, Dies at 93


Aleksandar Matanovic, a Serbian grandmaster who co-founded Chess Informant, a publishing firm that revolutionized how gamers discovered and studied the sport, died on Aug. 9 in Belgrade. He was 93 and the world’s oldest dwelling grandmaster.

His dying was introduced by the Worldwide Chess Federation, the sport’s governing physique.

Mr. Matanovic (pronounced ma-TAHN-o-vich) discovered methods to play chess when he was 6, utilizing items his sister had original out of clay. Largely self-taught, he fell in love with the sport and, by the point he was 18, was his nation’s junior champion. A couple of years later, he was a grandmaster.

Mr. Matanovic based Chess Informant in 1966 with Aleksandar Bozic, one other grandmaster, and Milivoje Molerovic, a global grasp (the rank beneath grandmaster).

The aim of the corporate was to publish books of latest video games by high gamers, typically with their very own annotations. Mr. Matanovic functioned as the corporate’s senior editor, serving to to pick which video games had been included. They picked video games that had been thrilling however that additionally had new or stunning opening sequences of strikes, thus advancing the collective understanding of chess.

The corporate has offered greater than 4.5 million chess books to this point, in response to Vitomir Bozic, the son of Aleksandar Bozic and the present normal supervisor of the Informant.

Garry Kasparov, who reigned as world chess champion from 1985 to 2000 and who was born two years earlier than Chess Informant started publishing, as soon as stated of his technology of gamers, “We’re all kids of Informant.”

Within the one centesimal Informant, revealed in April 2008, Mr. Matanovic regarded again, noting how Informant grew to become the “Chess Bible.”

Earlier than Informants had been revealed, it was tough to search out up-to-date details about video games and tournaments. As soon as the books started to appear — two a 12 months till 1990, three a 12 months till 2011, 4 a 12 months since 2012 — they grew to become a vital reference for all critical chess gamers, even nonprofessionals.

For many years earlier than the web, it was widespread for gamers to journey to competitions lugging a number of Informants, and to see them feverishly learning the books between rounds. (Some gamers allotted more room of their suitcase for Informants than for adjustments of clothes and must put on the identical outfit at a match for days.)

Chess Informant additionally created a system for annotating and classifying video games — notably the openings, which had beforehand been recognized solely by their names. In a five-volume collection referred to as the Encyclopaedia of Chess Openings, first revealed from 1974 to 1979, Informant grouped the openings collectively by letters and numbers, which made it simpler to seek for details about particular ones.

The annotation system additionally used a collection of symbols, together with a plus signal to point that one participant was in test, and an arrow pointing to the fitting which means that one participant had a powerful initiative for an assault. In an e mail, Mr. Bozic, the final supervisor, described Mr. Matanovic as “the mind” behind the annotation system.

Nearly all chess books now use some or the entire opening classifications and annotations created by Informant.

Aleksandar Matanovic was born on Could 23, 1930, in Belgrade, which was then the capital of Yugoslavia. His father died when he was younger, and he discovered to play chess on the age of 6 from his older sister, who made a set from modeling clay as a result of they didn’t have items.

In 1944, after the Allies bombed German-occupied Belgrade, the household fled to Ostruznica, a village on the banks of the Sava river. There, on the seashore, individuals performed chess; Mr. Matanovic stated he found that he was higher than everybody else, which persuaded him to stay with the sport. After World Battle II ended, he started competing commonly; by 1948, he was Yugoslavia’s junior champion.

He grew to become a global grasp in 1951, and 4 years later he was awarded the title of grandmaster by the Worldwide Chess Federation.

He received the Yugoslavian nationwide championship thrice (1962, tied for first; 1969; and 1978, once more tied for first). He additionally completed runner-up 4 instances, in 1951, 1956, 1959 and 1967.

The outcomes had been formidable — on the time that Mr. Matanovic was competing, Yugoslavia was among the many world’s strongest chess-playing international locations. From 1954 to 1978, he was a part of 11 Yugoslavian nationwide groups within the biannual Chess Olympiads. His groups received 5 silver and 4 bronze medals, with Mr. Matanovic personally taking house 4 medals, together with one gold, for his performances.

He additionally loved success in particular person worldwide competitions, successful or tying for first in 5 tournaments and inserting second in two others.

Over the course of his profession, he beat a few of the world’s finest gamers, together with the world champions Mikhail Tal and Tigran Petrosian.

Mr. Matanovic met his future spouse, Vesna Kostrencic, in Zagreb, they usually had been collectively for 74 years. She survives him. His survivors additionally embrace his son, Aleksandar; three grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren.

Although the web has made Informants and the chess encyclopedias much less important, they proceed to be widespread, and the corporate has branched out and now publishes different sorts of chess books. The 157th quantity of Informant, which is now additionally offered on DVD, shall be launched in September.

Chatting with the Serbian newspaper Politika in Could, Mr. Matanovic recalled {that a} Serbian economist informed him within the Nineteen Seventies, “The 2 merchandise we export probably the most are berries and Chess Informant.”

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