Interzonal chess tournaments were tournaments organized by FIDE, the World Chess Federation, and were a stage in the triennial World Chess Championship
World Chess Championship
The World Chess Championship is played to determine the World Champion in the board game chess. Men and women of any age are eligible to contest this title....


Zonal tournaments

In the first year of the cycle, every FIDE member nation would hold a national championship, with the top players qualifying for the Zonal tournament. The world was divided into distinct zones, with the USSR, United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 each being designated a zone, thus qualifiers from these three zones went directly to the Interzonal. Smaller countries would be grouped into a zone with many countries. For example, all of South America
South America
South America is a continent situated in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. The continent is also considered a subcontinent of the Americas. It is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the north and east...

 and Central America
Central America
Central America is the central geographic region of the Americas. It is the southernmost, isthmian portion of the North American continent, which connects with South America on the southeast. When considered part of the unified continental model, it is considered a subcontinent...

 combined originally formed one zone.

Players who won their Zonal tournaments, and who had scored above a prescribed level, typically received at least title norms towards international chess titles, such as International Master and Grandmaster; sometimes, winners could receive these titles outright, depending upon the strength of the zone.

Interzonal tournaments

The top players in each Zonal tournament would meet in the Interzonal tournament, which would typically have between 20 and 24 players. The top finishers (e.g., the top six in 1958) would qualify for the Candidates Tournament
Candidates Tournament
The Candidates Tournament is a chess tournament organized by the world chess federation FIDE since 1950, as the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship...

, which would take place the following year. They would be joined in the Candidates by the loser of the previous candidates' final and the loser of the previous world championship match. The winner of the Candidates tournament would play a 24-game match with the World Champion the following year, and need to win outright to gain the title.

To illustrate, the 1957 US Championship served as a Zonal tournament. The top three, Bobby Fischer
Bobby Fischer
Robert James "Bobby" Fischer was an American chess Grandmaster and the 11th World Chess Champion. He is widely considered one of the greatest chess players of all time. Fischer was also a best-selling chess author...

, Samuel Reshevsky
Samuel Reshevsky
Samuel "Sammy" Herman Reshevsky was a famous chess prodigy and later a leading American chess Grandmaster...

, and James Sherwin
James Sherwin
James Terry Sherwin is an American corporate executive and International Master in chess.Born in New York City in 1933, Sherwin attended Stuyvesant High School, Columbia College and Columbia Law School. He graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Officer Candidate School in 1956 and later...

 qualified for the Interzonal Tournament that was held in Portorož
- External links :**...

 in 1958. The top six at Portorož, (Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal
Mikhail Tal was a Soviet–Latvian chess player, a Grandmaster, and the eighth World Chess Champion.Widely regarded as a creative genius, and the best attacking player of all time, he played a daring, combinatorial style. His play was known above all for improvisation and unpredictability....

, Svetozar Gligorić
Svetozar Gligoric
Svetozar Gligorić is a Serbian chess grandmaster. He won the championship of Yugoslavia a record twelve times, and is considered the best player ever from Serbia...

, Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Petrosian
Tigran Vartanovich Petrosian was a Soviet-Armenian grandmaster, and World Chess Champion from 1963 to 1969. He was nicknamed "Iron Tigran" due to his playing style because of his almost impenetrable defence, which emphasised safety above all else...

, Pál Benkő
Pál Benko
Pal Benko is a chess grandmaster, author, and composer of endgame studies and chess problems.- Early life :Benko was born in France but was raised in Hungary. He was Hungarian champion by age 20. He emigrated to the United States in 1958, after defecting following the World Student Team...

, Friðrik Ólafsson
Friðrik Ólafsson
Friðrik Ólafsson is an Icelandic chess Grandmaster and former president of FIDE.Friðrik was born in Reykjavík, Iceland. A first-time winner of the Icelandic Championship in 1952 and of the Scandinavian Championship a year later, he rapidly became recognised as the strongest Icelandic player of his...

 and Fischer) qualified to the Candidates tournament. They were joined by Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Smyslov
Vasily Vasilyevich Smyslov was a Soviet and Russian chess grandmaster, and was World Chess Champion from 1957 to 1958. He was a Candidate for the World Chess Championship on eight occasions . Smyslov was twice equal first at the Soviet Championship , and his total of 17 Chess Olympiad medals won...

 (loser of the 1958 rematch for the championship with Mikhail Botvinnik
Mikhail Botvinnik
Mikhail Moiseyevich Botvinnik, Ph.D. was a Soviet and Russian International Grandmaster and three-time World Chess Champion. Working as an electrical engineer and computer scientist at the same time, he was one of the very few famous chess players who achieved distinction in another career while...

), and Paul Keres
Paul Keres
Paul Keres , was an Estonian chess grandmaster, and a renowned chess writer. He was among the world's top players from the mid-1930s to the mid-1960s....

, who had finished second at the 1956 Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 Candidates tournament. Those eight played a quadruple round-robin
The term round-robin was originally used to describe a document signed by multiple parties in a circle to make it more difficult to determine the order in which it was signed, thus preventing a ringleader from being identified...

 in the 1959 Candidates tournament. The winner was Tal, who then played Botvinnik a match for the championship in 1960.

Thus, Interzonal tournaments were held approximately every three years from 1948 until 1993. Their years of staging were in fact: 1948, 1952, 1955, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1967, 1970, 1973, 1976, 1979, 1982, 1985, 1987, 1990, and 1993. However, by 1972, the system was becoming unwieldy. The number of top-level players had grown, with the increasing popularization of chess, and the cost of staging these events had become too great. Also, new countries were joining FIDE, especially in Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. From the 1970s, China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

, India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

, Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and the Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 started producing strong Grandmasters where there had been none before. Even Africa
Africa is the world's second largest and second most populous continent, after Asia. At about 30.2 million km² including adjacent islands, it covers 6% of the Earth's total surface area and 20.4% of the total land area...

 was demanding two zones. It had become impractical to put all of the top players into a round robin tournament, so in 1973 the system was changed to two Interzonals (with the first three in each qualifying for the Candidates). In 1982 it changed again to three Interzonal tournaments, where the top two players qualified from each. Further increases in the number of qualifiers led to the Interzonal being staged as a single Swiss system tournament
Swiss system tournament
A Swiss-system tournament is a commonly used type of tournament where players or teams need to be paired to face each other for several rounds of competition. This type of tournament was first used in a Zurich chess tournament in 1895, hence the name "Swiss system". The Swiss system is used when...

 in 1990 and 1993.

The last FIDE Interzonal was Biel 1993, won by Boris Gelfand
Boris Gelfand
Boris Abramovich Gelfand is a Belarus-born Israeli chess Grandmaster. He won the 2011 Candidates Tournament and will challenge Viswanathan Anand for the World Chess Championship 2012.-Biography:...

. The short-lived Professional Chess Association
Professional Chess Association
The Professional Chess Association , which existed between 1993 and 1996, was a rival organisation to FIDE, the international chess organization...

 also held one Interzonal, in 1993.

The system was dropped altogether from the mid-1990s, being replaced by a series of short, knockout-style matches among qualifiers.

See also

See Candidates Tournament
Candidates Tournament
The Candidates Tournament is a chess tournament organized by the world chess federation FIDE since 1950, as the final contest to determine the challenger for the World Chess Championship...

for a table of Interzonal, Candidates and World Championship results from 1948 to 2004.

External links

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